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Curfew: 10:00 pm on weeknights. 11 pm on weekends.

No video games except from 8-9 pm.

Homework time is from 3-5 daily.

No Social Media until you are 17.

Rules. Rules. Rules.

How many kids do you know who love rules?

I haven’t met very many kids who like rules. But we all need boundaries for our behavior. As we work toward raising kids ready for real life, how can we switch the paradigm from a list of rules to a set of equations where their input and choices influence their outcomes? 

When you remember our own childhood, you probably think of playing on the neighborhood playground after school, coming up with games or playing sports with a modified set of rules. Today’s children spend more time in structured than unstructured activities. Instead of drawing boundaries for a field with sticks and working out the details of what constitutes a home run or a goal, they play on chalked off fields with coaches instructing them. Instead of using Legos to come up with their version of a house or helicopter, many “engineers” follow the intricate instruction booklets included with every new boxed set. Instead of creating a town for Barbies or stuffed animals, television and video games fill the after school hours for many children. 

We need to give kids room to create their own rules.

Darell Hammond, who lived in a group home as a youngster, founded the non-profit KaBoom to encourage communities to improve the lives of children. He urges kids to “get off the soccer field and onto the playground. Children need to get out of the gym and into neighborhood stickball games. We need to give kids room to create their own rules, set their own terms, and move their bodies in their own ways.” When kids are empowered to make their own rules, they learn executive function skills and are more likely to follow them because they believe them to be more reasonable than imposed rules. 

What would it look like if we switched from making rules to helping our children follow equations?

How do we maintain order in our homes and yet allow our children to participate in making and maintaining the boundaries? Tim Elmore of Leading the Next Generation give some suggestions.

One thought is, take an age-old parent/teen dispute. Perhaps instead of having a curfew for teenagers, we could have some parameters around what time they come home. For example: before you leave, we want to know where you will be, who you will be with, and an approximate time you will be home. If you find you will be more than half an hour late, text us to let us know. As long as you are reasonable with these guidelines, you don’t need to have a set curfew time. Seems a bit scary as a parent to not know exactly when your son or daughter will be home, but if we want them to be able to navigate managing their own time in the future, this is a good step. 

Another thought is what to do about video games or social media time? That’s another doozy. As a parent, it is much easier on us to have rules around these issues so we can try to manage them. However, learning how to manage oneself online is going to be a vital skill for everyone in this generation. It is prudent to allow tweens and teens to manage themselves while they are still at home and have parents to guide them. Because we each currently have various gaming and screen time rules, an equation for these will look different for each family. Things to consider might be: having a list of responsibilities to be completed before screen time is allowed, letting your older kids determine how much screen time they think is reasonable, and then asking them how they will manage sticking to their limit. With younger children you might have an equation that allows a one-to-one or one-to-one-half ratio for earning screen time. If they read/play outside/do chores for an hour, then they earn commensurate screen time to use at their discretion. 

When kids are involved, there is more compliance.

If we change the paradigm from setting rules in an attempt to control our child’s behavior to discussing boundaries and equations for achieving a mutually agreeable goal, we may find we have fewer arguments. When kids are involved in making the equations, you set them up to develop executive function both in negotiating the parameters and in learning how to manage themselves within their new freedoms. 

Your son rushes home from school, not to head out and see which other guys want to play pickup basketball, but to head to his room, don his headphones, and spend the hours between now and dinner “connecting” to his friends playing Fortnite. Gone are the days of telling our teens to “turn off the tv and do your homework.” Homework, gaming, social media, research for school, Netflix, and even phone (FaceTime) calls are all intertwined and consume almost all the waking hours our students are not in school. A new study by Common Sense Media found that teens are spending an average of nine hours a day using entertainment media. Tweens had an average of six hours a day.

Average amount of time a Fortnite player spends with the game per week:   6-10 hours

Percentage of Fortnite players that are students that have skipped class to play it:  35%

Percentage of Fortnite players that are aged 18-24:  60%

Does it surprise you to think that your son or daughter, who claims not to have time to mow the grass, eat a family dinner, or spend an hour with Grandpa on the weekend, is spending 6-10 hours a week playing a game? This is one area where we would be thrilled to have a child who was below average. But what if she was above average? More than 10 hours a week? Yikes.  

