One of the toughest parts of parenting tweens and teens is knowing that they are going to get into difficult situations without you. That’s especially true when they have to evaluate whether they need to leave a situation. And even if you’ve prepared them well to know when to exit, do they have a reliable way to get out of there?
On Reddit this week, one parent shared the secret code they use with their kid if he ever needs help from his parents to get out of a bad situation — no questions asked. And thousands of other people chimed in with their own strategies for offering their teens an easy escape, even if it means the parents get blamed for it.
“My kid just texted me 🌭,” the post starts. “It’s code for I want to come home, but I want it to be your fault.”
The parent goes on to explain the situation at hand.
“He was supposed to be staying the night with a friend, so I was concerned when I get this text after I’ve already gone to bed. I called him and told him ‘you were supposed to unload the dishwasher before you left, and now you’ve lost your privilege of spending the night. I’ll be there in five minutes, have your stuff gathered up.”
“He got in the car and I asked what’s up. He said his friend’s grandpa was making him feel uncomfortable, but he didn’t know how to tell the friend he wanted to leave, then he thanked me for getting him out of there,” the poster shared.
Other parents shared their code words, too.
“We used to use ‘I wish it would rain/be sunny’ if we had an emergency situation. Our parents or grandma would come get us from wherever we were and no one was the wiser; they always assumed our parents were buzzkills hence why they were taking us home (they were overprotective so it made sense) and it kept us looking cool in the eyes of friends/classmates whilst getting us out of situations we felt uncomfortable or unsafe about.”
“Ours was saying things that didn't make a lot of sense,” another wrote. “‘Don't forget to feed Shelby.’ Shelby was our long dead dog.
“Ours was all in the wording,” a mom shared. “If my kid texted me ‘can I spend the night at Kristin‘s?’ it meant that she genuinely wanted to spend the night at Kristin‘s. If she texted me ‘Kristin wants me to spend the night,’ that [meant] she wanted me to say no. It was very subtle, but this way, if Kristin happened to grab my daughter’s phone, she could read the texts and not suspect thing.”
Love that subtlety.
There are really two ingenious aspects to this plan: having a secret code SOS that only your family understands and having your kids use you as an excuse for why they have to leaves.
Commenters were definitely into both parts.
“I tell my daughters that they can throw me under the bus if they need to,” one parent shared.
“I will happily endure the public mockery of a million objectively cool teenagers if it means my daughter says ‘Thanks, dad’ in the car,” another added.
One parent added an amazing tip for if your kid doesn’t know where they are but need to get home: just snap a picture.
“If they want us to come get them and don't know exactly where they are/don't know the address to just send ANY picture and we'll pull the location from the meta data. ... And the rule is, absolutely no questions asked. When they get in the car, it's up to them if they want to tell us why they need picked up. It's implicit trust (which is scary) but the best we can come up with as parents.”
Many parents are having these talks with their kids far before they are teens, so that they know they can trust you to help, even if you don’t know the whole story. one Redditor summed it up perfectly:
“There's two types of parent: The ‘I'm in deep shit, I hope my parents don't find out!’ and the ‘I'm in deep shit, better call them!’. This parent clearly chose which one they wanted to be.”