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Culture encompasses all sorts of attitudes and conventions, and one important part of culture is parenting. While everyone’s family is different, there are some common themes you may see in many Russian families.
Russian parents are as proud of their children’s achievements as anyone else. However, they are less likely to praise (хвалить) their children for simply participating (участие) or making an effort (старание) and may push them to do better or keep up with the competition (other children). Moreover, it’s believed that praising a child when they are present will embarrass them or go to their head. There’s even a word for “overpraising” — захвалить.
I’ve always found fascinating the scene in (mostly American) films where a parent knocks on their teenage child’s bedroom door (стучит в дверь) after an argument, the child tells them to go away — and the parent does! This is unlikely to happen in Russia.
First, not every child has a room all to themselves. Second, Russian bedrooms don’t usually have a lock (замок, not to be confused with замок, castle). Third, by and large, Russian parents feel they are responsible for their children’s well-being, so the need to check in on their child trumps any privacy concerns. Moreover, increased reporting on real or perceived threats — crime (преступность), accidents (несчастные случаи), drugs (наркотики), and so on — has encouraged Russian parents to be overprotective.
It follows from the previous point that Russian parents generally like knowing what their child is doing at any given moment. Again, there is considerable variation among families, so this is a general observation. For instance, Russian teenagers are expected to stay in touch, tell their parents where they are going, and to be home at a certain hour.
In addition, Russian parents will generally see to it that their child does what the parent believes is best for the child. Compared to their American and Western European counterparts, Russian parents are less likely to let their children make mistakes (делать ошибки) and learn from them. As mentioned above, parents consider it their responsibility to make sure their child is out of harm’s way at all times. This may mean making the child dress warmly (тепло одеваться), not letting the child socialize with certain people, and even not letting them pursue a certain major in university.
Perhaps these observations make Russian parents look overbearing by external standards, but the flip side is that they are definitely caring and will help you in times of need. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, but it may be helpful to know what to expect from Russian parents. What was your experience growing up or staying with Russian parents like (or parents from other countries in the region)?
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