A father’s recent blog, “X-Plan: Giving your kids a way out (#xplan)”, shares how his family handles social pressure put on their children, and offers a simple formula for other families. The post, written by blogger Bert Fulks has been tremendously popular, and has been shared more than 1.3 million times on Facebook.
Simply put, the “X Plan” goes like this: if a child is in a situation that makes him or her uncomfortable, all he or she has to do is text the letter “X” to a trusted family member. The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within a few minutes, they call the child’s phone, and the conversation goes like this:
“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, the child tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.
In short, the child knows he/she has a way out, without pressure to give in to social ridicule. A key aspect to “X-Plan,” also, is that there is no judgement passed – and no questions asked.
Lori Gibson read the blog post, and recently chatted with other mothers about how her family handles awkward social situations. She says her family of six already has an “everything is on the table” policy. All of four of her girls are encouraged to keep the lines of communication open.
“I think its so important that the kids know that Mom and Dad are on their side,” Gibson says. “All they want is their safety and security, and to know that there is that out, to me, is a beautiful thing.”
Gibson’s daughter Samantha is a freshman at the University of Florida. At home on Spring Break, she says she felt comfortable in high school knowing she had a safety net, if she ever was stuck in a situation she didn’t feel right being in.
Says Samantha, “My Dad always said, ‘you can always call me, no questions asked. We’ll just talk about it in the morning – the next day. You won’t be in trouble, I just want you to be able to call me.'”
Like the formula offered in “X-Plan,” the Gibson family agrees not to pass judgement. But Lori Gibson believes it’s still important to ask questions, as a learning experience not just for the children, but for the parents as well.
“As your children grow, you have to learn with them, and you have to continue to learn how to connect with them,” she says.
The ultimate goal of the “X-Plan,” writes Fulks, is for each family to decide what’s best for them, build a bridge of trust, and keep children safe. And that’s a concept that Gibson is behind 100 percent.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s an X, or an A, B, or C. It’s about knowing that parents are going to be there no matter what. Communication has to be just around the corner,” Gibson says.
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