A role that has become even more crucial amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children's Day this year had to be celebrated at home for the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Indonesia in March, 2020.
This year's HAN emphasized the theme 'Protected Children for a Better Indonesia', with the tagline 'Children care in Pandemic'.
Amid the prolonged pandemic, parents may have found it difficult to give their children an explanation and understanding about the need for staying home. Ideally, children should be introduced to the outside world and actively play with their peers, instead of spending most of their time at home.
Parents can consider the pandemic period as a beneficial moment to bond with their children since most parents are now working from home, child psychologist Fathya Artha Utami, M.Sc., M.Psi., said.
While working to strengthen their bond with the children, parents should also adopt a realistic mindset, the Universitas Indonesia (UI) alumna added.
"Setting realistic expectations is important for parents. The main target is to get through the day properly, not perfectly. In fact, being good enough is now a new perfection in a time like this," Utami explained.
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Parents may not realize that expectations -- such as those indicated by the word "should" -- can be a burden for children as they adjust to staying at home, she said. Not to mention the office and home work that awaits, she added. Parents may feel like 24 hours are not enough to get everything under control, she remarked.
Parents who are busy working while taking care of their children at home may identify with Edna Mode's character in the Incredibles 2 (2018) and the line from the movie: "Parenting is a heroic act... (if it is) done properly."
Unfortunately, there is no 'right' method applicable for all parents in the world, Utami said. When it comes to nurturing their children, parents know best what works for their kids, she added. Some parents' methods might be different from some others, she pointed out.
Just like all abilities and knowledge in general, parenting is also a process and journey that continues to be learned over time, Utami said.
Parenting, especially in this pandemic, is a work of trial and error, she remarked. Parents might face difficulty in trying parenting methods that might not work for their kids, she observed. Nobody knows everything in the first round, she said.
Describing parenting as 'nurturing future adults', she said it requires a different approach each year as children grow up. This is because their behavior and maturity levels change as they grow, she explained.
During the pandemic, parents can get along with their children by finding out what they want to do, she advised. Creating schedules and routines of activities together can help parents get closer to their children, she said. Activities with children are also expected to be a stress reliever for parents, she added.
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Utami emphasized that routines are essential for both children and parents. By creating a routine, kids tend to know what they can expect from their parents in a day, she explained. Parents should also involve their kids in making plans for play or other activities, she said.
"Once in a while, parents can try to meet the physical and mental needs of the kids. Parents can create an activity that has been planned together," Utami suggested.
Bonding between parents and children can affect the kids' emotional intelligence, she said. Besides, bonding results in acceptance between children and parents, she added.
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By spending more time together, both parties are more capable of understanding each other and learn to accept each other's behaviors, she explained. Routines create acceptance that could break down the walls between parents and children, she added.
Utami pointed out that openness also plays an important role in parent-child relationships. Some parents may want to ask questions to their kids, but they may ask questions that kids are uncomfortable answering, she said.
"Parents can start by questioning things that the kids like, and parents must also be fair and open to the kids as well. If they are comfortable talking with each other, the openness will eventually happen," Utami added.
The psychologist also advised that parents accept every response from their kids when they try to start a conversation. When parents raise an objection to kids' answers and opinions, the children tend to be afraid to speak their minds in the future, she said.
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Parents do not have to worry about the effect of learning from home on children's intelligence during the pandemic, Utami assured. It is a matter of transitioning adjustment between learning from school and learning from home, she said. With the help of parents, children can also expand their social and emotional intelligence at home, she added.
"Kids can explore many things at home. They can learn from books, activities, and even from gadgets with parental supervision," Utami added.
Bonding between parents and kids amid the pandemic through educational activities could build strong familial relationships, she said.
Not only kids, parents should also celebrate Children's Day since they are the most influential figures in shaping their kids' character and personality, she added.
As Fa Zhou said in the Disney movie Mulan (1998): "The greatest gift and honor... is having you for a daughter."
Happy National Children's Day to all kids and parents in Indonesia!
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