Mid-week three Motherhood Raising boys Relationships

You’re not listening to me: 3 reasons why your kid doesn’t want to talk to you (+ what you can do improve)

One challenge of being a mom is creating a relationship where our children want to talk to me.

Those days of constant chatter about everything from their latest poop to their biggest dream when our children were little, seem so fleeting. I had no idea just how much I would miss the oversharing of my little fellas.

Now with our fellas older, I find myself hunting for the right question. You know the one question that would lead to them sharing the details of their day. The one question that would get more than a “fine,” “okay,” “alright” response. The one question that would break through the barrier of silence.

Let’s be real–the silence is hard.

No one prepared me for the longing I would have in my heart for the sweet voices of my fellas sharing their hearts.

Instead, I have embraced I am no longer the first person our fellas think to share their thoughts. They have created their community, their network of go-to people (as they should). They are growing to embrace their journey. They are becoming men.

That means I get less. Fewer chats. Less sharing. Fewer moments.

I have learned, less is okay.

The less makes room for the more meaningful.

Meaningful moments of connection, of dreaming, of growing, of laughing together.

So how do we create relationships where our kids want to talk? How do we get past their dreaded “You’re not listening to me” teenage responses?

Well, I am still walking it out. I am still learning, still growing, still adjusting along this motherhood journey with growing fellas.

But I have learned a few reasons why our kids don’t talk to us and how we can turn it around, so I can continue to enjoy a thriving, growing relationship with our sons.

1. They don’t talk because we DON’T listen.

Sadly, many parents are not good listeners. We don’t do it intentionally, but it happens.

Now before you decide to stop reading this section because you think it doesn’t apply, keep reading.

We listen distractedly: Our attention is focused on completing multiple tasks or technology.
We listen to solve: Often our children don’t want us to solve their problems, they only want us to listen.
We listen to speak: We are more focused on the lesson we want our children to learn, we don’t hear what they say.

All of the behaviors communicate more than we intend, then we fuss when our children do the same.

We can turn this around. Good listening skills are essential to creating a relationship where our children want to talk to us.

  • Ask questions: Ask leading questions about what your child is sharing.
  • Listen without distraction: Sit down and pay attention to the conversation with your child.
  • Don’t interrupt: Allow your child to express their emotions without your interference.

2. They don’t talk because we are reacting instead of responding.

Most of the time, our kids want to talk to us. They want to talk about their day and what’s happening in their lives. Unfortunately, our reactions get in the way of their open communication. We inadvertently shut down conversations with our kids without us even knowing it.

Learning how to create an emotionally safe space in our relationship with our children is vital in helping them communicate openly and often with us.

  • Speak softly and calmly: Just when you want to fuss or nag, choose to pause, giving you time to respond with a soft tone and with a calm demeanor.
  • Word choice matters: Use words that encourage, are direct and are filled with love, especially when you need to redirect negative behaviors.
  • Build up their identity: Spend more time speaking to who they are instead of what they do.

3. They don’t talk because we are talking TOO much.

Ugh, I am sooooo guilty of this one. I have turned a five-minute action into an hour-long lecture. Anyone else guilty?

Our children look at us with glazed eyes, physically present but mentally absent.

Even though we know children have a shorter attention span, that knowledge does little to shorten how long a momma can talk when she is determined to be heard. No matter how often you do it; lectures don’t work. Lectures are less about hearing from our children and more about wanting our children to listen to us.

Learning how to speak the right words in the right timing is a vital piece in creating a relationship where our children want to talk.

  • Be timely: Be aware of how long and when you choose to have conversations with your children.
  • Be direct: Talk to the specific issue.
  • Give space: Your child may need time to process the conversation. Allow space for reflection and give a set time to return to the discussion.

Above all momma, remember our children are growing and learning. They are navigating through changing bodies, hormones, shifts in friendships, increasing responsibilities, and so much more. Sometimes their lack of communication is less about you and their relationship with you and more about them learning how to be comfortable in their bodies. Be patient!

