151. Being a Mom of Adult Children

Hey everyone, Jennie here with episode 151 of the LDS Mission Podcast.

This week I wanted to talk about something very personal – being a mom of adult children. As many of you know, I have 5 kids ranging from young adults to teenagers. It’s been such a journey watching them grow up, and there are so many lessons I’ve learned along the way.

In this episode, I share some of my best tips for letting go of expectations and trusting the plan as your kids become independent.

I also discuss the importance of validating yourself rather than relying on your kids for that. I give you all of my tips for navigating the journey of having adult children.

Overall, my hope is that this podcast provides some comfort and perspective to other missionary moms out there. Thanks so much for listening, and I hope you enjoy!

As always, if you found this episode helpful, I want to invite you to subscribe if you aren’t already, share this episode with your friends and missionaries you know, and write a review. I know this work will help missionaries around the world and it would mean so much to me if you did. Until next week my friends.

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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 151. Being a mom of adult children.

0:14 I’m Jenny, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next.

0:50 Hey, what’s up, everyone, welcome to the podcast. I’m happy to be hanging out with you today. We are coming up on Mother’s Day weekend. So sending a shout out to all the missionary mamas out there. I’ve been where you are. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of sort of thoughts and emotions that go into being a missionary monk, many of them amazing, and wonderful and beautiful, and many of them quite challenging at times. So today, I want to talk a little bit about that about being a mom of adult children. I first before we jump into that, I wanted to tell you a super fun today I went to speak to a group of young moms, with many of them just having their first or second child here in the town where I live, just kind of a community event kind of thing. And first of all, it was a huge trip, because I was like, Wait a second. I used to go to these. And I used to sit here and have these sort of mom get togethers and playdates with kids. And yeah, so that was really fun. And just really like warms my heart to be able to kind of share some stuff with them that I wished I’d known when I was a young mom, and that I wished I had believed and thought and felt about myself. I talked all about self care made simple. I’ve talked a lot on the podcast here about some of those concepts. But maybe at some point in the future, I can talk about that on here about self care and making it simple. For all of us out there, I actually had many of the kinds of older women that were there kind of to create the event and host the event come up to me and said, Oh my gosh, I needed to hear that too. And so I think it’s just a good message for all of us to remember what self care actually is.

3:02 Hint. Spoiler alert, it’s not as much about what you do as it is about how you treat yourself when things are hard and how you see yourself even on your worst days. And so that was really fun. Sidenote, so I just, you know, kind of took my heels off and my business casual outfit off, and I’m just kind of in my sweats now recording this podcast. funny fact is that I was thinking, Oh, I’m just gonna put on some lipstick real quick. On so I went into the bathroom, only to realize that it was the men’s bathroom. But so I think I’ve done that more than once in my life, like accidentally walked into the men’s restroom. Have you guys ever done this? Anyway, I that was really pretty funny. And then I realized in like before I saw any men plus it was just a women’s event. And so I don’t think there were any men there anyway, but just kind of funny to be like, Oh, I think I’m in the wrong place. And so then I went into the women’s bathroom and put on my lipstick. But anyway, so that was really fun.

4:11 And as I’ve been thinking about this episode, um, I want to kind of reiterate that I’m no expert at being a mom of adult children. I have adult children. For those of you who are new here or haven’t heard me talk about my kids. I have five kids. And my oldest two sons are married. So I have two daughters in law. I have a son that’s just wrapping up just wrapped up actually his freshman year of college. I have a daughter that’s a junior in high school. And I have a daughter that is going to be going into seventh grade. So she’s sixth grade still now. And boy have we had a lot of experiences over the years in raising these kids, and that’s one of the reasons it was such a trip to be at this event today, because in some ways, it just feels like it wasn’t that long ago that my kids were little. And then now, here, they are just grown up in big.

