X-Plan: Giving your kids a way out (#xplan)

(As seen on The Today Show, Good Housekeeping, HerViewFromHome, ScaryMommy, The Huffington Post, Mamamia, MomsEveryday, and numerous social and news media outlets. UPDATED – 3/3/2017)

Friends, as most of you know, I get to spend an hour each week with a group of young people going through addiction recovery.  Yes.  Young people.  I’m talking teenagers who are locked away for at least six months as they learn to overcome their addictions.  I’m always humbled and honored to get this time with these beautiful young souls that have been so incredibly assaulted by a world they have yet to understand.  This also comes with the bittersweet knowledge that these kids still have a fighting chance while several of my friends have already had to bury their own children.

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?”

They all raised their hands.

Every single one of them.

In the spirit of transparency … I get it.  Though in my mid-forties, 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 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.  “Peer pressure” was a frivolous term for an often silent, but very real thing; and I certainly couldn’t call my parents and ask them to rescue me.  I wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place.  As a teen, forcing down alcohol seemed a whole lot easier than offering myself up for punishment, endless nagging and interrogation, and the potential end of freedom as I knew it.


xplan-text1-2For these reasons, we now have something called the “X-plan” in our family.  This simple, but powerful tool is a lifeline that our kids are free to use at any time.  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.”

“What happened?”

“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.

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 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.

xplan-text1However, there’s one critical component to the X-plan:  Once he’s been extracted from the trenches, Danny knows that he can tell us as much or as little as he wants … but it’s completely up to him.  The X-plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgments and ask no questions (even if he is 10 miles away from where he’s supposed to be).  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.

(One caveat here is that Danny knows if someone is in danger, he has a moral obligation to speak up for their protection, no matter what it may cost him personally.  That’s part of the lesson we try to teach our kids—we are our brother’s keeper, and sometimes we have to stand for those too weak to stand for themselves.  Beyond that, he doesn’t have to say a word to us.  Ever.)

For many of us parents, we lament the intrusion of technology into our relationships.  I hate seeing people sit down to dinner together and then proceed to stare into their phones.  It drives me nuts when my kids text me from another room in our house.  However, cell phones aren’t going away, so we need to find ways to use this technology to help our kids in any way we can.

Since first publishing this piece, I’ve seen an incredible amount of discussion about the pros and cons. Here are some of the questions folks have had:

Doesn’t this encourage dishonesty?

Absolutely not. It actually presents an opportunity for you as a parent to teach your kids that they can be honest (something DID come up, and they DO have to leave), while learning that it’s okay to be guarded in what they reveal to others. They don’t owe anyone an explanation the next day, and if asked can give the honest answer, “It’s private and I don’t want to talk about it.” Boom! Another chance for a social skill life-lesson from Mom and Dad.

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 this becomes habitual?

If you’re regularly rescuing your kid, hopefully your family is having some conversations about that.

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.

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 okay.

I urge you to use some form of our X-plan in your home.  If you honor it, your kids will thank you for it.  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.

At the end of the day, however, the most important thing is that you’re having some open, honest discussions with your kids. Keep building a relationship of trust. This isn’t the same world we grew up in. It’s not like sneaking a beer at Billy’s house anymore. Our kids face things on a daily basis that—given one bad decision—can be fatal. Don’t believe me? I’ve been to funerals for great kids from awesome families.

Friends, it’s a dangerous world. And our kids are out in it everyday.

Prayers for strength and compassion to the parents out there as we all try to figure out this whole parenting gig—it never gets easy.

I beg you to share this piece.  Talk about it with your kids.  If this somehow gives just one kid a way out of a bad situation, we can all feel privileged to have been a part of that.


Blessings, friends.



Release date from Simon & Schuster / Howard Books: June 11, 2019.

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791 thoughts on “X-Plan: Giving your kids a way out (#xplan)

  1. I am “one of the older” of 7 children. When i was younger my parents allowed us a lot of space. With that space i was able to make my own decisions. I was also a very honest kid because i knew that i could call them with anything. I smoked somethibg once that caised hallucinations. The first perso. I went to was my mother. I was scared, and i knew she would be there for me. She may be upset after, but at the moment her priority was to make sure i was ok. When my younger siblings were growing my parents were steict on them. My parents said that we had too much freedom and she didnt want that with them. My older sister got pregnant young and now is an escort in another city and we cannot get her to cone home. She was the one who fell for peer pressure to fit in. The younger three havent found much good direction in life, and my older brother parties a lot. No hard drugs or real crime, but he parties a lot. His friends arent good influence. I was the only one to graduate from college. To be honest it doesnt matter how much space you give your children really. Children will either do what is right, or fall to what is wrong. The only thing that a loving parent can do is be there. Catch them. You can be mad later, but give them a reason to come to you. I love this plan, and tho my daighter is only 2, i will adopt this plan when the time comes.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I like the plan for the out, but I feel there is a follow through component missing. The next day at school the child then has to make up and maintain a lie about said emergency. I am not convinced that this plan is so well thought out.


