Is Depression Allowed?

I can talk a pretty good game when it comes to letting kids read what they want. Sure, I've had my moments of fear and disgust, but overall? We've basically made the decision that Diana (and Chestnut, if she wanted to) can read anything in the house. It's all fair game. Diana is 12, after all, and while I may have stressed out about letting her read Speak when she was 9, now she's psyched out of her mind that it's the required reading book for 8th grade at her school, so she can read it for the 108th time, or whatever it is. (She has a particular affection for that fictional art room, so welcoming even in an alternate reality—she wishes for it, I think.)

All of which is to say that now there's something else, and I'm really kind of OK about it, but it gives me pause. It's this: yes, Hyperbole and a Half, a blog I love.

We've been reading it together for a while now; Diana particularly loves The Alot. It's sometimes racy, often profane, but it's always excellent and that's what matters.

Until we read her most recent update. It was moving. And sad. She talked in a painful and brutally honest way about depression, and it was harrowing. And it kind of scared the crap out of me that my kid was reading it.

It's not that I think that they should be magically protected from all mention or notion of the existence of depression. It's just that—I think they should be magically protected from all mention or notion of the existence of depression.

I know, I know—should they ever have the misfortune to fall under the dark cloud, it will be an immense comfort to them to know that they are not alone. And if they are lucky enough to miss that, reading things like this will give them insight into people, sympathy, empathy. This is worth it, of course it is.

It's just scary to watch them finding out about this sad old world, that's all.

Do you guys let your young 'uns read blogs?

8 thoughts on “Is Depression Allowed?

  1. No blogs for my almost five year old yet, but I do find myself shielding him from books where people or pigs (for that matter) die. He already seems too aware of his mortality for a 5 year old.
    But I’m 100% with you–let the children read what they want and learn what they will. It may make them happier, more appreciative adults.

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  2. No blogs for my kids, but it is more about me not wanting to share my computer than anything else. But I do shelter my kids too much. I know I do, I just can’t help it. However, they have all started to read the headlines of the Newspaper. Innocence lost for sure there. But, what can you do?

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  3. My kids don’t read blogs yet, either – but I have a followup question which is – are there some good (fiction, age 11-12) books out there that deal with depression?
    My daughter is experiencing that whole “popularity contest” thing (in 5th grade! seriously?) and she’s really struggling with the concept. Last night she said, “I wish we could go back to first grade – everybody was friends then.”

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  4. I had the exact problem with the recent Hyperbole and a Half. My 11yo daughter adores H and a H. Especially ‘Parp’ and ‘Please Stop’. I even got her a Parp t-shirt for Christmas last year and it is her favourite. She loves to wear it out in public and see who recognizes it! So when the new entry was posted, I was excited to share it with her. And then, after I read it … I didn’t. My daughter was bopping around the house doing her happy 11 year old girl stuff, and I just couldn’t call her over to read it. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with it.
    We had a similar issue with Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog. We all watched the first part together and found it hysterically funny. But the second two parts get really dark. There’s a bit of sexual humour, but nothing too raunchy. It’s just that it all ends so badly. I hate to bring such darkness into their sunny little worlds.

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  5. I know, but better the darkness via something profoundly humane than the way it usually comes in, right?
    In the end, she did read it, after I said something inane but heartfelt and well-intentioned about depression, that I have no idea if it was incoherent. Much like this comment.

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  6. Thanks for introducing me to Hyperbole! I had never seen it before – love it. Even the depression post, because it was so honest and relatable.
    Then I looked around the blog for a while and laughed a whole lot at the posts about her dogs. Wow.

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