5:17 And so this is gonna be an episode mostly geared towards moms, I think geared towards parents geared towards mission leaders. Some things to maybe like, keep in mind. And remember, as we watch our children sort of grow into adulthood, and start to kind of create their own lives. And, again, this is not going to be an exhaustive list, I basically have sort of just been brainstorming over the last couple of weeks, knowing that I wanted to record this podcast for Mother’s Day, coming up, and so it’s just going to be some of the things that have been on my mind for a while now I’ve had a few people reach out to me and say, you know, you need to record a podcast about what happens or how you should feel when your kid doesn’t serve a mission. And this, I think, is all going to speak to that, because here’s what’s true, is our kids, we get to kind of be in their lives. And that’s one of the things I’m going to talk about in just a minute. But really, they just like you are the creator of their life and so many things that our kids do, we’re not always going to like be on totally on board with many of the things that our kids do aren’t going to necessarily fall exactly in line with what we had sort of envisioned for them. And that’s okay. It really is. And I’m going to help maybe share some ideas about why that that’s okay, and how you can sort of think about things.

6:54 I know that as a mom, kind of as my kids have gotten older, one of the things I’ve really had to do is just make peace with the fact that they’re their own people. And they get to, they get to create the life that they want. And I don’t have to live that life. I feel like for a long time, I would say even until pretty recently, in the last few years, like I think about when my oldest son went on his mission, I definitely was on that like roller coaster with him. I definitely when he was high, I was high when he was low, I was low. And you know, there’s part of a little piece of that maybe that we want to keep, because of course we love our kids, whatever age they are. But also, when I’m on that roller coaster with him, it doesn’t make me as an effective kind of person to champion, what he’s doing and help him and kind of see things from an outside perspective. And so I’m hoping that some of the stuff I share with you today will give you some insights and some help about our adult children.

8:08 I have seen a lot of stuff with my kids over the years, and I you know, they just get to choose. And that doesn’t mean that I’m going to love them less or support them less, it just means maybe that they need more love and support. So okay, here are a couple things that I think I don’t know, I have just a few notes here. And they’re not in any particular order. But being a mom of a adult children, one of the things you can do to kind of feel good about that and be successful is to want what they want. And even if something is not what you want for them, it’s okay for you to want that for them. So I remember working with a missionary mom, and she was talking about how one of her daughters just didn’t want to come around, didn’t want to spend time with the family was distancing herself from the family. And it was just causing this mom so much pain. And because what she wanted was different from what her daughter wanted. And I think I finally just said to her, I was like, what if you just wanted what she wants, which is to distance yourself herself. What if your daughter just wants to be angry right now? What if your daughter just wants to feel lonely right now? And that’s okay. I think our tendency, right is to be like this shouldn’t be happening. I don’t want that this. Something’s gone wrong. But we can just let go have what we think we want and our expectations and just decide that even if it’s not what we want, that we can want, what they want, okay? And even if it’s like I want to talk to, alright, I want to stay home from a mission or whatever, we can just decide like, Okay, well, that’s not what I expected. But if that’s what you want, now that you’re an adult, and you’re choosing, and you’re, you’re learning how to create the life that you want, I want that for you to whatever you want, I want.

10:35 Okay, here’s another one, maybe untie your value from what they do. I’ve seen this a lot, right? It’s like, as parents as we raise them, and we sort of teach them and we want them to go on missions, we want them to get married at the temple, we want them to stay active in the church, we want them to do all of these things within our faith tradition. And it can be really easy if we see some of those things not happening. To think that that means there’s something wrong with me that there’s something that I did wrong, that there’s something I should have taught them better. Okay. But again, your adult children are adults. It’s not our job to control them, it’s not our job to like, make them be a certain way. It’s only our job to show up in the kind of way that we want to show up. And so it’s super useful to get off that roller coaster, if we can just untie what they’re doing to our worth and value as parents, what’s actually true is your worth and value as a parent, it exists just because you exist. I’ve been thinking a lot about this about just your essence, just your personality, just your presence alone means so much. And it’s so important, and it matters so much. And so regardless of how what your kids are doing or not doing, your that doesn’t change your value, and importance and impact and influence that you have in their life, okay? It doesn’t change your worth. Just like there’s, by the way, can’t go up and down based on what your kids do. And I understand, like, I’ve been there, I promise you like, if this certain thing happens with one of my kids, then I’m like, oh, maybe we should have read our scriptures more or maybe like, and you tend to question yourself to make sense of it. But you don’t have to do that. You can untie your value and your worth and your success from their actions. And I highly recommend that you do, it helps you just step away a little bit, and be the observer of the things that your adult children are doing.

