Dagens Nyheter (Sweden): Russian Children Spend All Summer With Their Grandmother

Dagens Nyheter (Sweden): Russian Children Spend All Summer With Their Grandmother
Dagens Nyheter (Sweden): Russian Children Spend All Summer With Their Grandmother

Video: Dagens Nyheter (Sweden): Russian Children Spend All Summer With Their Grandmother

Video: Dagens Nyheter (Sweden): Russian Children Spend All Summer With Their Grandmother
Video: Highlights: SWEDEN VS IHF OF RUSSIA | 2021 #IIHFWORLDS 2023, September

The grass is waist-deep. The path leading to the water is well trampled. The smooth surface of the pond, surrounded by irises, shines like a mirror.


Sweat runs down my back. The heat is terrible, although June has just begun. On the horizon, clouds are crowded with a wall.

Six-year-old Evgeniya tries the water with her toe.

"I'm afraid to go in, grandma."

“And you're not afraid at all! You already know how to swim."

Natalya Petrykina makes Evgenia, who is usually called Zhenya, an encouraging hand gesture, and she smiles. She knows that her grandmother believes in her.

Together with his twelve-year-old brother Stepan, Zhenya launches a small catamaran. They circle the pond under the supervision of their grandmother, who is standing on the bridge.

In winter, Zhenya lives with his parents and brother in an apartment in Moscow. At the end of May, she arrives at the village of Uspenskoe, 40 kilometers west of Moscow. Zhenya spends the whole summer there. Sometimes she lives in the country with her parents, sometimes - with her grandmother.

Dacha plots in the Moscow region

Grandma's got more fun.

“You can do whatever you want. She doesn't constantly scream that she needs to go home and eat, or do a bunch of other things,”explains Zhenya.

Millions of Russian children go to their grandparents' dacha every summer. The tradition appeared in Soviet times, when both parents worked, and the child had nowhere to go. In addition, there was no guarantee that the parents would be given leave in the summer.

“On the one hand, the state was responsible for every citizen from cradle to grave. Therefore, there were many pioneer camps - sometimes a child could spend the whole summer there. On the other hand, the harsh working conditions in the USSR led to the fact that the older generation began to play a very large role in raising children,”explains Ekaterina Shulman, Doctor of Political Science at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation (RANEPA).

According to her, the Soviet system created matriarchy in practice.

“In the Soviet Union, a woman with children was considered a nuclear family. Usually the family consisted of children, mother and grandmother. A single woman was not without a husband, but without grandmothers. Matriarchy was so commonplace that no one even thought about it."

It is still common in modern Russia. Representatives of four generations gathered in Natalya Petrykina's kitchen: great-grandmother Tatyana Gitseleva, grandmother Natalya, mother Ekaterina Filatova and grandchildren Evgenia and Stepan.

Natalia and her mother live in a yellow wooden house. On a neighboring plot in a green house, her daughter Ekaterina lives with her family. Children run back and forth between lawn-surrounded houses, summer kitchens and vegetable gardens.

The children's father is now at work in Moscow. Ekaterina has just returned from Gdansk, where she was traveling with her husband. At this time, the children lived with their grandmother.

“My husband and I love to travel alone. Children are not very interested in looking at different cities, but we like it. They don't mind staying in the country at all. Zhenya especially loves to visit her grandmother,”says Ekaterina.

The main question is: what does grandmother herself think of this? In Sweden, it often happens that grandparents do not have time for grandchildren. But in Russia, society still puts pressure on the older generation in this sense. Help is expected from him.

“We have this social norm. Seniors need to want to interact with their grandchildren. In addition, good relations with grandchildren and participation in their upbringing raise a person's status,”says Ekaterina Shulman.

Natalia Petrykina does not see a problem in the fact that her grandchildren live with her.

“Zhenya and Stepan do not give me any trouble at all. When only they are here, everything is different with us, freer. I don't download them the way my parents do. Children themselves have to think about what to do. I don't follow them all the time. They spend a lot of time with their friends. But if the children go swimming, I always follow them,”says Natalya.

“You give a lot more permission to children than I do,” her daughter teases.

I do not agree! Well, okay, I let them eat more sweets,”Natalya replies.

She is 56 years old, she is retired, but sometimes she works as a nanny or a cleaner. Her daughter Catherine decided to stay at home with the children. Therefore, it is also in the order of things for her to leave them with her grandmother and go somewhere with her husband.

“I already spend a lot of time with children. We are constantly together throughout the school year. Now, when we are at the dacha, I make sure that Stepan does not sit in the tablet too much. He has to read ten pages daily in the morning and in the evening, and then he can play the tablet."

At school, Stepan was given a list of books for the summer. Catherine shows me their names: about thirty works, including stories and novels: Chekhov, Turgenev, Lermontov, Schiller, Goethe.

“I don't force him to read everything. But I want him to cope with at least part of the list,”says Ekaterina.

According to Ekaterina Shulman, the idea that parents should not only dress and feed their children, but also communicate with them, came to Russia relatively recently.

“Only in the early 2000s did people begin to attach importance to the so-called“quality time”spent with children. Before that, no one really thought that children and parents can have fun together. Children spent a lot of time alone, unattended. And today Russian parents bring up their children in a completely different way."

In addition, according to Shulman, now many do not trust kindergartens and summer camps. They prefer grandparents.

Natalya Petrykina is happy about this.

“If I didn’t work, I would take care of my grandchildren even more. It's not hard for me at all. They know that in the end I make the decisions. Although sometimes they manage to persuade me to do all sorts of tricks."

Three months of summer vacation

In Russia, schoolchildren have holidays for all three summer months. They start on June 1 and end on September 1. In addition, children rest for a week in autumn and spring, and in winter - almost three weeks.

According to the Union of Gardeners of Russia, there are 17 to 20 million summer cottages in the country. The real number of summer cottages is higher, because not all of them are registered.

The word "dacha" comes from the verb "to give". The era of dachas began in the 18th century, when Peter the Great, in gratitude for his faithful service, presented palaces near St. Petersburg to his subjects. Gradually, the middle class also began to acquire summer houses. In Soviet times, writers, academics and high-ranking officials often received summer cottages for free.