Category: Lifestyle

Connecting with Your Teen on Suicide, Depression and Stress Through Television


The teenage years are exciting, scary, unsure, full of changes and can be so hard to navigate – not only for teens but their parents too. Teens are given more freedom but at the same time treated as children. They are expected to make decisions about their future younger and younger each passing year. They have school, peer, work and family pressures just like adults do but without the freedom and experience to make difficult decisions. Connecting with your teen can be an even harder job for parents! We may be out of touch with the reality that teens face or even the changing social scene. We may not know how to start the conversations or even what is important to talk about.

As my son enters into his teen years, I am reminded of my own teen years. They were full of both ups and downs marked by my own depression and anxiety. High school was full of rumours, fights, parties, the importance of getting good grades, getting into university and stress (lots and lots of stress!). I remember the constant pressure to give and be at 100% all the time but still trying to fit in with your peers and give off the appearance of not caring. I worry for my son as he enters his teen years, I want him to know that I am there for him no matter what and that he can and should reach out to those who love him when he needs help.

But how do we connect with our teen about the tough topics, like suicide, depression, stress and bullying? One of the best ways we as parents can understand what teens are facing is watching television series that resonate with them (there is a reason these shows mean so much to them!). Teens want to talk to their parents but can find it hard, finding a common ground like television series can really help open up the tough conversations.

Connect with Your Teen on Suicide, Depression, Stress and Bullying Through Television Shows

Recently, 13 Reasons Why on Netflix has come under fire from critics claiming it glorifies suicide. The resulting comments and debates hurt me personally as I struggled with depression in high school and there were times where it felt like I needed a way out and that may possibly be the only way out. High school is hard, rumours hurt, bullying hurts and for some when this is combined with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, suicide can be the only way out to stop all the pain that they are feeling. It is not glorifying suicide, it is laying out the steps that lead to suicide. No one wants this way out, no one wants to feel alone and no one wants to hurt the people they love the most. I feel as though my brain works differently when I am depressed and suffering through increased anxiety. Even little things bother me in ways they would never have before.

Before I let my son watch the show with me, I had to watch it alone. I wanted to see what the hype was about and if it could really help build an understanding and become a starting point for the tough conversations. I was blown away by the first episode and kept watching late into the night. It was raw and honest. It showed how the start of one rumour and the sending of an inappropriate (not to mention out of context) picture started the downwards spiral of one young girl. Teens have access to technology that as parents we never had access to, they just sometimes don’t understand the implications of this technology as we see so many times throughout this series. I didn’t have access to this technology but my son does. We all feel our child will be responsible but this series shows, they not always are and they make mistakes. It helps teens understand the consequences of these mistakes and how it hurts others.

There were so many important lessons in this series for teens from bullying to not standing up for a friend and changing relationships. The honest and raw emotions spoke to me personally. Life in high school isn’t always happy and full of sunshine. Teenagers feel the same pain adults do but have less skills and opportunities to help them through it. Television series like this help teens realize how actions and words can hurt and how quickly situations can spiral out of control. It is also a great tool to use for parents to help our teens understand that we are there for them and want to help them. Kids and parents want to talk, we just need to learn how and have a starting point.

13 Reasons Why is my number one pick for parents to help understand their children and to have a great conversation with their teen about. Here are some more great picks from Netflix that will really help you get the conversation started with your teen:

Connecting With Your Teen on Suicide, Depression, Bullying and Stress with Television


If you’re thinking of watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen and are looking for additional information, here are some resources to help navigate the conversation: 13 Reasons Why Talking Points (created by and the JED Foundation) and the after-show titled 13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons. If you are immediately concerned about a teen in your life, you can find a list of local market resources on this 13 Reasons Why Global Resource Website.

How do you connect with your teen on these difficult topics?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix #StreamTeam member and receive perks associated with this affilitation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Break Down Gender Stereotypes with Inspirational Content #StreamTeam


My parents raised me to know that I could do anything and be anything that I wanted to be. They encouraged me to play sports, get dirty and have fun. I was the kid who always came home from daycare and later school with cuts and bruises (and I still have some of the scars on my legs to prove it) and the one who wanted to be first to try everything. I had no fears and I felt safe to be myself, even through some of my crazier phases! My parents never stopped supporting me to be the best me.

Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes with Inspirational Content

It wasn’t until I was older that I started to realize that some people have different expectations for girls and young women. I loved the sciences and wanted to be a surgeon when I was in high school, which my parents fully encouraged me to follow. They reminded me that I could do anything that I wanted and that I should never let common gender stereotypes guide my decisions. While that wasn’t the field I found myself in, my parents supported me and encouraged me throughout my years at McMaster and when I became a parent myself.

Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes with Inspirational Content

When I had my boys, I wanted them to know the exact same security and confidence my parents gave me as a child and young adult. I wanted them to feel free to cry, to show emotion, run, play and dress however they wanted without fear. It was important to me that they see that Dads cook, clean and do laundry and Moms can cut the grass, go to work and can play just as hard on the soccer field as Dad can. That is what I grew up with and it is so important for children to see that there are no rules for boys and rules for girls. We are all strong individuals who need to be pushed to be the best version of us.

An important part of supporting our children is to monitor what they see on TV. While sometimes the content can be okay, other times the content can actually push the typical gender stereotypes we are trying to push away from. It has even been show that girls as young as six can be effected by the gender stereotypes they see on television and it can have lasting affects.

Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes with Inspirational Content

We want both boys and girls to see girls in strong leadership roles – this is not a role reserved solely for boys and girls should be encouraged to be a strong leader. More often than not, films and series aren’t showing enough of this. But if you look hard enough you can definitely find some pretty great content that will help your child understand they can be and do anything they want. If you are looking for great content for your children, check out these top three picks currently featured on Netflix:

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • One Day at a Time
  • Home: Adventures with Tip and Oh

Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes with Inspirational Content

Spending quality time with your children teaching them that they can be and do whatever they put their mind to is one of the most important things you can for your child, whether you have a daughter or a son. They need to understand that there are no restrictions on what they can achieve if they put their mind to it. You can do it every day by sharing roles as parents, supporting your child in their decisions and ensuring they are watching content with you that inspires and encourages them to be their best.

How do you help break down gender stereotypes for your children?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix #StreamTeam member and receive perks with this affiliation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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A Letter to My Sixteen Year Old Self #StreamTeam


Wow it’s weird to look back over the last fifteen years of my life – to remember my fears, hopes, anxieties and dreams. My life has changed, some things turned out very differently then I had planned for but I would not change anything. As women, we are strong, powerful and independent. We are loving, caring, open and full of life. As women, we sometimes forget to celebrate these unique traits we have and appreciate how far we have come from our teen years to our adulthood. Taking some inspiration from some leading ladies from trending Netflix shows (think the Crown and Chelsea), here is a letter to my sixteen year old self with all the things I wish I could tell my sixteen year old self to help guide myself through some of the most difficult years of becoming a woman.

A Letter to My Sixteen Year Old Self

Dear Carla,

  • Spend more time with your family. They are the most important thing in the world, appreciate every moment you have with them. You never know when those precious moments will be taken away from you, so cherish each moment.
  • Be kind to your parents – there is so much that they do for you that you will never fully understand or appreciate until you become a parent. When you become a parent you will be shocked and amazed at just how much your parents gave and did for you (and maybe even more shocked that they had three kids!).
  • Focus on school but still have fun. Education is important but so is living in the moment – don’t worry about getting 100% on each test, those grades will no longer matter when you have graduated. Work doesn’t care what your grade point average was but you will remember those missed opportunities.
  • Always tell the truth – no matter what it is, tell the truth. Honesty will get your further in life.
  • Be wise with your money – do you really need those $100 jeans? Trust me you don’t! Instead save that money for your education, a trip or your down payment on your house (I know weird to be thinking about a down payment but trust me the earlier you start saving the better off you will be).
  • Ignore the hurtful comments of others, their opinion of you, your clothes and style does not matter. If and when it becomes too much, reach out for help. Never ever be afraid to ask for help from your family, friends or a counsellor. Everyone wants you to succeed but know when you need the help and ask for it.
  • Live in each moment, eat the ice cream, poutine, cake, go on the scary ride, go for the hike – don’t turn down opportunities because of fear or lack of time. You never know when you may get another chance.
  • LOVE YOURSELF! Never, ever stop loving yourself no matter what. Do not let anyone take this away from you.

