Some politicians fear the fatigue factor, which could force people to go out and break quarantine, but some psychologists and social workers believe lockdowns could strengthen family ties.
Nation after nation is putting its suppression strategy into play, locking down cities across the world, telling their fellow citizens to stay home to prevent the deadly coronavirus from spreading further.
While some think that the suppression strategy could also create a fatigue factor, which could backfire in the long term, many psychologists and educators see positives in staying home, as it will help children and their parents deepen their family bonds.
“We can really begin recognising each other as human beings. There are such mothers, who have no idea about their children. There are such fathers, who have no idea about their kids. Staying at home can create an opportunity for family members to know each other,” said Ayla Yazici, one of Turkey’s most experienced psychoanalysts, who is also a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association.
Other experts and educators echoed a similar viewpoint.
“Children are now having a good time with their fathers and mothers. This is a blessing for them. They will have a chance to practice certain things together from cleaning the house as a family to making a cake,” said Sevim Karagoz, the 65-year old idealist principal of Sevim Anne kindergarten in Istanbul’s Umraniye, who has run the pre-school for more than 15 years.
“Unexpectedly, the coronavirus pandemic, which forces people to stay home, could lead to developing healthier connections within families,” Karagoz told TRT World.
Due to long and intense working hours, many working fathers and mothers reach home exhausted and cannot give their best to their children. In most cases, experts say, children are left alone for most part of the day and they end up craving for love and attention.
“Let’s hope that the epidemic will not continue so long. But in this process, I believe, the unity and solidarity among families will be more consolidated,” Karagoz viewed.
Aysun Azakli, a 47-year-old psychotherapist and educator, also thinks that the epidemic can bring some positives along with the terrible death toll, which has passed 16,000 across the globe.
“During this process, children might have their parents’ fill of care, which was lacking as they were working far away from home. Kids are pleased that their parents are at home with them,” Azakli said.
“Despite feeling some insecurity coming from an unidentified source, children might also sense that there is a solidarity across the country and the world against the virus, feeling positive things that people can come together at certain situations,” Azakli told TRT World.
Several working mothers TRT World spoke to gave similar views, while they also expressed underlying anxieties about the pandemic.
According to these mothers, the pandemic has created a unique opportunity for them to stay with their kids for 24/7 cycles within a particular location, which is the family home, not a vacation spot, cinema, playground, or any other outside space.
It makes them feel as one, which has apparently been a missing part of family life for so many years, directing mothers to focus on their children’s emotional needs and share their happy and sad hours altogether.
“Family is the smallest group among social groups. If this group’s main dynamics are good with less conflicts between wife and husband, looking from a positive lens, [the virus containment] could be even a chance for the family to have more time together,” Yazici told TRT World.
“Under the current working system, indeed, family members could not spend enough time with each other. The containment could be something plus for our lives to recognise each other,” Yazici viewed.
Across Turkey, through various social media platforms including WhatsApp, people share their experience with their peers as sending interesting anecdotes from their lives.
In one of the most common shared WhatsApp messages, one of the Turkish husbands speaks to his male friend on the phone about the pandemic saying that he is at home and feels defunct in the absence of cancelled football matches.
But he also reports something unusual.
“By the way, I began talking with my wife. She seems to be a good person,” the husband soberly notes. While it’s not clear the episode is a real-life experience, many couples appear to recognise the essence of their presence in their forceful contained lives.
Addressing anxieties and panic factor
But there are also various concerns and one is obviously the panic factor.
“I am so concerned about the virus. I fear so much for our kids,” said Zeynep Yasar, a 58-year-old babysitter, who has four daughters and one son, living in Istanbul’s Uskudar.
“I am cleaning my hands constantly, taking care about hygiene much,” Yasar told TRT World.
Yasar’s adult children, one of whom is married, are also afraid of the possibility that their parents could get sick.
“They fear that we might pass the disease, but you may not because of being older,” Yasar said of their kids’ anxieties. None of them has left the house at all since Turkey escalated anti-virus measures two weeks ago, Yasar says.
“They are afraid of the possibility of school reopening because they could have less control at school against the virus,” Yasar said.
Since early March, Turkey has closed down the schools and it appears that Ankara will further delay reopening schools as the cases are building up across the country, reaching more than 1,500 as of Tuesday.
“We need to explain the virus to kids in a proper manner because they start fearing so much about it. When you occasionally mention the virus, they are terrified,” Karagoz, the preschool principal, observed.
Children should be made aware of the fact that there are good and bad viruses and people can fight bad ones with being clean and well-fed, Karagoz advised. “We can create stories, where we defeat bad viruses by staying as healthy and clean,” Karagoz suggested.
“We should stay as calm as possible to be good examples to our kids because the fear factor could also weaken their immunisation system against the virus,” Karagoz added.
“Emotional security is crucial for children and it should not be undermined (for their psychological health). When families constantly speak about these issues without providing any tangible resorts, it will just make things worse,” Azakli, the psychotherapist, warned.
Instead, parents can direct their kids to draw pictures of the virus in an attempt to make an invisible troublemaker more apparent for them, Azakli advised.
Yazıcı, the Turkish psychiatrist, also thinks that keeping concerns under control at home is critical to ease tensions domestically.
“Our out-of-control concerns will make it difficult to calm our kids,” Yazici analysed.
“We need to listen to our kids to understand their fears, which they may not define the way we as adults are able to do. They feel an indescribable terror.”
Yazici concluded: “We should not leave them alone with their fears. By understanding and making sense their fears altogether will also make it easier to manage the situation at home.”