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Finding Love and Connection with Your Adult Child, with Bonnie Lyman

No one tells you when you have teenagers that having adult children will be just as tough, often tougher. It’s not something anyone with young children or teenagers wants to hear! But, it is true. Having adult children is not easier, it’s just a different type of hard. Listen to this episode as I have a discussion with Bonnie Lyman about how she has found love and connection with her adult children, even when, and especially when, it was hard and her children were struggling with things in their lives. 

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Full Podcast Transcript


life, children, parent, people, find, love, coaching, relationship, adult children, adult, curiosity, good, heavenly father, practicing, thought, same sex attraction, bonnie, podcast, feel, brain


Tina Gosney, Bonnie Lyman

Tina Gosney  00:00

You’re listening to Parenting Through the Detour, Episode 30 for an interview with Bonnie Lyman about how to find love and connection with your adult child.

Howard W Hunter said your detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow way back to him. And there are so many scriptures that tell us that all things are going to work together, or are good. So how do you turn your parenting detours, especially the ones you didn’t see coming into something that will work together for your good, and for the good of the most important people in your life? Your family? Join me in this podcast and let’s talk about it. I’m your host, Tina Gosney. And I’m a life and relationship coach and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days.

Hey, welcome to February. Now, February, I decided this month in the podcast is going to be dedicated to the word love, of course, right for Valentine’s Day. But every episode that you’re going to hear during this month, will have something to do with love, and how to apply different types of love into your life into your parenting. So this is the first episode of the month. And this one is with Bonnie Lyman, you’re going to love this one. Bonnie works with parents that have adult kids. She has, as you will hear in this podcast. She has several kids of her own and she’s had a lot of detours thrown at her in motherhood journey. So I hope you enjoy this podcast with Bonnie Lyman. And I look forward to sharing this month of love with you in February. So enjoy.

Hey, welcome back to the podcast today. I am so excited to introduce a fellow life coach certified by the Life Coach School. Her name is Bonnie Lyman and Bonnie and I think we met online through email about a year or so ago, because I saw that she was helping a very similar group of people that I help so I messaged her, we kind of became email buddies. But this is the first time we’re meeting in person and talking face to face, even if it’s over a computer. That’s so nice to be able to to meet body and see her face to face. So Bonnie, would you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you?

Bonnie Lyman  02:43

Sure. And first of all, I want to thank you so much, Tina, for having me on your podcast. As you I’m very I have very strong feelings and very adamant about the stages in our life that we go through. I have five adult children. It sounds like I’m older and dirt. My oldest is 49. And because I’m kind of old, I can’t remember exactly how old my youngest is. I think he’s 36. And one thing that helped me to, I knew I wanted to get into starting my life coaching business. And I didn’t know exactly. And then as I reflected and ran into more and more women who are struggling in their relationships with their adult children. I thought, Yep, I’ve had quite a few struggles. I have a child that is dealing with same sex attraction. I have two children that are not attending church and not active in the church. I have a child that broke their temple covenants. I had another child that had twins out of wedlock and place them for adoption. So I kind of tell people sometimes jokingly, I’ll never go to hell because I’ve already been there. But it it’s, it takes navigation to deal with these challenges. And as I look back, so many people would come up to me and say, how, how come you can deal with all of this so well. And I had to stop and look back and I thought well, a lot of it has to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ and I feel one of his main Teachings is to love everyone. And so I I had a sense that when these things happen to my children, they needed me more than any other time in their life. So that means I had to put my needs aside my embarrassment, my feelings, and try to get strong to get my thinking in, in the right mindset, so that I could have loving thoughts toward my children, so that I could help them at this time in their life.

Tina Gosney  05:39

That’s beautiful. How do you How did you find that coaching then helped you to do that to get your thoughts to a loving place?

