If you have kids in their teens, they may be encountering things at parties and just hanging out with friends that are new for them. Some kids may be bringing alcohol or drugs with them. Others may be planning an activity that could end badly -- like taking the parents' Lamborghini for a spin while they're not home.
You want your child to feel safe letting you know that they need to be picked up right away. However, they may fear the ridicule they'll get if others see them texting their parents or hear them making a phone call.
One father, who's an educator and youth minister, says he remembers what it was like to be a kid in that situation. He came up with something he calls the "X-Plan" for his son and recommends it to other families. The child simply texts an "X" to one of his parents. The parent then calls him and tells him he has to come home.
Kids can them blame their early departure on their "lame" parents. They escape the peer pressure to stay and do something they don't want to, and they don't risk the taunts of other kids.
However, the X-Plan or whatever version of it parents choose (like perhaps an innocuous code word or phrase) only works if kids can count on their parents not to punish them or ask questions. That part of the bargain can be difficult to live up to if your child isn't where they said they were going or if you didn't even realize they were out of the house.
However, parents have to make that tradeoff to ensure that their child will reach out to them in an unsafe situation. If your teen is at a party where alcohol or drugs are being passed around, you don't want to take a chance they will ride home with someone who is driving under the influence or get behind the wheel while drunk themselves.
Aside from the obvious dangers of driving under the influence, teens can get a DUI with a much lower blood alcohol level than adults. If your child ends up in that situation, it's essential to take the matter seriously and not let them face the justice system alone.