They are NOT rejecting you. They are learning how to communicate with you in a new season of their journey. This is a significant shift for our children and us. It’s okay to be vulnerable.

Have the hard talks, lean in and above all pray. Pray for guidance on how to let your relationship grow and evolve. Pray to hear what your child doesn’t say. Pray for your child and pray together.

You may miss the old moments with your child, but you have the gift of creating new moments. Show up for them.

Cheering you on momma,

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30 comments on “You’re not listening to me: 3 reasons why your kid doesn’t want to talk to you (+ what you can do improve)

  1. I agree, but sometimes, I think they do choose selective hearing,

  2. Thank you for this article, I could learn from this and apply on my students. I try to be cautious as much as possible to keep our communication open and comfortable.

  3. Great post 🙂

  4. Great wisdom! I know I need to do a better job of not reacting. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  5. My oldest child is starting to talk less. Finding ways to open them up for conversation. These are great tips to keep in mind!!

  6. great post and a reminder for me of what’s to come, my kids are little still so i still get the snuggles and them telling me about my day but i’m holding on to it while i can, one day they may not want to share so much and your post reminds me the importance of just listening

  7. jocelyncook23

    These are so true! My son is a teenager and thankfully we still talk often. Family dinners at the table help a lot. Laughing and joking helps start conversations too. Thank you for sharing

  8. I’m definitely going to have to watch the talking too much part when my little guy is older.

  9. Beautifully written! I am at the stage where my son shares so much. As more of an intervert, it’s hard to listen without distraction. This was a gentle reminder to cherish these moments and to know that it’s just a season and soon I will miss the over sharing.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Time goes by so quickly. Definitely cherish those moments.

  10. Lorena | www.lorenaylennox.com

    Another great post, Mamie. I definitely need to stop reacting and start listening more, but toddler times are so rough!!

  11. alunderfullife

    It’s so important for our kids to talk to us which means it’s even more important for us to LISTEN! That first tip is AMAZING!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Awww thanks so much. Anything you would add to the list?

  12. I could not agree with this post more. I am in the horrible habit of talking over my 5 year old rather than listening to him, especially when he’s trying to explain himself. Luckily I still have time to fix this before the teenage years.

  13. Silver Pyanov

    Lots of wisdom here. It’s important to remember these kids are little humans with complex emotions just like us.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      Sometimes we forget how is feels to be younger and all the complex emotions we felt.

  14. All 3 points are so right on! As parents we definitely need to do more listening and less responding if we want to have an impact on our kids.

  15. I love this and unfortunately, I’m so guilty of nearly all the things on the list. I try so hard to listen to my kids without distraction but it gets so hard to hear the same things over and over again (they’re 7 and 5). I also think my 7y old is starting to withhold information from me simply because he’s afraid of my reaction. I definitely need to try harder to just listen without interruption or reaction!

  16. These are great tips to get our children to listen! I know I need to work on the first one because I am guilty of distracted listening myself.

  17. Great post. So few parents know how to connect with their teens. I think you are very right that the reason for that is that the parents don’t want to hear their children and so their children don’t wish to talk to them.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      It can be harder to connect as they get older but we have to keep trying and showing up for them.

  18. Very well said! I often have to remind myself to pause whatever I’m doing, and give my son my undivided attention. It goes a long way in him opening up to me about his day.

  19. I have 6 kids and have always had a great talking relationship. I have always been non judgemental and listened with care. My teenage girls come to me when they need advice or just a shoulder to cry on.

    • Mamie L. Pack

      That is so awesome you have created an environment where your girls want to talk.

  20. Pingback: All the feels: 3 tips for raising emotionally healthy boys |

  21. Sooo good and sooo true! I am guilty of every single one of these but have learned over the years how to connect first. Now, we’re slowly getting the hubby on board with this. LOL!

    • Mamie L. Pack

      That connection factor is so important to a healthy relationship.

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