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"Don't talk sh*t about yourself." A mother-of-two shares her Five Golden Rules for parenting.

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, we hear from Jane Beth Corcoran - an educator, freelance writer, and mum of two kids.

My name is Jane. 

I am a mum of two kids (aged five and seven), an educator, and a freelance writer. 

In the interest of authenticity, I need you to know that as I write this, my children are at my feet pretending to be dogs. This means they’re eating breakfast on their knees - sans hands. 

Watch: Mums share their best and worst toilet training experiences below. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

Keep this in mind before you take on any of my advice.

Here are my Five Golden Rules for parenting.

1. You do you, boo.

So obviously the ultimate goal is to raise decent humans. Humans who generally contribute in some positive way to the world and the people in it. Humans who love and are loved. 

But that’s it. 

Everything else – from who they fancy to the hobbies that light them up is their choice. As long as minimal harm is being done to themselves or others, ya gotta let it go.  

The reality is, even though we feel like we own our babes, they are their own living, breathing being who we have the privilege of keeping alive and in-tact until they are capable of handling that job on their own.

Throughout my years in education, I’ve seen some teenagers buckle with shame when they break the imaginary contract their parents assumed they’d both agreed to. I’ve seen kids choose the path their mum and dad chose for them.  

Likewise, I’ve seen the opposite – 'salt of the earth' farming folk who get front row seats to every single high school musical performance their son stars in – despite the fact that the cotton farming dad is 'more of a Barnsey fella' himself.

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Our responsibility, as parents, is to sit back and enjoy the privilege of letting this person teach us who they are. 

2. Gosh darn, you're delightful.

Attachment theory states that every primate is born with a physiological system primed to 'bond'. Just like we can breathe, digest food and sweat - we attach to our primary caregivers. We need this system to keep us safe. 

For humans to have the best chance of survival (and hopefully thrival – not a word but it should be), we 'gotta feel the love' from our caregivers. It’s not enough to just feed our babies and keep them warm. They actually have to feel like we’re into them. A lot. 

And how do we show this love? Well, the experts say that we just have to delight in them. 

Yep, that’s it! Delight! 

I know, I know – this can be tough. I certainly didn’t 'delight' in my five-year-old when he woke me up at 3am and got angry at me for being a yeti in his nightmare. 

Luckily, we’re not expected to be shooting love hearts out our eyes every time we hang out with our babes. Instead, 'delighting' is communicated through play and joy. Laughing (at their often fairly average) jokes, being genuinely interested in what they have to say, and just generally being their biggest fans and showing them your absolute adoration through your face, body, and words.

I think if we look back to our own childhoods and were lucky enough to have loving parents, we can still feel their delight. The exact expression on their faces when they laugh at a joke of ours; the sound of their voice when they were thrilled to see us. 

They were our refuge. 

Their love for us made our world feel safe. 

Their delight in us made our world come to life. 

What a gift we can give to our little loves.

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3. Remember that your teenagers are just children with boobs and facial hair.

So, my kids are only five and seven, but I have some insight to share about teenagers as I’ve taught them for 14 years.

Obviously, I know teaching them is totally different to parenting them, so take the following with a grain of salt, and throw that salt on a margarita glass because I have no doubt times can be tough for a parent of a teenager.

We all know that teenagers are fighting a sh*t storm of weirdness in their bodies and brains. Their lives and worlds can be heartbreakingly difficult to navigate. You could not pay me a million dollars to be a teenager today. It was hard enough in the 90s without bloody TikTok and the Kardashians. 

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They’re (most likely... at some point) going to withdraw, be mean, and do dumb things. They’re going to act like they don’t need you but oh Lordy, those little buggers need it more than ever. 

Keep showing up. 

Keep seeing the best in them.

There’s a good human in there. 

Just think of your teenager like your eyebrows, just after you get them tinted. They’ll come good soon, you just have to wait it out.  

I’ve witnessed many Miss 'Perfects' and Mr 'But He Was Always Such a Good Boy' make Lindsay Lohan and Macaulay Culkin’s teenage angst look pathetically tame. And more often than not, I’ve watched them emerge out the other side: wiser, stronger and more resilient. 

So instead of bolting, find any way to hang out that doesn’t scream: 'Bond with me, child!'

They can smell the 'thirst' and they’re allergic to it.

Apparently, car rides are good. Watching something together. Anything that’s not staring into their eyes and demanding they tell you about their feelings. 

I can tell you one thing. Those teenagers, they talk about their parents a lot. You are still in the forefront of their minds and hearts and they are still striving to make you proud, even if they don’t show it. When writing their thank yous for graduation, the vast majority write down their parents first. Unprompted. You’re still their moon, stars and safe place. 

Keep faith. Your great eyebrows are coming. 

Bonus golden rule for parenting: Take your kids to Strawberry Farm! Image: Supplied.

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4. Don’t talk sh*t about yourself.

I was very much brought up in the era where to be 'up yourself' was social suicide. If you achieved something you were proud of, it was imperative that you play down the achievement lest your peers hang you on the wall. 

Self-hatred was a gal’s badge of honour. I literally only realised in the past 10 years that this is not the only way we have to be. We can actually be proud of ourselves. We have permission to truly love ourselves. The village isn’t going to drive us out of town with pitchforks and flames when we make public the fact that we think we go alright. 

I’ve made some major parenting mistakes in my time. There’s been brief moments of lost children at parks, questionable nutrition choices, and that time I let my son be a dog for... too long. But one thing I have never, ever done, is talk poorly of myself in front of my kids. I’m honest about struggling with certain things, but I try to model a deep love and respect for myself. 

The most important relationship we will have in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. Kids aren’t going to learn this unless we show them how it’s done.

5. Just love.

My dad’s name is Gerry. He is 71, six foot tall, with a full mop of white, grey hair and a laugh that makes the room shake. He’s not perfect, he’s a human. But the man loves with his soul. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with all of the parenting dilemmas and advice... I just think about Gerry’s golden rule.  

'Just love.'

My whole life my dad has told me that love is the only thing in this world that is real. Strip everything else back. Stop the noise. 

Just love. 

It’s actually the only thing that means anything at all.  

So, maybe there’s just one golden rule for parenting after all...

Over to you, do you have five rules that you won’t bend on? 

To share your Five Golden Rules, email [email protected] with 'Five Golden Rules' in the subject line.  

Did you know we have a whole family focussed community you can join on Facebook for more discussions like this? Join the Mamamia Parents Facebook group and follow  Mamamia Parents on Instagram and tell us what #parentinglookslike for you!

Feature Image: Supplied.

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