13:10 Okay, here’s another one, check in with your fuel. And so what I mean by this is when I talk about some of the tools I use in here, I always think about feelings, like fuel, think of feelings, or your emotions, like fuel in a car, and they’re gonna drive a certain set of actions. Now, sometimes, we’re gonna just feel annoyed with our kids, we’re gonna feel frustrated, we’re gonna feel disappointed, totally fine there. Those are all human emotions. But when we’re going to take some kind of action, like maybe we decide we’re going to have a conversation with our kid or maybe we’re going to set a boundary with her kid or maybe we’re going to you know, just offer an opinion or something like that. Before you do that, make sure to check in what is your fuel that is driving that action? Is it love? Is it compassion? Is it understanding? Is it acceptance? Is it surrender? Is it abundance? Or is it fear? Because if it’s fear, what are kids first of all will sense that and second of all, what usually happens in our action line is us as parents just trying to control our adult children. But instead, if we can truly like from the inside, in an honest way, being like, this is what feels the most loving to me. Right? Then you can sort of just be at peace with what you decide to do and what action you take. But make sure you check in with your fuel first, like if you’re gonna have sort of a conversation with your kid about something your adult child check in. Is this coming from fear? Is this coming from wanting to control? Is this or is this genuinely love? And I think that we can sometimes trick ourselves. I think we can, we’re like, no, I really just loving them. But check in for real. If someone wants to have the same conversation with you with that feel loving. I’m just curious. That’s how you can kind of know like, where that fuel is coming from, like, where your action is coming from.

15:29 Okay, here’s another thing, again, no order, have your own thing. Here’s the thing is when you your brain, problem solving machine, we talk about it all the time on this podcast, your brain is constantly going to be seeking for problems, okay. And if you don’t have anything to kind of keep your brain occupied, you can best believe that you’re, you’re going to look for problems in your kids and your adult children, you’re gonna be like, Okay, this is going wrong, and this is going wrong, and this is going wrong. And if we’re not doing that, usually we’re thinking like, I’m wrong, something’s wrong with me. So I highly suggest that you have some kind of like, an outlet, or like a hobby, or like a side gig or a ladies group, or, you know, you go golfing with your buddies, or whatever it is something else that your brain can work on, and problem solve. So that we don’t just automatically keep coming back to we got to fix our kids, here’s the truth. And this is, might be interesting for many of you to hear. We don’t have to fix our kids. Our kids are fine. Our especially our adult kids, they’re fine. Now, there might be some exceptions where we want to intervene. If you know, things are a little dicey, or from an emotional standpoint or something like that. Sure, like we can intervene, and we can help, but we don’t need to fix them. Okay, so they’re not a problem. Let’s just give our brain something else to think about. So that we can redirect our brain to like, oh, instead of stressing about the way my adult child is showing up, I’m just going to figure out how to plan like this Mother’s Day luncheon that my friend put on today. It’s amazing. So great.

17:29 Okay, here’s another one. Don’t be a backseat driver. This is super tempting you guys. But all of the parents that I’ve talked to, we’ve often on been attending, you know, the, what do they call it the Marriage and Family Class in our ward. And speaking to many other adults who have children in all different stages, some in our in the church, some out of the church, some that served missions that didn’t serve missions. Um, I think there’s one thing that we can all agree on, is don’t offer your opinion. Unless they ask. I know it’s so hard to do, because we do think we need to fix them, we do think we need to save them, we do think that we know better than them. But we risk. Like, if we offer an opinion that they didn’t ask for we risk kind of them thinking that we’re judging them or trying to control them. And that’s just not worth it. I think you can even say like, Well, do you want my opinion on this? But genuinely be okay with the answer. If they say no. Don’t be a backseat driver and try to control their path can try to try to control what they’re going to do or, or give advice unless they ask. And if they ask, feel free to share what’s from your heart as long as it’s fueled by love, compassion, acceptance, abundance, right?

