Pressing the “Hot Buttons” By Nicole O’Dell
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:
- Internet Activity
- Faith Matters
- and more
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.
Take 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?
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.
Each book is topical based on a single Hot Button issues 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.
Each book is designed the same way. The first few chapters discuss the hows and why’s 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:
It’s HIM! He’s on the phone. You know the one–that super cool guy you’ve been after since 7th grade. You didn’t even know he had your phone number. Why is he calling? Oh. . .nothing much. . .just to ASK YOU OUT! You’re so excited you about pass out. So you make a date for Friday night. Problem? He doesn’t want his ex to know he’s dating again, so he asks you to tell her a little white lie about where you’ll be and who you’ll be with.What do you do?
Present the following choices to your teenager:
- No question–you tell his ex whatever he wants you to. It’s not your business to get in he middle of a messy break-up.
- You tell him you will, but avoid her at all costs. You don’t really plan to lie, but hope you aren’t put in the position to choose. If you are, you just might do it since it’s not lying to a parent.
- You’re not about to lie, and you tell him that, hoping he’ll laugh it off and move ahead with the date.
- You’re not going to lie. Period. And now you’re not all that interested in going out with him. Who wants to date a liar?
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:
- Recognize a person’s true colors for what they are–don’t excuse them away.
- A reputation is built on those foundations. It’ll only get worse from there, the more comfortable he gets.
- Where would it stop?
- When in doubt, just say no.
- Um. . .that is one weak dude if he can’t be honest with his ex. . .or. . .
- He’s playing in two fields. What a jerk!
- In the end, the lie would be yours, and you are responsible for what YOU do.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10, 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 www.hotbuttonsite.com 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, 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 www.nicoleodell.com.
Tags: Hot Buttons, Nicole O'Dell, teens
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