Gentle Parenting And The Art Of Listening

The key to gentle parenting is treating your child as you would wish to be treated yourself. It is the belief that children deserve respect. And that’s why it is so important for us to work on the art of listening – listening is one of the most loving, respectful things we can do for someone.

The art of listening is so important for parents - child in blue dress with some blue flowers bluebells

Listening means you matter

When we practise the art of listening, we say to that person, “You matter. I’m interested in you.”

It’s not about chiming in with our own thoughts but instead being generous with our time, working hard at understanding what they’re saying and giving a thoughtful, supportive response.

You matter. I want to know what you’re thinking. Your opinion is valid. You have something to contribute. You have my full attention.

When I started this post, I did a quick google search to see what information is out there about the art of listening as a parent. These are the first three search results:

  1. Listen to your parents
  2. Why kids do not listen to their parents
  3. What to do when your kids don’t listen

There is no mention of parents listening to their children. It is all about us commanding their attention.

As gentle parents, we want our kids to know that their opinions matter and that they have a unique “something” to offer the world. We can’t teach that if listening is a one-way street where we talk and they obey.

Empathic parenting and the art of listening - child picking up some colourful sweets

A masterclass in the art of listening

It’s no secret that I have an extremely soft, sensitive heart that is easily bruised. I learnt very early on to keep it guarded because the pain of it breaking was so great. When I first met my husband, I had just gone through a break up and my guarded heart was even more locked down than usual.

But he listened.

I would brush off his questions and he just listened harder.

For months and months he asked questions and he listened… and gradually I let my heart see daylight again. He didn’t judge, didn’t ridicule, didn’t belittle, didn’t shame, didn’t ignore, and, most importantly, he didn’t give up. You see, I needed someone to prove that they really cared, not just by asking how I was, but by asking every day.

I didn’t believe that he wanted to know the truth the first time. I still didn’t believe him when he asked the 20th time. But when he kept on asking, he showed beyond doubt that he cared. It was a masterclass in the art of listening.

And trust was born!

The art of listening to our children - child eating a fab ice cream and ice lolly

Listening takes time

Listening isn’t something you can tick off a to-do list. The art of listening doesn’t have a time frame – it’s about being readily available indefinitely.

So we can’t allocate an hour slot on a Saturday morning for “listening to our kids” and then spend Sunday while Friday being physically or emotionally unavailable. Yes that specific one-on-one time will be beneficial but the principle must carry on through the rest of the week.

We need to listen to the small, mundane things so that they know they can trust us to listen to the big things.

It’s hard to be vulnerable. It takes a leap of faith and a good deal of trust to confide in someone and tell them what is on your heart.

Teasing or “shrugging it off” is a sure-fire way to lock your kids down again.

Prove yourself worthy of trust, and when they need you, they will come.

Gentle Parenting and the art of listening - how can I really listen to my child? - thoughtful child wearing blue coat

A poem about the art of listening

It’s so important to set time aside for our children. Research shows that the rational part of the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25! That means irrational thoughts and actions are to be expected.

Children and teenagers often struggle with emotions which feel overwhelming. As parents, we’re perfectly placed to guide them through those emotions and help them to develop an understanding of themselves.

The art of listening is a key factor in this. We need to listen to what they are telling us so that we can fully understand what they need from us. So often, it is just a listening ear, or someone to share the burden. Perhaps even a new perspective or a reassurance of support.

I’m not a poet, but I was so moved as I wrote this post that I had to pen a few lines…


Come close, little one, and sit by me,

Your thoughts are precious and my time is free.

Let’s chill together and sit a while

And share a tear and share a smile.


Set down your pack of worries, dear,

And reach inside. You need not fear.

Each parcel we’ll unpack together,

You and I; no stress, no pressure.


We’ll talk as long as you desire,

And mull the problems by the fire,

And when you’re done, I’ll take a few

And carry those worries myself, for you.


Don’t ever think that you’re alone,

That this sack of fears is just your own,

For bags like this can weigh you down,

Can make you scared and make you drown.


But I am here, my little one,

Your confidante, your friend, your mum.

Let’s talk them through together, dear,

For problems shared can lose their fear.


And though them all, I cannot fix,

There will be some in that bag of tricks;

And others I can help you bear

Or empathise for I’ve been there.


