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A yarn with Drew: Raising strong mob

Discussion forum for parents in Australia

A yarn with Drew: Raising strong mob

Community Manager

A yarn with Drew: Raising strong mob

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This week, we were joined by a very special First Nations guest, to yarn about their experiences of raising four proud Aboriginal young people in the face of ongoing racism. Drew shared how they instilled a strong sense of cultural identity in their children despite the ongoing racism they have experienced from a young age.

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When did you start teaching your children about their cultural identity?

I started teaching my children about their cultural identity since they could understand. Even before they learnt how to talk and read, we would read them Aboriginal books and tell them stories. As they started to get older, I made sure the children were involved during community NAIDOC week celebrations and learning as much as they could about who they were and what it means to be Aboriginal. When the children were at daycare, I would make sure to be there during NAIDOC week, where the children would also get involved in teaching their friends about their culture. My children have always grown up knowing about their cultural identity and it has always been a big part of who they are. As they have gotten older, they have been able to learn more through our Elders and within our community.

How did you teach them to be proud of who they were?

I taught my children to be proud of who they were by making sure they understood where they came from and making sure they had access to all parts of their cultural identity including their Elders, mob, community and totems. Taking them onto Country allowed them to understand where they came from and the community they are a part of. I have always reassured my children to be proud of who they are and where they came from, remembering those who walked before them.

Did you ever have concerns about how your children would be treated for their cultural identity?

As parents, this was always something we were concerned about especially when they started school. However, I knew that I had taught my children to be proud of who they are and where they came from. The children have always been very connected to their culture, and I knew that this connection to their culture would give them the strength to overcome any challenges.
Unfortunately, racism will always be around which is why we made sure our children would know how to overcome any racism they experience. We also did our best at educating others about our culture, such as the children’s friends at school and daycare during NAIDOC and reconciliation week. This taught my children to be proud of who they are, and also taught others about Aboriginal culture.

What impact did you notice racism had on your children?

It impacted their mental health and wellbeing and they started to question their own identity. Many experiences have remained with my children forever and they remember every event that has occurred. However, through these experiences it has taught my children to stand up and speak out. As a result, they are not afraid to call out racism and discrimination when it is happening and when they know it is not okay.

How do you stand up for them?

I stand up for my children by making sure that they are comfortable with their cultural heritage and background, that they understand their mob and the support their mob provide them and by providing them with the right education regarding their cultural heritage and identity

As parents, we can’t always be around to stand up for them which is why when we are it is important that we show them how to stand up for themselves. This includes calling out racism when it happens, and making sure that when we do, we are setting an example of how to do it respectfully and appropriately - as this will be how our children do it when we aren’t around.
We would also raise incidents that occurred with the school and made sure that we were both there to stand up for our children. This was very important, especially during primary school as the children knew from a young age that racism wasn’t okay and that they had our full support. It is important that they know that you will be there for them and stand up for them when you can.

What is some advice you tell your children?

I always tell my children to be proud of their culture and give them the opportunity to be involved in cultural events.
I have always encouraged my children to stand up for what they believe in and make sure their voice is heard.
I also teach my children about the importance of different cultures so that they are able to understand different cultural understandings and show respect to people of all cultural backgrounds.

What advice would you give to other parents whose children are experiencing racism?

The advice I would like to give to other parents is that we are on a continuous journey of learning, and as we go through life we continue to learn from our Elders and other mob around us. We need to respect our Elders and seek their knowledge, so don’t be afraid of asking them for advice.

Make sure that your children know that they can come to you and have a yarn to you about these things. If they tell you that they are experiencing racism, make sure that you listen to them and acknowledge how it has made them feel. Let them know that it’s not okay, and talk about what you can do going forward or what they should do. It is important that you don’t brush it off, so that your children feel heard and know that they can come to you about these things.

With the increased amount of racism at the moment, how can you continue to support your children during this time?

With racism increasing within society I need to make sure that I have time to listen to the experiences of my children and provide them love, support and advice on how to manage the racism and discrimination they are experiencing. Unfortunately, racism has become something that is experienced on a day to day basis and cannot be avoided. Therefore, it is important that I support my children through each situation and provide them with constant support.

If you'd like to learn more about raising strong mob, click here for more information. 

If you need urgent support, call 13YARN (13 92 76) to speak with an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander crisis supporter.