Bert Fulchs, a blogger and dad of three, understands the pressures young people face every day. Once a week, he meets with youth who are undergoing treatment for addiction, according to his blog.
In a recent post, Fulchs notes that upon asking these teens if they’d ever felt like they were stuck in an uncomfortable situation with no way out, every one of them said yes.
“I get it,” he writes. “Though in my mid-40s, I’m still in touch with that awkward boy who often felt trapped in the unpredictable currents of teenage experiences… 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.”
The conversation inspired Fulchs to come up with a game plan to rescue his kids should they find themselves looking for an out. He calls it the “X-plan.”
“This simple, but powerful tool is a lifeline that our kids are free to use at any time,” he writes.
It works like this: If a kid becomes uncomfortable with the happenings at a hangout or party, he or she can text the letter “x” to either parent. Once the message is received, it’s up to the parent to call their child and tell them that there’s an emergency and they need to come get the child right away.
This way, the teen doesn’t have to fear retribution or heckling from his or her peers.
“He has the freedom to protect himself while continuing to grow and learn to navigate his world,” Fulchs writes.
Perhaps the best component of the plan — kids are free to ask for help without fear of punishment or judgment from their parents. If they text the x, they get a free pass and can offer up as little or as much information about the situation as they choose.
“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,” Fulchs writes.
Child psychologist Dr. Susan Bartell told CBS New York this part of the plan is crucial.
“If kids think they’re going to get punished, they’ll find another way out of a situation which could be a much scarier way out,” she said.
Fulchs’ X-plan has resonated with parents and teens alike, and his blog post has been shared more than 1.2 million times on Facebook.
“Brilliant!” wrote one commenter. “My children and I are very close and I truly believe having a plan… such as this one … can and will save your child’s life.”
Another wrote, “You find this allows them the grace to change their behaviors, and the growth and control are theirs. Trust and respect. We all make errors in judgement… what a wonderful gift a second chance can be.”
Fulchs encourages parents to implement some form of the X-plan into their families, if nothing else, to strengthen their relationships with their children.
“If you honor it, your kids will thank you for it,” he writes.