There was a recent wave of applause for the father who created the X Plan to help his teens get out of any uncomfortable situation, while still saving face in front of their peers.
As a mom of two teens, a tween and a kindergartener who will be a teen soon enough, I actively hunt for tools to add to my parenting toolbox. The X Plan is a great one.
It is like the lifesaving Stop-Drop-And-Roll mantra for elementary students. You hope they don’t have to use it but it needs to be in place in case they ever do.
So what’s the catch? The X Plan will only be effective if we do our part as parents. And our role is just as important as that of our teenagers.
Discuss the X Plan as a Family
Click here for a full description of the X Plan created by the hero dad named Bert Fulks. Spend time discussing it as a family.
The back story is that Fulks discovered that every teenager he worked with wished they had an escape plan at least once. And many faced huge regrets because they did not. He wanted to see that change for his own children and others, so he is asking parents to spread the word about this simple plan. Once a teen texts a family member the letter ‘X’, their calm, smooth rescue will be activated.
In order for the X plan to work, we need to be accessible to our teenagers. Anytime. No matter the situation they find themselves in, they need to be able to reach us night or day. Keep the phone charged and close by whenever your teen is out.
Of course – the assumption is that they will do the same. But that may not be worth mentioning since teens are more likely to forget to put pants on than to forget to take their devices with them.
Follow the Commitment
The commitment states that there will be no questions asked after the teen has reached out for help. No matter where they are, or who they are with, parents will simply pick them up and head home.
Will this be the hardest step in the process? Absolutely. But if our teens can’t trust us to keep our end of the deal, they will not reach out for help the next time.
And we want to remove all barriers that would prevent them from reaching out since even signaling for our help is very brave.
Even if our teens are going through a prickly stage, sending every vibe that we are the last people they want to talk to, we have to do our part to keep lines of communication open. I am learning that when my instinct is to pull away, that is a signal to lean in – in a casual, absolutely-not-awkward, chill Mama way, of course.
However tumultuous your relationship seems, do not give up.
High school students have told me they were grateful that their parents didn’t give up on them even though they knew they were hard to be around. And they later thanked the same parents they had resisted all of those years.
Laura Markham from Ahaparenting.com explains, “maintaining a 5 [positive interactions] to 1 [negative interaction] ratio is effective insurance to stay connected in every relationship, including between parents and teens.”
Connecting positively, even in small ways, will help our teenagers avoid situations requiring an escape plan. But if they do find themselves in need of the plan, reconnecting after the dust has settled is equally important.
Please help spread the word about this X Plan – and when you do, gently remind parents of their role in helping the plan succeed.
Have you set up a family system to give your children a way out, no matter what?