How can I get people to listen?

I've never been able to talk with my parents. My parents are in their sixties while I am a teenager. I love both of them but not their personalities. I feel that they do not take me seriously whenever I talk about a serious event in my life. If my dad doesn’t believe me, then my mom goes along with my dad and acts like she doesn’t believe me either. I’m a pansexual, but I can’t trust my own parents.

I've fought depression and won; however, stress and anxiety are killing me. I feel that my friends don't listen to me. I know they have their own problems, which I do my best to help with. But they don't always try to help me with mine, when I really need them. I feel as if my childhood has been taken from me. I feel as if I have no one whom I can trust.

David Alpert
David Alpert
Enlightened Care

First of all, I am sorry that you have been missing out on your childhood. It may help you to know that many of us feel that we have missed out on our childhoods, as well, and that despite such deprivations, for many of us, our adult lives have been extraordinarily fulfilling due to our opening up to trusted adults. I recommend that you find a trustworthy adult to talk to. This may be a teacher, a coach, a school counselor, a minister, a family member, or a friend's family member. If none of these are available, try out a professional counselor, social worker, psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychologist, or a psychiatrist. It is best to get a referral for such a professional from a peer who has had a positive and safe experience with a particular provider.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Life sounds extremely frustrating for you right now.

As long as you've reached your conclusion that your parents do not take you seriously when you would like to speak with them on a serious topic, and that you feel unable to trust either of them, then work with your own information.

Many people don't know how to listen and aren't trustworthy.  As painful and aggravating as having parents who fit this description, you're better off to honor what you realize than to continue fighting what is not in your hands to change.

Since you write about having a similar problem with friends, then maybe this comes about because you pick friends who are similarly unsatisfying to be with as are your parents.

The first step out of this dilemma would be to accept how crummy you feel about the way your parents are toward you.

If you're able to live with the sadness and resentment of having parents who don't want to know how to understand you, then you'll start to develop a new and more satisfying definition of what you expect from the behaviors of your friends.

Trust yourself that what you feel and see is accurate, then it becomes easier to trust and welcome new people who are formatted differently than either your parents or your friends who sound very similar to your parents' ways.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Dr. Bonnie Howell
Dr. Bonnie Howell
Dr. Bonnie Howell Coach and Counsel

I'm sorry you feel so alone and isolated, those feelings in and of themselves can lead to depression, stress and anxiety.  So job one is finding someone you can talk to.  A good friend or an open parent can be as helpful as a professional counselor, but if you don't have those, then by all means call your local Mental Health Association, suicide prevention, or go see your school counseling department. There are many of us now who do on-line, FaceTime, phone counseling so that is an option to consider in your situation.  On the other hand,  If you want to script a conversation with your parents (I'm a great believer in scripting) not that you're going to read it to them, but if you write down exactly what you want to say, read it over a few times before you're ready to have the conversation.  Why?  You'll be much more likely to do it if you're prepared, and you'll  have a better chance of saying everything you want to say in a calm but forceful way.  The same with your friends--you are probably a great listener and therefore attract people who want to talk--so you need to let these friends know you need something in return.  If you practice asking for equal talk time, then perhaps these friends will respond and surprise you, or if you make those demands you'll start attracting people who are looking for equality in friendships.  Now back to that script--first decide do you want to talk to both parents at once, or one at a time.  Then begin to write down the points you want to make such as:   I love you, and I know you love me but I don't feel as though I can trust your love to be unconditional enough to tell you who I really am, and how I really feel.  Find your own words to describe your own feelings.  If I can help, get in touch. You are right to reach out starting here, there are no prizes for suffering in silence and, as you already know, little joy in going it alone. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

One of the most difficult challenges we face is not being heard! It is incredibly frustrating and hurtful when others, especially parents, do not listen. While your parents surely love you and want to understand you, it may be difficult for them to fully understand your feelings and experiences. They are quite a bit older and have likely not dealt with some of the struggles that you face.

I would suggest communicating your feelings to them about not being heard. Talk to them during a non-emotional moment when the discussion is not already heated. In other words, do not wait until an argument ensues to have an open discussion with them about how you are feeling. Prepare them by asking them what time is good for them to talk. Let them know you have something important to get off your chest. Try and avoid using exaggerated or extreme language such as "you NEVER listen," "you ALWAYS say..." and stray away from placing blame. Instead of beginning your statements with "you" try using "I" by letting them know how their behavior effects you. Finally, let them know that they are important to you and that having their trust and support would mean a lot to you. Perhaps giving them suggestions as to what you wish for and would like to see change would help them to better understand.

I would also suggest that you seek guidance from a therapist, teacher, or school counselor if possible. Most schools have counseling resources on sight in which a trained professional is available to talk with students looking for help.

