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Modern Russian family portrait

Gender roles in a modern Russian family. Russian woman and a family.

Young and beautiful Russian woman

The family is quite a conservative institution that does not undergo rapid changes. For years family in Russia was one of the most firm institutions with set roles. However the contemporary changes in the society make the researches observe the transformation of the family and point out at least 3 types of Russian family: patriarchal, children-centered and spousal types. The patriarchal type is still most wide spread in Russia. The psychologists admit the alarming uncertainty among Russian people and conclude that the average family in modern Russia is at the crossroad.

The most revolutionary change in a Russian family took place in the 20th century and is connected with changing gender role of a Russian woman. The growing social and professional consciousness of a Russian woman is often referred to a revolution of the century. The Soviet regime granted the woman more liberty as well as loaded her with a double burden of a job and family-raising responsibilities, in which Russian husbands generally participate little. The increasing economic pressures and shrinking government programs in the 90th made women seek any kind of employment and quite often become the only working spouse in the family. This resulted in declining birth-rate, dissatisfaction and accelerating divorce rate

Increasing significance of the social success has gained special meaning in modern Russia. It is true not only for men, but for women as well. The growing cult of a successful person not characteristic for the Soviet times is becoming a norm nowadays. There appeared a number of women that aim at gaining personal and professional achievements. However they themselves and their partners are not ready for such shift in traditional female role which was for centuries focused on the family-life and bringing up children.

Russian women are starting to show little interest in only marrying a man and living a comfortable family life. The new generation of women value personal independence and want to rule their lives. Besides they demonstrate inability and no desire to sacrifice their goals and achievement for the sake of family, which is viewed traditional value of Russian women. This is often dramatized by the feeling of bitter loneliness and makes the basic conflict of young Russian women.

Despite the factor that Russian women having university degrees outnumber Russian men, the society still shows patriarchal approach towards women and gender equality is viewed sarcastically.

The statistic research shows that Russian women experience dissatisfaction with marital life much more then Russian men, but conceal this problem. The percentage of women that are willing to leave career and devote their lives to families is decreasing since 1990. Russian women aim at getting education and playing a socially meaningful role.

A happy Russian family

The feature of contemporary Russian society is egocentric position of many young people, that are focused on satisfying own needs and goals and are not willing to create families and compromise. Many are fearful of unstable economy and lack of state support of families. Moreover there is not professional family politics that would establish the standards and encourage the model of a family. The propaganda posters do not count.

This affects the demographic rate in Russia dramatically. Despite the state support of young families and favourable terms for home loans, this help is quite limited and insufficient, especially when it comes to larger families. Many children in family make it poor in the majority of cases. Single-parent families (usually it is a Russian woman) that represent nearly a quarter of all Russian households have to survive, and to raise their children in economic stress, and uncertainty. Families with disabled children are usually doomed to coping with their financial and social problems on their own. The average Russian family has one, or rarely 2 children with 'malodetnost' (decreasing number of children) as a growing tendency.

Prenuptial agreements. Even though, the number of prenuptials is growing, the majority of Russians do not understand that the family life and relationship can be the domain of legal relations. This is especially vivid when it comes to domestic violence that is on of the top problems of the contemporary Russian family. The Russian Federation has no specific legislation that addresses domestic violence. Indeed, there is not even a legal definition for the term. Russian Women themselves often forgive, hide and live for years suffering some form of domestic violence from their husbands.

Besides the society shows traditional tolerance to men abusing their wives as this has been a part of long existing patriarchal tradition in Russia. Even though the majority of Russian women consider a family life to be the most natural and attractive female role and a status of a married woman with children is still high in the society, a considerable number of the Russian women display the tense feelings, dissatisfaction, deprivation, despair and even fear in the family life and relationship with a husband. Moreover a stereotype that it is a woman that is responsible for the family climate is infixed in mind of Russian women for years and the divorce is treated as a last-ditch method. Drunkenness and infidelity as well as economic hardship are rated to be the top reasons of divorce in modern Russia.

Deprivation of female rights often takes place when it comes to property division and alimonies. The current statistics shows that the number of children in a Russian family does not stop the spouses form a divorce. Custody of children is normally awarded to the mother and quite often the male stops any relationship with the his ex and the children. The support comes in the form of monthly payments (alimony). The amount of child support that the father pays is 25% of wages for one child, 1/3 of wages for two children, or half of wages for three children. Yet the sufficient payments are quite an extraordinary situation in the country with a great number of population working illegally,having under-the-table payments in order to fight tax and generally tolerant attitude to men not supporting their children and not participating in their lives.

Besides, there is no legal basis or social norm and stereotypes of interaction of the divorced spouses. Their cooperation and mutual participation in bringing up common children totally depends on them and may be affected by the relatives an the environment.

Russian separation also has its peculiarities. It is of more psychological nature then physical. The housing shortage makes it a true challenge. Separated Russian spouses quite often have to share the same apartment and continue living together in stress-provoking conditions.

Civil unions have been gaining popularity in Russia lately. The young generation takes divorce as a norm, and a family as a temporary union that limits their personal ambitions.

The housing problem is quite sharp. Young couples rarely have an opportunity to buy their own apartment or a house. In wealthy families, an apartment may become a wedding gift from relatives. Some couples apply for a home loan to buy their first home. Other couples rent an apartment paying monthly rent to the landlord. However, there are still a lot of young families who prefer to live with their parents to save money or just having no possibility to pay the rent.

Many couples with children live with a widowed parent of one spouse, most often the grandmother, who provides child care and food preparation. A grandparent's monthly pension may contribute significantly to the family budget.

Some recent statistic research show interesting facts:

Russians have different views on the family model with the half of respondents believing the family has to have a defined head of the family. One third believes this necessarily has to be a male. This idea is mainly popular among men, rural population and in the southern areas of Russia. Women tend to consider the leadership has to be equal and not depending on the gender.

The tradition of taking a husbands surname by a woman is supported by half of the respondents, mainly elderly people, male population and population of the smaller cities and rural areas.

More then a half of respondents consider that a man has to make a bigger financial investment in the family which illustrates the firm patriarchal traditions among Russians. The reality however shows that it factually takes place in less then half of families.

The household duties have to be taken on equally according to the opinion of 72% of the respondents, yet the real state of affairs contradicts the declared equality. More then a half of male-respondents admit their wives are totally in charge of the household duties.

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