“How many of you have been in a situation you were not comfortable with but had no way of escape? Whether it be you had no one to call or you feared getting into trouble?”
That is the question youth minister, Bert Fulks in West Virginia asked a group of teens. Each one of them raised their hands. Every single one! Isn’t that a terrifying reality? I know when I was in high school peer pressure was always a big deal. It didn’t matter who you were, everyone had experienced it at least once. And sometimes the fear of getting into trouble at home outweighed whatever situation you were in.
Fulks, a father himself, figured out a way to make sure his kids were able to have a safe way out of any situation. By simply texting him, their mother or other siblings the letter ‘X’ they would receive a phone call. Fulks would tell them that something family related had come up and he would be picking them up as soon as possible. Thus giving the teen a way out of a situation without having to conform to the group and it also gives them a simple excuse why they are leaving. These days it is easier to blame your parents for something then to admit you simply do not want to do something.
“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.)” Fulks says. This might be one of the harder things for parents to do. But it is a way to build trust between you and your child and to make sure your child feels safe coming to you for help.
I think this is a wonderful approach to parenting a teenager. Our generation is less likely to lie when we trust the people we are talking to. Knowing that they will not be lectured will give your teen more of an incentive to talk to you about what happened. But if they call you for help and all you do is yell at them on the way home, there is a very good chance they will not call for help if there is a ‘next time’.