I never really had what you'd call an open line of communication with my father growing up. Sure, I'd tell him certain things but most of the time I was just posturing around him to get by. I wanted to either escape a scolding, getting smacked for misbehaving, or just earn his praise.
There were certain things I felt or wanted to talk about and whenever I did my dad would tell me not to think or talk that way and he only really wanted me to talk about things he wanted to hear. Or at least that's the impression I got from him. My relationship with my dad is way better now, because I desensitized myself to some of his mannerisms.
But that doesn't mean there's a part of me that wishes I could talk to him about certain things growing up and not feel like he thought I was a scumbag.
I guess what I'm saying is I wish I had a relationship similar to the one Bert Fulks has with his children.
He's a dad and youth minister from Huntington, West Virginia. He regularly deals with children who struggle with drug addiction and during a meeting with a group of teens, he asked them to raise their hands if they ever came across a problem they felt like they couldn't talk about with their parents.
The response he received was eye-opening: every single teen raised their hands. It got him thinking about his own teenage years and how he was first pressured into drinking.
"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. I still recall my first time drinking beer at a friend’s house in junior high school—I hated it, but I felt cornered. As an adult, that now seems silly, but it was my reality at the time."
So that helped him to devise the "X" plan with his kids. No matter what situation they're in, if they want out, they just need to text him "X."
By simply texting an "X" to Bert or any other member of the family, they'll get a call from a family member who can drive who'll say that something's come up and they need to pick them up immediately. No questions asked. No needing to save face, just a teen who's family needs them and is picking them up for a family emergency.
Bert even came up with an easy script for his family to follow.
"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."
Fulks went on to say that "The X-Plan" only works if a family member doesn't rush to pass judgment or ask questions about what happened - it's entirely up to whoever initiated the text.
"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."
He went on to say that after implementing "The X-Plan," it greatly improved the relationship between him and his son.
"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."
People who learned of Bert's plan are loving it - both parents and teachers alike.
Fulks hopes that if parents can encourage their kids to reach out sooner rather than later, a lot of heartache can be avoided down the line.