On Fatherhood:  Author and Advocate Thomas Mayer


On Fatherhood:  Author and Advocate Thomas Mayer

Kaurareg Aboriginal, Kalkalgal and Erubamle Torres Strait Islander, Author, Advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and father of five Thomas Mayer speaks to youtime about what he's learned from fatherhood.

Andrea Robertson


0 minute read

Published: August 2022

Origin: Australia

Ahead of Father's Day, we speak to the parents, father figures and caregivers in the youtime community who inspire us, to learn what fatherhood has taught them about themselves, and the lessons that inform their own parenting.

This is Thomas Mayer - Author, National Indigenous Officer of the Maritime Union of Australia, and Advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart

The Kaurareg Aboriginal, Kalkalgal and Erubamle Torres Strait Islander is a father of five and author of Dear Son: Letters and Reflections from First Nations Fathers and Sons.

What is your favourite thing about fatherhood?

"My favourite thing about fatherhood is the love I feel for my children. The love is constant, even in the harder times. It is the enduring feeling that is made all the more intense in the good times." 

What have you learned about yourself?

"Fatherhood has taught me many lessons. I have learnt that as a man, I have been greatly influenced by my father, and that therefore, my behaviours will influence my son."

What lessons from your own upbringing have you implemented in your parenting?

"I have learnt that as a father, I don’t need to be overly harsh when my children make mistakes.

I have also learnt that children will find their way if they don’t do well at school or in sports, so long as you provide all the love and care they need to be themselves."

Who is in your village? (the group of family, friends and/or carers who come together to raise children)  

"In my culture, my siblings have special roles in the upbringing of their nephews and nieces.

It is harder these days to practice this, given the distances between us. But it is important that our children are aware they have more than a one mum and dad, and more brothers and sisters than are under our roof."

How did collecting different perspectives of other fathers for your book inform your knowledge of masculinity and fatherhood?

"The book contains a great cross-section of perspectives, though there are very similar issues about masculinity - about how many of us were taught that men must behave in certain ways that harm not just ourselves, but also those we love.

I wrote the book for my son and in the process, I learnt so much more about myself.

I think it is an important collection of letters for everyone, not just men."

What do you hope readers can learn from the book?

"Firstly, I hope they learn that the stereotypes that stigmatise Indigenous men are founded on ignorance and racism. The book is a celebration - an act of defiance - despite what Australia’s forefathers, media and politicians say about us. It is full of love.

Secondly, I hope readers minds are opened to considering others experiences and perspectives. It is important to think about why people - and especially our loved ones - do the things we do. That is the first step in healing wounds or building relationships."

How would you like to spend Father’s Day?

"My ideal Father’s Day is to have a cook up of our favourite foods with my wife and children, and my broader family - my mum and dad and my sisters and cousins.

That and to just relax and enjoy each other’s company."

Andrea Robertson



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