Bonnie Lyman  05:49

Because I knew, with the help of my husband, it was pretty easy for him to have the right kind of thoughts that this isn’t about me, or this isn’t about us. This is about them, and what they’re going through and their struggles. And so we needed to respect however, they were going to deal with it, even if we didn’t agree with it. We didn’t have to agree with it. But we had to get our minds in a place that we showed up as the parents we want it to be. And we wanted to show up as we don’t care what you do. We love you. Yes, we’re compare, we’re concerned about the outcome of your life, and from the decisions and the decisions you now have to make. But we will always love you. And if you can get your head into that mindset. Love always feels good. Resentment, judgment, never feels good. And so then that affects how do we show up around them. And we just wanted to be there to help and support.

Tina Gosney  07:14

I think I love that. I think that that’s so such a good example of how Jesus and Heavenly Father show up around us to saying kind of like, I love you. And I want to help you through this hard thing that you have in front of you, whether it’s of your own making, or it was given to you. I want to help you through that. And I think our jobs as parents, especially when we want them to actually turn to Christ and Heavenly Father is to show them what that looks like in their earthly parents.

Bonnie Lyman  07:48

Right, I totally agree with that. We can we can read the teachings of Jesus Christ. And yet it’s harder to apply. And so that’s where I feel like coaching comes in coaching helps you practice managing your thoughts. Put to start with it helps you to see a different perspective of what’s going on in their lives. We tend to want to go to judgment, how could you be doing this? After all, you were taught after the example, your father and I set for you. But it’s, it’s getting curious as to why they made these decision and being available to respect them enough to try to understand why they are making the decisions they do. We think we can think that it’s going to take them down some very poor paths in life with some, maybe some consequences that we don’t want them to have, that there’s no guarantees in that either. Right? And so, as long as we go to, let’s say curiosity, rather than judgment, we can still have those loving feelings of love is is going to keep us in the mindset that allows us to show up as a parent. We want to be

Tina Gosney  09:43

Yeah, I know some people would think like, how do I even get to curiosity because I’m so stuck in this shouldn’t be happening. And they’re just making wrong choices. They just need to change. You know, I know that just even not not even to get To love but to get to a place of curiosity for some people feels like a big stretch. So at that point, like how do you get someone to, to get to a place of curiosity? So they can start moving their thoughts a little bit, I try

Bonnie Lyman  10:15

them to look, and come up with one compassionate thought of why they are making the choices that they’re doing. Now, I have my own ideas as to whether somebody has same gender attraction or not. And so, you know, was was that their choice? As, as my husband says, He didn’t choose his sexual orientation. It was just there. And so how can I make judgment on my child? That is, is having those feelings? Now? Yes, they have a choice as to whether they act out on it or not. But we are told not to judge and it doesn’t help the situation to judge and say, Well, yes, but they could live a celibate life, the rest of their life. You know, that the, the quote on, you know, until you’ve walked in somebody else’s shoes, and the Lord is asked us not to judge anybody. He’s asked us just to love them. And I can tell you, it just feels so much better. And so how do you get to that place is to find a compassionate thought. And one of mine was, regarding my child with the same sex attraction was how, how awful it would be to live the rest of their life alone, by themselves. And, you know, I guess that’s no different than there’s all these young women out there who never married, you know, but what they can do to fill that void is a lot more acceptable to somebody who’s struggling with same sex attraction,

Tina Gosney  12:28

I think the the topic of same sex attraction, and is an interesting one to, to look at with a lot of curiosity. Because there are so many things that we don’t know. And, and just I like how your husband said, like, I didn’t choose mine, so maybe, so our son probably didn’t choose his either. And then asking someone to live a celibate lifestyle is different than asking, then look, comparing it to a woman who doesn’t get married. Because the woman has an opportunity every day to go and pray to find someone to marry, and to go and date and pursue relationships. And then someone who has same sex attraction, or finds themselves in that LGBTQ group, they are told that they don’t have the option for any of that, they might even have to pray every night to not meet somebody that they might want to form a relationship and a connection with. So I think it’s really good to put yourself if you find yourself in that situation, to put yourself in that child’s mind. And try to think like, if this was me, and it was looking at the rest of my life living this way, what would what would I want my parents? How would I want my parents to treat me? How would I want my parents to think about me? How I want to be treated by anybody. And I think that it’s good to look at it from their point of view, rather than just to like, buckle down on doctrine and know this is what the leader say that you should be doing. So this is what you should you need to follow this and this and this, which pretty much would kill the connection with you and your child if they’re in that situation.

