Times, they are a- changing… my father was a role model... today, kids’ role models are not dads
Nasif Kayed is a 53- year- old dad to five children ranging from eight to 22 years old. The Emirati national says that being a dad today is completely different from when he was a son, pausing to recall what his life was like, more than 30 years ago, around the time when he was as old as his oldest son today. “My father was my role model. A ‘ father’ was defined as being a leader, a mentor and a confidant for children, someone who was willing and ready to show the way forward. If I tried to do that for my kids today, they’ll just give me a weird look,” he says, with a muffled laugh. “Today, kids’ role models and idols are not their dads but TV celebrities. As a dad, I’m constantly waging a war against those influences, and sometimes feel like I’m losing.”
Nasif adds that he also tries to spend more time with his kids, like his father before him, but he gets the ‘ look’ or a backhand to boredom. “I remember my father would walk into myroomandsay,‘ Let’s go to the mosque for prayers, and I would jump up and go. We would meet people on the way, he would tell me stories… such a great time. If I tell my kids the same thing, I’m pretty sure they would just roll their eyes at me, or say, ‘ I’ll go with my friends later’.” But, he adds, he has bigger fish to fry now, especially with his younger children, aged 14 and eight. “I’m constantly worried about what they might see or hear on the Internet, on their phone or on the computer. I have to deploy all these security features and filters and things… I don’t think my dad ever had to worry about any of that stuff. We had such closed content.” But the Internet age has made one thing massively easy — punishments. “If I want to punish my kids, all I have to do is take away their phones or their access to the Internet. It’s quite fun,” he says chuckling. It’s incredible how much being a father has changed in just one generation, he says as he ponders fathers’ predicaments. “The world has changed so quickly in the past generation, and, I think, parenting along with it. I think being a parent was taken far more seriously back then — they accepted the burden and responsibility and were completely involved. It’s sad that a lot of parents today are too busy to be with their kids and rely on maids to raise them.
“My father taught me to do unto others what I would have them do unto me,” says Nasif. “That’s a lesson I hope to pass on to my kids. That, and to be sincere and strive for quality.” FAMILY PORTRAIT: Nasif Kayed ( centre) with his wife and five children