You don’t need a degree in communications to know that parents and teenagers seem to spend more time talking at and past one another than to or with one another. It is not unusual at all for teens to speak to their parents with one-word answers. “Where are you going?” “Places.” “When will you be back?” “Sometime.” “Who will you be with?” “People.”
Chalk it up to different agendas, the stress of daily life, or familiarity breeding contempt. Whatever the reason, adolescents and their folks are as good at making conversation as mimes stuck inside an invisible box.
One thing is certain, kids these days are always stuck in front of the television. So what better way to strike up a conversation at the dinner table then to surprise your teen by saying something like: “Man, I wonder when Clay is gonna hear his tape.”
13 Reasons Why:
The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based on the best-selling 2007 book, is the story of a teen girl who commits suicide, leaving behind a series of tapes that hold the story of her motives. Teens who watch this excellent but extremely dark and dramatic series may find themselves identifying with the characters, including the smart, troubled Hannah Baker. In this story, where not many adults are role models, the kids are left to process Hannah’s suicide on their own.
Luckily, there are lots of real-world resources for teens who are dealing with mental health challenges or feeling helpless as their friends suffer, as well as many conversation starters to help you talk to your kids:
“Have you witnessed or experienced bullying?”
“Being a teenager is hard. What are some healthy ways to cope when relationships, family, and school get overwhelming?”
So you’re waiting with your teen at the doctor’s office when a guy across the room sneezes. You bend down and say “I once saw a guy sneeze like that and worms came out of his nose. Best Grey’s episode EVER!” There you have it, you just struck up a conversation with your Grey’s Anatomy crazed teen.
Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama about a group of surgeons working at Seattle Grace Hospital. The show centers around Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and her life as a resident at the hospital. In addition to her relationship with her neurosurgeon husband, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), and best friend Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), it also explores her relationships with her peers and the other doctors around her. Each episode dives into different medical cases and personal dramas of the doctors at Seattle Grace.
Pretty Little Liars:
Parents need to know that the teens in this series based on the Harper Teen Novels of the same name engage in lots of naughty behavior like theft, defying parents’ rules, breaking and entering, and general gossipy mockery. The story centers on an intense, ongoing incident of bullying by an unidentified person who threatens to reveal damaging secrets about her victims’ private lives. Teen sexuality — including a main character’s homosexuality and a teen’s sexual relationship with her high-school teacher — makes for some intense physical encounters that stop just before the act itself (although it’s referenced later). Expect some sporadic violence, including murder (but no blood) and scenes of dead bodies; a fair amount of language (“bitch,” “damn,” “ass,” etc.) from the teens; and some misguided choices that lead the characters into dangerous situations, all of which is made possible by an extreme lack of parental influence. That said, mature teens and adults will find this series to be an enticing blend of drama, mystery, and suspense.
Watching this show will give you an opening to talk to your teen about bullying, sex, and violence. Maybe you’ll bond over your mutual obsession with trying to find out who “A” is.
Orange is the New Black:
The series revolves around Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a woman in her 30s living in New York City who is sentenced to 15 months in Litchfield Penitentiary, a minimum-security women’s federal prison in upstate New York. Piper had been convicted of transporting a suitcase full of drug money for her then-girlfriend Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), an international drug smuggler. The offense had occurred 10 years prior to the start of the series and in that time Piper had moved on to a quiet, law-abiding life among New York’s upper middle class. Her sudden and unexpected indictment severely disrupts her relationships with her fiancé, family, and friends.
In prison, Piper is reunited with Alex (who named Piper in her trial, resulting in Piper’s arrest) and they re-examine their relationship. Simultaneously, Piper must learn how to survive in prison, and how to overcome its numerous struggles. Episodes often feature flashbacks of significant events from various inmates’ and prison guards’ pasts. These flashbacks typically explain how the inmate came to be in prison, or otherwise further develop the character’s backstory.
The show also pays close attention to how instances of corruption, drug smuggling, funding cuts, overcrowding and guard brutality adversely impact not only the prisoners’ health and well-being but also the prison’s basic ability to fulfill its fundamental responsibilities and ethical obligations as a federal corrections institution.
This show will give you many subjects to speak to your teen about. Homosexuality is very openly shown and discussed in this series. You will easily be able to board the subject. Sexual abuse is also seen a few times, which is a very important subject to speak to your teens about. Violence, bullying, and sex are just a few
As your teen moves toward adulthood, it’s normal and natural for them to put distance between themselves and family. But it’s more important than ever to keep the lines of communication open. If your teen feels they can talk to you, then they knows you will listen and consider their views, and chances are you have and will continue to have a healthy relationship.
Don’t wait until you have 13 Reasons Why to speak with your teen. Schedule a movie night tonight, talk and listen.