Bonnie Lyman  14:14

Right. I I agree. And I think you know, whether it’s something as big as same sex attraction, which I feel a person really can choose to be that way. Or whether it’s decisions that your children are making, we just have to keep reminding ourselves that love is always an option. And it is the best option. It is a best way to stay connected with your children and to show up as the mom that you want to show up as. So the only way to do that for you to work on, you could say fixing yourself, rather than trying to fix your children, what are the areas that I need to improve on? And what would heavenly father like me doing better, it may not have anything to do with your relationship or your role as a parent of an adult child, but just bettering yourself and becoming more of the person you want to be. And praying for the strength to know, you know what to say, how to act, whatever, around your children, the one thing I pray for my son who is dealing with same sex attraction, is that he will know that his Heavenly Father loves him. I can’t pray for him to change. I can’t pray for him to stop acting out on it. Because that is robbing him of his free agency, his agency. And that I don’t want somebody taking my agency away from me. telling me how to fix the things in my life that I’m doing wrong. Yeah. So why why would he want a mother? To do that to him? Yeah.

Tina Gosney  16:43

Yeah, it’s always good to turn it around and think, how would I want someone to treat me if I was in this situation? And how do I want them to? What do you think keeps us from finding that love and peace in our relationships? And and not? How do we drop those expectations?

Bonnie Lyman  17:03

Well, I think the hardest thing is, is I think we’re being kind of selfish, that we’re, we’re more concerned about us being hurt in our own needs, than our children, feeling hurt. Our kids know exactly how we feel about everything that they’re doing. We don’t need to remind everybody knows when they’re really not doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. They know that it’s, it’s maybe not the best thing in their life to do. But this is their journey. Just Just like we’ve heard them analogy before. But a toddler we get so excited learning to walk, it falls down. And then it tries to get back up. And we just get so excited. We don’t go over and try to help him learn how to walk, we let him practice. And so I can remember a good friend of mine saying, Don’t rob your children of going through their own personal hell, because they will learn their life’s lessons. Far better, they’re not going to learn it from us always trying to remind them. And so our object, our only obligation as a parent is to love our kids. I mean, that should make it simple. And so how do we get there? We look for as many compassionate thoughts as we can about their kids. And just start asking yourself, and you can even talk to them. What does it feel like? To live in a world where you are attracted to somebody of the same sex? You know, what is it like to live in, in your world? Where you, you are raising a child out of wedlock? You know, or just just even being curious of a child becomes estranged from you. You probably I mean, you can ask them. You know, what’s up? I haven’t talked to you in a long time. My daughter once told me I have a daughter that only contacts me. Oh, I’d say about three times a year. And my daughter told me, mom, maybe that’s the perfect amount of time that you should be having contact with her. I have to respect her life and her reasons for not wanting to share what Ever. She doesn’t want to share in her life with me. And so, yes, I have needs, I so want to have that connection. But there’s a lot of people out there that it’s the reverse. And their mother doesn’t want anything to do with them. And they would love to have connection with an adult. Yeah, someone older, I mean, you know, their adult.

Tina Gosney  20:31

Yeah, I’d love your idea of just asking them questions. And I, and I’ve been doing this quite a bit with my own children the last couple of years. And I find the best questions are the ones that I’m a little bit afraid to find the answer out to. But those are the ones that need to be asked the most. And those are the ones are they going to that will get you the closest to coming to know who your child really is. If you ask the questions that you’re just a little bit afraid to find out what the answer is.

