The messages we send our kids, without even saying a thing

Author: Andy Saunders

Originally posted on The Guardian on Wednesday 30 March 2016 15.20 AEDT.

The messages we send our kids, without even saying a thing


There is no way parents could ever comprehend exactly what kids actually take away from us, but they see all and hear all, says Andy Saunders for IndigenousX.

While holding her iPod my 10-year old daughter takes a break from her social media platform, she looks up and asks me “Dad, what did you have when you were my age”.

Me: “Baby, I had a pair of shorts, a haircut and a download called mum that uploaded real quick through clenched teeth, usually saying, ‘go outside’, and if I didn’t take note she would become louder with an extra word put in.”

She was my Siri, just a little bit more to the point.

Times have certainly changed from when I was 10. Like today, people use Tinder to connect on some emotional level, in my day tinder was how New Zealanders liked their steak. Everybody is about how many followers they have accumulated when we would have reported followers to the police.

My favourite saying of all time is “children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see”. This is not only daunting when you really consider what that means, it epitomises the responsibilities we automatically receive when we become parents. It forces us to realise the fact that we are responsible to make sure that these messages are strong and true. My mother continues to make messages out of me. I know I know, I can’t believe she still talks to me but my mother is a very strong, kind and – thankfully – a forgiving woman.

I was such a bad kid that I reckon kidnappers would have returned me and mum would’ve been angry due to her much needed quiet time being interrupted by the unexpected early return of her eldest heathen. I joke, of course, but to reiterate, I was a bad kid.

Being a dedicated father of three and husband, holding down a full time day job with the Aboriginal Learning Circle in North Coast Tafe as well as being a stand up comedian with national recognition I guess the stress can get quite overwhelming. That said though, I think the best things I have ever experienced come from being with my family, mind you my six-year old son could probably give me a run for my money on every level.

I know my kids see and hear everything and they are so open to much more than I ever was. My main objective when I was young was to just get through the day without getting caught doing something I wasn’t supposed to being doing.

These days kids are basically living on a platform (social media) that some of us think isn’t even real when in reality they are building the future on these platforms.

What I am trying to say is that we send messages to our kids without even saying anything, because our kids are still getting messages from parents and carers that they will take to any world, from the way we act to the way we talk to each other and even in the way we carry ourselves in all areas of our lives.

They see all, they hear all, they soak it all in and in some way they become what we are.



There is no way we as parents could ever comprehend exactly what kids actually take away from us. This is why my wish for my kids is that they can create a home for their own future families that is similar to the one they are growing up in. Full of love, laughter, dancing, fighting, making up, perfectly imperfect, but always moving forward.

These are the messages I hope to send with my kids. Cheers.

“Our stories, our way” – each week, a new guest hosts the @IndigenousX Twitter account to discuss topics of interest to them as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Produced with assistance of Guardian Australia staff.

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