From the Stack

The X-plan to protect your kids

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It’s hard for us to keep kids safe with so many lions crouching at the door seeking to devour them.

Peer pressure is a huge problem for kids, tweens and teens who are desperate to fit in and be part of the crowd, not one of the “nerds” who stand out in a negative way.

Yet, as parents, we know there are behaviors and situations that can be problematic, harmful or downright deadly.

  • What can a teen do if his or her buddies are out drinking?
  • What can a young woman do if she feels unsafe or pressured on a date?
  • What can a boy or girl, for that matter, do if they are with friends who want to view or produce pornography?

I found the X-Plan to be the ideal solution. Written by Bert Fulks, he discovered an amazing fact when talking to kids undergoing treatment for some type of addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, sex or whatever.

“Recently, I asked these kids a simple question: “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?” he wrote.

“They all raised their hands. Every single one of them,” he added.

Bert created a simple, but ingenious way for kids to signal they are in over their heads and need help.

They simply send a one-letter text message — X — to a parent or another trusted adult.

When the message is received, the recipient immediately calls back with a pre-determined script. Bert offered this example:

“Danny, something’s come up and I have to come get you right now.”
“What happened?”
“I’ll tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave in five minutes. I’m on my way.”

Bert explained, “At that point, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.

“In short, Danny knows he has a way out; at the same time, there’s no pressure on him to open himself to any social ridicule,” he said. “He has the freedom to protect himself while continuing to grow and learn to navigate his world.

“This is one of the most loving things we’ve ever given him, and it offers him a sense of security and confidence in a world that tends to beat our young people into submission,” he added.

I had developed a similar plan for my daughters to use when they were babysitting. If the parent who was supposed to return my daughter to our home ever came back drunk, she was to never get in the car.

Rather, she was told to tell the parent that I had just called a 15 minutes earlier. I needed to pick up some milk and that she (my daughter) was to call me when her clients returned. She then picked up her phone and called me with this story:

“Hi, dad. The Johnsons are home. Do you want to pick me up on the way to get your milk?”

Whatever I was doing, I would drop the activity and be at the house as quickly as possible.

I can’t recall if we ever deployed the scheme, but we were ready if there was ever any hint that she could be in danger.

Like Bert wrote in his article, “You never know when something so simple could be the difference between your kid laughing with you at the dinner table or spending six months in a recovery center … or (God forbid) something far worse.”

Bert Fulks’ book X-Plan Parenting is available on

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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