Bonnie Lyman  21:05

And Tina, I have found just with anybody to ask people, not so much. What do you think about that? How does that make you feel? What do you feel when you do that? Or think that? Yeah. And that really tells the real truth of what’s going on?

Tina Gosney  21:31

Yeah. Because our feelings, even though we don’t like to acknowledge them very often are very real and present in our lives. And overly important to pay attention to. So what happens, what have you seen happens when a parent just can’t give up those expectations of a child and accept the reality? What happens to that relationship?

Bonnie Lyman  21:58

Well, it, it doesn’t, you know, it doesn’t improve. And the parent has made the decision, to be miserable, to hurt, to suffer to be sad. They can’t blame it on their children, it’s not their children’s obligation to make them happy. They have to find, you know, something in life, that’s going to make them happy. And, you know, they have to find things about their children that they love, you know, I, I just think I am going to love my children. I’m going to love every bit of them. My son, who has his partner, it feels so good to have them included in Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It feels horrible for them, you know, the thought of thinking they were excluded, because they have made choices in their life that are different than, you know, even what the gospel would ask us to do. It’s not my place. You know, Heavenly Father is going to work all of this out. There are so many good things about everybody we just have to look for. So I really believe just looking for the good in every day, maybe not even in your children. But just focusing on what is going right. Just start to reprogram your brain to focus on something else, then what’s going wrong,

Tina Gosney  24:08

right? Because we just want to focus on the negative so often, so many of us. And our brains naturally do that. Right? They just focus on the negative things. So we have to consciously make a choice to find the things that are good. And the thing right, right.

Bonnie Lyman  24:28

And so the first thing is being aware that your brain just defaults, we think those thoughts just come into our head and really we are choosing to have those thoughts sometimes. I just have to say brain. Stop it. Stop.

Tina Gosney  24:46

I’ve done the same thing.

Bonnie Lyman  24:48

Don’t don’t think that and so you don’t even really have to go to a new thought right then but I’ll go to her well Are we going to have for dinner tonight? You know, or, yeah, yes, I refocus, you know, on, you know, something, something good and, and positive. And then as I come to accept that in time you accept it in time, you’ll see some things are not going to change. And so then your brain starts to settle down a little. And you can start finding and seeing the good things. Yes.

Tina Gosney  25:38

And I think if you don’t realize that your brain is prone to go to negativity, that you just think that’s the way things are, and then you pick up those negative thoughts, and then it just kind of runs wild with them, it gets a lot harder to get them under control. I know of like a handful of people in my life that are the Don’t let that happen. And I don’t know if they know anything about the power of their thoughts, or the power of coaching or anything like that, because it’s not somebody that I’ve had that conversation with, they’re just people that focus on the good and the positive. And the things that they love in life, it brings more of that into their life. And the people that focus on negativity and complaining, and you know, everything bad that they see, it brings more of that into their life. So it’s really interesting to just I like to people watch, I like to see how people, you know, handle situations in their life. And it’s very interesting to see the difference between those two groups of people, and how they experience life. And not just that, but how much do you want to be around them? Somebody that’s focusing on negative and versus someone that’s focusing on, you know, the positive and the good, and the lovely things of life.

Bonnie Lyman  26:59

Right, right. Just like I mean, it can be as simple you know, we’ve all heard of gratitude journals and everything. But really, it is practicing, focusing on those things, if you were to every day, write down five good things that happened today. The next day, you might go, Oh, I forgot. And then the next day, okay, I did it. And then you get practicing, where it becomes a habit, your brain is searching for things that you can write down, that were good today. And then that starts to reprogram your brain, and then you start looking at things that aren’t as pleasant in your life as maybe not as bad or accepting it. And learning that, you know, the only thing we have control over is ourselves and our own feeling. Now, that doesn’t mean that I ever get to the point where I am so happy that my children aren’t making mistakes. But they can be making mistakes. It’s, you know, really happiness is living in the middle because there is opposition in all things.