19:08 Um, here’s another one before I talked about untying your worth from what they’re doing. Also, when we’re parenting adult children and being a mom of adult children, it’s super useful to untie your value from what you are doing. Okay, so this is where mom guilt comes in. Like, oh, I should be more of this or I should have read with my kids more or I should have taken them to the zoo more or I should have read scriptures with them more or I should have taught them more about this certain concept or whatever. Like you just showing up just your presence. Like I mentioned earlier in the podcast isn’t enough. The only thing you got to do is just show up Be you and surrender to this process of being a mom. Like that’s it. You just can keep showing up your influence, your impact is so much bigger than you even realize, even if you’ve never said a word, I was talking to one sister missionary this week, one of my clients, and she was a little bit like, oh, well, I’m sitting in a lesson and my companion is saying all the things and I feel like I should say more. And I’m like, You shouldn’t say more, that that companion is going to have an impact, the sister missionary that I’m working with is going to have an impact that the one who keeps talking, never can. Because you just need to be more of you, mom. Okay, and that’s enough. And it’s gonna look like a mess sometimes, and we’re gonna get frustrated, and we’re gonna feel disappointed. And we’re going to, like question ourselves, and all of that. And I just say, keep going. Keep showing up. With love, over and over and over again, love for God, love for your child, and love for you. We leave that one out sometimes, but love for you, too.

21:18 Here’s kind of a fun concept that my sisters and I have talked about over the years of raising kids is sometimes we kind of joke and say, Oh, this one child is in their good six months and a bad six months. And I love that we’ll even like on our mark proposal. polos and stuff be like, well, I guess they’re just in their, quote unquote, bad six months. And none of it ultimately, you guys know, I don’t love the words like good or bad. Like because our kids aren’t actually good or bad. They’re just humans in the world. Adults trying to find their way and try to figure things out. But it’s kind of a way to make things a little more light. And digestible. it alludes a little bit to the 5050 rule that I talk about on here sometimes is that sometimes our brains are going to come online. And we’re going to think the worst things and feel the worst way. And sometimes our brains are going to come online. And we’re going to think the things we want to think and we’re going to feel the way that we want to feel and it’s all fine. It’s all part of the human experience. So this kind of speaks to that. It’s like, Yeah, we all have good six months and bad six months, we are all 5050. And I love this ideas. Because it’s sort of this idea, like what goes around comes around. And if it’s a bad six months right now, for sure that that’s going to circle back around, and they’re going to be doing better. So I just like this concept a lot. And so I help it helps you is just to be like, well, they’re in there, they’re bad six months right now, you can just kind of laugh and be like, but I but I’m sure they’re gonna figure it out soon and get on to a better six months.

22:57 Support, here’s another one support and validate your self. Don’t expect that from your kids. Sometimes, and this is what we would maybe call like, enmeshment. Right? If you’ve heard that term is like, we look to our kids, our adult kids to sort of validate the way that we feel, or to make us feel like we’re doing a good job. Like we look to our kids to like if they’re going to come to Mother’s Day dinner, then we just wait for them to compliment us or tell us we’re doing a good job or whatever, right? Or wait to send us a birthday card or, or whatever those things are that you have in your mind that your kids should be doing to quote unquote, make you feel seen, loved, validated. Let it all go. I promise you it is so much easier to not have those expectations of your adult children. I mean, sometimes what I do is I think, what was I like when I was 21 years old or 22 years old or 30 years old? What was I thinking about? What was I worrying about? And it’s not our kids job to make us feel like we’re doing a good job. It’s our job as parents to trust that we’re doing a good job to keep showing up and to validate ourselves. Even if your kids said like, Oh mom, or dad, you’re so amazing. You’re doing such a good job. The only way that that would do anything for us is if we believed it. So instead of waiting for them to tell us that we’re doing a good job or even to like observe their behavior, maybe they’re graduating and getting the grades and getting into nursing school or whatever. Instead of observing what’s happening. Just validate yourself first. It’s so much easier. You’re the only one that can create that confidence for yourself.

24:59 Anyway, here’s another one. Only create experiences that you want to create, not what you think you should create not this idea, like all moms on Mother’s Day should blink, All kids should blink on Mother’s Day. Or, if we’re going to have a family get together, that it should look this certain way, and my adult children should come. No, you can just create the experiences that you want to create because you want them. I remember in another program I work in a woman had written in and she’s like, I, you know, want to have a sort of family thing at the cabin. But some of my adult kids aren’t going to come. And it’s like, you just got to let go have that. If you want a thing at the cabin, go have a thing at the cabin just because that’s something you want, not because you think your kids should want it, or because you think you should do that. What I finally decided to do over the last few years for Mother’s Day, and my birthday, is I just instead of waiting for everyone to validate me and make me feel good. I just create and tell everyone ahead of time what I want. And some people can get on board. And some people don’t get on board all totally fine. And but I am busy creating the experience I want not because I think I should do it that way. But because I want to do it that way. Sometimes I see this with like, moms who are doing a lot of like babysitting for their grandkids of their grandkids and stuff like that, and totally do that. But do it because you want to not because you think you should. And maybe you need to set some kind of a boundary there. Maybe you need to set some rules or parameters around it. But maybe you don’t do it and then complain to everybody about how you got to watch your grandkids. Does that make sense? Choose the experiences that you want to have with your kids, and make those experiences happen. Let go of the rest, create that experience for you, regardless of who shows up, or how the our adult children show up.

