It is not always due to the number of children. The current statistics show that the average number of children per family in Russia is 1.59. This fact is mainly explained by the way of living and economic situation in many Russian families. Children continue to live with their parents after they come of age if they study in a higher school in their home town. It is not usual of Russians to send their aged relatives to the nursing homes when they no longer are able to function independently, so grandparents also might live with the family, so that the younger relatives could take care of them. Besides, making a living and paying for the utilities is a financial challenge for the majority of elderly people in Russia due to small state pension. It is also quite often that a divorced offspring, usually a woman with her own child comes back to live together with her parents.
Unfortunately Russian women and children have poor divorce rights and get insufficient social security payments which makes them seek parent’s help. If the newly-weds are short of finances they continue to live with parents as well. Such situations are quite frequent in Russia and make 3 generations of the family live under the same roof, which inevitably generates a number of family conflicts, into which all the family members are involved.
It does not mean Russians approach the family relationships badly or do not respect the family ties. On the contrary the duty, obligations and responsibilities matter much for Russian people, especially women. Traditionally Russian woman has played a key role in the family. She does not dominate, but is a person all the family members can lean on. A number of Russian proverbs reflect this idea: Муж голова, а жена шея, куда повернет, туда голова и смотрит (literal translation: Man is the head of the house but woman turns it), Доброю женою и муж честен (Good wife makes a good husband)
Even though Russians think love is the main reason to create a family, family conflicts between the husband and wife take place and Russia is in top ten countries with the highest divorce rate in the world. According to polls 46% of married and men and 42% of married Russian women consider their family life to be happy.
The dissatisfaction with the marriage grows with the age of respondents though. Every tenth Russian citizen is not really happy with the family life. The reasons are: lack of money, little time spent together and not getting well with each other. 3% of Russians males and 4% of the nation’s females admit that their family life is a total disaster. 74 % of married and working Russian women within the age of 35-45 and with children say that their husband’s earnings are not high enough to support a family. Russian women also name the dissatisfaction with the gender roles in the family and refusal to help around the house, poor parenting skills and lack of responsibility of a husband, infidelity, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, infidelity of a spouse, too much control and pressure from the husband, selfishness, sexual problems, different expectations to be the factors that poison relationships and trigger irritation.
The interference of the in-laws is also a reason for arguments and scandals. Living with the in-laws causes communication and relationship difficulties and frustration for Russian women, many of whom accuse their mother-in-law in their divorce. Conflicts with parents are most acute in the beginning of a family life. Misunderstandings arise when the newcomer and the more experienced matriarch wrestle over whose way is best in most traditional issues like child care, family finances and household. Women of the older generation are moved by the sense of being frozen out of the relationship, whereas the younger generation experiences the sense of constant disapproval or intrusion. Jealousy is a flash point as well as mother-in-laws feel excluded by their sons' wives, while young Russian women think a husband is too obedient to his mother and approves her constant interference into his family life. Russian females also experience a long-term stress if mothers-in-laws demand too much attention from their sons. When the couples have children the approach to child rising often becomes an endless source of argument between a mother and daughter-in-law as they tend to have different sets of norms and beliefs of what a good life for a child is.
Marriage counseling and family therapy is not as popular and widespeared in Russia as in other western countries, so the conflicts within the family are often discusses with the relatives and friends. However free and professional counselors services by telephone is existent in Russia. More Russian women, however tend to go online to free communication forums to let off steam as well as get advice and discuss the problem.
Whether or not Russians live together with older parents the difference in the habits and lifestyle choices, child-rearing practices and values, politics and ideology, household standards can ensure misunderstanding and intergenerational conflicts. Living together with aging parents can become an additional stressful factor if the parent is often sick and needs care. Russian women are almost always those who alone bear the burden of care of the old parents whether they are own ones or in-laws. The situation is aggravated by the poor medical treatment for the old in Russia, constant refusals to take to the hospitals and provide necessary professional care. Sick-nurses are available but not affordable for many. In addition, Russian society does not think putting an elderly parent to the geriatric home is a right thing to do. Moreover the public opinion is against these adult children who do so. Therefore a woman stuck to a bedridden parent for years is not a rare phenomenon in Russia.
Taking care of aging parents can become the cause of siblings’ conflicts, when one participates less and thus the care-giving tasks are not divided equally. Family conflicts over inheritance are another issue that makes siblings fight and take each other to court.
Parent-child conflict is one of most common manifestation of Russian family life. The struggles peak during early adolescence when the growing child needs more independence and parents cannot get rid of superfluous control. In Russia children finish school at the age of 17 and many remain totally financially depended on their parents during the university studies and even after the graduation. Part time job opportunities for youngsters are quite limited and insecure which lead to long-time dependency on the parents. Russians also tend to overprotect their children and not let them develop rainy-day skills.
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