What is a parent to do? There is something you can do. It is simple, but just as anything with teens, not necessarily easy. PowerThesaurus.org says the antonym for “social media” is “real presence.” The first obstacle to overcome is creating opportunities for our students to have real presence with us and with others. If the allure is powerful enough, it can overcome even the enticement of online gaming.  

Five simple steps to increasing your teen’s real presence quotient:  

1-Have a discussion.  Using an app like Moment can be eye-opening for you and your teen to see how much time she is spending on different apps or activities. Having a discussion about time management and what your family guidelines are regarding screen time is a great first step.

2-Create Online Free Zones/Times. Using a parent control app like Our Pact, a Circle wi-fi router, or the built in Screen Time on the iPhone can allow you to block certain hours each day or each week that will be internet free. If your teen is older, allowing them to manage this themselves builds trust.

3-Invent Fun. Creativity really counts here. Connect with other parents and choose a weekly time for teens to gather. Willingness to drive them to a park with sports fields or courts available might be key. Offering to have them all over for pizza and a game night (board games, not online games!) would be another option. Asking your son or daughter to brainstorm activities with you might create good ideas. A scavenger hunt in the neighborhood or at a safe local gathering place is highly interactive and fun.

4-Call the Gang Together. Getting students to buy into this idea may take some work, but see if you can offer to order their favorite pizza or make their favorite meal as a reward for coordinating schedules with their friends to make this happen. For them it is as easy as initiating a group text.

5-Schedule the Next Gathering. When you have the group together, make sure they coordinate the next week’s plan. Offer a prize for the winner of the chess/checkers/ping pong/pool tournament. The winning scavenger hunt team can pick the next sport outing. Within the group does anyone have a pool table, corn hole set, swimming pool, or other incentive to hang out? Try coordinating with that family to host the group.  

If your efforts result in your teen having two to three hours a week with real presence instead of online presence, you have been successful. We are not going to eliminate the internet or the allure of gaming. But with a plan and persistence, we can encourage our teens toward face to face relationships. We all know real relationships are not only beneficial for building friendships today, but also valuable for developing skills to enhance their future.

“Mom, I’m huuuuungry,”comes the cry just as you sit down for the first time today. Isn’t it amazing how kids have a pre-installed radar to know the exact moment when a parent is about to relax? Well, fear no more. With some planning and training, your elementary age child will be able to whip up a few of their favorite foods on their own. “But why would I want to risk them burning something or making a mess in the kitchen?” you ask. Valid question. But the benefits of kids who are on the path to kitchen independence override the challenges. When children learn how to cook, they develop a skill that lends self-confidence and pride. A New York Times article suggests that children who are more involved with their food choices and preparation are more likely to try new foods. In addition, they also agree that teaching your child to cook allows a great opportunity for parent/child bonding time and for them to develop the executive functions of following step by step directions and creative problem solving.  

So where to start? For children age eight or older who are having a first foray into the kitchen, you may have a few levels to go through to build their confidence (and yours) for this new skill. A frozen toaster oven pizza might be a great first step. Take your child with you to the store and let him pick out a frozen pizza that will fit in the toaster oven (or the regular oven if you are ready).  When you get home, go over the directions, letting him read them aloud and tell you what he thinks each step means. Allow him to turn on the oven, set a timer, and wait. Then sit back as he enjoys his self-made snack.  

Step two can be as simple as mac and cheese. Following the pattern above, let your daughter choose the variety of pasta she wants from the store. This is a good chance to talk about nutrition and how your family chooses food items.  Words like “gluten-fee,” “fat-free,” “vegan,” and “organic” can provide some interesting conversations and help you share your family values regarding health and nutrition with your youngster. Wildtree, founded by a busy mom, provides affordable mealtime solutions and has a Kids Mac and Cheez that is super simple and fun and a pantry staple. Allowing a child to boil water can be scary for a parent, so make ensure you discuss whether or not an adult needs to be in the room for this. Show how to choose the right size pot, how high to fill it, and how you can’t leave the room while cooking. Now might be a good time to reach the meaning of the saying “A watched pot never boils.” Teaching how to measure and mix together the other ingredients builds confidence. Measuring and reading labels also offers opportunities to practice literacy and math skills- great bonus! Practice makes this process easy for your child. It also builds the parent’s confidence to allow less and less supervision and more and more variety in recipes as your child proves competence. 

