Ukrainian family structure

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 and life like and does it differ from that of other countries or not? Let us look closer at this issue and you will learn more about it.

First of all, you must know that it is quite simple. Ukrainian families have several components: a nuclear, an immediate and a “big” family (as I like to call it).

The nuclear family is the essential part of the structure because it includes a mother, a father and their child or children. Nowadays, there are mostly one or two children. It is a very rare occasion to have three and more children. Why is it so? Nowadays couples try to balance a career and family at the same time. The majority of couples want to spend enough time with their children, being able to give them a decent education and afford to buy everything they need until they become independent. If 50-60 years ago people used to have at least 5-6 children. My grandmother grew up in an extended family. She has six sisters and 2 brothers. At those times women were mostly housewives, the only role they had to be mothers. So they devoted their lives to raising kids and doing household chores. They were excellent in cooking, knitting and farming. My grandmother is good at all those things. Our house is always full of guests, our relatives. It is great to have so many close people, who love you and share important moments. But not all parents were having so many children at those times. For example, my grandfather, who was also born approximately at the same time as my grandmother, had only one brother and one sister. They were also very close to each other. We do have great values, which were passed from generation to generation. People do pay a great attention to family life in Ukraine. It is an important sphere of everyone`s life.

Another part is the immediate family, which people get when they get married. I think it is not difficult to understand, that a typical one consists of a husband and a wife. How many immediate families do people create every year? Personally, I do not know the statistics, however I talk to many people and I know that nowadays not many couples get married. Fortunately, marriage is not the thing of the past; still less and less men tend to create families in our country. What is the reason … 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 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. Every family becomes big when two people get married. Their relatives become each-other’s relatives too. It includes sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and their children, grandparents as well as their relatives, godmother, godfather, godchildren.

The main difference of a traditional 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 we cannot remember. So, to make my article 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– tiest.

Your father– svat.

The girl’s sister– snoha.

Your sister – zolovka.

The girl’s brother– shurin.

Your brother– dievier.

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, it is not so different from 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. You should know some rules before meeting a lady`s parents for the first time, because they are an important part of her life. If a girl comes from a different background, it makes it more difficult.

When you have a serious relationship, no surprise that one day she will invite you to her house to meet parents. If you are prepared and know some tricks, you have nothing to worry about.

  1. Collect information. You should be all armed before coming to visit her house. It would be polite to learn their names and occupations.
  2. Choose what to wear. Dress to impress, but do not exaggerate. There is no point to wear a formal suit with a bowtie, you should feel comfortable in what you wear. It gives confidence and makes you feel at ease. But make sure it is smart casual, it is a celebration and everyone will look smart. It is better to avoid baggy clothes, it is not a sign of a serious man.
  3. Ukrainian people are very friendly and hospitable. But it doesn`t mean you should be overfriendly and show that you know a lot about them. For example: “Hi, Dmitriy Petrovich, I have heard a lot about your problems with kidneys, I am so sorry”. First of all, it is not appropriate to talk about medical issues with a person who didn`t tell you directly about it. It is better to avoid such sensitive topics as politics and medical issues. Regardless of political current situations, it is better to stay away from such topics.
  4. Ask questions about your fiancée`s childhood and share some funny stories as well. It is always good to talk about it, it creates a bond.
  5. Bring gifts. It would be pleasant to receive flowers. You can also buy a box of chocolates and a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion.

A language barrier won`t be an obstacle to create a bond. One of my female friends shared her international experience of introducing her parents to the fiancé. He is from Spain, but speaks English too. Her father was learning Spanish in school, so he was using some Spanish words. It was very nice of him and set a positive atmosphere.