      • My son is great at rolling his eyes and saying “My mom…I really don’t want to talk about it”. Our house is the hang out house…but all of them have seen me loose it on the older boys who have “adopted” me too, so they dont ask


      • My mom kind of did the same thing but back before cell phones, so it didn’t work as well during a situation but if I ever didn’t feel comfortable going somewhere, my mom always said I could blame it on her and say she said no or whatever. But it was a way out of something and as long as you get out safe you have time to figure out what the “emergency” was.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In reply to what does the kid say when asked at school or by friends the next day… Your kid could say, just some personal family matters that my parents want to keep that way. Or simply oh nothing big just parents and their drama. I think by your kid realizing that you had to come get him from a sticky situation they’ll be more comfortable telling so called friends any excuse since they know mom, dad, and family have their back no matter.


      • We’re thinking as adults not kids. Most often kids don’t even remember that you left earlier. There will not be any follow up questions. And if there are, they simply say.., “You know my parents, everything is always an emergency”. No lie. No follow through. Kids think in the moment and that moment happened yesterday. It’s over! Absolutely love this! Thx so much for sharing. My daughter is on her way to college but what a great buddy system for college kids. God bless

        Liked by 3 people

    • If they ask right then, he should say that they didn’t tell him why. If it is the next day, then he could tell them anything. A family member stopped over, someone was sick, homework wasn’t done… It could be anything. They didn’t say it was a big emergency, just that something came up.
      The plan is a guideline. Tailor it to fit your children’s situation.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It doesn’t matter. My mom and I had a similar set up with the addition that i was allowed to “make her the bad guy”. To her I needed my friends, she didn’t need my friends. So I would say things like “oh you know mom, she was over-reacting again” or “forgot to do XYZ and she got mad”, but it could always be on her and not me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That was my thought. When my sons reach that age, they have full permission to blame it on me flipping out over something small. Like “it was my night to walk the dog and I forgot, so she made a mess on the floor and mom wanted to yell at me” or, if it’s one of the older two, “mom got called into work and I had to go home to be with the younger boys. She doesn’t like them being home alone at night…” I have five and there’s eight years between my oldest and youngest, so it’s a plausible excuse.


    • That they don’t know what came up but their parents have to pick them up. That’s why when the parents call the child they just say something came up I’ll tell you about it when I pick you up.


    • It’s OK to teach your children boundries. It would be perfectly ok for the kid to say to his friends, “It was family drama.” or “Just some personal stuff.” There are ways to be vauge and honest at the same time. It’s also perfectly OK to not give out personal details. Teenagers should feel comfortable setting boundaries with peers.


  2. Another way of giving kids an easy out is to let the parent play the heavy, “I have to ask my mom”. Set up an innocuous code word that means, “Tell me no.” Like, “Awesome.”
    “Hey, you should spend the night!”
    “I have to call and ask my mom.”

    “Hi Mom, Emma just asked me if I could spend the night, and we’re going to have an awesome time. Please say yes!”
    “Sorry, that’s not going to work tonight, you have to practice X (or do homework, or pack for a trip, or WHATEVER).”
    “Aw, mom!”

    Codewords can be layered, so say “amazing” is your codeword for “Say no” and “totally amazing” is “say no and help come get me right now.”

    My kids always have my permission to blame me for things they don’t want to do. I used my mother as an excuse not to sleep with a guy when I was 15. “Sorry, my mom’s a lawyer and she ALWAYS finds out about things, and I’d hate to get you in trouble.” (nevermind that the guy pressuring me was actually 6 months younger, lol!)

    My eldest once used me to get out of watching Britney Spears videos. “My mom doesn’t want me watching that.”

