How To Talk To Your Parents So That They Will Listen – And Really Hear You
Mar 10th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

Help!  My Parents Don’t Listen to Me!

I hear these comments from teens all the time:

Talk It Out!

My parents don’t listen to me.  

My parents aren’t interested in what I have to say.   My parents dictate what I can or cannot do.  (I don’t want to play sports, piano, etc. but they say that I have to do it!)

I’ve told my parents that I’m interested in _____, but they say I’ll never make a living at it, so why bother doing it (or it’s a waste of money to study it in college.)  I have no sense of control over my life. 

I don’t have choices.  My parents don’t care about me.   I’m expected to do this, and I hate it. 

If I don’t get great grades, I’ll be in huge trouble.   I’d like to do this, but every time I ask they say it’s too (dangerous, expensive, ridiculous, a waste of time etc.)

So how can you talk so that your parents will listen – and really hear you?


Here’s some ideas to help you:

  1. Plan ahead.  Outline your points clearly.  Make a list of what you want to say.  Use bullet points. If necessary, write out two drafts – the first can be with all your anger and frustration.  The second one should be the key points, without the emotion so that you can clearly communicate without hostility.
  2. Tell your parents you feel unheard, and that it hurts.  Sometimes parents feel that you have pushed them away, that you don’t need them, that they are less connected with you.  It’s important to say that you miss your time with them, that you love them, want to spend quality time with them.  Here’s what you could say,
  3. Stay calm.
  4. Set up a time to communicate. (If you feel ignored, this is really important!)  Request time – ask for their undivided attention without any phone calls, tv, computer – be very specific that you want their full attention. If you can, speak to your parents on neutral ground. “Mom, I need to speak to you and I need your full attention without phone calls.  Can we go somewhere so that we can talk? Another idea is to go for a walk with your parent.  Moving around helps elevate some of the tension and helps to focus the communication between the two of you.
  5. Ask them to hear you out until the end – You could say, “I really would appreciate it if you would let me get it all out before you comment.”
  6. Speak respectfully – if you want respect, if you want to be heard, then communicate respectfully.  Watch your tone, language (verbal and non-verbal), and don’t whine or complain.  Be clear on your perspective and issue.
  7. Share your feelings – Most parents don’t read minds, so tell them how you feel if it’s appropriate.  Talk about your feeling, but don’t be accusatory – don’t be confrontational.  Example: When you said _____, I really felt rejected.  Don’t talk about being angry, frustrated, mad because that makes people defensive – especially parents who don’t want to be told how to feel about something or that their behavior was wrong.   Instead use words like scared, belittled, rejected.  REMEMBER – you know your parents best.  You know what pushes their buttons.  If you want to be heard, don’t go for the jugular.
  8. Hear your parents point-of-view.  Listen, don’t argue – really listen, don’t set up your next argument while you’re listening.  You might miss an important point.
  9. Restate what your parents have said and then have your parents restate what you said, both should restate what was said without judgment.  Integrate your thoughts into theirs until there is a clear understanding.
  10. Come up with an understanding/compromise/plan – something reasonable that you can all live with!
  11. Make choices and know your choices have consequences – hopefully positive consequences.
  12. Don’t let fear, low self-esteem, feeling unworthy, trust issues, or ego keep you from doing what you believe is right.  But also don’t be so locked into being right, that you don’t hear your parents either. 
  13. If you don’t get your point across, or the compromise is not something you’re happy with, respect your parents, step away from it, and at another time, revisit the conversation.
  14. Ask yourself if this will matter a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, ten years from now.  This helps gain perspective.
  15. Ask your parents to reserve the time to talk.

What should you do if you’ve tried to present your perspective and your parents still don’t hear you?

  1. If things are not going well, bring in a third party – someone that can be neutral and respected by all involved.
  2. Write a letter, they can’t argue back.

Tips for Parents:

Obviously, you can gain quite a bit of insight by reviewing the points listed above.  Here are few more.

  1. Focus on your young adult’s strengths, rather than his or her weaknesses. 
  2. Listen, really listen – in a neutral place, absent of distractions such as phone calls, computers, T.V. This should be a time of complete focus on your son or daughter, with NO interruptions.
  3. Take your son or daughter seriously.
  4. Ask yourself if you’re imposing your beliefs/feelings/experiences on your teen, because you’re living vicariously through him or her, or because it’s what you want and perceive is best, even though it may truly not be what is best for your son or daughter.
  5. Look at your son or daughter’s body language.  What is it telling you?
  6. Don’t ridicule or belittle your son or daughter for expressing him or herself.  Encourage him or her to share their feelings.  Nothing closes a mouth faster or makes a YA defensive quicker than if he or she feels pushed against a wall, or belittled.  In turn, express how you feel too, but in a manner that doesn’t make your child feel defensive. 
  7. Ask yourself if you really need to say no…  Will yes work too?
  8. Are you imposing your fears, self-esteem issues, ego, trust issues on your son or daughter?
  9. You know what words push your son or daughter’s buttons.  You know what hurts him or her.  Don’t say anything to wound them.
  10. Will this issue be important a week, a month, a year, or ten years from now, if not, why the battle?

Tip – Cope with Stress NOW
Jul 30th, 2009 by Liza Wiemer

stress2Quick Tip:  Relieve your stress NOW

    Yesterday, I walked into my favorite coffee shop.  One of the baristas was on the brink of tears.  She wasn’t feeling well and was under tremendous stress.   Unfortunately, every co-worker she contacted was unable to fill in for her and her shift had just started.  I wanted to jump behind the counter to help, but anyone who’s tasted my coffee…  The place was noisy and there was a steady stream of customers.  Here’s the tip I gave her for immediate relief – and it works!


When you find yourself in a stressful situation, unable to cope…

VISUALIZE:   Imagine your most favorite place in the world; picture it in your mind.  Is it a beach?  A forest?  A country road?  Imagine the sounds, smells, colors, texture.   (30 seconds or less.)

BREATHE:  Take a few deep breaths.  (If short on time, stop here.)

END GOAL:  Now that you feel better, don’t allow the stress to overwhelm you again.  Set a short-term end-goal. 

Example 1:  I will do well on this test.  And then go about taking steps to make it happen.  (Study – but be specific, call a friend for notes, research, review textbook, review notes, highlight, look at key learning material, find a quiet spot, turn off my cell phone, stop looking at Facebook or Twitter 🙂  )

Example 2:  I will not give my co-worker the power to upset me.  I will take the steps necessary to turn this day around.  (Change my attitude – I will not focus on or obsess over the negative, stay busy, be polite – but don’t listen to the person’s negative talk, do my best work ever, be kind to customers, smile at others, see myself walking out the door happy, smiling. )  After you made it through the day, perhaps your next goal is to find a new job???   Or an attitude change??  Remember:  How you relate to others is often how others relate to you.

Would love to hear from you.  Give this a try and let me know how it worked for you. 

Something to Think About
Jul 17th, 2009 by Liza Wiemer

Something to think about:

“Time is given meaning when it is used to help others become better human beings.” Liza Wiemer

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