As parents, we do everything we can to try and protect our kids. It starts with baby-proofing the home, and then knee pads and helmets when they start riding their bikes, but we can’t always be there. Eventually, they grow up and we can’t monitor them and hover. We just hope that they listen when we teach them right from wrong and trust them to find their way. But our kids still need us, no matter how old. Well Bert Fulks found a way for his kids to let him know they need him, no questions asked.
Bert Fulks, a father from West Virginia, received a text message from his son in the middle of the night. The message was a solitary ‘X’, and Bert immediately jumped out of bed, called his son and told him he would be pick him up in five minutes.
This is what Bert describes as the ‘X plan’; it is a way for teenagers to get out of uneasy situations while still being discreet. Bert, who is a pastor, came up with the idea speaking to a group of teens in an addiction clinic.
“Recently I asked these kids a simple question,” he explains. “‘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?’ They all raised their hands.”
We trust our kids, it’s other kids that we worry about. We try to give them the best counsel so that they pick the right path, but we can’t always account for the people our kids meet. When parents hear the text message alerts going off on their child’s phone, their ears just naturally perk up. Parents worry, it’s just nature, so we’re curious about who our kids talk to and what they talk about.
But parents can’t just spy on text messages, that’s an easy way to lose trust between parent and child and make it hard for our kids to open up to us if they do need us. That’s why the ‘X plan’ has been gathering so much attention.
Bert explains the plan further on his website:
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say that my youngest, Danny, gets dropped off at a party. If anything about the situation makes him uncomfortable, all he has to do is text the letter “X” to any of us (his mother, me, his older brother or sister). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within a few minutes, they call Danny’s phone. When he answers, the conversation goes like this:
“Danny, something’s come up and I have to come get you right now.”
“I’ll tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave in five minutes. I’m on my way.”
At that point, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.
The whole point of this plan is to allow kids to get out of a situation that is making them uncomfortable, or maybe they’re being pressured into a situation and need a way out. This plan let’s them off the hook without being ridiculed by their friends. The rule also states that the kids don’t have to tell their parents what was happening if they’re afraid of getting into trouble. This helps to build more trust in the relationship because the kids will trust parents not to ask questions and parents will know that their children are being safe.
“The X-plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgments and ask no questions,” Fulks writes.”This can be a hard thing for some parents (admit it, some of us are complete control-freaks); but I promise it might not only save them, but it will go a long way in building trust between you and your kid.”
Bert hopes that more people try this approach with their children. His post on his website has already gone viral, and parents are responding positively to his message.
“I love this. I have two young boys and hope they never need to use it, but knowing they have this escape mechanism is very reassuring,” said one parent.
Ideas like this are more important now than ever before; with technology has allowed us to communicate with people halfway around the world, but also allows barriers to be built between people that could be living in the same house. With the ‘X plan’, parents don’t need to spy on text messages, or keep an ear open for text message alerts. Parents and kids can just get back to talking.
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