parent opinion

"Lower your expectations." A mother-of-three shares her five golden rules for parenting teens.

Mamamia’s Five Golden Rules series takes a pervy look into the lives of Australian families. From parents of toddlers to parents of teenagers, the series asks parents to share their golden parenting rules, including the rules for their kids, and rules to just get through each day.

This week, a 52-year-old mother-of-three shares her Five Golden Rules for parenting teenagers.

Meg is a stay-at-home mum to three teenagers. She has a 19-year-old son and 16-year-old boy/girl twins, and they live on a property on the outskirts of Canberra. 

Meg is an artist and has always been at home with their three kids, and she loves every minute of it. 

Watch: The two types of parents. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

"Lowering your expectations helps for a happier family, but also keeping firm but flexible boundaries has worked a treat," Meg told Mamamia

"For me, it is important to tell the kids often that you love them and give them affection," she added.

Here are Meg's Five Golden Rules for parenting.

1. Be consistent.

If you want a particular outcome from your children, be consistent with your reaction to their behaviour, and consistent in your expectations.

2. Be honest.

Be honest, it is just a nice way to be. But if you can't be honest on a particular issue, it's okay to say: "I will tell you when you are able to understand the issue better". My kids would say, "But then you are keeping secrets" and I'd say, "I have one secret from you and I'll tell you when I am able, don't worry". Santa was probably the only secret I kept. 


Most other things can be explained simply. We all make mistakes, stuff up, get cross, forget; it is part of being human. Saying sorry is owning that, and being honest.

Meg's family when they were little. Image: Supplied.

3. Everyone will do it their own way and in their own time.  

Everyone needs to do it their own way. Comparing kids or yourself to others is pointless. 

I had three kids under 27 months; I did not leave the house really for the first two years of the twins' lives. It simply was not worth the effort (I live on 38 acres of blissful bushland, so it's not hard). I was just content to get through the day with all kids fed/watered/alive. 


Lower your expectations and you will be fine. It's similar to when the idea of a picnic sounds awesome, but the reality of ants and flies is less than ideal. That's how to approach it: LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS!

4. Remind your kids that you love them.

I get a variation of "I love you" through the day, every day from my teens, but I also taught them to only say it when they mean it. 

My daughter will text it easily, not as easily face to face. My 19-year-old son hugs me and tells me when we hang out on the lounge together, and my 16-year-old son tells me as part of his breathing! It's lovely to normalise expressions of love and affection.

Listen to This Glorious Mess, a twice-weekly look at parenting as it truly is: confusing, exhausting, inspiring, funny, and full of surprises. Post continues below. 

5. Treat your children how you would wish to be treated.

This actually gets more important the older they get. When a teen side-eyes you or sighs that heavy, heavy sigh, do not take it as a personal attack (easier said than done when you are menopausal yourself). Their lives are complicated, full, stressful, and your job as a parent is to be their rock that they can turn to when they want to. 

You can call them your friend, or behave as their friend, but you are their parent first and foremost. Friendship will hopefully come later when they are adults (I’m now thoroughly enjoying this time with my 19-year-old, the banter is fantastic).

Over to you, do you have five rules that you won’t bend on? To share your Five Golden Rules, email with 'Five Golden Rules' in the subject line.  

Feature Image: Supplied.

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