    If my kids are old enough to socialize without me there, they are old enough to get the talk that goes, “If you ever feel like you’re in over your head or things are risky or dangerous, I will get you out, no questions asked. I’d rather have you call me than ever drive drunk or ride with someone who’s drunk or been doing drugs.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good answer!! Although .. I have 7 kids, and I’ve always made it clear they can call me anytime, I won’t get mad! I’ve also taken part in situations like the “xplan” and gotten my kids out of a bad situation … but things don’t always work out! I had to bury my son a year ago, after a night of partying, he crashed his car at the top of my street… to this day I can’t figure out why he was driving.. or why he didn’t just call me! If any young people are reading this.. please!!!! It’s not just about you… so many lives have been destroyed since he died! Call some one for a ride!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you. My 18 year old knows he can always call and I will come get him or pay for a taxi, no questions asked as long as he gets home safe. Even so last year he got drunk, climbed a three story house and his friends had to call the fire department to get him down. I shudder to think what would have happened had he tried to climb down himself but we got lucky. I think at one point they are confident they can handle stuff themselves and don’t need us to solve it for them anymore. Which is quite right, of course, because they need to grow up as we did. But none of this is any consolation for you. I’m sending you all my love and a great big bear hug, Iris XXX


      • I’m so sorry for your loss, I’m always drumming into my son about drinking and driving , it’s a complete no no in our family, and i wouldn’t hesitate to inform the police if I knew of someone d&d, and yes, even my son too.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The only problem you have with that is, peer pressure. Which is what this is all about anyway. “My Mom won’t let me… my mom doesn’t like…”
      Other kids… ” come on man. Just don’t tell them….. they’ll never know…. you really need your mom’s permission???”
      Which is why having an “emergency” works better.


  3. Pingback: How to connect to your kids using cellphones | A Spoonful of Parenting

  4. I wish something like this would have been in place for my son years ago. But also it was a friends parent that help introduce him to some of the stronger drugs out there that he later became addicted to. More than likely their friends wont ask what the emergency was since they were the one’s that chose to stay and wont remember half of the nights event’s.


  5. I didn’t have parents or anyone I could trust growing up mine were strict very strict one night I went out with a friend and things went bad for me she decided to meet with a guy she was texting who turned out be a lot older than said and he brang two of his friends her parents called her to come home soon after we got their she was able to ask them to pick up somewhere she definetly shouldn’t of been on her own in middle of night I ended up stuck terrified of these guys and terrified if I asked parents for help I’d be murdered that night and that night didn’t end there it went on for a nearly a year till I eventually ran away out the county and then eventually went to live with a relative all because I couldn’t talk to my parents my parents weren’t the type to listen and wouldn’t believe a word I’d say as an excuse so I really do believe that the main most important thing for the X-Plan is that kids don’t need to give an excuse as to how they ended up in the situation that you trust them and you don’t stop them going out or punish them for it they may not talk or probly won’t talk at start but I really do think it shows they can trust you for it cause once you jump the gun you can’t go back ever my friend from that night told me years later that she had to use me as an excuse for being where she was she could trust them enough to collect her no matter where with a good excuse but maybe if she didn’t have to use me as an excuse and trusted her parents not to flip stop her going out again or to not punish her take away her phone maybe then she could of said I was in trouble and needed help too Not judging or questioning or expecting a reason from your kid is probly the success of the X-Plan no matter how hard that can be to do sometimes


  6. I have seen so many die in my town, the drugs are taking 1 at a time, a generation that perhaps if they had a plan like this would be alive today.


  7. Circumstances, options, plans, and this one in particular may or may not work for all. Sounds like an option to avoid a problem, but does not address the real problem. This just exacerbates a much larger problem. While I am sure unintentional, this is just another unconscious politically correct action. Quietly get my kid out of the situation while other kids are left to do heroine, xanax, pot, molly, shatter, and God knows what other drug…oh yea, and drink till they ruin their lives, “but as long as other kids ruin theirs it’s just fine son” you don’t need to tell me what happened at that party. I do not believe in telling a lie at anytime, this is why we are in the place we are. If more parents would just monitor, and be up front and honest with the fact that they do not believe in drugs, the few that were doing it would have never grown to the pandemic it is today. As it stands we are now at the point which well over 70% of high school kids are experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and sex. I am afraid it is getting worse, now that homosexual/lesbianism add to that transgenderism has been politically and correctly SHOVED down our throats, this is another human explosive behavior that we are going to allow to blow up in our face. I feel we currently are at defcon 5 and our kids are dying because of it. Social media and technology has shoved drugs, porn, and putrid human behavior down our throats. I have faith God wins, but we need more bold people to stand up and start a serious conversation right in the face of the loons that continue to think this behavior is okay. Sorry but your solution is a selfish patch that again just takes care of yourself….but in this culture that is all that matters. Not being a jerk, just having the conversation so many can’t have these day because we are being sold solutions such as this.


