Parenting Modern Teens (& Kids!)

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Becoming A Better Listener For Your Family


Listening To Your Kids Is Not Easy!

5 Reasons Why It's Hard For Parents To Listen To Their Kids!

1. The whole family is busy with activities!
2. We can easily get our buttons pushed when we hear something we don't like.
3. Our teens don't talk to us! 
4. We parents don't make the time to sit and connect.
5. Our kids can yell, lie or whine when they talk with us. Ouch.

If you can relate to this, here are 4 Action Steps!


Note: If you apply these five steps, your kids SHOULD talk with you.Yes, I said should.

Teens should talk with their parents. Teens should share parts of their personal life with their parents and have open, normal conversations. This is normal, healthy and a sign of respect and trust.

If a parent does these five action steps and your teen doesn't talk with you, then there are deeper issues going on. You may have lost trust or you may be in a win/lose relationship with your teen, and I would recommend you contact an outside professional or contact me for a coaching session.

It's also normal for teens to want to have privacy, lots of alone time and lots of friend time.

Anyone who says it's 'ok' or 'normal' for teens to ignore, stonewall, or disrespect their parents is not someone I would be listening to!

4 Action Steps:

1. Tell Your Child/Teen You Want To Have A Close, Personal Relationship.

Tell them you want to listen to them talk about their personal life. Tell them you want to know what they are thinking and how they feel. 

Sean, isn't this obvious?


I have worked with teens for 20+ years and soooooo many teens have told me, "My parent doesn't want to be close with me. I can tell."

People are not psychic! People are not mind-readers.

If you want to be close - tell them!

2) Ask Your Teen Creative and Personal Questions

If you have heard me speak, you have heard my talk and joke about the #1 Question that parents ask their kids - and you have heard me say that this is the DUMBEST question of all time!

"How was your day?" a dumb question!

If you want your kids to open up to you, or want to anyone to talk with you, then start with a good question!  And don't hold back from asking personal questions!

HERE is a list of good questions!  And HERE is another good list!

3. Be a Curious Listener Who Doesn't React When He/She Hears Something 

Here's the catch...

If you are close with your teen, then your teen will be open and honest with you.

And if your teen is open and honest with you, then you are FOR SURE going to hear things that bother you or push your buttons.

Why? Because that is the way parenting works. 

Your teen is very different than you. They live a very different life, in a very different teen culture.

Life will be hard for them at times. They will make mistakes. They will have unhealthy viewpoints. They will have bad plans.

Parenting a modern teen life will be painful and emotional at times!

The key is...How will you respond...or do you respond, when you hear something you don't like?

If you are a reactive parent and react every time you get emotional or triggered, your teen will notice. Your teen will likely not respond well to your reactive listening skills.


Reacting sounds like...


Pep Talks -"Be careful that you don't..."

Unwanted Questions -"Why are you doing it that way?"

Fearful words - "You shouldn't do that because I am concerned that..."

Negative Tone - "What are you thinking?!"

Judgment - "This is wrong for you."

Advice/Lecture - "Let me tell you what you should do."

Command and Control - "Stop right there.  This isn't happening!"

Rescuing - "I know how to make this go away..."

Selfishness - "Let me talk about myself now."

Problem Solving - "Here is what you need to do...


Teens don't like this stuff. Actually, no one does.


If you aren't a good listener, closeness will be challenging.

If you react, they will react back.

Your teen may yell at you, scold you, lie to you, roll their eyes, walk away from you, shut down, avoid you, whine, be disrespectful, or just decide to hide their personal life from you and keep things very shallow between you two. 

Good listening helps teens to feel safe. Accepted. Wanted. Open. 

In other words, if you want your teen to be honest and open with you, start with yourself. Evaluate and improve your own listening skills.

If you need help with this, or want to go deeper in your coaching with me, then take our Parenting Assessment and start growing today! 

4. Build Trust

The foundation of every healthy relationship, marriage, friendship or business relationship is...Trust.

Parents often think about trust as in...

Are you telling me the truth?

Are you being honest with me?

Are you going to do what you said you would do?

But for teenagers trust is about...

Can I trust you to listen well when I talk with you?

Can I trust you to accept me and be kind and gentle with me when you hear something you don't like?

Can I trust you to be there for me when I am hurting or not behaving well?

Think of this article like a math problem! 

+Passion for Closeness
+Creative Questions
+ Active Listening
+ Trust
= Your Teen Should Talk With You!

Click HERE to watch a fun video my daughter Maddy and I made about parent listening skills...when she was just 13 years old! 



Be Strong. Stay Close. Teach Wisdom.

 Your Friend,

Sean Donohue

Family Coach 

Founder of

 Click HERE to go deeper with Sean's coaching.

Click HERE to schedule a "Parent Coaching" session with Sean.

Click HERE for Sean's article, "Why Teens Need EQ Skills".

Click HERE to read Sean's article, "How To Evaluate Your Teen's Emotional Maturity".