Monday, May 20, 2013

A book about Americans, part 5

Last time I wrote about this book, I thought that Bogdan had done something to my notes and highlights. He had just hidden them, so they're back now.

The two sections that were really the highlights of the book for me were the one about babushki and babysitters and another about education. I noticed that the review or two that I could find in English focused on the babushka-babysitter part, too.

So, of babushki and babysitters:
The main problem of new American parents is that the country has practically no social institution such as babushki and dedushki - in the Russian understanding of their role. Of course, there are grandparents, but in most cases they live separately, often in other cities and states. They very rarely live with the young parents, who had happily left the parental home, and certainly they do not live with their grandchildren.
And, of course, there are wonderfully involved American grandparents (like ours!). But it's true, it's a whole different world.

A little further on in the same chapter:
They would never take upon themselves the upbringing of their grandchildren, as, in fact, it would never cross the parents' mind to ask them to. It is not in the tradition of America.
We actually have a friend here who will be bringing her toddler granddaughter from the other side of the country back to spend the summer with her, because the little girl "needs to learn how to behave." The young mother called for advice, and that's the solution they came up with.

And then the chapter goes on to explain the idea of babysitters in great detail. To the Russian mind, leaving small children with a teenager could sound crazy.

И русские читатели: разве есть такое слово "бебиситтерство"?


Mrs. Mandy said...

I have not looked at the rest of the posts on this yet but wanted to mention here in America grandparents do often raise their grandchildren just not in the way I think you mean. Instead of assissting their children in raising the grandchild too often the parents run off dumping the child on grandparents to raise so they can be free to "live" without an encumbering child. It speaks very much to the mentality Americans have about the importance of children. Unfortunately they are not seen as gifts from God.

Phyllis said...

Right. It's very different. In America that would be a dysfunctional family. The parents are out of the picture because they can't or won't care for their children.

Here, a healthy family includes 3-6 adults (depending on how many grandparents are alive and close by) sharing the responsibilities evenly.