27:18 Okay, I have to more trust and surrender to the plan. Now this goes back to what I was saying in the beginning, it’s not our job to fix, or to save our kids. And I know we have a lot of scary scriptures sometimes like, Oh, if you don’t want to ever teach your kid then the millstone around your neck and the bottom of the ocean and all of that. But listen, your job maybe, is to just teach your kids about Jesus, because he’s the one who fixes and saves. So you can just show up, offer thoughts about Jesus with love, and then believe that that’s enough. That’s all you got to do. And some of your kids are gonna pick up those thoughts and be like, Yes, I love that one that I love to think about it that way. And some of them are gonna be like No, I, I actually don’t like thinking about it that way. It’s not useful for me to think about that. it that way. But that’s the way that it was supposed to be. I often say things like, I’m already planning on putting a bunch of money aside for coaching, and therapy of my kids, of course, they’re going to need it, we actually come to this earth in families not because it’s always going to look perfect, but because it’s sort of this, like tension that’s created. And this like different ways of doing things and different ways of seeing things and all of these emotions and experiences that we have together in this sort of laboratory that we call our homes, and our extended homes with our adult children, that that growth happens. And that’s actually how it’s supposed to be. I’ve actually believed and decided one of my job’s not because I’m going to do it on purpose. But my kids are going to come away with some hurt and pain because of me. And that’s okay. That’s the way life is supposed to be. We’re all in this plan together, we signed up to come together, to hang out with families to have kids or not have kids. But the people that we interact with, are designed to come into our lives to sort of create that little bit of tension to causes us to grow, and to change and transform and that doesn’t always feel good. So surrender to the plan, which always included a Savior, and it’s his job to save and to fix. It’s not your job to save or fix your adult children.

29:51 Now this is one of my favorite ones is when you’re being a mom of an adult child, or in laws. My daughters in law, I love to just be in awe and be a witness. Because if I’m not going to fix anything, if I’m not going to save anything, if I’m not going to control anybody, I love to just come to this place where I’m so lucky, and feel so grateful that I get to be a witness to the life that this child is creating. I mean, it’s just incredible, that we get to do this, that we get to be witnesses to the lives our kids are creating our adult children, and what what they’re doing with their lives. And here’s the thing, it’s gonna be hard, sometimes it’s gonna be hard to watch, it’s going to be heart wrenching at times is going to be soul stretching, it’s going to, we’re going to question ourselves, and we’re going to feel insecure, and our kids are going to question themselves, and they’re going to feel insecure. Sometimes it’s even excruciating. But that is just part of it. And I’d rather have that I’d rather have the good, the abundant, and the excruciating. The not have it at all. And so when things feel hard, I just tell myself, just be in awe. Just be a witness to this life that they’re creating.

31:37 Okay, so I want to send the happiest Mother’s Day to all of you. I know that Mother’s Day can be a challenging day. For many of us. I’ve been there. I remember sitting in sacrament meetings, and then just feeling like I was going to cry and just wanted to go home at the end of those. So I’m hoping that wherever you are, if you’re a woman that you feel loved and supported. And most of all, that you create that validation and love and support for yourself, and create the experiences that you want to create for you. Our adult kids, they’re human, just like you. They get it wrong. Half the time. Just like you and me, or adult kids, they don’t know what they’re doing. Just like me, just like you. But what a gift it is. To be a witness and to rely on someone else Jesus Christ, who saves. Okay. I hope you all have the most amazing week Happy Mother’s Day sending love to the missionaries all over the world, the missionary moms mission leaders, take care and we’ll talk to you next time.

32:51 Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges, and many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed up and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you’ll want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries might video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call. If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home to the next level. Then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in. Just know that Jenny, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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