It’s inevitable — at some point in life we all find moments where we face uncomfortable situations or peer pressure. Drugs? Sex? Alcohol? Knowing our kids will face the dilemmas is nerve-wracking.
One dad came up with an easy way to help his children out of the predicament -- a kind of top-secret family code, if you will.
Bret Fulks — a blogger, speaker, business owner, educator and "Today" show parenting contributor, among other things — has worked with committees on education and helped launch a peer mediation group in which young people can learn to resolve interpersonal conflicts.
In one blog, Fulks described still being in touch with himself as an awkward boy who felt trapped in unpredictable situations, buckling to the pressures in order to avoid “punishment,” endless nagging and interrogation.
“I can’t count the times sex, drugs and alcohol came rushing into my young world; I wasn’t ready for any of it, but I didn’t know how to escape and, at the same time, not castrate myself socially,” he said. “I still recall my first time drinking beer at a friend’s house in junior high school—I hated it, but I felt cornered.”
Because of that, Fulks created the X-plan for his family, giving his kids a lifeline at any time.
For example, if one of his kids is dropped off at a party and meets a situation in which he is uncomfortable, all he has to do is text the letter “X” to anyone in the family. Fulks said whoever receives the text makes a phone call to that person and has a very basic script to follow:
“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.”
After the call, his child can tell his friends something has happened at home and that he has to leave, so someone is on the way to pick him up.
Fulks said the plan comes with an agreement that there will be no judgment, no matter the circumstances, and that the child can reveal as much or as little about the situation as they want.
“This can be a hard thing for some parents … but I promise it might not only save them, but it will go a long way in building trust between you and your kid,” Fulks said. “I urge you to use some form of our X-plan in your home.”
Fulks said he’s received a ton of opinions on his X-Plan, and addresses some of them in his blog.
Does this cripple a kid socially instead of teaching them to stand up to others?
- I know plenty of adults who struggle to stand up to others. This simply gives your kid a safe way out as you continue to nurture that valuable skill.
What if they're not where they're supposed to be? Shouldn't there be consequences?
- Let’s be honest. A kid in fear of punishment is a lot less likely to reach out for help when the world comes at them. Admitting that they’re in over their heads is a pretty big life-lesson all by itself. However, don’t get so caught up in all of the details. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all scheme. Every parent, every kid, and every situation is unique. What it might look like in your family could be totally different from mine—and that’s OK.
If you don’t talk about it or ask questions, how do they learn?
- If you’re building a relationship of trust with your kids, they’ll probably be the ones to start the conversation. More importantly, most of these conversations need to take place on the FRONT-side of events. Ever taken a cruise? They all make you go through the safety briefing in case the boat sinks. They don’t wait until the ship’s on fire to start telling you about the lifeboats. Talk with them. Let your kids ask questions and give them frank answers.
Click here to learn more about Fulks and his peer pressure-fighting plan.
Is this a plan you'd consider introducing to your family? Tell us what you think in the comments below.