Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Can you hear me?

A group of middle school and high school students were recently asked a simple question.  Their answers were totally anonymous.

"What would you tell your parent / parents if they would simply LISTEN without any repercussion?"

Here's a sample of what they said:

Stop treating me like a child

Please stop looking at my text, they are personal to me!

I have a Facebook account and I still kept my Instagram account as well-without your permission.

Trust my judgment instead of looking through my phone.

I love you.

I love you not matter what I say or do, I always will.

Stop yelling

Please take my ideas and thoughts into consideration.  Consider my point of view more.

I wouldn’t really want to tell them anything important, because there really isn’t anything important to tell them.  I mostly like to keep my feelings to myself.

How hard it is to deal with life and trying to stay away from the guys I love.

I have thoughts about dying because of them. 

I have been thinking about moving to a group home.  I feel like it would be a good option.

I would tell them about my heart for missions and telling other people about God because God has been working with me about that.

I feel pressured by the family.  I was embarrassed as a child of certain things because of you all.

I would tell them to actually spend time with me and not ignore me because it hurts when they ignore me.

I would tell my parents to listen to me more, and not to yell at me.  Those kinda go together.

I would tell them that I don’t like when they blame each other for things that…

Listen to me and not yell at me.

About all my troubles and fears.

They need to understand more than yell at me about my grades.

Tell me truth.  Don’t hide things from me in order to protect me.

I try my hardest.

Believe in me.  Don’t doubt me.

I would tell them to please listen better sometimes.

Listen without arguing.

Give more privacy.

Stop controlling me.

Have strength.  I love you.

Stop being so critical when it comes to grades.

Give me more money.

Love you mom.

Understand me.

Why do you say you love me when you punish me?

You make me do so much!!!

Stop controlling.

I love you.  Thank you.

Get back together.

My life, not yours.

I watched porn.

Stop saying yes when you want to say no.

Please stop reading my texts.  They are privacy!  I do nothing bad and you know that.

I’m struggling in school and I try my hardest to pass.

I don’t like eating sometimes, but I don’t think I’m fat.

I’m bi-sexual.

Mom and Dad, I love you!

Mom-stop drinking and being mean.

Pay more attention to me.

Mom-stop being mean to me and yelling.

Stop screaming at me.

You shouldn’t be so overprotective.  I’m sorry for not doing what you say.

Over protective.

Stop yelling.

You should listen to my siblings and me.

Just listen.

Listen to me.

Stop judging

Thank you for being amazing and love me so well.

Don’t be so strict, it only makes me want to do bad things.  Strict parents create sneaky children.

I’m scared you are fan of Jesus with good morals and not actually a Christ follower.  You have never shown me what it means by the way you live your life.

I’m worried that if you knew everything about me, you’d hate me.

Mom, I am tired of you always getting on to me about little things.  I am not perfect nor are you, although that is what it seems like you think.

I would like to be left alone when I get angry or when you see me becoming angry.

You don’t have to yell.

I’m embarrassed to share my personal feelings with you because you aren’t understanding.

I am not comfortable sharing personal things with you, not because I don’t think you can help, but because I am embarrassed to.

Thank you for all you do.  I love you so much.  Thanks for always being here.

Thank you for everything.  I love you.  I know I don’t respect you enough.  

As a father, youth worker and person who advocates for the next generation this list was a lot for me to take.  Sure there were some positive comments, but for the most part kids don't feel heard and many of them are hiding their feelings and actions.  It's never good for kids to have secrets they are unwilling to share with a caring adult.

Will anyone listen?

Kids won't share if they don't trust.  They won't trust if there isn't relationship.  So whether you're a youth worker, parent or both, nurturing relationship with an emphasis on listening must be the highest priority.  

The hope is that we or other adults get to apply the power and beauty of the gospel to specific areas of their life.  Let's do the hard work of building relationship.

What do you think?


  1. Parents need to put down their phones and provide eye contact and listen more. I am a parent of elementary school kids. I went on a field trip with my 1st grader and most of the parents had their phones out constantly--not just to take pictures, but to text and respond to e-mails. I'm sure 99% of what they were doing wasn't critical--it could have waited.

    Children notice when their parents are physically present but not really there. Parents are often in their own world, and when a child turns to tell them something, they see the parent on the cell phone and turn away. Then we wonder why kids don't want to talk to us or share with us as teens.

    OK--that's my rant. The list was very helpful and gave me a lot to think about. Thanks!

  2. The days are gone when there is actually ongoing conversation. I wonder if parents should be more intentional about creating space where their kids have their undivided attention. (like maybe a field trip).

    In the communication age I'm afraid we're forgetting how to really connect.

  3. Some of those comments! Wow! I wonder what the parents (that 'those' comments were about) would think if that had been said to them directly.

    I thank God that He has blessed me to listen to 'my' kids at IBC. I love them dearly and I remember what it was like when I was a teen.