As a parent, we never stop worrying about our kids. The day theyre born we count all 10fingers and all 10toes, and then we count them over again. Its in our nature to guard the little humans we gave life to.
Of course, that cycle proceeds as they develop. Rather than counting 10fingers and 10toes, we end up counting how many hours we lose sleep when theyre outside with friends, having sleepovers or getting their drivers permit. Then we count againthe number of grey hairs that somehow multiply on our minds everyday. (I just quit counting them once I get to 10.)
The teen years are a special time. Theyre filled with dually joyful and dreadful moments, seeing our little babies develop, make conclusions, utilize their voice. However, theyre also a time when things are completely unknown. Our children are making conclusions that year after year, we have less influence in, and its inevitable that theyll wind up in a sticky situation from time to time.
Bert Fulks knows the feeling well.
The minister, who shares his own adventures and parental insight on his blog, spends an hour every week with youthful peopleteenagerswho are going through recovery programs for addiction.
Im always humbled and honored to get this time with those beautiful young souls that have been so incredibly assaulted by a world they’ve yet to comprehend.
Bert says that working with the teens isn’t only for their benefit, but his too.
This also comes with the bittersweet knowledge that these children still have a fighting chance while some of my buddies have already had to bury their own kids.
He recently asked the group of teens, How many of you’ve found yourself in situations where things began happening that you werent comfortable with, however you stuck around, mainly because you felt as you didnt have a way out?
Each one of the teens increased their hands. Every single one of these.
In the soul of transparencyI do it. Though in my mid-40s, Im still connected with this awkward boy who frequently felt trapped in the erratic currents of teenage adventures. I cant count the times sex, drugs and alcohol came rushing in my youthful planet; I wasnt prepared for any of it, but I didnt understand how to escape and, at the exact same time, not castrate myself socially. I still recall my first time drinking beer at a family home in junior high schoolI loathed it, but I felt cornered.
Of course as parents, we all understand peer pressure, and don’t forget the days when our planet revolved about our social lives. Bert remembers them also, but he understood something that weve all been missing: Peer pressure wasnt really about our peersit was about our parents.
As an adult, that today seems silly, but it had been my reality at the time. Peer pressure was a frivolous term for an often silent, but very real thing; and I certainly couldnt call my parents and ask them to rescue me. I wasnt supposed to be there in the first location. As a teenager, forcing alcohol down appeared a great deal easier than giving up myself for punishment, endless nagging and interrogation, and the potential end of freedom as I knew it.
His realization is a perfect depiction of exactly what many of us adults experienced, so theres no reason why todays teens would believe any different. A major part of growing up is learning how to navigate uneasy situations.
And so started, the X-Plan.
Bert came up with a lifeline that his children are free to use at any time, and its fully altering the parenting game. If they should escape a bad situation, Berts children have a secret text message they understand theyre allowed to ship him, no questions asked.
Lets say that my youngest, Danny, has dropped off at a party.If anything about the situation makes him uneasy, all he must do is text the letter X to some of us (his mom, ”, his older brother or sister).
Whoever receives the text will then telephone Dannys telephone and also have a dialogue that goes something like that:
Danny, somethings come up and I need to come get you right now.
Ill tell you if I arrive. Get prepared to leave in five minutes. Im in my way.
Once Danny hangs up the telephone, he will tell his buddies that something has occurred at home, somebody is in their way to get him and he must leave.
Danny knows he has a way out; at the exact same time, theres no pressure on him to open himself into some social ridicule. He’s got the freedom to protect himself while continuing to grow and learn how to navigate his entire world.
Bert goes on to explain that theres a single rule into the X-Plan, and its not for your kids.
Once hes been extracted from the trenches, Danny knows that he can tell us as much or as little as he wantsbut its completely up to him. The X-plan comes with the agreement that we’ll pass no conclusions and ask no questions (even when he is 10 miles away from where hes supposed to be).
He highlights that the plan is supposed to support our teens, and this in order for it to work, and keep working, parents also need to consent to its termswhich can be incredibly hard for some of usbut Bert has seen first-hand how much trust it builds between kids and parents.
Essentially this means that if your teenager goes to a family home and drinks a beer before realizing theyre in a bad situation, they nevertheless have the freedom and comfort of reaching out for mom and dads help.
Bert stresses that there’s 1 exception to the plan in his family.
Danny knows if somebody is in danger, he has a moral duty to speak up for their security, regardless of what it may cost him personally. Thats a part of the lesson we attempt to instruct our kidswe are our brothers keeper, and at times we have to endure for those too feeble to endure for themselves. Beyond this, he doesnt need to mention a word to people. Ever.
Technology is always advancing, and with it comes progress in parenthood: utilizing the technologies our children have access to as a way to construct trust, keep them safe and give them the freedom they have to grow into wise adults who understand how to parent well.
I urge you to utilize some form of our X-plan into your home. If you honor it, your children will thank you for it. You will never know if something so easy could be the difference between your child laughing along with you at the dinner table or spending six weeks at a restoration centeror (God forbid) something far worse.
If the X-Plan can get only 1 child from a bad situation, then were doing our parts as parents. Its never easy, but actual tools and advanced tools like this one could make a world of a difference in who our kids grow up to be.
We hope you and your family can have an open dialog, and find honoring ways to incorporate this plan into your lives.