Kids, Feelings and Working It Out With Netflix

Remember back when we were kids and that dreaded age of teenage angst didn’t hit till about — oh — age 16? According to my mom, the second I turned 16 I thought I was all that and a bag of chips. Full of attitude and sass. I, on the other hand, prefer to think I was the perfect daughter. Since my mom isn’t here to argue the point — God rest her soul — we’ll just agree to disagree.

Just when you think you have your kids figured out, they go and have feelings. As if this parenting gig weren't complicated enough! No worries, Netflix has our backs, moms and dads. With programming for kids of all ages, these shows, like Glee, can kickstart those hard conversations. #streamteamIn our day, things were different. Just like in our parents’ day, things were different. I mean, do you ever recall sitting down with your parents to talk about your feelings? Can you picture your parents sitting down with their parents to talk about their feelings? Seriously. No.

To the best of my recollection, I dealt with all ‘mean girl’ problems on my own, though my mom was there to dry my tears. Health class handled the whole puberty thing. All other drama-fueled feelings were handled through an intricate system of note-passing and a steady stream of Judy Blume books.

My mom and I had a close relationship, but even when, at 17, she sat me down for the talk, the only thing I remember is her telling me I needed to start on birth control and, “Don’t let him come near you without a condom!”

Duly noted.

Things are different now

Now this angst-riddled stage seems to pick up somewhere around the end of the Terrible Twos and — well — I see no end in sight. Currently we have a tween-bordering-on-teen, a ten-year old and two seven-year olds. So I’m pretty much stuck in emotional-meltdown limbo for about the next dozen years. It’s like we’ve barely left behind the Oscar-worthy tantruming stage of one before we’ve entered the eye-rolling, hip-cocking, arm-folding stage of another.

It pains me to see my eldest struggling with adapting to changes in her body — changes which began too young, in my opinion. She’s in a constant state of comparison and self-criticism and it is so hard to find the right words to tell her STOP IT. YOU’RE BEING RIDICULOUS. YOU LOOK EXACTLY RIGHT FOR YOU. Plus I worry how her behaviour will impact that of her little sister.

And that’s just the girls.

Swell.

Yes, boys are a whole other breed. One moment they’re playing sweetly together and the next they’re pummeling each other. My ten-year old asked me just this week — rather shyly, I might add — whether or not I thought he needed deodorant. I had to suppress a laugh. “You had health class today?” I asked. Yep. So I gave him a 30-second overview of why people need deodorant and that he’s not quite yet in that camp.

Nailed it.

So how do we navigate these emotional waters as parents? I’m a fan of being armed with resources which usually means: books, Google and friends. Let me save you some time. You can read all the parenting books you want, but there’s no ‘one’ instructional manual on How to Raise Your Kid Perfectly Perfect. Google offers an endless supply of expert opinions but there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Why? Because every kid is different. Even the ones you made. And friends? Friends are awesome, but they have their own shit going on and you don’t want to be constantly fishing for advice.

Mostly I’m just flying by the seat of my pants. But for the days when your kids — and you — need an outlet, consider Netflix.

Netflix Has Got Your Back

Netflix understands that some topics are hard or awkward or scary to tackle with our kids, no matter their age. The great thing about these shows is that they explore a range of real-life issues peppered with humour, angst and heart in a safe and age-appropriate way.

Some of these scenarios, though they play out on-screen, hit close to home. Whether it’s the topic of peer pressure or {gulp} body image or responsibility, with Netflix, your kid’s favourite shows can open the door to these tricky conversations about real-life issues. Your kiddo may be struggling to find the words to talk to you about his or her feelings and chances are there’s a show or an episode that’ll kickstart a moment. Don’t squander it. Be there.

ResponsibilityJust when you think you have your kids figured out, they go and have feelings. As if this parenting gig weren't complicated enough! No worries, Netflix has our backs, moms and dads. With programming for kids of all ages, these shows, like Veggie Tales, can kickstart those hard conversations. #streamteam

Watch Ep. S1E1: Puppies & Guppies/Sorry We’re Closed Today

Larry and Laura Carrot want to adopt puppies, but quickly learn it takes responsibility in order to watch over and care for a pet of their own.

Peer PressureJust when you think you have your kids figured out, they go and have feelings. As if this parenting gig weren't complicated enough! No worries, Netflix has our backs, moms and dads. With programming for kids of all ages, these shows, like Fuller House, can kickstart those hard conversations. #streamteam

Watch Ep. S1E6: The Legend of El Explosivo

After getting grounded for sneaking off to Bobby Popko’s house, Jackson realizes he needs to stand up for what he knows is right and not give in to please his friend.

TeamworkJust when you think you have your kids figured out, they go and have feelings. As if this parenting gig weren't complicated enough! No worries, Netflix has our backs, moms and dads. With programming for kids of all ages, these shows, like Project Mc2, can kickstart those hard conversations. #streamteam

Watch Ep. S1E3: Smart is the New Cool

After McKeyla insists she works better alone, she learns that four is better than one when her friends jump in to help her rescue the Prince from a botched space mission.

Body ImageJust when you think you have your kids figured out, they go and have feelings. As if this parenting gig weren't complicated enough! No worries, Netflix has our backs, moms and dads. With programming for kids of all ages, these shows, like Glee, can kickstart those hard conversations. #streamteam

Watch Ep. S1E16: Home

After Sue demands that Mercedes lose weight, Quinn steps in to change her mindset and together they set the stage for beauty at William McKinley High, teaching the importance of empowerment and inclusion. 

Self-ImprovementJust when you think you have your kids figured out, they go and have feelings. As if this parenting gig weren't complicated enough! No worries, Netflix has our backs, moms and dads. With programming for kids of all ages, these shows, like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, can kickstart those hard conversations. #streamteam

Watch Ep. S1E4: Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!

Kimmy quickly realizes that she can’t fix her problems by simply “Buhbreezing” them away — real change comes from the inside. 

My kids could not be more different in the way they process their feelings and reactions. One of the most interesting things about parenting are the moments when you sit back and observe your children working things out on their own, whether it’s a puzzle or a disagreement or troubles with friends. More often than not I’ve had to tuck away my Mom Superhero Cape and curb my urge to jump in and save the day. But I find that despite the moments when feelings get derailed, as long as kids are armed with the basics of how to deal with a situation, they will eventually work it out.

How do you encourage your kids to express their feelings?

*In the interest of full disclosure: I would like to point out that I have been a hardcore Netflix fan — and written about it — since before it was considered cool. The only difference now is, as a member of Netflix Canada’s #StreamTeam, I receive some fun, free goodies in exchange for my candid monthly posts. Cool, eh?

About Erica

Erica writes with humour and heart about family, #fit40s and living life in the carpool lane. Part-time banker by day and Netflix-addicted-cake-decorator by night, Erica's in-between time is spent dreaming up ways to ruin her kids' lives. Obviously.
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