      • Yes I have children 23, 21, and 18. I don’t believe there is any single solution when it comes to parenting. The X plan is a good one, take it a step further in my opinion, but in this scenario, I lose the trust of a teenager (I have to think on that one). The point I am trying to make, is we need to get out of the comfort zone which political correctness has pushed us to. We are raising kids in unprecedented times! Our silence in these situations would be better served if we taught our kids to protect all kids, at the expense of losing friends and even becoming unpopular. See I am unpopular in this group….I am okay with that, as long as my intentions are good (I am also not a teenager, I get that). My intentions are good, I always say the things most are afraid to say. If I hear one more FREAKING time…..”kids are gonna make mistakes”…”well, I did that when I was young”…”she’s 16 now do you think we should put her on the pill, I was on the pill”…”well he’s just being a boy”, “I smoked pot when I was young”…. I AM GOING TO LOSE IT (maybe I just did). We are a broken society because we took and still take the easy route. We don’t have tough conversations any longer. I can tell the people here care, but do you love “ALL” kids, like your own? I bet many do, and if you give me your ear for just a second you will get what I mean. We must stop pussy footing around. Kids are kids, we are the parents. These along with thousands of “EXCUSES” are why we are in the mess we are today. We don’t even know what bathroom to use. When I am around kids, and I am allot, I love them all, just like they are my own. Even before I had children I protected children, told them right from wrong, what respect was. I can’t tell you how many times I got told or asked, is that your kid? I would say no but they need to learn, might as well be me. I have dealt with the roughest kids and roughest parents….I hit them where it hurts because I love them. Yal call this JERK, I call it LOVE. I made all the mistakes that any kid can make. I NEVER use this as a reason to allow anyone else to, please learn from my wisdom. We need to all sing out of the same hymn book. We must constantly teach virtue and do so unapologetically. We will never avoid all mistakes, but I bet we could help them make less. Last thing should your kid be at that party with his brother or sister and one doesn’t send the X, what do you do then?


    • You ARE being a jerk. A big one. I sincerely hope that you will never find yourself in a situation with your children where your God will make you swallow your words and eat crow. Being stupid is what children do and always have, and quite possibly always will. Some more than others. That is how they were made
      , each unique in their own way. We, as parents, are here to offer them a way out when they need it. We are there to help them learn to say no and stand up to peer pressure (which quite frankly many adults are not able to do), and to shore them up when they need our help until they can manage on their own. That is how we were made. Please look into your own soul and you will find that this is truth.


      • More jerkness coming your way. You just contradicted yourself…..the X-system (while I said was a good one, except)…is not teaching a kid to stand up for themselves. Standing up is looking your friends in the face and saying….”Hey guys or gals, hears the deal if your drinking, doing drugs, having sex, watching porn, I cannot partake, it’s bad for you, it’s bad for me, and this is the stuff I’ll sacrifice our friendship for”. “I cannot stand here and watch you do this”, “Let me get out of here before you start as I cannot lie to my parents and I worry for your safety”. “Before I leave, I still want to be your friends and graduate with you so one last thing…If you hate me that’s okay, I may have just prevented one of your obituaries, and you probably will never thank me, and that’s okay too”.

        SECOND and a huge SECOND thing…. You also just supported my argument in saying “parents are not able to stand up for themselves”….this is exactly my point. I am standing up for what I believe in and you think I am being a jerk. This is because we are all softies now!!! Parents need to be parents. I will sacrifice friendships (which were not real friendships anyway), I will sacrifice my son and my daughter’s friends if it means keeping them safe. This is not always going to look the same…we agree on that as well. The HUGE LOOMING PROBLEM IS POLITICAL CORRECTNESS….it has ruined our culture…no one is wrong, don’t criticize, let that boy pee in girls room, everyone is a winner, give everyone a trophy, and now…. go to a party and if someone is doing Heroine, (text me an X) and you don’t have to tell me, just get in the car, no questions… it’s just that Jones kids, his parents are jerks anyway who cares if his kids die? I am going overboard to make a point by the way.

