Stop it at the Start campaign - Andy Saunders  

[by Katie Puttock]


Image: supplied

My name is Andy Saunders, I am a proud Biripi man from the New South Wales Mid North Coast, and the father of four wonderful kids.


I think one of the strongest ways we can teach our young people about respectful behaviour and attitudes towards women is through the examples we give to them. I do this in the way I hold myself around other people, especially my wife, mother, sisters — all the women in my life — I respect them like I want to be respected, so my kids see that and they automatically take on those values as well. I think with kids it’s also about ‘doing’, not just ‘saying’.


This is how I learnt about respect myself, and about being a strong, caring husband and father. Now, I carry on those lessons to my own children.


My mother was a strong woman who overcame many hardships in her life, she taught me about strength and respect. My grandfather brought up 10 kids at a time when things were very hard, especially if you were Aboriginal. In spite of all the hardships he faced in his life, he never held hate or aggression in his heart. He was the most loving, beautiful man and teacher. He taught me everything I needed to know about being a good father and husband.


I think it's unfortunate that we grow up in a world where men are socially conditioned to be the ‘toughest’, to be the ones who don’t cry, the ones who don’t give their dads a kiss or a cuddle because that’s a sign of weakness. I’m raising my boys to have a real connection with human emotion and to not be scared of that. And that’s exactly what they see in me. I think that’s what a ‘real man’ is, someone who is able to display how they feel in a respectful way.


If you have kids, nieces, nephews, young people that look up to you, that’s exactly where you can make the change, because young people talk, they're sponges, they absorb the things they see and hear, then they tell their friends, and their friends tell their friends, and all of a sudden you will have a generation that will not put up with it, you will have a generation that will not tolerate disrespect.


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