Best of luck to you.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Earl Lewis
Earl Lewis
Relationship Expert

First, thank you for sharing such deep personal information. It can be difficult to share such intimate information. To begin, it sounds likes your primary concern your desire to speak to someone who takes your mental health seriously. You've tried talking to your parents and your friends and neither have made that connection in the area you need. I'm sorry to hear that. it's unfortunate. However, I think a couple things can be done to try to address this. 

If you want support

1) Parents- Sit down with one of them and tell them with all seriousness that you need to talk about something that is affecting you deeply. Perhaps speaking to both can be too much for one room. If you try to speak to mom or dad by themselves, it may create that intimate atmosphere needed to understand where you are coming from. 

2) Friends: Like parents it can be difficult to speak to your friends about challenges with your mental health. When you're feeling down and anxious, friends can be great help or not their at all. With friends, it may be one of those things where you also need to create an intimate environment with one friend to speak to about your sadness and anxiety. If anything, speak to the fact you're hurt and help them understand that if they can't understand the depression

If you don't want support

 Coping Strategies: Identify coping skills and strategy that help you when you're feeling down. 

Ideas:

A.) Journaling

B) Painting

C) Exercise

D) Music

E) Reading Affirmation

F) Listening To Motivation Videos

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Kristi King-Morgan, LMSW
Kristi King-Morgan, LMSW
Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Teenage years are rough for anyone, and this is a time for self-discovery and experimentation. Having older parents can certainly pose challenges. Most kids feel like their parents don't understand them, but yours are older than the average parents of teenagers. They're from a completely different generation than you are. It sounds like they love you, but may not understand you. The problem here is the generation/age gap, and there's not a whole lot you can do about that. What you can do is accept the situation and perhaps look at it a little differently. It seems like you're looking for affirmation from them, looking for their approval and understanding. It's never a good idea to look to others to define who you are or to get a self-esteem boost. Who you are and how you feel about yourself needs to come from inside, not from outside. One way you can have a better relationship with your parents is to stop looking at all the things you aren't getting from them that you want, and rather look at all the things you are getting from them. Yes, this is a glass half full or half empty point of view, but it works. The negative will overshadow the positive if you let it. Start looking for the good things in your relationship with your parents and your feelings towards them will become more positive.

I'm not sure how your friends/peers made you feel like your childhood has been taken from you. That's a curious statement, and requires a deeper conversation to understand where that came from. However, I do understand feeling different and out of place, especially in high school. Find the strength within yourself rather than looking to others in your life to make you feel better or feel like a complete person. It helps to have friends and loved ones, but you can never rely on them to fulfill all of your needs. Set some goals for your future, work towards them. Focus on being the best YOU that you can be, and the right people will enter your life at the right time. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Keisha Helms
Keisha Helms
MS Counseling Psychology

Hi there. Being 15 years old can be a very difficult time in your teenage life. I remember when I was 15 and how I often felt my parents weren’t listening to me. It’s even more difficult when you feel that you do not have a friend that you can confide in. 

Having depression in the past and being able to get through it shows me that you can get through anything! Depression alone is a very difficult problem to work through. In addition to the communication problem with your parents, it appears that you are also struggling with stress and anxiety. We all have stress and anxiety in our lives. If we didn’t, none of us would be living. Anxiety & stress keep us on our toes! Often, I have to remind myself of this as well. However, it is how we manage stress and anxiety, so it will not overcome our lives. 

Are you familiar with relaxation techniques, such as: deep breathing exercises, meditation or yoga? Relaxation Techniques can help you tremendously in reducing your stress and anxiety. 

Deep breathing exercises are helpful when you are on the go, such as school, shopping, out with friends or whatever extracurricular activities you engage in. Most people do not take full advantage of their lung capacity. I know, that sounds silly. But, it’s true. You would be surprised how much air you lungs can hold. Imagine being in the Doctor’s office and taking deep breaths. This is what you want to do when you are feeling overwhelmed and/or stressed. Take a moment to take in at least 10 deep breaths and let them out slowly. You will be surprised how well you feel afterwards. 

Meditation and Yoga are also healthy forms to working through stress and anxiety. You will need a quiet place for your meditation. You want to be “in the moment” and take in the peace and serenity. All it takes is a quiet place, closing your eyes and thinking of your “happy place.” Some people use meditation music as well. If you have access to this type of music and or the internet for more ways to practice meditation, please go for it! 

Yoga on the other hand will take a little more work and practice. I would not suggest you learning this on your own, if you have never attempted yoga before. Find an experienced Yoga instructor to teach you the ropes and/or ask your school counselor about the possibility of getting someone to come to the school to teach the students. 

Lastly, in regards to your parents it is very important to be able to have a relationship where you feel comfortable communicating. I would recommend writing a letter to them, if you are unable to express how you feel in person. A letter is more intimate and requires a little more effort on their end. If they are open on working on this relationship, maybe suggest family counseling to fully work on this issue.

 I hope this was helpful for you and I wish you the best! 

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