        We are the first generation of parents to raise kids in this level of technology and information age…again the X idea is not horrible, but please be concerned with the kids you left at the party doing what ever they were doing. Be bold enough to call other parents, go to the home together and break up the dangerous behavior.

        By the way God making me swallow my words concerning my children, what in the heck does that mean? My children are God’s children, there on loan to me, and I am doing the best with them as you are with yours.


    • What does acceptance of sexual orientatuon have ANYTHING to do with this conversation? This comment reeks of judgment and hate.

      You raise a good point about choosing whether and how to help others left in a bad situation whether than extending the plan a step further to help the others, but you bring really odd connections and conclusions to the argument which weakens it.


    • The LGBT+ people who seem to make you twitch are normal humans just like you, and have ALWAYS been part of the world. Just because you have only just learned they exist doesn’t mean it’s a new concept. ‘God’ is supposed to be about love and acceptance… your words reek of judgemental narrow-mindedness and knee-jerk misunderstanding.
      People are people, of all flavours. That might include your own kids. If they can’t trust you to accept them as they were born, they will feel forced to hide it and you will be actively hurting them every single day.


      • Different subject but……I have many gay friends……they don’t push homosexuality on me, they don’t try to convince me that it is okay, healthy, or that they are special because they are gay. It really is none of my business that they are gay. If there is a discussion though at least we are all mature enough to discuss it without being called homophobic.


      • Danny, I’m really concerned you think it’s not okay or healthy to be queer. I worry about your kids. It’s sad that they obviously won’t be able to come to you if they don’t fit into your very narrow box of what a human is supposed to look or be like.


      • LR….don’t worry….I am not the judge and I will bet you a million dollars my kids have more options in that box than most. If they were gay you act like I would love them less, your the one with the small box. I will not condone homosexuality as acceptable behavior, nor do I want others to accept my many sins as okay…. lust, lies, drunkenness…..we are all broken and fall short. If you see me sinning I want you to love me and let me know, just as I would you. Not in a condescending or judgmental way, just honest and truthful. I can take it….and last time I checked…the road is narrow….so please remember, do me that solid, if I am wrong tell me I am wrong. I bet I am more open minded to than you. Because you accept homosexual behavior as okay, doesn’t mean you cornered the market on compassion, understanding, and maturity. It also does not mean you love them more than me, it could be just the opposite.

        Mathew: 7
        The Narrow Gate
        13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.…

        Liked by 1 person

      • To believe that homosexuality is a sin is to believe that God creates in error. For most people, homosexuality is not a choice you get to make. It is the way you were made, and the choice you make is to love as god made you to love, or to assume that God was mistaken because small minded men told you he didn’t make you that way.

        There is nothing wrong with a parent saying “I love you in spite of your flaws”. There IS, however, something wrong with saying “I love you in spite of who you are”.


      • Danny, my parents, like you, professed compassion for the sinner but did not hesitate to call love sin, to equate it with drunkenness, dishonesty, and other moral failings. They made me know, early and often, that the most personal and intimate parts of myself, the brightest and best love of my heart, were wrong. I learned that I failed without acting, without willing, simply by *being*, and suffered accordingly. Was this compassionate, truly?

        It didn’t make me any less queer, because my queerness is neither willed nor moral failing, but it did serve to destroy any trusting relationship I might have had with them and to drive me from their faith. They died not knowing me, because they had chosen, over and over, not to. I urge you not to make the same choice they did.


  8. How about teach your children to honor God, set healthy boundaries and respect themselves? Explain about the dangers of drugs. Explain about their conscience and how it is there to help them make wise decisions. And how about have the get together and parties at your own home so you can teach these things to all the kids? They will love you for it. So many kids have no direction or good home life. Youth groups at church are a good place to start. 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    • How about do these things and also offer your children a lifeline for the point where, inevitably, they go somewhere outside of their own home? Even very well prepared kids may find themselves in uncomfortable situations, situations in which other people are engaging in behaviors that are unsafe or even that directly threaten them. Even the most sheltered kids leave home sometimes, at some point. Things like this aren’t a replacement for good parenting, whatever that may look like for you; they are a complement to it, and an acknowledgement that neither your children nor the universe are entirely under your control.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. 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. Don’t worry about meeting the friends the following day. The parents can come with a convincing story or the kids can just dismiss it as over reacting parents. Either way, your child is safe and that is ALL that matters.


