This secret way of parents and teens conversing via text is must know for every home! Bert Fulks shared the innovative yet simple plan this week and it’s so game changing we felt compelled to amplify his message to our parenting community!
The idea began when Fulks realised that teens were constantly being faced with situations they were uncomfortable with or felt in danger because of, but could not find a way to remove themselves without peer pressure;
Fulks asked a group of teens who were being treated for addiction recovery:
“How many of you have found yourself in situations where things started happening that you weren’t comfortable with, but you stuck around, mainly because you felt like you didn’t have a way out?”
Every single one of them raised their hands.
If you think back to your own teenage years you likely faced the same dilemma yourself. A party where things were getting a little out of hand, a prank that went from funny to dangerous, a homework session that suddenly became a drug smoking experiment. Peer pressure was rampant ‘in our day’ and it’s even more dominant and scary now. For a modern teen to remove themselves from a negative situation is increasingly tricky and Fulks recognised this and decided a solution was needed.
Thus the X-Plan was born. So, what is it? And how do you use it with your own kids?
This powerful but simple tool is your child’s “get out of the situation” code without alerting their peers that they don’t approve or feel comfortable about what is going on. The teen simply texts the parents the code X from their phone.
What happens next is the game changer. The parents immediately ring the child and a conversation like this will occur:
PARENT: “Hi teen, something’s come up and I have to come get you right now.”
TEEN: “What happened?”
PARENT: “I’ll tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave in five minutes. I’m on my way.”
At this point the teen tells their peers that something has come up at home and they need to leave immediately. Their friends are none the wiser and the teen can wait outside for the parents to collect them.
Trust is a Must
To encourage his own children to embrace this approach, Fulks has also implemented a ‘no questions asked’ clause. This means he gives his kids the freedom to not have to discuss the situation they have just been retrieved from. The caveat however is that if people behind are in serious danger the teens are expected to speak up responsibly.
Fulks closes his piece confirming that whilst as parents we sometimes despise the relationship our children have with technology, this is actually a positive. Its intrusion can assist us in keeping our children safe;
“For many of us parents, we lament the intrusion of technology into our relationships. I hate seeing people sit down to dinner together and then proceed to stare into their phones. It drives me nuts when my kids text me from another room in our house. However, cell phones aren’t going away, so we need to find ways to use this technology to help our kids in any way we can…”
How to implement the X-Plan with your teens
- Explain that you want them to know you will always come and get them, no questions asked any time of day or night
- Confirm with them that all it takes will be them to send you the X and you will call immediately
- Reassure them that you will not ask questions but simply want them to have a socially low-impact yet highly responsive way to remove themselves from an uncomfortable situation
- Have a practice with younger teens so they know exactly how the process will work should they need it
Congratulations to Fulks on such a simple yet potentially life-saving idea. You can read more about his work and opinions here. We believe this #Xplan is a game changer for families and encourage you to not only adopt it but share it with your friends!