Tina Gosney  28:26

Yeah, I don’t know that I want to be happy about the mistakes that I make, or that my kids make. I think I get them as a way of like, how, okay, so this is their this is a reality in our lives, then what do I want to do with it to grow as a person? And to become a more Christ like person through that experience? And how do I? How do I portray that to my children? Because I think they learn even as adults, they learn so much from watching us and how we handle the hard things in our lives as well.

Bonnie Lyman  29:05

Right, right. And it’s not, you know, I believe that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have given us commandments, not for their sake, not to show obedience to them. Everything he asks us to do is for our good and our happiness. Yeah. And this, this thing of not judging people, anybody, but learning to love them. And I don’t think we would be asked to love everyone if it wasn’t possible.

Tina Gosney  29:40

I agree to. I saw a blog post that I’d written about a year ago that was I just, I just reviewed it like a few days ago, which is funny. But I said, Okay, so when you say the word commandments in the Scripture, just trade it out for love of God, because that’s what comes out. Are there just let the it’s just God’s showing us that He loves us. And it’s really interesting to go through the commandments, or to just go through the scriptures and just kind of substitute that. Because that’s really what commandments are is just God showing us that He loves us and giving us some directions so that he can guide us in a way that will make us the most happy.

Bonnie Lyman  30:23

Right? Right. It all it all comes back to you. And is it easy? No, it’s hard. So I kind of say choose your heart, it’s hard, being miserable. It’s hard being miserable over the mistakes and lives of your kids. And I just, I made at some point, my life made a decision, I am not going to be miserable. So the best way to do that is to choose love whenever I can. Yeah. So again, it’s practicing it. But that, you know, again, I believe that is, you know, one of the greatest benefits that the life coaching industry offers people is teaching them how to manage their mind, so they can have more of the feelings they want to have, and less of the feelings they don’t want to have. Yeah, yeah, we just all want to feel good in life, all of us. That’s all it is.

Tina Gosney  31:34

Right? And so often, we don’t know how to get there. And it’s because we’re thinking things that are not making us feel good.

Bonnie Lyman  31:42

Right, right. Hey, that’s Hey, never feels good. I don’t I don’t care how much you liked or disliked Donald Trump. I’m not saying you have to love him, but hating him did doesn’t feel good.

Tina Gosney  31:59

No, it doesn’t do anything to him. It only affects you. Yeah. Yeah. What about like the adult child who doesn’t want to have anything to do with their parent anymore? For whatever reason, there could be, you know, so many reasons. But how does that parent come to a place of peace in that situation?

Bonnie Lyman  32:19

Okay, again, it takes time. And it takes acceptance. Too many times we want to resist it. This just can’t be happening. You know, why is this happening? And you kind of go through that. And then you kind of go through a grieving process, that you’re not having a life with this child as an adult. And then you come to a point of acceptance, without giving up hope that things can always change. But then you have to move forward in your life and find something that brings fulfillment.

Tina Gosney  33:00

What do you like? Yeah, what is what do you think that looks like?

Bonnie Lyman  33:04

I think it looks like life. Being a life coach, so that I would say going to work, going to work, going back to school. Finding hobbies, traveling, volunteering, what, you know, what do you want to do with your life? Who do you want to be? Do you want to be this sad, pitiful person? You know, or do you want to be somebody that lifts others?

Tina Gosney  33:45

Yeah. It sounds like you’re finding yourself all over again, finding out who you are, without your children. Because we live into that role of a mother for so many years. That sometimes it’s hard to think of that you have a life besides that. But it sounds like finding your life and, and new things to do in your life that are about you and not about being encompassed by your children in their lives.