  10. This wasn’t the code word, but I had a plan like this with my parents. I used it three times. The first time it was to get out of an awkward situation that was not unsafe, but I didn’t know that. I never told them what happened (well, I have since becoming an adult, but not for years). This meant I trusted them enough to call my physician father and possibly saved somebody at a party from alcohol poisoning. The third time was only a year ago…and I’m 35. I’m pretty sure having a way to have my father run in and say how glad he was to find me because of the emergency at home got me out of what could have ended in a sexual assault. Even as an adult, it is a good idea to have a plan with someone you trust for times when you can’t explicitly say “I don’t feel safe here”. I never lied to anyone to use this plan…most of the people present didn’t ever ask…and the parents of the drunk person were so grateful that he was alright they honored my dads request to tell him they loved him and come up with their own plan…he felt so awful for the stress he put us all through he punished himself far more than his parents could have anyway. Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on bay witch musings and commented:
    My mom had a “no questions asked, I’ll come and get you” policy, and I always planned to do the same, but I like this….it makes it less obvious in a situation where a kid might not want to make it obvious that they want to leave.


  12. I have too daugthers. We also have a “code word” for situations like this. Its called: “Hello dad! I am at a friend’s party. Things got a bit out of hand I am not feeling well anymore here. I trust you that you will not be mad at me for beeing here in the first place. Please can you come pick me up at …” I pray that I will manage to earn that trust from them! (Currently they are 2 and 5 years old *G*)


  13. Pingback: Does Your Family Have An ‘X-Plan?’ « NOW 100.5 FM

    • Say, “It was just some more family stuff”. Then start asking the other kid about what their family is like, etc.
      People like to talk about themselves, and a good way to get out of a tight spot (including being the potential brunt of bullying) is to give a casual response and then turn the conversation toward asking the other person in a friendly way about a similar topic in their life.


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  15. I love this so much. I shared it from my Slow Family Living FB page and it had more shares than anything I’ve ever posted! Over 20,000 views! So obviously it resonated for a lot of people. Thank you for this brilliant and simple idea.

    As for the questions posed about what your kids say to their friends the next day, I don’t think it matters. They can say, “ah it was nothing. Just my parents overreacting to something” and every kid would just let it drop. And that’s if any kid actually asked! So happy I found your site. It’s lovely.


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  17. Oh man… “X” me in! My current understanding on the topic:

    A world without drug and alcohol influence begins at home. But unfortunately not many people are willing to see that even their casual use of these destructive substances are an influence whatsoever. Which means that parents, family and friends alike need to be hypersensitive in giving drugs and alcohol the privilege of entry into their home.

    Unfortunately, today what people are willing to believe and accept as drug and alcohol influence in themselves and others is not clear and most see no issues with having these substances hang around.

    We all as “adults” need to seriously rethink about the entitlement we give ourselves with drugs and alcohol and honestly ask what long-term benefits it has brought ourselves and our loved ones?

    The truth is. Our children, the most important precious beings in our lives, are hypersensitive and are in a cognitive development mode of learned behavior within the environment and culture they live. With the largest influence being the ones who are here with the responsibility to guide them.

    Be starkly honest with yourself on the matter. Because reflecting on this topic now may be the largest transformation for yourself and the future of your children and family.

    Dissuading our children to drugs and alcohol and then witnessing their father, mother, family and their family friends under the influence or even inebriated is sending a very clear message sublimally and physically that there’s something unstable and another way to change our state of being to have so called fun or to deal with the day-to-day mundane life. These associations form concrete references psychologically and takes 100 times more effort to rid them in our subconscious and sometimes a lifetime to overcome. Rather than making a much wiser choice to not allow such substances in and around our precious children and family home.

    It’s time to become transparent with one another and wholeheartedly begin sharing on the topic.

    I’ve once suffered from drug and alcohol problems for 20 years and realise that it all started at home with what my parents, their friends and relatives thought was all about having a good time. In the name of the “Party” and “Celebration”.

    Our reference on how to form a good life growing up is by observing how our family is living out theirs.

    Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    …let’s us be the change we want to see in our children!

    Accepting drugs and alcohol in our home where our precious children are being raised is statistically accepting the fact that we’re increasing their risk of a future with drug and alcohol abuse.

    What parent would be so unfathomable to make such a choice? What parent would make such a bold choice to do away with drugs and alcohol in the environment in which they reside?

    Who in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s….would text “X” for a safe way out to their guardian?

    It appears that the so-called responsible adults who are here in the world laying out the better future for our children happen to be the biggest drug and alcohol advocates and influences!

