French mothers tirelessly boast that their children do not spit food, Japanese - that their little ones never cry. As for the Russian mothers, more recently they were modestly standing aside. But it's time to declare yourself! American Tanya Mayer studied the basic principles of education, which are used by our compatriots, and gathered them together. The book "Shapka, babushka, kefir. How to raise children in Russia "has spread around the world with a resounding success. Translated it into Russian. Revision Children Mail.Ru publishes several passages from this book, in which you will surely recognize your moms, grandmothers, girlfriends, neighbors in the stairwell and, of course, yourself.
Pregnancy - time to take care of yourself
I recently met in Moscow with a company of educated, many traveling women from twenty to thirty-five years old. I asked what advice would they give to a friend who had just announced her pregnancy? The answers were very interesting: some advised to "relax" and "enjoy the process, because it quickly ends." Others added that the first thing they would advise is to “save the child” - as I have already said, in Russia, abortion is not considered something out of the ordinary, and the decision whether or not to leave a child may well be discussed openly. Also, very sensible advice sounded to continue doing the exercises, walk a lot, eat right and, of course, the wishes “to take care of yourself” and “not to dissolve”. The latter is also partly Russian specifics.
Almost all the Russian mothers with whom I spoke agreed that it is very important to monitor the weight - and this, of course, is amazing.
The fact is that in America, a doctor will never tell a woman that she gained too much during pregnancy. In England, when I was waiting for the third child, I was not weighed even once.
In Russia, it’s not that there is a “have two” concept, but the emphasis is on the fact that a pregnant woman should lead a healthier lifestyle, play sports (nothing special — just walk and be active) and relax.
Pregnancy is not seen as an excuse to devour the entire cake, but as an excuse to look after yourself. And at the same time enjoy life. In the West, it is customary to complain about pregnancy — it is hard to fall asleep, you get tired at work, you have no strength to take care of your elders. And I never heard from Russian moms that pregnancy is hard for them. Whether the difference of cultures, or they really like everything.
Taking the help of grandmothers is normal
The first month is a special time when the mother gets used to the child and the child gets used to the mother. Practical advice usually gives one of the grandmothers, shows how to swaddle, bathe, soothe. But even if the grandmother does not remember what's what, she still participates in the process. For example, takes care of cleaning and cooking so that a woman can focus on the newborn. Many of my respondents said that in those first weeks their husbands helped them a lot - perhaps in modern Russia there was also a tendency for fathers to participate more closely than before in the child’s life.
It seems to me that the main difference between Russian grandparents from American and European ones is in the very idea that they should help (sometimes even when they are not asked), that their grandchildren are their responsibility.
My own mother, born in 1944, is a typical representative of the baby boomer generation, the same category of retirees traveling endlessly who collect photos of their grandchildren and come to visit them a couple of times a year, present gifts and play a couple of horses in Monopoly. And, perhaps, like my parents, they save money for their grandchildren at the university. But participation in everyday life is out of the question. Moreover, they often end up with their grandchildren in different parts of the country, and even in different countries.
Need to walk every day
Russian mothers can easily relate to the regime of feeding or sleep, but there is one, the immutable rule common to all - the child must walk! And ideally - twice a day. It is believed that walking on a relatively fresh urban air strengthens the immune system and makes the child stronger. From birth to school walk is an integral part of the day.
When I first arrived in London, then, like a good Moscow mother, I immediately ran to look for the site. After a couple of weeks, I realized that only I and a few Russian nannies were freezing on the playground, and London preschoolers spend time on all sorts of activities or at home. In Russia, the site is the main meeting place for children and nannies, with its own rules, often the first and most important place for the socialization of children from one and a half to five years.
Do not forget to wear a hat (and tights!)
The hat is sacred. If you take your child for a walk without a season-appropriate headgear, you will surely make a remark. My two-year-old son, having moved to London, flatly refused to leave the house without a hat, as a result I had to go to Gap and get him a cap. When he went to school, he was very pleased that the shape included Harry Potter-style purple hat.
Another important item of clothing - tights. In Russia, they are worn by all children, both boys and girls. In fact, it is very convenient. I remember how I brought my son from New York a very beautiful down jumpsuit (the only possible clothing in Moscow in winter) and found that he does not fit there either in jeans or corduroy pants.
But my nannies easily rectified the situation, ordering me to buy tights, because, as it turned out, the child in a sweater and tights fits perfectly in a jumpsuit. And crawling in them is also very convenient. So all the beautiful pants gathering dust in the closet, and the son, like all the other Russian babies, flaunted in bodysuit and pantyhose all day.
To instil a love of reading is a matter of honor
In Russia, it is customary to teach a child the basics of writing and counting up to school. And, of course, reading. To instill a love of reading for the Russian mother is a matter of honor. In Russia, it is customary to read to children aloud before bedtime and not to complain about this. I have not read a hundred years for children at night. By eight in the evening I’m so exhausted that I can only peck at them and send them to the beds.
In Russia, reading for the night, as my husband says, is not discussed, it is sacred. Mom should read, and the child should listen and enjoy.
In the afternoon, a mother, grandmother, nanny or kindergarten teacher will teach a child letters. And Russian children read a lot! In England, everything is different. My daughter is six, and she scandals about reading almost every evening. No, she reads well, but this is work for her, not pleasure. My son is eight, and he only realized a year ago that a book can bring joy.
Trust, but verify
Russian mothers do not trust doctors. They turn to them (when they can afford it), but they are often not satisfied with the opinion of one doctor and ask a couple more. Many are more likely to listen to the recommendations of a friend who does not have medical education than a district pediatrician. Both Soviet and modern Russian doctors love to prescribe drugs.
My friend Sonya recently showed me a list of ten different medicines prescribed by a doctor for her two daughters of four years and four months, who had ears in the winter. The abundance of drugs and the ease with which doctors prescribe them, led to a sharply negative moms reaction. Many of my interlocutors said: "I try to do without pills." Or: "I give antibiotics only as a last resort."
Many people prefer homeopathic, natural, non-medicinal methods of treatment and other things that we in the West would have rejected, dismissively calling hippie nonsense.
When it comes to doctors, I behave like a real American. Well, so it seems to me. I usually trust doctors. If I have any suspicions or am not sure if I agree with the diagnosis, I will, of course, see another doctor. But I do not enter the office with the intention of questioning the competence of the doctor. <…> Russian mothers are themselves (and their child) diagnosticians, doctors and experts, real medical self-taught. They know all the ailments of children, know how to treat them and what are the side effects of treatment.
Do not rush time
Parents sometimes want their children to grow up as soon as possible, and I am a vivid example. I dreamed of sending my son to the garden already; I could not cope with a two-year-old and a baby. The girls also went to the garden in two years. And it seems to me that these “childless” mornings helped me not to go crazy. I understand that working moms may seem like nonsense, but when you are a housewife, you have a feeling that you are engaged in children around the clock, and the garden gives you the opportunity to shift responsibility for at least a few hours.
Russian mothers do not seem to want children to grow faster. They enjoy the first years of a child's life.
Maybe we in the West too often think about the future. We are building our children lives for many years ahead, we choose a path for them, when they still don’t even know in which direction to go. And it seems to us that we are good parents, if the child tries himself in various sports, learns to play a musical instrument, etc.
Russia also has a wide range of activities, but the child has time to be a child there. Moms there enjoy the present, and do not worry about the future. I asked the mothers of two or three-year-olds what school they chose, and they answered that they had not thought about it yet. In Russia, there is a saying: “Problems must be solved as they become available.”