Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pressing the "Hot Buttons"

Today I'm delighted to turn over my blog to my good writing bud Nicole O'Dell. I love her heart for tweens and teens. And my What are Hot Buttons? Well, in the broader sense, the phrase Hot Buttons means a lot of different things, anything really, that can get a rise out people. Something that charges them up and receives an intense reaction. For the purposes of Choose NOW Ministries, I've defined hot buttons as those tough issues that teenagers face--the things parents are often more afraid of and most hesitant to talk about. Some examples include:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Sex
  • Friendships
  • Racism
  • Internet Activity
  • Faith Matters
  • Divorce
  • Dating
  • Bullying
  • Occult
  • and more

Why press the Hot Buttons?

Why not just leave it alone and let the kids figure it out? We can pray for them and trust it all to work out in the end. In some ways it does work itself out, true. Circumstances happen, pressure hits, relationships change. . .and your teens gets to figure it all out. In the heat of the moment. On their own. Hopefully they'll make the right choice, but it's really hard to know what will happen when the prep work isn't done. Hot Buttons, Dating, Nicole O'DellTake an issue like dating--we talk about the boundaries. We set rules for curfew and other things. We even make sure we apprrove of the date and talk about saying no to sexual advances. Right? And that's great. It really is. But there's something missing. Our teens need to know what to do and what not to do, and what we expect of them, but they also need to understand why that's going to be difficult for them. How does the body respond in ways that make it tough to say no? What will the feelings be like that make it difficult to leave the room or douse the proverbial flames? You see, if we don't hit those truth head on before they become an issue, our teens will think it's a secret, it's specific to them, and we really don't know what we're asking them to say no to. But, if we press those hot buttons in advance, if we have the difficult conversations, then our teens will enter those pressure-filled situations armed with understanding and equipped with the words to say to stay true to their commitments. With every hot button issue, someone is feeding your tweens and teens information--do you really want that someone to be anyone other than you?  

How do I press the Hot Buttons?

Now that you've made the decision to be proactive about helping your tweens and teens battle peer pressure, I love to share the principles behind the Hot Buttons book series and the method of communicating with your teens it prescribes. Hot Buttons, Internet, Nicole O"Dell Each book is topical based on a single Hot Button issue and its surrounding sub-topics. For example, the Hot Buttons Internet Edition deals with social networking, pornography, predators, cyber bullying, and more. The goal isn't to convince parents to keep their kids off the net, but rather to arm them with the tools they need to navigate it in a safe and healthy way. Same with the Dating Edition. It covers early relationships, physical boundaries, date rape, and more. Instead of just handing down rules, parents need to walk their teens through the details and equip them with the understanding of what's out and how to rise above the peer pressure.  

How does Hot Buttons work?

Each book is designed the same way. The first few chapters discuss the hows and whys of tackling hot buttons early and effectively. Part two dives into the topics with statistics and information that every parent should know. Next are the application portions of the book. This is when you put into practice the principles we discuss early on. Strategic Scenarios (up to 15 per book) allow you to walk your teens through a fictional situation and then offer options, choices, as to how they think they'd respond.
Here's an example of the way a Strategic Scenario works:
You really like this one guy at school. You have for a long time, actually. Problem is, your BFF likes him too. And you have to admit, she’s liked him longer, but he seems to prefer you. You just don’t know what to do about it. You don’t want to hurt your friend, but you have to take care of yourself first, right?
Finally, he asks you out. Now it’s decision time. What do you do?
Present the following choices to your teenager:
  1. He obviously like you best and telling him no isn’t going to make him like your BFF. You might as well go out with him and deal with her later. What’s she going to do about it anyway?
  2. You’ll go out with him, but only secretly. Hopefully she'll never find out.
  3. You thank him, and tell him you need a day or two to think about it. Time to have a heart-to-heart with your friend. If she’s okay with it, you’re in!
  4. No, too much is at stake. Your BFF will tell you she’s fine with it, but you know it will break her heart. Then what? It wouldn’t be the same again. Plus, you’re supposed to be the Christian; you need to put her first.
Now let your teen make a choice between the responses without feeling judged or directed. You want the response to be as honest as possible.
Here are some discussion points you can use to lead the conversation after the choice is made:
  • BFs come and go; BFF last a lifetime
  • What would Jesus do?
  • How would you feel in your BFF’s shoes?
  • Talk about this sort of thing ahead of time. Don’t wait until it’s a real issue. Clear the air.
  • Loyalty and honestly are qualities of Christ.
  • A year from now, when you look back on the situation, which choice will make you proud?
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12, NIV)
The final chapters of each Hot Buttons book will lead you and your family through confession and forgiveness and then help you walk into the future with a clean slate, armed with the tools you all need to face those hot buttons. If you're a parent of teens, or you know one, I hope you'll visit to read more Hot Buttons posts each week. Also, the first two Hot Buttons books: Dating and Internet, release on 6/1. Following soon after on 10/1 are the Sexuality and Drug editions.   Nicole O'Dell, Choose HER, Choose NOW ministriesNicole O'Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents on preparing for life's tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit   

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