    …let’s us be the change we want to see in our children!


    • My parents and family members had nothing to do with drugs when I was growing up, none of them even smoked cigarettes. They weren’t completely alcohol-free, drinking occasionally, never to excess- 1 or 2 standard drinks every couple of months. At 28, I’ve never seen either parent drunk, or even close to drunk.
      When I was a teenager, I experimented with drugs- smoking cigarettes, pot, ecstasy, lsd etc, but was never much into drinking. These were activities my friends and peers were also experimenting with, some my age and some a couple of years older. It was fun and exciting at the time, we thought we were the bees knees. Mine and most of my friend’s parents had no idea, at that time, what we were doing- and keeping the kids at home wouldn’t have stopped it. Some were sneaking around smoking at school, or sneaking out at night.
      By the time I was 21 I’d completely lost interest in all of it and stopped. At that age it was no problem to just say ‘No thanks, I don’t do that’ or ‘Nah, I gave it up’, the peer-pressure thing had worn off.
      Now I don’t take drugs, don’t smoke and am teetotal, don’t drink at all. Doesn’t cross my mind to do it, and if someone offers ‘No thank you, I don’t drink’. When I have kids it will be a drug, smoke and alcohol-free house (husband doesn’t do those things either) but they still might go down that track.
      If they do, I hope they feel that they can talk to me if and when they are scared, overwhelmed or unsure.
      My parents gave me all the talks and warnings, my high school had all the talks and warnings etc.
      By the time they hit high school, kids friends are so much more of an influence on what they do.


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  22. The plan is good, the part I find hard is trusting them and suppressing my natural curiosity to learn what they were going through – that takes serenity.


  23. My Mom and I always had a system like this, along with a couple of my friends in case she was working. I found this system actually made me more responsible regarding the things I was willing to partake in and the things I said “no” to. Having the support system I did, I never had an excuse not to say “no thanks” to things I didn’t support.


  24. My parents did this 20 years ago for my sister and I with the use of our own “safe word” growing up in New Orleans. One of the best parenting tools I have ever come across and so many situations in which it was used in my teenage years. And I never once had friends that asked me what happened. We did not necessarily say it was an emergency, just that I had to leave for something the end. I have already started implementing it with my boys in simpler ways and to see how empowered and independent it makes them, learning just from using it between each other at elementary age. Never have I seen it in writing, thought my mom made it up lol! This is a must read for all parents as I have lived through it and it works!


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  26. Pingback: El plan–X: dales a tus hijos adolescentes una salida segura para una situación peligrosa | Incitando Creatividad en Familia

  27. Pingback: El plan–X: dando a tus hijos adolescentes una salida | Incitando Creatividad en Familia

  28. This is one of the problems of making America Great Again… People don’t even have the imagination to try something as “cool” as this X Plan! Get creative people, all he has to say is my mom is so funny, my grandparents came for a visit or she baked me a home cooked meal with peach cobbler with ice cream. Now what other kid wouldn’t secretly wish his or her mom did that for them. It’s was never tough for me fortunately, I have never taken an illegal substance, never felt pier pressure. When my friends showed up to a party and the beer can tower was already pretty large, they would see the Dr. Pepper can somewhere in the tower, and say Kemnitz is here. If you know who you are and who you want to be you will never allow anyone to pressure you to do anything! I was a popular kid in school, but I never treated others badly, ever! And I never felt it necessary to try drugs, cigarettes or alcohol.
    When my kids were in middle school I let them know I was not “mom” I was their personal life coach, it was my job to see that they succeeded. This was long before “life coaches” were cool, but we made our life work, we had family meetings and discussed our issues. No one is perfect, no family is perfect, but parents, please at least try something!


  29. I’ve got a question. What if your son is out with friends at a party he is not supposed to be at and he decides to drink. Then something happens to where he does not feel comfortable anymore. When he texts “X” & he is picked up, does he get interrogated / in trouble for drinking when he shouldn’t have? Because if he does, then I can see where he wouldn’t want to call or text for help. You mention that it would be no questions asked, even if he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be or whatnot, but what if when u picked him up he is drunk or high? Do the same rules apply?


    • I would say the same rules applies. This is the hard part for a parent, because you have to trust your kid that he/she will not do it again. But I think the X-plan only works when it really is ‘no question asked’. So if you kid comes home drunk: make sure they’re OK, don’t judge & be there for them. Next time, your kid hopefully knows it wasn’t a great thing to do, but they trusted you enough to call for help and THAT’s the important thing.