In any cooking adventure, cleaning up is the cherry on top. Showing your daughter the steps to properly clean up after herself will set the standard for how you want the kitchen to look when she is finished. Spending time with your child teaching these skills is a great way to model your family values and have fun together. If you continue to encourage learning new recipes and new skills, your budding chef will soon be able to not only feed himself, but also the whole family.  

“Blessings of a Skinned Knee” author, Wendy Mogel, gave a talk in Atlanta to a consortium of private school families. She posed the question, “How many of you were out on your bikes until dark and your parents didn’t know where you were?” Approximately two-thirds of the hands went up in the full auditorium. Then, the follow-up question, “How many of you have afforded your children the same privilege?” A meager seven hands went up, feebly, to the collective sigh of the audience. How is it that all of us rode our bikes everywhere, even until dark, but many of our children have never had the same opportunity. How in one generation did we go from bike-riding all over the neighborhood to having bikes in the garage that aren’t really enjoyed?

Research shows that bike-riding provides many benefits to the children who ride and their families. Cycling Weekly boasts that not only is it fun, but the physical activity is beneficial for cardiovascular health. The mental and emotional benefits are also great.  

The Heart Foundation states that the aerobic workout cycling provides can improve overall fitness, decrease likelihood of depression and anxiety,  and aid in better sleep. That’s something parents can get excited about!

How about it? Plan a family adventure on bikes. If you have your own bikes, it’s time to make sure they are tuned up. YouTube provides an abundance of quick videos on “Bicycle Maintenance for Beginners” if you need a refresher.

What can we do today? How about a bike ride? 

If you don’t have bikes, you have a few options – purchase bikes from a local shop, check thrift stores for used bikes, or rent bikes for the day. Check out one of these apps for finding a route to take a fun ride. Pack a backpack of snacks or a picnic and bring everyone a water bottle. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray and your helmets. A safe ride is a fun ride!  

As your children develop bike-riding skills and you teach them how to safely ride in various circumstances, you may consider letting them venture out on their own. A ride to a play date a few streets away is a good first foray -where you can send them off and know when they arrive. As they mature and show responsibility, consider loosening the “chain” and allowing them the opportunity to run an errand or grab an item you need for dinner from a nearby supermarket. As your child becomes a tween and then a teen, not only is it empowering for him to be able to go places on his own, it is also a great time-saver for his former chauffeur, namely you.  

From there to here and here to there. Funny things are everywhere.”  Dr. Seuss.

“In an age where technology is increasing faster than parents can keep up, how do we appropriately guide our teenagers toward safe and responsible use of their phones, the internet, games, movies, and media?” I asked Mark Gregston in a crowded room of interested parents. I was ready with pen in hand for his three step answer.  

Mark, who runs Heartlight, a residential home for teens from good homes who have taken a wrong turn, did not answer as I had hoped. His forty years of experience with one-on-one teenagers has taught him better. In his cowboy boots and jeans (he is from Texas, by golly), he stood on one side of the podium. “When they are thirteen, your kids are here. You give them a phone or a device and you have all the tracking and monitoring and protection you can muster.”  He walked about ten steps toward the other side of the room, “and when they are eighteen, they are here. You don’t see or check any of their history, texts, or social media. It is your job to get them to here.” Pen still in hand, I was crushed. I wanted a simple answer. Two girls entering high school and one in middle school. Kindles for school that had web browsers and the influx of the iPhone and the iPod were about to take me under. The idea of all the protection, monitoring, password changes and permissions was a full time job that I didn’t have time to do. What I really wanted was a formula to protect my kids from all things evil that I could imagine infiltrating our home via the World Wide Web.  

One thing I have always loved about Mark Gregston (aside from his handlebar mustache) is his wisdom. Having written 12 parenting books, “parented” hundreds of wayward teens, and speaking to parents daily through his radio broadcasts, he has heard it all. He knows something that those of us in the trenches with our first (or second or third) child just can’t see – that it all works out over time and that leaning into the relationship is always the best choice. But where does that leave those of us who are tired of granting more screen time and frustrated when we find Netflix suggesting R rated movies to us “because you have watched…”?