Carla, enjoy and cherish each moment of your life. You are special and unique. There will never be another you so never let anyone dull your shine. Live your life to the fullest.


Your Much Older (but still feeling young) Self


A Letter to My Sixteen Year Old Self

Disclosure: I am a #StreamTeam member and receive perks with this affiliation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Honouring and Celebrating Our Co-Workers’ Fight Against Breast Cancer

Honouring and Celebrating Our Coworkers' Battle With Breast Cancer

My co-workers are my best friends, my confidantes and the ones that I go to when I am struggling or hurting. They know my fears, my weaknesses and my greatest triumphs. We are together in our small space, nicknamed “the hub”, in our clinic together eight hours a day, five days a week. It is hard not to feel and act like family with these women after nine years—despite the age gaps between us. You love them to the moon and back and would do absolutely anything for them.

Honouring and Celebrating Our CoWorkers' Journey

I was almost into my second year working in our Family Medicine clinic when I found out that two of the women that I worked with had fought and survived breast cancer. It came as a shock to me—they are wonderful, courageous, bright and caring women who never complain throughout the week and I could not imagine what they had gone through. They are the strongest and happiest women I have ever known. We all feel honoured to know and work with such brave women who have shared such a personal part of their life story with us. Cancer is not only a physical pain but it is also an emotional pain. It hurts not only the person diagnosed with cancer but those who love them.

We may not be able to go through their cancer journey with them but we can be by their side during and after, to lend support not only to that person but also to the fight against breast cancer. It was this idea that led our Fundraising Committee at work to launch a month-long activity fundraiser with all of the funds that were raised going directly to breast cancer research. What better way to support the women we work with and show them how much we love and admire them?

Honouring and Celebrating Our CoWorkers' Battle Against Breast Cancer

The activities were posted on a Bristol board calendar in our hub area and all of the employees participated in some area, from our support staff to residents to physicians and nurses. We even had patients want to contribute to the cause!

Some of the fundraising activities we hosted during the month were:

  • A bake sale
  • Pink dress down day for a loonie every Friday
  • Chilli day ($5 for a delicious bowl of chilli from one of our famous chefs at work!)
  • Raffles for some pretty awesome donated prizes (purses, jewellery, etc.)

The ideas are truly endless when it comes to fundraising. Not only did we support an amazing cause, we came together as a work family to support our work community and the individuals who personally fought and survived breast cancer. It was important for them to know that they are not alone, and that we love and support them.

Honouring and Celebrating Our Coworkers' Battle With Breast Cancer

Another fantastic way to donate to breast cancer research is by giving them your time and participating in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. This year, the run will be held on October 2nd, 2016 in over sixty-three communities across Canada—talk about bringing people and communities together! To find the complete list of communities participating head over to the CIBC Run for the Cure page to find your nearest run. You will be joining others who have survived breast cancer, have a loved one that has survived or been lost to cancer, and those who want to support the women who are fighting against breast cancer. The upbeat mood and excitement is amazing and totally infectious on race day. We were at Blue Mountain and witnessed the run their last year and it was incredible the way the community came together, showed their love and support in such a positive manner.

This year, doing your fundraising is as simple as creating your own personalized digital fundraising campaign. It’s very simple: just chose your picture (can be you, or the person you’re fundraising in honour of), name your campaign, and tell your story in your own words. Tell friends and family why you are participating in the Run for the Cure. Then simply share the page with all your friends and family and social networks. It’s such an easy and seamless way to fundraise, especially if you have friends and family who don’t live nearby.

October 2nd, 2016 is coming up fast so make sure you head over to CIBC Run for the Cure to register to run or to donate. Also make sure to follow the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date on the event and follow the event live on October 2nd, 2016!

This post has been brought to you by the CIBC Run for the Cure but the images and opinions are my own.  

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