Russian moms do things just a little bit differently, and some of their habits, tendencies, and techniques might be even better than the American way of doing things. If you grew up in a Russian-speaking home, you know what we’re talking about. From soup to chores to avoiding frozen ovaries, here are a few things Russian moms do that might make good imports for U.S. families.
1. It’s not a meal unless there is soup.
Soup plays a central role in every meal Russian moms serve their kids. After all, it gets pretty darn cold in the Mother Country, and there’s nothing like a bowl of steaming shchi, a traditional cabbage soup, to take the chill out of your bones. But what about the summertime? Easy. Feed the kids a chilled cup of svekoljnik, or red beet soup. There’s a reason a love of all things soupy is a great trick for moms, especially when the kids are picky eaters: You can pack nutritious veggies into a bowl of soup and smuggle them into your kid’s stomach with a delicious broth. They’ll never suspect they’re eating health food.
2. Bundle, bundle, bundle.
When the first hint of frost hits the autumn air, that’s every Russian mom’s cue to break out the sweaters, hats, coats, and scarves. Russian moms don’t let their kids decide how bundled up to get on a cold day. They mercilessly wrap their children in layer after layer of warm clothing, even when it isn’t technically that cold outside. At least this teaches kids to layer at a young age. That can come in handy later on in life, when it’s hard to tell which way the temperature is headed.
3. The place for babies is outside.
After bundling a kid up in a million layers, Russian moms proceed to put their babies in a carriage, wheel them outside in freezing temperatures, and leave them there to nap in the cold. They aren’t being cruel; they just tend to believe that infants need lots and lots of fresh air. Babies raised indoors won’t build strong immune systems or hearty constitutions, Russian moms say. Who knows? There could be something to that. Anyway, who couldn’t stand a little more time outside these days?
4. After family, education comes first.
Russian culture values a strong education, and that goes well beyond school. In order to raise smart, well-rounded kids, Russian parents enroll their children in all sorts of activities: sports, ballet, music. Plus, by the time kids can read, their moms expect them to memorize long, complicated poems. As a result, even the most casual conversation in a Russian-speaking household may be peppered with Pushkin quotations and references to Dostoevsky novels.
5. No shoes allowed indoors!
Russian moms make their kids take their shoes off before taking a step beyond the front door. Actually, they make everyone take off their shoes. Just as importantly, though, everyone has to wear their slippers when they walk around inside. Going barefoot is a great way to freeze your ovaries, according to Russian moms. While this may be a little suspect, scientifically, operating a no-shoes household is a great way to keep the floors clean.
6. The teacher is always right.
Russian parents respect the living daylights out of teachers. They count teaching as a noble profession, right up there with medicine and law. As a result, they insist that their kids obey and trust their teachers from the first day of kindergarten onward. That’s great unless a teacher treats you unfairly. You won’t get a lot of sympathy from Russian parents. They’re way more likely to side with the teacher than the kid, so there’s no use claiming unfair treatment.
7. Kids eat what parents eat.
We all know the kid who will only eat chicken nuggets or peanut butter sandwiches. Heck, we might be raising that kid. Here’s the thing, though: There’s no way that kid’s mom is Russian. That’s because Russian culture doesn’t really have a separate menu for children and adults. There’s plenty of great food on the Russian dining table (plus a truly unbelievable amount of pickled offerings), and parents expect kids to eat what’s in front of them and be grateful. The advantages of this policy are clear to any parent whose kid will only eat pancakes.
8. Grandparents are certainly in the picture.
The Russian devotion to family stretches beyond the nuclear. Grandparents often live with their adult children and their families. Even if they don’t, moms take kids to see their grandparents as often as possible. Russian grandparents function almost like a second set of (non-grand) parents. That’s great for family cohesiveness, and there are no true empty-nesters in a Russian family.
9. Kids help out with the chores.
In a Russian household, as soon as you’re old enough to walk and wield a broom, you get your very own chore list. Older brothers and sisters help Mom out with the younger siblings. Kids younger than age 10 do their own laundry. In general, everyone in the house helps to keep the floors swept, the dishes done, and the table set. It’s great to get kids started on chores young. That way they’ll never grow up to be bad roommates. Plus, teaming up to keep shared spaces clean creates a better sense of family cohesion, and that’s something we could all get a little bit more of.