Changes in the brain: why teens don’t listen to their mothers

Teens don’t listen to their moms for this exciting reason

© DimaBerlin / Adobe Stock

Do you feel like your offspring no longer hears your voice? You’re right. It has to do with a change in the brain.

As a mother of a teenager, you probably know this: no matter what you say, none of it seems to get through to your offspring. You get monosyllabic answers, bored facial expressions, annoyed eye rolls – if anything. Maybe you already have the feeling that you are air. Namely this stuffy kind of air that everyone avoids.

The good news: If your teen isn’t listening to you properly, it’s not necessarily your conversational style, it’s not your fault. But it has to do with changes in the brain.

The brain devalues ​​the mother’s voice

From the age of 13, the brain no longer judges the mother’s voice as particularly rewarding – and attaches less importance to it. Scientists at the Stanford School of Medicine found this out.

In your study they compared the brain scans of children up to 12 years old with those of 13 to 16 year olds. The result was clear and should allow many mothers to breathe a sigh of relief because it explains their subjective feelings. (Fathers are not included in this study.)

While the mother’s voice still triggers reactions in the reward center in children’s brains, the teenage brain attaches greater importance to unfamiliar voices.The scientists let mothers speak nonsense words, i.e. tell nonsense, and then strangers.

The teenage brain was more interested in the nonsense the alien voices were telling. Teenage brain reward circuits and the centers that prioritize important stimuli are more activated by unfamiliar stimuli than by the mothers.

It is only a study with a small number of 46 participants. Nevertheless, the trend that it reveals is exciting. After all, the neurobiologists were able to read the age of the participants solely from the brain scans and the reactions to the mother’s voice.

The brain helps teens leave the nest

“Just as an infant adjusts to the voice of its mother, adolescents know how to adapt to new voices,” says study leader Daniel Abrams. “Your mind becomes increasingly sensitive to and drawn to unfamiliar voices.”

From a biological point of view, this makes sense in order to break away from the parental home and build up your own social contacts. The brain prepares youngsters to leave the nest.

“If teenagers seem to rebel at not listening to their parents, it’s because they’re predisposed to pay more attention to voices outside the home.”says co-author Vinod Menon.

In short, teenagers stop listening to their mothers by the age of 13. This is not to be taken personally and is what nature intended. Well, lucky. The more frustrating side of it: since it’s for neurobiological reasons, listening isn’t necessarily going to improve any time soon. So it only helps to stay focused and persevere despite everything.

Sources used:,


source site-31