I’ve asked my friend and fellow author Nicole O’Dell to do a few guest posts for me this week, and she has so graciously agreed to do so! I hope you’ll take the time to visit her website (which is awesome) and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. She has some amazing wisdom to dish out over the course of this week! Here’s Nicole!
If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’d like to tell you a little story.
The summer before I entered jr. high, I contracted encephalitis. To make a long story short, I’ll skip the gruesome medical stuff and get right to the end result. It messed me up. It threw my thyroid and hypothalamus out of whack so much that I was virtually unrecognizable in a very short period of time. I started jr. high nearly twice the person I was when the summer started.
Day one of jr. high: A boy I’d known my whole life called me Butterball. In front of everyone.
In short: It was horrid. I was bullied in every sense of the word and hated trying to get through the day at school. My parents weren’t thinking about preparing me for temptations and peer pressure; they were more worried about me having friends and feeling OK about myself.
But things change very fast in the life of a teenager.
The summer before I entered high school, I went through puberty with a vengeance, and the hormonal shift threw my body back into working, at least to a degree. I went on a major diet and added in a ton of exercise . . . and I started high school a very normal weight.
Day one of high school: That same boy who called me Butterball hit on me.
The lesson I learned in that moment was that looks were all that mattered, and if I wanted to get the attention of boys or anyone, I’d better capitalize on them. So I did.
Then I was date raped and everything I thought I believed—everything I’d been committed to—was ripped from me. I spiraled out of control.
But those changes in me seemed to happen overnight. My parents had no idea what was going on; their heads were spinning trying to keep up with all that happened that year. And it wasn’t long before I ended up checking in to a teen challenge residential home where I lived for a year trying to put the pieces back together and find Jesus.
Looking back on my life, it’s not the moments of being bullied or the pain I felt as an overweight middle-schooler that stand out to me. It’s the pain I continue to feel for trading portions of my heart for moments of attention and approval. That regret doesn’t ever go away completely.
Why am I telling you this?
It’s why I do what I do. It’s why I work so closely with parents in efforts to get them to reach out to their tweens and teens before the issues surface. It’s why I work with teens to make them aware of the pressure they’ll feel and why it’ll be tough to stay the course in the face of those temptations, and to point them to the cross as their source of strength.
Those overnight changes can happen to any tween or teen for all sorts of reasons. Better than playing catch-up or reacting as things happen, why not take charge of the issues now and walk your tweens and teens through them with a godly outlook. Lay the foundation for good choices with information.
Here’s a great place to start:
The Hot Buttons series offers parents a strategic approach to talking to their kids about these important issues. Packed with info and even scripting for those tough conversations, these books will walk you through the prep work you need to do before the pressure hits.
Hot Buttons Sexuality Edition and Drug Edition release today and, for only two days (10/1 and 10/2) Internet and Dating editions are FREE on Kindle! Grab your free copies and pass the word!
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 and was recently endorsed by Focus on the Family. Visit www.nicoleodell.com for access to her bustling blog network and other resources.