Being a teenager is never easy, and while parents might like to think they know their children well, chances are there is a whole world of social pressure, anxiety, and fear of being the outcast that they don’t know of.
Every generation went through a similar experience, but the growth of social media means teenagers today have it harder than most. With a multitude of ways to stay in touch and every action documented online, it can be hard for teens to resist the pressure to confirm or follow the crowd.
Whether it’s a prank, partying, drinking or drugs, it’s inevitable that they’re going to get themselves into dangerous or tricky situations that parents are not going to approve of but, what happens if they don’t want to be their either?
Much of the time, even if they want to leave somewhere social pressure and lack of a way out will make it impossible for them to do so. Calling their parents is not seen as a viable option because the majority of the time they don’t want to face the consequences. If they admit they’re somewhere, they shouldn’t be they could be in for a long lecture, nagging, questions they don’t want to answer and even grounding.
In this situation, most parents would agree their child’s safety is of paramount importance and wouldn’t want them not to call them, just because they were scared of the reaction.
But how do you help out a child in danger without risking social embarrassment? One parent who wanted to give their child a way out of these types of situations came up with the X-Plan for her kids.
They agreed that if a child felt in need or rescuing or needed a “way out” they would text a family member an ‘X.’ That family member would then call them and follow a set script, where they claim there is a “family emergency” that means they have to come home right away and that they would be there in five minutes to pick them up.
This way it looks like the child simply had to go back and now has a non-embarrassing, face-saving way out of a situation with no pressure and no social ridicule for leaving.
Part of the deal is that it’s up to the child how much to tell their parent about why they wanted to leave or what they were doing. If they want to talk about it, they can, but if they don’t their parent agreed they wouldn’t pry – even if they are miles away from where they said they were.
The plan gives children confidence and security to go out in the world and develop their social skills and life experiences, knowing they have back-up when they need it. According to the XPlan, the only time they have to speak up no matter the consequences is when someone else is in danger.
The plan is a great learning curve for both parents and children and helps build trust within the relationship. Some parents can forget how hard it can be to deal with social pressure as a teenager. They may fail to see that a child might be as scared as you at the situation, but went along with it because they didn’t feel they had any way out.
While it might be hard for them to stick to the “no questions” part of the deal, it’s crucial that they do as this is probably the main reason their child wouldn’t call them in the first place.
Not every situation needs a lecture, sometimes being a good parent is giving support when needed and letting your child learn the hard lessons for themselves. A parent’s top priority, after all, is their safety and a child shouldn’t put themselves in an awkward situation just because they fear the reaction.
Technology has infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives and while so many times this can drive a wedge between parent and child. This plan does the opposite and helps build a closer bond. Without fearing their parents’ reaction, a teenage will probably rely on them more to escape situations, giving them more insight into their child’s life.
Even if they don’t reveal all the details of individual events, the parent will at least know it happened and be able to have a greater understanding of what they are going through in their personal and social life.
If they’re quiet the next day or seem stressed out, at least the parent will have some idea what it could be down to. If they hadn’t called, they would still be completely in the dark.