Some young children use a secret code to conceal their messages from their parents. But for one dad in West Virginia, he uses a coded text message with his children to prevent outsiders from knowing what they are talking about, and urges other parents to do the same.
Bert Fulks, a blogger and father of three, shared on his blog in February 2017 of an “X-Plan” that he used with his children. “This simple, but powerful tool is a lifeline that our kids are free to use at any time,” he wrote.
Fulks spends one hour every week to talk with young people who are going through addiction recovery. One day, he asked them a 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?”
Everyone raised his or her hand.
Fulks, who still remembered how he was pressurized by friends to drink beer while he was in junior high school, decided to come up with the X-Plan, which helps his children remove themselves from uncomfortable situations.
Fulks used his youngest son, Danny, to illustrate a scenario. Danny had gone to a party, and if something was making him uncomfortable, he could send a letter “X” to anyone in the family. The one who receives his text will need to give Danny a call and follow a script.
Danny, 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, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave,” Fulks wrote. “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.”
Fulks explained that after Danny is out of the situation, he doesn’t need to worry if Fulks will ask him anything because the plan “comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgments and ask no questions.”
However, Danny should speak up if he knows that someone is in danger.
Fulks encourages other parents to take on his idea and make use of cell phone communication if necessary. “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,” he wrote.
Many readers later commented on his blog, which surprised him.
“The most incredible thing for me personally is I’ve heard from so many parents all over the world, who as a result, have started having conversations with their kids. To play a tiny part in that, I’m just truly humbled,” Fulks told PEOPLE.