Could you imagine what our society would be like, if it existed in some other form than divided into separate units, which we call families? Frankly speaking, I cannot. However, there is a question: what is Ukrainian family structure like and does it differ from that of other countries or not? Let us look closer at this issue.
First of all, you must know that Ukrainian family structure is quite simple. A usual Ukrainian family has several components: the nuclear family, the immediate family and the “big” family (as I like to call it).
The nuclear family is the essential part of Ukrainian family structure because it includes a mother, a father and their child or children. Nowadays, each family has mostly one child or two. It is a very rare occasion to meet a family with three and more children. Why is it so? The first answer that comes to my mind is that economics in Ukraine cannot let a family have a lot of children. There is even a saying between people: we cannot afford to have a child or more than one child because we cannot afford it. Though sad it may seem, it is our present-day situation, which will hopefully change soon.
Another part of Ukrainian family structure is the immediate family. That is the family, which people get when they get married. I think it is not difficult to understand, that any immediate family consists of a husband and a wife. How many immediate families do Ukrainians create every year? Personally, I do not know the statistics, however I talk to many people and I know that nowadays not many Ukrainians get married. Fortunately, marriage is not the thing of the past in Ukraine; still less and less men tend to create families in our country. What is the reason? I am not sure that I have a decent answer… maybe it is not fashionable in our days, maybe people think it is easier to survive on their own… And this is, probably, the main reason why Ukrainian women turn to international marriage agencies in search of a husband, as they still believe that the survival of the human race depends on sticking together; that their (women’s) main role is to bear children, bring them up, take care of their family and, of course, be loved and protected by their husbands, who are strong, safe and reliable.
The “big” family is also an inseparable part of Ukrainian family structure. Every family becomes big when two people get married. Their relatives become each-other’s relatives too. Every “big” family includes sisters and brothers with their families, aunts and uncles and their children, grandparents as well as their relatives, godmother, godfather, godchildren.
The main difference of a Ukrainian family is probably not in the number of people, who make it, but in the way we call them. It is known that when two people get married, their relatives become in-laws for each other. So an average family abroad has two mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, etc. However, in Ukraine all the in-laws have different names, which sometimes even Ukrainians cannot remember. So, to make my article about Ukrainian family structure full, I offer you to look at who your relatives will be, if you marry a Ukrainian girl.
The girl’s mother for you – tioshcha.
Your mother for the girl – svaha.
The girl’s father for you – tiest.
Your father for the girl – svat.
The girl’s sister for you – snoha.
Your sister for the girl – zolovka.
The girl’s brother for you – shurin.
Your brother for the girl – dievier.
It is also interesting that the English language has one name for cousin, no matter if it is a boy or a girl. But in Ukraine we have a once removed (dvoyurodnaya) sister and once removed (dvoyurodnyi) brother.
Well, as you can see, Ukrainian family structure is not so different from that of other countries; still it has its own peculiarities, which will definitely make your life more exciting if you decide to become a part of a Ukrainian family.