Hush–don’t speak. Just listen.

A couple of years ago I began doing something I hadn’t done since, well honestly, the toddler years; I began reading  parenting books. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Gone are the books about diapers, bottles and tantrums. My shelves now bulge with volumes dedicated to the varied methods of parenting teens, the years when tantrums are relabeled as “rebellion.” Some books have become fire-starter, while others have offered me solid, practical wisdom . I would include my latest read, Please, Stop the Rollercoaster! How Parents of Teens Can Smooth Out the Ride, by Sue Blaney, in the latter category.

I am still working through the pages, highlighter and pencil in hand. However, in Chapter 3, “Improving Communication,” I was so touched by the poem, “Please Don’t Say Anything, Just Listen,”  I shared it with my kids and asked for their opinions. Both really liked it, saying it reflected how they have often felt. The poem gave me insight. Their responses gave me pause.

“Hush–don’t speak. Just listen,” I was reminded. It’s the first rule of the “speaker-listener” technique of communication. It’s what I stress to my kids when helping them resolve arguments. Still, I can tend to jump in when approached by someone with a dilemma. I see the problem. I think I have the answers. I like to help. I want to help. Really, I want to fix–especially where my children are concerned. However, my children are not broken. They do not need to be “fixed,” nor do they need their feelings dismissed when I charge in with a solution. When they come to me, they are maturely seeking  counsel,  and I cannot give wise counsel if I have not truly heard them. If I want them to listen to me, I must first listen to them. Afterall, don’t we all just want to be heard–not fixed or dismissed?

Please Don’t Say Anything,
Just Listen

When I ask you to listen to me,
And you start giving me advice
You have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me,
And you begin to tell me why I
shouldn’t feel that way,
You are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me,
And you feel you have to do
something to solve my problems,
You have failed me, strange
as that may seem.
Listen: All that I ask is that you listen,
Not talk or do–just hear me.
When you do something for me
That I need to do for myself,
You contribute to my fear
and to my feelings of inadequacy.
But when you accept as simple fact
That I do what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
Then I can quit trying to
convince you
And go about the business
Of understanding what’s behind
my feelings.
So please listen and just hear me.

And if you want to talk,
Wait a minute for your turn–
and I’ll listen to you.
                      — Anonymous

Now, when one of my girls approaches with a problem, I ask, “Are you looking for guidance or do you just need a sounding board?” Or, at least I try to. When I do, it does help. Communication with teens is tricky business. It is often charged with emotions leading me to jump in. I offer unsolicited advice, but I am learning they will share significantly more the longer my mouth is closed and my ears are open. And for that, I am thankful.

As I glean more from the pages of Blaney’s book, it will probably appear in my ramblings here. However, if you would like to peruse the pages on your own, you can visit her website at:



6 thoughts on “Hush–don’t speak. Just listen.”

  1. Can apply to more relationships than just teens 🙂
    Just hard to realize when we are called “to parent and direct” – and when to let go…


  2. great post…it is to easy as mums to go into mum mode…when sometimes all they want is a your ear….the hardest part in this..which I have experienced is when their judgememt is wrong…and one occassion my son asked why didnt you tell me… so like you I ask ..what the purpose is advice or an ear….great sound advice…Eliza Keating


    1. Thanks for sharing, Eliza! The hardest time for me to keep quiet is when I see bad judgement being made–which is why I am rarely quiet during those times. 🙂


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