Come close, little one, and sit by me,

Your thoughts are precious and my time is free.

Gentle Parenting and the art of listening - two children chasing bubbles

Are you good at listening or is it something you need to work on? Are your children keen to talk or do they prefer to keep themselves to themselves? Did you find it easy or difficult to talk to your parents when you were growing up? I’d love you to leave me a comment below.

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Add yours
  1. 1

    How lovely is that poem?! It’s so true we must listen- as you say, the small things will mean they know we will listen to the big things. I will make extra sure I listen nicely from now on. #BlogCrush

  2. 2

    I knew I’d love this post Lucy! It popped up on my WordPress thingy and I have waited until I had proper time to read it. It also reminded me to link up; something I haven’t done for ages….sooo busy and sorry about that.
    Anyway…..lovely post. Just lovely. Please educate other parents about listening to their children! I try but it’s so tricky in this day and age as parents are just so busy and I don’t think many realise that giving children tome is our greatest gift. Thank you for the reminders.
    PS this may have to be my blogcrush next week!

  3. 5
    Sara @ Magical Mama Blog

    What a beautiful little poem for the day and to inspire us all! I was horrible at talking to my parents as a kid, I cannot wait to encourage my little one to talk to me… she’s only 18 months now, but we’re working hard on communication!
    Thank you for sharing this with #BlogCrush! Just what I needed today!

  4. 7

    Listening is so important, whether it’s a child or adult, you’ll find that the nicest people are the ones who take time to listen. Listening to your children teaches them to listen to others too. I love this post and that poem is so sweet.

  5. 8

    This is so so useful. As a stepparent to a four year old (with one of my own arriving in September), I’ve definitely learned that listening is one of the hardest things about being a parent/stepparent/parental figure. When I think it’s hard on me, I always try to take a step back and think about how frustrating it must be to be dismissed or not listened to properly just because they’re a kid, so even if it’s utter nonsense I always try and listen to what my stepson has to say to me and respond properly. This was such a useful post for me, thank you! #blogcrush

  6. 10
    Jean |

    Lucy, what a beautiful post. How I wish all the parents and adults in the world could read it. Your #BlogCrush this week was one I had wanted to use! But I found another one that might intrigue others interested in historic preservation. Not as fun as the u-wear debacle!

  7. 11

    I really love the sentiment of the poem Lucy – it’s very moving. I agree the most precious thing we can give our loved ones is our attention and though this can be tough when I have 3 children making demands of me at the same time I do try to be mindful of each of them and their needs and listening is so important with this. A real bugbear of mine is when people shush children who are crying – I feel it’s so insensitive and they are just thinking of themselves not the child – when a family member does it to my children I reassure them that it’s okay to cry and we will listen to it as long as necessary. #blogcrush xx

  8. 13
    Shelbee on the Edge

    Lucy, it is so true that real, genuine listening takes all of our energy and it is so important to do it! I am reading The Road Less Traveled and the author speaks about different levels of listening and he even breaks it down to when it is appropriate to only half-listen to our children in certain situations. Because listening completely and fully at all times is too exhausting. But it is so important to make our children feel valued and respected at the same time. Great post! #BlogCrush


  9. 15
    Daydreams of a mum

    What a gorgeous post and what a great post. As you know I’ve teenagers and it’s so crucial too still be available now. Even if they just want to chat about football!!I want them to know I’ll always make time so when big stuff comes up they (hopefully) know I’m here!! #blogcrush

  10. 18
    Liberty on the Lighter Side

    Wow Lucy, this post really moved me. I have been struggling with communication with my eldest and it’s just dawned on me, instead of talking to her another time, perhaps I should just sit a bit with her and simply listen. I’m looking forward to our holiday as it will give me opportunities to chat with all of them. I guess I’ve not experienced a precedent in my own upbringing with one parent being emotionally unavailable and the other working extremely long hours so it’s something that I am finding my way with too. #blogcrush

  11. 21
    ‘I said, CALM DOWN!’ 6 Top Tips To Create a Calmer Home with Children. • Old House in the Shires

    […] parent will show your child how to be a positive, caring, kind and respectful adult. I am in awe of this amazing post over at Lucyathome. Check it […]

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