Parents Share the Codes Their Kids Text When They Need Help

After a mom shared on Reddit that her child uses the hot dog emoji to let her know they're in need of help, other parents chimed in with their experiences and applause.

Parents and teens often share a treasure trove of inside jokes and secret expressions that only they know. So some families have used that to their advantage to establish go-to emojis and phrases that a teen can use if they're ever in a situation they need the parent's help getting out of—and they want to be discreet. A parent on Reddit explained exactly how this works, noting in the Parenting subreddit that their kid just texted them a hot dog emoji, which is code for "I want to come home, but I want it to be your fault."

Writing under the handle u/jtboe79, the original poster (OP) shared, "Any random emoji when we're not texting each other will work."

The post continued, "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, now you've lost your privilege of spending the night. I'll be there in five minutes, have your stuff gathered up.'"

The teen got in the car, and the OP asked what was 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," wrote u/jtboe79.

The OP added that they'll talk more tomorrow about why he felt uncomfortable. "But for tonight, I will just be grateful that he remembered that I would come if he used any emoji," wrote u/jtboe79, adding that they wanted to "put it out there in case anyone needs ideas on getting their kids out of situations when the kid feels like they can't talk."

Young Woman Using Smart Phone

Other parents on Reddit applauded the teen's move. Commenter u/Mannings4head shared that in their house, they've come up with the expression, "Is grandpa okay?" "They call their grandpa Pop-Pop so there is no confusion on our end and asking about the health of a grandparent is normal enough that it wouldn't be suspicious if another kid saw the text," they noted.

Commenter u/getyourownthememusic weighed in: "I didn't get a cell phone until high school, but the code I used to use with my parents was to call them up and ask, 'Did you feed the fish?' We never had a fish, and my parents were always great at coming up with reasons why I needed to be picked up right away. It's so important to have a system like that with your kids."

And u/joyluster shared that the code text their 13-year-old uses is I left something upstairs, can you find it for me? "We don't have a two story house," they noted. "So I know and my son knows that if he sends me this while out, I will immediately come and get him. This was something that has helped me, especially with my anxiety, navigate the teenage years."

Some parents even have a go-to code that has been passed down over time. Commenter u/atelopuslimosus explained, "My wife's parents had a great system that is being passed on with her cousins and eventually with our child: the mythical sibling 'Phyllis.' All my wife or her sibling had to do was call and ask for Phyllis. Parents would come and pick up, no questions asked."

And parents who didn't have a code word or phrase established with their child just yet found themselves inspired by the thread. As u/marsmither wrote, "I love this. Thank you for sharing, and I hope to remember this for my kid when they're old enough. Genius. And kudos to you for having such an amazing, trustworthy open relationship with your son. That is truly special and something I aspire to have with my kiddo."

Props to the OP for sharing this simple trick. It's clear plenty of parents and their kids will feel safer by having their own go-to emoji, code, or phrase at the ready.

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