Bonnie Lyman  34:14

Right. Right. And, and that’s what it comes down to. And I I can hardly talk about my children without getting kind of teary eyed. I am so grateful to have those particular five children and all the things I’ve learned from them and how I grew and how they strengthen me. What would I like things to be a little different? Yeah, I would, but I don’t let that take over me. I think that’s what Satan Satan wants to discourage any wants to sad. Anyone who’s frustrated the Lord You know, wants us to find joy in life? Yeah. And there’s there, we just have to look in another direction. And we don’t have to give up loving them. I love my kids more than I’ve ever loved them. And that doesn’t mean, you know that some of them I don’t see that often. Yeah. What it’s almost like they become your brothers and sisters, instead of your children. We’re all adults now. Yeah. And like you said, I’m, what, 20 years ahead of you. That gap gets closer and closer, we get more and more alike, in having opinions about things, that they wouldn’t even have an opinion about 20 years ago. But just because they’re maturing and growing older in their life, you know, we really do get that age gap really narrows.

Tina Gosney  36:13

So you just that relationship really shifts into a different kind of relationship? The older

Bonnie Lyman  36:20

your children get, right? Right. Hey, maybe they don’t want to spend Thanksgiving with me. Maybe they don’t want to answer my texts. Maybe they don’t want to call me once a week. You know, I can. What I like that, yes, I would love that. But I am not going to judge them for that they have their lives, I have no idea, the challenges that they’re facing in their lives. And I’m going to have nothing but compassion and love. And it may even be a made up thought. But I know my children love me. Nobody will ever convince me otherwise. I may not get a Christmas present on Mother’s Day call. I may not get any physical recognition. But I know in my heart that my children loves me. And that is what sustains me.

Tina Gosney  37:27

Well, that’s a beautiful thought to hang on to. And I think the power of

the work that you’ve done shows

Tina Gosney  37:37

shows how true that is for you. What else what’s, as we wrap this up, what’s one thing maybe that we haven’t talked about yet, that you might tell people that you want them to know?

Bonnie Lyman  37:52

I maybe mentioned it before. But you know, it’s it’s more about putting your needs aside. And working on being the best person you can be. Whether that, whether you show up as that person you want to show up as to your neighbor, to your kids, to you know, just anybody, but it’s all about, you know, strengthening ourselves. And I can remember that. One of my kids, I got really distanced from and I would text him and maybe a week later, he would text me back with a very short text. And I just didn’t take that personally. I always had the thought, I hope everything is going okay in his life. This isn’t about him not responding to me and making me feel better. And so I found out that he had bought a motorcycle. And so I studied up and I watched videos and guys with motorcycles. And I felt a connection with him. Of you know what he was interested in? And it wasn’t that so when we did cross paths, I had something to talk about. But it just made me feel connected to him

Tina Gosney  39:39

to be interested in the thing that he’s interested in, regardless of whether he knew it or not. That was forming a connection with the two of you. Right,

Bonnie Lyman  39:49

right. Yeah, I was feeling connected with him. He wasn’t feeling any more connected with me. For my doing that But I can’t control that.

Tina Gosney  40:02

Yeah. Well, even if he had texted you back every week, you still can’t control that connection that he has with, you

Bonnie Lyman  40:10

know, and do I want him to text me back every week? Because he knows I’m going to be upset if he doesn’t know, I’d rather him be authentic. Yeah, then do something he’s not. You know, each of us just get to be ourselves. My kids just need to be whoever they are. And I get to be who I want to be.

Tina Gosney  40:40

That’s beautiful. I love that, Bonnie. Hey, thanks so much for having this discussion today. I think we you’ve given us some great things to think about, and, and just ways to think about that changing role as a parent, as your kids get older. And like you said before, I don’t know if you said it, as we’re recording, but you said, as parents of adult children, we have to quit one job and start another job. And nobody told us that. But it’s something that you realize has to happen as your kids get older, and you work on that relationship that you have with them. So thanks so much for sharing.

Bonnie Lyman  41:22

You’re welcome. Thank you, Tina.