In the middle of the night, West Virginia father Bert Fulks received a text message with only the letter "X" from his teenage son. Immediately, he sprung into action, calling his son to tell him that he will be there in five minutes to pick him up.
This is what Fulks calls the "X-Plan," a lifeline for teens who want an easy and discreet way to leave any uncomfortable situation.
Fulks, a pastor, got the idea when talking to a group of teens in addiction clinics.
"Recently I asked these kids a simple question," he writes. "'How many of you have found yourself in situations where things started happening that you weren’t comfortable with, but you stuck around, mainly because you felt like you didn’t have a way out?' They all raised their hands."
The father of three decided to use that information to create a plan for his own teens to get out of any situation they feel uncomfortable in.
He wrote about the plan on his website:
Here’s how it works:
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). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within a few minutes, they call Danny’s phone. When he answers, the conversation goes 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.”
At that point, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.
The idea is that his son has an easy way out of a pressuring or uncomfortable situation without opening himself to ridicule from his friends. Not only that, but the children also aren't forced to tell their parents exactly what happened if they're afraid of getting in trouble.
"The X-plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgments and ask no questions," Fulks writes."This can be a hard thing for some parents (admit it, some of us are complete control-freaks); 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 hopes other parents will adopt his idea in their own homes, according to People magazine. Already, his blog post has gone viral and has garnered more than 600 comments in two weeks from parents commending Fulks on his X-Plan.
"I love this. I have two young boys and hope they never need to use it, but knowing they have this escape mechanism is very reassuring," said one parent.
Fulks says he has been overwhelmed by the positive response to his post and he hopes it will stem meaningful conversations between parents and children in the future.
"The most incredible thing for me personally is I’ve heard from so many parents all over the world, who as a result, have started having conversations with their kids. To play a tiny part in that, I’m just truly humbled."