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Teenage Mental Health

As we navigate the hurdles of raising children, one of the biggest questions we should ask ourselves is: how do we foster a love for learning that is as contagious as a TikTok dance challenge?

As a father of two, writes Dr Naim Maadad, CEO and founder of Gates Hospitality, in a world where information is at our children’s fingertips, the role of supporting our children often sees us wearing many masks. The motivators, the filters, the listeners, and the reassurers, parenthood in this digital age goes far beyond assisting with homework.

I’m sure we all remember how tough navigating the complex social dynamics of the playground has always been, but with social media ensuring that the gates to the virtual playground are open 24/7, now more than ever, we must provide both emotional and academic support in equal measure. 

A safe space for children?

Leaders in business always pride themselves on having a ‘door is always open’ policy, something that must transcend into family life too. Switching off the work emails and taking time for active listening, validating experiences, and providing a safe space for our children to express themselves without fear of judgment is crucial not just to their development and educational journey but also to strengthening the bonds between us. 

As an employer, I’m often asked ‘What do I look for in candidates’ and truth be told, whilst of course fundamental skills in whatever chosen field are important, it’s those timeless transferable skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving that employers can’t necessarily teach. 

As we all look to foster an environment of learning, discovery, and betterment, I think it’s important that we are mindful of not confining it to certain brackets or job titles. I think most of us will remember the first two questions we got asked as children when being introduced to someone new for the first time: ‘how old are you?’ and ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’

An educational journey

The world is fast evolving, and as our children grow through their educational journey, we should be aware that the jobs that currently exist may not be the ones that will be there in ten years’ time. So why limit it to one certain field and instead not shift the answer to that question to be a variant of being the best possible version that they can be? Or for the child that still wants to be an astronaut, we point towards educational videos or let them be inspired by the likes of Sultan Al Neyadi for example, instead of discouraging.  

Whilst of course, my passion is for the hospitality industry, the days when children naturally followed in their father’s footsteps with their vocation are long gone, and being able to support my two in their chosen careers is something that I cherish the most.

I think we have a responsibility to provide our children with new experiences and opportunities to learn outside of the classroom too. Whether that be a family vacation to experience new cultures, or through encouraging work experience and internships, learning through experiencing shapes the lens through which our children view the world. 

Gates Hospitality partners with Dubai College of Tourism

That’s why I’m so proud that Gates Hospitality is partnering with Dubai College of Tourism to be able to mentor students who are looking to enter the hospitality industry, providing them with training and support, and passing on the guidance that I wish I’d had when entering the industry all those years ago. I am sure that I will learn lots from them too. 

Learning never stops, and as parents, I’m sure we’ve all found that staying in tune with the latest educational apps, online resources, and digital trends has become as essential as attending parent-teacher conferences. We all saw the shift into online learning during the pandemic, and whilst I’m sure we’re all glad to have our children back at school instead of getting them ready for a Zoom call, the reliance on technology for learning is here to stay, and is something that we need to openly embrace. 

And finally, I think it’s crucial that we acknowledge that this also extends to supporting ways of thinking. ‘When I was a kid’ rhetoric might be nice to reminisce with childhood friends over dinner, but when supporting our children, it becomes largely irrelevant. The world has changed, and in it the skills required to navigate it too. It’s important we recognise that for everyone’s mental health.

Dr Naim Maadad, is CEO and founder of Gates Hospitality, Chairman Australian Business Council, and a judge for ‘the mentl awards 2023‘.