Being there for junior dads are expected to step up and do more than the traditional father role — and rightly so
Unlike Nasif, 38- year- old Jayson Araneta didn’t get to spend a lot of his childhood with his father, but he does spend every waking moment with his two- year- old daughter, Jewel. Jayson recalls the time in his childhood when he stayed in the Philippines and his father was often going to faraway countries, like Saudi Arabia, to work and support the family. “Ever since I was about six years old, I got to see my father for a month, once every year, when he took his annual leave. My mother raised us,” he adds, a bit melancholically. He reminisces a simple time when his father used to return, and how his four other siblings, all boys, would scramble for their father’s attention. “He used to take us out for a sweet treat but, most of the time, we would be at home. He also helped us with schoolwork and taught us maths and science during the time he was with us. That’s one of the things I remember about him,” he adds.
But the greatest lesson, Jayson says he has learnt from his father, is the importance of being there for your children. “As a father, it is my duty, and all fathers, to provide for their family. And sometimes, dad separated when I was young. I have a very small family, and my mother put herself through university as a single parent when I was growing up. As the oldest of three kids, I was kind of the ‘ man of the house’. We did spend a lot of time with my aunt and grandparents. When my parents separated, and we weren’t a family unit, it made me determined to always be around for my kids.”
The thing Dom remembers most about his father is the weekends he would spend with him after his parents split. “I remember it feeling like a miniholiday and we would do stuff we couldn’t normally get away with when mom was around. My dad was cool when we were growing up; I don’t really have any memory of getting told off by him. I guess that’s why I’m a soft touch with my kids!” he says.
Dom doesn’t discourage a bit of mischief with his own daugh gh- ters; perhaps, he says, it’s something he picked up from his father before him. “When it’s just me and my girls, we are always up MISCHIEF MAN: Dom Robinson lets his two daughters, Matilda and Paloma, let loose when he is around
to mischief, which often raises a few eyebrows with my wife! Earlier this week, for example, Paloma and I watched a movie and shared a biryani when everyone else had gone to bed. Great fun!”
Both Dom and his wife work, so raising the kids is a team effort, he says. “We still bicker about whose turn it is to change the nappy — especially if it’s a stinky one,” he says, laughing. “I definitely think the role of dads, in some societies, has changed immeasurably from the previous generations,” he adds. “It’s not uncommon for me to plait my daughter’s hair or take either of them to a play date. I’m sometimes one of the only dads at kids’ parties and school events. My wife is from South America and the dads there are still much more old school. So there is an element of cultural differences working as well.
“When I was growing up, the role of the dad was to go to work while mum stayed at home to cook and look after the kids,” says Dom. “I think, today, the onus is still on the dad to support his family but, on the other hand, more and more families have both parents working. That means dads are expected to step up and do more than the traditional father role required — and rightly so!” he adds.
Of course, it’s easier said than done in a place like Dubai, says Dom, especially when families resort to getting a maid or nanny. “I do think that a lot of guys feel they should spend more time with their kids, but are unable to do so, resulting in an awful lot of kids being brought up by maids or nannies.” Dom’s advice to new dads? “Having a successful family unit is all about teamwork. So, as there are two parents involved, it makes sense that both are equally important and should contribute equally to bringing up the kids to be the best they can be. Also, I have two girls, so, not as a dad, but as a parent in general, always listen to your kids and have their best interests at heart. As long as they are happy doing what they are doing, be happy for them.”