The “advice” I took away from this seemingly unsatisfying exchange was actually what I needed to hear – and maybe you do too. Be present. Pay attention to the little things. Don’t parent out of fear, but engage your child in conversation. Through coming to solutions together, rather than throwing down a list of rules, you will achieve your goal of raising an adult who can think for himself. 

I believe Mark’s physical walking from one spot to another is a tangible way to view our parenting journey. We are watching our children, our babies, grow up before our very eyes. We desperately want to cling to them, to the memories of their cutest small selves and the things they used to say. But we are torn between remembering their precious childhood and desperately desiring their responsible adulthood. We want them to move out, get their own life, manage their own finances, and know how to acquire their own car and health insurance. But in the same moment, we also know the incredible high we get as the “omnipotent Oz,” the one who can solve any problem and knows all the answers. It is here, in this tension, we stand. Between the memory of the thirteen year old new teen and the eighteen year old budding adult. So what is one thing we can do to step back from here so they can step forward and move toward there?

Parenting and business management have a fair amount in common. Both roles require oversight of behavior to get the best outcomes. However, as a parent you will want to eventually transform from the boss-like management where you are the one in charge of all of your child’s problems, to a coach that will guide your teens into having them make their own decisions.

In Michael Bungay Stanier’s book, ”The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever,” he teaches managers and coaches essential questions to help people work through their most difficult challenges in the corporate world. 

Who has more difficult day-to-day challenges than teenagers? 

Almost everything a teenager comes in contact with challenges in terms of relationships, stress from school, and social pressures. These problems are a brand new experience for them. Each situation presents an opportunity to contemplate a solution, try to solve an issue, and to learn from a success or failure. How are we as parents allowing our kids to face these learning moments? How can we be more like a coach, rather than a manager, to lead and support our teens through this season ripe with opportunities to grow.

The questions Bungay Stanier suggests do not only apply to coaching in the business world. It can also provide the perfect formula for transitioning our parenting from the telling and rule-based phase of the elementary years to the coaching phase of the teen years and beyond. The goal is to help teens move from always needing advice to being able to make wise decisions on their own.

How can we use these questions to lead our children to become more independent?

  1. The Kickstart Question: “What’s on your mind”?

Just as you have probably already learned, open ended questions give more room for interesting answers. If you want to actually know about what is going on at school, you have probably learned not to ask, “How was your day?” The one word teen answer to this question almost never leaves room for further discussion; it simply closes the door. Alternatively, “What’s on your mind?” opens the door to discovering not just the logistics of his day, but what is important to your son. This question helps you move immediately to what’s top on his list. Even better, it makes it super easy to jump from small talk right into what matters to your teen. 

  1. The AWE Question: “And what else?”

This seems so logical, yet so hard to do as a parent. If you are at all like me, you love solving problems. There are just so many as a parent. However, if we want our kids to be able to solve their own problems (isn’t this the long-range goal of parenting?), we have to step aside and let them do the work necessary to figure out what needs to be solved and how to solve it. The AWE question draws out double what you get from the Kickstart question. Sometimes teens just don’t know when they answer the first question. The second question helps to clarify things for them and for you too. Bonus: it builds the trust you need early in the conversation.

  1. The Focus Question: “What’s the real challenge here for you?

This is the meat and potatoes. Be patient. Do you hear the wheels in your daughter’s head turning? This is where you coach yourself to not open your mouth and shout out an obvious answer. Right here is the hard work we have to do so our thirty year old daughter is not calling us to solve a problem at her job. The answer to this question helps drill down to what the real issue is. Wait for it.

  1. The Foundation Question: “What do you want?”

Finally! This is what matters to them! If your teen trusts you, this answer is from their heart. If they don’t trust you, duct tape your mouth, open your ears, and test your patience by waiting for the answer. If they truly believe you want to help them, affirming their answer to this question is a huge deposit in your relationship bank account. The first three questions lead your teen to the place where she can answer this question well.

When asking these questions to your teen, it is key to approach it as a coach (as opposed to manager). Ask one question at a time and wait for the answer. With some kids, you may have to take a break and ask them to think about it and get back to you when they have an answer. Your bringing it back up and having a patient but relentless pursuit of getting to the last question and answer will build trust. It will also instill confidence in your teen to know that you are on his team and are truly seeking what is best for him, not just a pat answer or quick solution. 

