Why does my teenager never listen to me?!


“Learn to listen to hear rather than listen to reply” Now, therein lies my problem, I am basically quite an impatient person and often interrupt conversations because I’m bored or want the person to get the point or, reluctantly admit, I want my input as my views are, of course, more important than theirs.

Listening is probably the most important and undervalued skill we have and one I struggle with daily.  Listening is about giving the person who is speaking your full attention, showing them with your body language that you are listening and empathising with that person.

How teenagers say things to their parents can be more important than what they say – frequently, it is the emotion the teenager is trying to communicate which we need to be listening out for but this is often hidden beneath a whole load of “stuff” i.e. attitude, hostility, negativity etc.

When my daughter was at her most difficult, the issue she was most upset about frequently wasn’t the issue that she was ranting about, it often went much deeper – often associated with rejection/feeling rubbish about herself and I had to learn to listen carefully so I could help her process what was actually going on.   So, as a parent of a teenager, don’t just listen, try to work out what is really going on and learn to listen behind the words – sometimes you need the skills of Poirot!

There is no quick fix for building a good relationship with your teenager – it takes time, effort and loads of patience but it is well worth the effort (although it may not always feel like it!) so next time your teenager wants to talk to you, try to listen beneath the words and work out what is really going on – be patient, try not to react to their attitude and immediately start giving them a solution just listen (and show you are listening!), empathise, say as little as possible and see what happens!


About Ruth James

I am a mum with 3 daughters who runs workshops for parents of teenagers. In 2019 I launched the Taunton Parenting Cafe and will be developing new and innovative workshops to support and encourage parents of children from 9yrs+
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