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Quarantine ideal for examining family relationships

26 May 2020

Staying at home during the COVID-19 situation provides an an opportunity for parents to get to know their children closely. It is also an opportunity to examine the dynamics of relationships among family members and to provide a space for creativity and achievement.

A recent webinar highlighted the issues of parenting among Omani families while in home quarantine in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the situation, many challenges arise among the families, whether between the parents themselves or between the parents and their children, it said.

The Social Observatory Research Programme of The Research Council (TRC) organised a webinar titled ‘Parenting Techniques during Home Quarantine’ recently. The webinar was moderated by Dr Said al Dhafri, director of the Social Observatory, and involved the participation of 65 researchers, academics and parents from inside and outside the sultanate, including the participation of HH Sayyida Dr Taghreed al Said, assistant professor at the Department of Psychology, College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), and HH Sayyida Basma al Said, a Mental Health consultant and owner of Whispers of Serenity clinic.

The webinar started with Sayyida Dr Taghreed highlighting the issues of parenting among Omani families while in home quarantine in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to being confined to their homes, she stated, many challenges arise among the families, whether between the parents themselves or between the parents and their children. She added that parenting methods can vary due to different factors such as the size of the family, the extent of its connection to the extended family, its geographical location, place of residence, and other factors.

In regards to the most common parenting techniques in Oman, Sayyida Basma mentioned that there are parents who treat their children with traditional methods drawn from customs and traditions (which may include extreme firmness, children having no word, etc.) and there are those who treat their children with modern upbringing methods (that includes dialogue with the child, children having the right to make decisions, children expressing their feelings freely, etc). She maintained, however, that choosing one of the methods and sticking to it can affect the lives of children negatively. Therefore, she suggested that parents should adopt balanced methods in raising children, by combining the old and the new.

Sayyida Dr Taghreed stated that there are four main factors that affect the methods adopted by parents in their dealings with children, and they are personal factors (personalities, ideas, issues and previous experiences), family factors (divorce, domestic violence and marital disputes), societal factors (intervention of the extended family,the media, social media, customs and traditions and religion) and global factors (the internet and the virtual world).

In the COVID-19 circumstances, Sayyida Basma believed that home quarantine is an opportunity for parents to get to know their children closely. She hoped that the atmosphere will be appropriate to adopt positive methods of dealing with children, which combines firmness and softness. She indicated that home quarantine is an opportunity for parents to review and correct many matters of how they raise their children. It is also an opportunity to examine the dynamics of the relationships among family members and to provide a space for creativity and achievement.

As for dealing with home quarantine positively, Sayyida Dr Taghreed claimed that it is important for parents not to exaggerate the current circumstances. She presented some important strategies for parents with such mindsets to follow – accepting and getting accustomed to the current situation, avoiding fear and toxic thoughts in relation to COVID-19, not listening to rumours and only trusting reliable sources, practising self-reflection, enjoying positive thinking with oneself and other family members, staying away from anyone who exaggerates matters and causes fear and anxiety, taking up sports and indulging in hobbies of all kinds, and being a role model to one’s children, especially during these tough times.

Sayyida Basma emphasised the importance of having a daily routine during home quarantine. She pointed out that home quarantine can create chaos in households with the all the free time, such as continuous sleeping during the day, not organising regular meals and not spending the days like normal. She stressed that this chaos can negatively affect the individual’s mental health, whether it is the parents or the children; therefore, it is vital for the family members to get accustomed to the new circumstances and take advantage of the free time. After all, the negative and positive perception of home quarantine depends on the parents, so it is up to the parents in how they make the experience of home quarantine for their children.

As for education, Sayyida Dr Taghreed pointed out the importance of teaching and learning especially these days with the students being disconnected from their teachers; therefore, parents should focus on teaching their children to allocate time to nourish their minds in order not to forget much information and skills.

She recommended that parents follow the strategy of writing positive affirmations about learning with their children to enhance their psychological willingness to learn at home. She also mentioned the necessity of having fun educational methods that enhance the motivation of children towards learning and proposed spreading the culture of educational competitions at home so that the children’s desire to learn will continue throughout the whole home quarantine period.

The webinar concluded with the participants appreciating the initiatives of TRC in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and praising the Social Observatory Research Programme and their vital role in monitoring the social status of the Omani families in the light of the COVID-19 crisis.

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