Whether you memorize them, store them on your phone for reference, or write them on an index card, these questions will serve you well. Having a goal of transitioning from a manager to a coach will keep you focused when you would rather solve the problem for your teen than let him solve it. Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s how you execute what you know.

Rachel Macy Stafford is a New York Times bestselling author of “Hands Free Mama” and “Hands Free Life.” Her attempts to let go of what doesn’t matter began when her daughters were young and she realized she was missing so much of their lives because she was distracted by email, the phone and outside commitments. She started her journey to become “Hands Free” with ten minutes a day of attempting to stay present and connected. She found that over time her desire for this time increased and her connection to her daughters did as well. 

It used to be that parents were the only ones distracted by the ping of emails, texts, and phone calls. Now that so many kids seem to have smart phones, they too are distracted by the constant “urgent” pull of notifications, SnapChat streaks, and Instagram updates. The more and more electronically “connected” we are to others in cyberspace, the less connected we can become to those in our physical realm. A recent study correlated the rise in depression to the rise in teen social media consumption. The Child-Mind institute says, “Some experts see the rise in depression as evidence that the connections social media users form electronically are less emotionally satisfying, leaving them feeling socially isolated.”

Rachel offers some great suggestions for parents to make sure they are available for connection with their children. One of the key first steps is to create some daily “hands free” time. Are there times you can agree on as a family to not use (or even have available) electronic devices?

Some of the most crucial times for face-to-face connection are:

Stafford recommends putting boundaries around these times and holding that space for genuine connection with those in your presence as opposed to those in your digital world. If we lead by example, our children can follow. We can guide them toward a more genuine connection with others and allow them to exercise their communication muscles in a positive way. 

You may wonder what difference ten minutes can make. It is so easy to brush off a few minutes at a time. But the problem arises when you are busy checking the news while sipping your morning coffee and your daughter walks in to make her breakfast. She doesn’t want to interrupt, so she decides to check her Instagram feed. When you realize you could talk to her for a few minutes before she takes off for school, you look up from the computer to find her nose buried in Instagram. And round and round we go.  So we have to start somewhere. Even if you only make the kitchen a digital free zone, you may find yourself with ample opportunity to catch up with your uber-busy children. The laughter and stories at the dinner table and perhaps even the breakfast table can return. We can be “those parents,” you know, the ones whose kids know they care and desire a relationship with them? Yes. Those parents. It starts with ten minutes a day. 

If you love winning, raise your hand. (Is your hand raised? I’m guessing so.) 

If you love losing, raise your hand. (Sitting comfortably with your hands in your lap?) 

Let’s ask a different question. When you think about the most valuable lessons you have learned in your lifetime, did more of them come from a success or a failure? 

Here is where we often base our parenting decisions on emotion rather than statistical evidence. According to Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, our desire to keep our children from experiencing pain overrides even our own life experiences about learning from failure. As she keenly points out, “Out of love and desire to protect our children’s self-esteem, we have bulldozed every uncomfortable bump and obstacle out of the way, clearing the manicured path we hoped would lead to success and happiness. 

Unfortunately, in doing so we have deprived our children of the most important lessons of childhood. The setbacks, mistakes, miscalculations, and failures we have shoved out of our children’s way are the very experiences that teach them how to be resourceful, persistent, innovative and resilient citizens of this world.” 

Jessica implores us as parents to evaluate our actions and reactions to our children’s failures in light of what we rob them of when we rescue them. Think back to your own childhood … I’ll bet you have a story similar to mine. In fourth grade our class went to the library to check out biographies. I don’t remember why, but I chose George Washington Carver. I loved to read and eagerly started on my book as soon as I got home. However, unlike the Beverly Cleary books of my lazy afternoons, old George wasn’t really so interesting. My interest quickly waned and I forgot about the looming book report deadline. When the day came, I just didn’t turn anything in. When the teacher handed back everyone’s reports a few days later, I received a form with my name, the assignment, and a big “F” circled in red pen. Having never received an “F” before, I wasn’t really worried until I realized the form had a line for “parent signature” underneath. Begrudgingly, I took the form home and had to explain to my mother (a life-long teacher herself) that I failed for not turning in a report. 