  30. I’ve used this with my daughter, who is almost 18, since she was small. Absolute assurance that there are no repercussions from utilizing this strategy is what allows it to be successful. 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.


  31. If your going to let you kid go to parties where there MIGHT be drinking and drugs, and let them hang out with kids who MIGHT drink and do drugs, with little or no adult supervision, yeah this is a good plan. But how about we do our job as parents and teach our kids that those kinds of people are TRASH and they shouldn’t be hanging out with them in the first place and if they (so called friends) do crap like that then they should call them out on it and say I dont want to be any part of that. How about we teach our kids to be strong moral leaders instead of weak snowflake followers, fragile and afraid of social blow back. Thats BS. My kid doesn’t need a secret code word to avoid an awkward situation. Quit raising weak kids. Do your job as parents and teach your kids right from wrong.
    My kid inst afraid of what some trashy pot smoking, bear drinking teen age loser thinks about him the next day at school. LEAD COURAGEOUSLY is our motto! Quite the opposite of this secret “get out of jail free” code word. WEAK!~


    • Because they are children, and normal, healthy, good kids WILL end up in that situation. Their brains are still developing ( yes, most especially teens ), and they are still *learning* what good judgement is. They WILL make mistakes, either out of rebellion, or just plain short sightedness.

      You can either give them the tools to deal with the situation, or you can pretend that they will never encounter it, leave them ignorant of it, and just hope that they are able figure it out for themselves without anyone getting hurt. You tell me who the better parent is.


    • There are times when a situation changes and kids need a safe way out. Mine was when my 13 year old stayed with hia best friend and his 18 year old brother. Something that has happened many times before perfectly fine. This time the older boy added his best friend and their girlfriends oover and alcohol was involved. I went and got him, and his best friend, no questions asked. But they wanted me to call his mom, they just didnt want to be alone with the drunk ones when I did.

      The point is, situations that have been safe before can change quickly and while I would definitely talk about how not to end up in that situation again, your first priority should be getting a kid out safely that realizes they are over their head


  32. How about teach your kids right from wrong. Teach them to stand up for what is right. They might just be a positive influence and change the course of something bad. What kind of a friend are you when your ‘friends’ all around you are getting into something bad, and you run away under the guise of a fake family emergency?? You are not much of a friend yourself in that situation. If your “friends” decide you are a stick in the mud for being a square….these are not true friends to begin with. This is so basic! Don’t teach your kids how to white lie their way out of a situation….they’ll do it to you when they think it will serve them best for their parents too. They’ll “spare you details” etc. You don’t want that. When they come to you and say “all my friends hate me, they want to do drugs…I don’t” THEN you help then navigate through that. You don’t want to teach them how to make the entire world love them, because it doesn’t love anyone.


  33. Pingback: X-Plan: Giving your kids a way out (#xplan) – Serendipity Indigo

  34. Pingback: Every Parent Should Use This Dad's "X-Plan" to Give Their Teens a Way Out of Pressure Situations | Nifymag.com

  35. I wish my daughter had this feb 18th. It could have saved her from a near death experience. Parents can be doubtful and question this from all angles. The important thing is that the children have a way to safety without judgement. My daughter was afraid of getting in trouble if she came home after sneaking out and drinking under age. So instead of coming home where she would be safe, she woke up the next morning in ICU. Take it from a parent that wishes I had seen this a week earlier. Lesson learned the hard way.


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  38. I did something similar to the X plan however I adapted it to the child. For instance my daughter if she was uncomfortable in a situation she would call me and say that she just got her period and has terrible cramps. My son would say that he feels like he’s going to throw up and has a stomach up virus. There were no questions asked except where are you and I will be there right away. They both have used this at different times and no one ever questioned them. They were reasons that their peers weren’t interested in questioning.


  39. Pingback: Why Every Parent Should Use This Dad’s Plan To Safeguard Teens From Peer Pressure – GoodStuff.buzz

  40. As a mom of two teen boys, this is a great idea and can be modified to suit your family. I had a friend share this on Facebook and I will pay it forward and share it with my followers on my site (www.writteningeek.wordpress.com). Thanks for posting this!


  41. Reblogged this on © Written In Geek and commented:
    A friend shared this from Facebook. It’s a terrific plan and a great way to make use of the technology out there. Pass it on and thanks to Bert Fulks for posting.


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