“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).”
Whoever receives the text will then call Danny’s phone and have a conversation that goes something 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.”
Once Danny hangs up the phone, he will tell his friends that something has happened at home, someone is on their way to get him and he has to leave.
“Danny knows he has a way out; at the same time, there’s no pressure on him to open himself to any social ridicule. He has the freedom to protect himself while continuing to grow and learn to navigate his world.”
Bert goes on to explain that there’s one rule to the “X-Plan,” and it’s not for the kids.
“Once he’s been extracted from the trenches, Danny knows that he can tell us as much or as little as he wants…but it’s completely up to him. The X-plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgments and ask no questions (even if he is 10 miles away from where he’s supposed to be).”
He emphasizes that the plan is meant to support our teens, and that in order for it to work, and keep working, parents also have to agree to its terms—which can be incredibly difficult for some of us—but Bert has seen first-hand how much trust it builds between parents and kids.
Essentially this means that if your teen goes to a friend’s house and drinks a beer before realizing they’re in a dangerous situation, they still have the freedom and comfort of reaching out for mom and dad’s assistance.
Bert stresses that there is one exception to the plan in his family when a dangerous situation arises.
“Danny knows if someone is in danger, he has a moral obligation to speak up for their protection, no matter what it may cost him personally. That’s part of the lesson we try to teach our kids—we are our brother’s keeper, and sometimes we have to stand for those too weak to stand for themselves. Beyond that, he doesn’t have to say a word to us. Ever.”
Technology is always advancing, and with it comes advancements in parenthood: using the technology our kids have access to as a way to build trust, keep them safe and give them the freedom they need to grow into wise adults who learn how to parent well.
“I urge you to use some form of our X-plan in your home. If you honor it, your kids will thank you for it. You never know when something so simple could be the difference between your kid laughing with you at the dinner table or spending six months in a recovery center…or (God forbid) something far worse.”
If the X-Plan is able to get just one kid out of a bad situation, then we’re doing our parts as parents. It’s never easy, but real tools and innovative resources like this one could make a world of a difference in who our children grow up to be.
We hope you and your family can have an open conversation, and find honoring ways to integrate this plan into your lives.