If this were a modern sitcom, you could hear the parental yelling in the next room. But my mom calmly explained to me she would sign the form, but only after I read the book and wrote the report. She really didn’t make a big deal about it because she firmly believed that my school was my responsibility. She had not failed, I had failed. She was not a bad parent, nor was I a bad student. I made a choice that led to a consequence and now I had to pay the piper. So I dutifully read the book, wrote the report, and turned it in. Guess what? My grade didn’t change. I still had an “F.” But I learned a valuable lesson. I did not like the feeling of earning a bad grade. Notice I said “earning,” not “receiving;” the teacher did not give me an “F” like a gift. I had not done the work when it was due; therefore, I earned the “F.”. 

Throughout the rest of my schooling, I worked hard to earn my good grades. I knew I never wanted to feel that pit in my stomach again from not giving my best. We would never want to rob our children of the joy of winning the state basketball tournament after a season of hard work. How can we view their opportunity to experience the agony of defeat in the same way? When you wonder how to help facilitate long-term change in your child’s behavior, consider the value of letting them experience the natural consequences of their own choices. 

Failure is a valuable teacher. Give your child the opportunity to learn, don’t rob them of the chance to learn from their own mistakes. As Henry Ford said, “Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.”

The school year. The excitement of new notebooks and new pens and colored pencils. The fun of seeing friends after the summer and settling back into a routine. The thrill for parents of micromanaging the details of their child’s homework, sports schedules, play practices, and club meetings. What, you don’t love micromanaging all of this? Where is your helicopter? If the anticipation of the school year keeps you awake at night, we have some ideas for you. What if this year you transition your student to owning his or her homework, grades, and activities? “Seriously?” you ask. “Let Mark remember to bring his practice uniform on soccer days and bring it home to be washed? He might scare off all the ladies with his three day sweat-infused socks. Count on Michaela to pack her backpack the night before so she is on time to homeroom? Without reminding her? Are you kidding?” No. Not kidding. Depending on the age of your son or daughter, it is very likely that you are clinging to some responsibilities that would be better transitioned over to them.

Let’s think about what it looks like to step back so your child steps forward. What is one school responsibility you have been holding onto that your son or daughter could totally manage? Consider these and other possibilities:

Remember, it is not about knowing they can successfully manage their school responsibilities today. It’s about giving them the opportunities to grow into successfully managing them. There will probably be some mistakes and maybe (if needed) some coaching along the way—but that’s part of learning how to step forward on their own with confidence.

As a foster parent, psychotherapist, and expert in family and teen therapy, Amy Morin—author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do—has witnessed first-hand what works: “When children have the skills they need to deal with challenges in their everyday lives, they can flourish socially, emotionally, behaviorally, and academically. With appropriate support, encouragement, and guidance from adults, kids grow stronger and become better.”

Talk with your kids about what they think they can manage themselves. Ask them how they will transition to own this skill. What do they want from you and what can you count on them for? Do they (or you) need a check-off list or chart? If so, ask them to make it. Do they need a reminder? What would a good reminder be (sticky note on the door or mirror, alarm on their phone or automated reminder on the phone, note on the fridge)? Have them set it up and take ownership of it.

Try your best not to nag, remind, helicopter, over-check, or do any of these things while pretending not to. This is letting them learn. Giving them the chance to succeed or fail or fall somewhere in between. It is ok. The stakes are small. This does not go on your permanent record (and even if it does, it is better to have a ding on a school record than to start one with the police). If you set a reasonable timeframe for them to manage this skill, you can have a check-in conversation at the end. If they make a mistake in the middle, refrain from correcting. It’s fine to ask if they need any help, but unless they say “yes,” back away and continue to let them work toward owning this. If they blow it, give them a Mulligan. This is the crux of leading your child on the path toward responsible, unentitled adulthood. They have to try hard things and feel the full brunt of their decisions and actions. They have to feel the feeling of achievement when they succeed without any parental involvement. This is the “high” we want them to feel. This is what we want them to seek more of. You will be amazed when they get going on this and start to take on more and more responsibility without your help in the process.

The rewards for this are monumental. They feel proud of their maturity. You feel proud of their accomplishment. This builds trust and mutual respect for your ongoing relationship. They feel empowered to move on to bigger and better things. You can enjoy the break from feeling responsible for everything. The goal becomes finding new things to move from your plate to theirs. The helicopter has landed.