How can we help our child to adjust in a different culture?
Q: I am an Indian and have recently taken up a full time employment in Oman. I have shifted from Delhi along with my wife and a two-year-old son. The problem relates to my son's personal development. People in Oman are local Omanis or South Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Phillipinos or Sri Lankans. There is practically 0% culture of people mixing around with each other. My son is now 2 and quarter-year-old. I am aware that he should now mix with other children of his age group, which will benefit him in his personal and mental development. But there are no children of his age group here, nor are there any mingling of families due to which he has been within the boundaries of my wife and myself. We take him out to the park, markets or for a walk in the evening occasionally and he seems to enjoy the short outdoors. Is this the right age for him to go to a kindergarten school so that he is able to mix with children? Or should we wait for him to grow up to the age of three? What kind of routine should we maintain so that the environmental deficiencies do not hamper my child's personality and mental developments?
A:I am glad to come upon parents who take a keen interest in their child's development. However, I find it surprising that you find 0% culture in Muscat. Maybe you need to find ways of enlarging your social circle gradually. The very fact that you as an Indian, have bracketed South Indians along with people of other countries, perhaps reflects your Delhi-centric approach. Travel normally gives us opportunities to meet people different from ourselves and to appreciate their customs. But it takes time and you have had only three months. A good way to start is by making friends with neighbours and with colleagues in the office/factory. The families could meet on evenings or weekends. That will then enlarge your son's world. Most KGs and Nursery schools will admit only children who are over 3 years. You could find out if there is a play group for 2 year olds, operating from someone's house. But the child will be comfortable away from the mother only for a period of an hour or 90 minutes. There are several play activities that you can organize at home. This includes music, moving to rhythm, colouring with chalk or crayon etc. Let the child's interest and pace decide what you give him. Do not try to make him learn up facts or be older than his age. Children love to hear stories and to read picture books. Give the child a chance to run around the house and in the park. Give him a soft ball to push around. A child's development is best attained through playing with the right kind of toys and having warm and supportive adults looking after him. The child likes to be talked to and treated as a person. There is no specific formula except parental love and thoughtful caring. Being in Muscat should not be a barrier to good parenting.