Are You Listening? Parenting: Cause & Effect

Image of curly-haired woman with hand cupping ear as if listening. Text states: Are you listening? Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

Am I the only one who can initially be a little judgy?

When I wrote and illustrated I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! my intention was to teach children the lesson parents seemed to have missed. I wanted to increase children’s self-confidence by teaching them to embrace their natural beauty. What I learned from observing children was that their parents were often the main ones causing their insecurities. So I started hosting empowerment workshops to teach parents how to use their words and behavior to instill confidence in their children. Point is that my focus has always been on the children.

Moment of honesty…. Most of the problems parents share with me about their kids are actually caused by the parents. However, it is not compassionate to say that when someone comes to me in distress wanting to vent about their child. So I just listen and empathize.

I choose to be compassionate because I am a parent, too. I know if I was venting my frustrations to someone and the first words out their mouth were, “Oh, that’s your fault,” I would feel so attacked. I would never speak to them again. 😆 Plus, I learn so much more (and offend way less people) when I just shut up and listen.

Since I typically don’t get to share my judgy knee jerk responses with parents directly, I’ve decided to do it here. (That’s the purpose of social media, isn’t it? 😆) Please note that I judge myself, too, so try not to be offended.

After each judgy response, I will give a more detailed explanation…..

The top three complaints I hear from parents are: “They won’t listen,” “They won’t talk to me,” and “They are always fighting.” As frustrating as all of these may be, these are typically parent-influenced problems.

Still with me? Okay… I’m about to break them down. Ready? Brace yourself.

PROBLEM 1: Parent: “They won’t listen.” Me: “Do you?”

We love to play the victim. We’re hurt and angry that our kids don’t listen to us, but we don’t listen to them. We think they are being dismissive and ignoring us, and can’t seem to understand why. Maybe they are responding to our behavior. We dismiss their wants (“Can I get the new ______?”), and sometimes their needs (“I’m hungry, can we go home?”), and go on with our day as if they said nothing. It’s not that we have to say, “Yes,” to everything, but sometimes we pretend like we didn’t even hear them, or we say we’ll talk about it later and never discuss it. Maybe we had a higher priority at the time, or just weren’t in the mood.

Well, they do the same thing to us. It’s not necessarily that they don’t hear us, but that what we need and want is not a priority to them so they tune us out. They follow our example.

PROBLEM 2: Parent: “They won’t talk to me.” Me: “Why would they?”

Have you ever had a jerk supervisor? You know the type that always seems angry, barks orders, and has no tolerance for mistakes? How likely are you to hang out in their office and share the intimate details of your personal life? Similarly, if this is the type of relationship we have with our child, why would they want to talk to us?

Have you ever been in a relationship, or had an interest that your friends and family didn’t support? Every time you brought that person around, or mentioned that topic, you got the eye rolls and felt tension in the room. It’s the same with our kids. Whether it’s that friend we can’t stand, or the fiftieth time watching that TikTok dance, our words and actions speak volumes. Our children’s behaviors (ex. changes in facial expression from joy to frustration, putting earbuds in while we’re responding, etc.) are often responses to ours. 

We tend to expect a certain level of relationship that we have not invested in. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sharing my personal experiences with someone who primarily barks orders at me. There is a certain level of rapport required to get me to open up. There is also a certain level of safety required. I need to know that when I am honest that your reactions are going to feel safe and that your responses will be supportive.

PROBLEM 3: Parent: “They are always fighting.” Me: “Do you blame them?”

This one might sting a bit. Children pick up on cues in their environment. If one child is treated more favorably, or regularly criticized, they notice. Not only are the favorite and the ostracized child aware of differences, so are the other siblings. If one child has a particular diagnosis, the other children notice how the parents care for that child and contrast that with the care/attention they receive. Messages about who’s important, who’s loved, who’s a “bother” are constantly being communicated. I believe that most sibling rivalries result from these types of observations.   

Now, this post is not about “blame,” it’s more about simple causality. These explanations are simplistic, and don’t cover all possibilities. The main point, however, is something I learned in school as I studied divorce and family therapy—”often the person who feels they are the victim, is actually the aggressor.”

What we see as our kids “acting out for no reason,” is often their compounded response to things we’ve done. I think we forget that our children are perceptive and have feelings. They are constantly paying attention to how we engage and learning how to interact with us and others.

If we are unhappy with the interactions we have with our children, we need to pause on blaming them and look at ourselves. Let’s check ourselves and see if we are creating environments that cultivate the type of relationships we desire.

Again, even though it may feel like it, this post is not about blame. I want you to have a better relationship with your child(ren), and for your kids to have better relationships with their siblings.

This is why I created my course, Healing Our Families: Healing the Parent-Child Relationship. In this 6 week course, I teach teach you how to listen, how to pay attention to the subtle things we do that can cause the little and big shifts in our relationships with our children. I give examples and journal exercises that help you recognize, heal, and shift how you communicate.

If you follow my posts, you know that I have a great relationship with my daughter. Even so, when I find myself slipping into old communication patterns, I use these same strategies that you will learn in this course to get us back on track. 

In the comments, you will find a link to my course. If you are a parent, struggling with your relationship with your child, Healing Our Families: Healing the Parent-Child Relationship can help you. If you are ready to transform your relationship and have better communication, check out this link to my course on Udemy.


Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

Healing Our Families: Healing the Parent-Child Relationship is an online communication course for parents available on You can purchase the course for yourself or gift the course to someone else.

This inexpensive course is a game changer. You receive the entire course at checkout, and work at your own pace. No schedule to maintain, or live class times you must attend. You gain access to the lectures and journal assignments and can even download the Udemy app to your phone and work from anywhere.

Plus, when you purchase the course you can join my Facebook group to gain support from me and other parents taking the course. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist.

Check out the link in the comments. Please SHARE.



Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

Published by Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

Marlene Dillon is the CEO of MDillon Designs & Publishing. I teach girls to believe in themselves and choose relationships that support their goals. I teach children that their dreams are possible and that they are lovable. I teach parents to communicate with their children in healthy ways. In short, I.U.S.E. people. Inspire. Uplift. Support. Empower.

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