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Russian MIL visiting - Page 4

post #61 of 91
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Actually, the literal translation is "peaceful day", and it is intended as a wish for the other person, like saying "Have a great day!"
Hmmm...Could you explain? Not sure I see what you mean.

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Hm, all my ukrainian relatives were kind of supporting my view. I honestly know it as that all my life. Maybe there are local differences in view?
You know there might be. I remember always having "Kulich" in Russia, then when I moved to Ukraine, I always had "Paskha" and it WAS the same thing that I remember as "Kulich" in Russia. This confused me, so I asked my (Ukrainian) dh what the difference it, and he didn't know
post #62 of 91
Now MY Russian MIL is visiting us to see our new baby. Today she went around the apartment, trying to figure out where "that terrible draft" was coming from! It reminded me of this thread, and made me laugh. Thanks for helping me know what to expect, mamas!

(She's also always chasing us with socks, trying to put them on the baby no matter how warm it is in here).
post #63 of 91
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(She's also always chasing us with socks, trying to put them on the baby no matter how warm it is in here).
That is so true! When my MIL came to stay with us, it was August, but she kept putting socks on ds! Plus it's kind of rubbed off on me--I don't let him go barefoot as often as other kids, for sure.
What a beautiful little girl, and a pretty name, too! How'd you get away with a non-Kazakh name?
post #64 of 91

Offended and Concerned

Hi Ladies! I am Russian and take great offense to a lot of the stereotypes perpetuated in this thread. Your MILs are individuals, are PEOPLE. It isn't like asking what to feed your pet goldfish. You make it sound as though a monster is visiting you. It is hard enough dealing with a MIL in any case, but the stereotypes only perpetuate misunderstanding and fear. Of course there are cultural differences, but your MIL is not dumb, deaf, or mute (I assume), so why not discuss these differences with her once they become apparent? What happened to sharing in cultures? Why don't you ask your husband what his mother is like as a PERSON, not a distilled stereotype. Someone wake me up. Are we still in the 50s in the midst of Cold War discrimination??? I would suggest taking her to the grocery store with you, asking her what recipes she's willing to share and having her pick out ingredients. There is no standard for what she might like to eat or cook. There is also no standard for her superstitions, beliefs, practices, e.t.c. There are cultural influences, of course, but they don't have an effect across the board. I know plenty of Russians who don't wear "house shoes" or "house clothes" or over-bundle their children. OH! And I even know Russians who SMILE ALL THE TIME! I happen to be one of them. I also know plenty of Russians who enjoy cooking all kinds of foods (just like you, I'm sure), singing all kinds of songs, e.t.c. If you are influenced by the rest of the world, why do you assume your MIL lives in some kind of Russian bubble?
post #65 of 91
post #66 of 91
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Originally Posted by Beene View Post
Hi Ladies! I am Russian and take great offense to a lot of the stereotypes perpetuated in this thread. Your MILs are individuals, are PEOPLE. It isn't like asking what to feed your pet goldfish. You make it sound as though a monster is visiting you. It is hard enough dealing with a MIL in any case, but the stereotypes only perpetuate misunderstanding and fear. Of course there are cultural differences, but your MIL is not dumb, deaf, or mute (I assume), so why not discuss these differences with her once they become apparent? What happened to sharing in cultures? Why don't you ask your husband what his mother is like as a PERSON, not a distilled stereotype. Someone wake me up. Are we still in the 50s in the midst of Cold War discrimination??? I would suggest taking her to the grocery store with you, asking her what recipes she's willing to share and having her pick out ingredients. There is no standard for what she might like to eat or cook. There is also no standard for her superstitions, beliefs, practices, e.t.c. There are cultural influences, of course, but they don't have an effect across the board. I know plenty of Russians who don't wear "house shoes" or "house clothes" or over-bundle their children. OH! And I even know Russians who SMILE ALL THE TIME! I happen to be one of them. I also know plenty of Russians who enjoy cooking all kinds of foods (just like you, I'm sure), singing all kinds of songs, e.t.c. If you are influenced by the rest of the world, why do you assume your MIL lives in some kind of Russian bubble?
I was also kind of offended when someone from Serbia living in one of my home country (mixed heritage) started stereotyping me, according to how THEY expected people from that country to behave and what they were supposed to think. Concretely, this person told me "Is your kid going to be one of those who has constant colds and snot coming out of their nose all the time, because you force him to go out in the rain?", "Are you really non judgmental, or just pretending because your culture is all about being politically correct" and some other remarks along those lines. Once I got past being offended, it was kind of enlightening to see how others view people from that country. Please don't be offended, I am sure that most of these comments were meant in a lighthearted fashion - mine were.
post #67 of 91
Hi MittensKittens,
Of course not all the replies in this thread offended me, just the ones with generalizations. It is my experience and understanding that most MILs offer unwanted advice/criticism/stick their nose where it doesn't belong. MOST, not all. I think it's a family dynamic issue, not specifically a cultural clash, although of course cultural differences can complicate things. I am sorry your Serbian MIL gave you a hard time and offended you, but from that I wouldn't assume that ALL Serbian women share her views or would act offensively. I was only responding to the stereotypes in the thread. I spent the last bit of my childhood in this country after growing up in Russia and if I had a penny for every time someone asked me about cold soups, communism, unbearably cold weather and grayness, e.t.c. e.t.c. e.t.c., let's just say I'd have a lot more spending money.
Anyway, no hostility meant. I just don't like the idea that because women originate from one place geographically that they are assumed to have the same personalities and hang ups.
post #68 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beene View Post
Hi Ladies! I am Russian and take great offense to a lot of the stereotypes perpetuated in this thread. Your MILs are individuals, are PEOPLE. It isn't like asking what to feed your pet goldfish. You make it sound as though a monster is visiting you. It is hard enough dealing with a MIL in any case, but the stereotypes only perpetuate misunderstanding and fear. Of course there are cultural differences, but your MIL is not dumb, deaf, or mute (I assume), so why not discuss these differences with her once they become apparent? What happened to sharing in cultures? Why don't you ask your husband what his mother is like as a PERSON, not a distilled stereotype. Someone wake me up. Are we still in the 50s in the midst of Cold War discrimination??? I would suggest taking her to the grocery store with you, asking her what recipes she's willing to share and having her pick out ingredients. There is no standard for what she might like to eat or cook. There is also no standard for her superstitions, beliefs, practices, e.t.c. There are cultural influences, of course, but they don't have an effect across the board. I know plenty of Russians who don't wear "house shoes" or "house clothes" or over-bundle their children. OH! And I even know Russians who SMILE ALL THE TIME! I happen to be one of them. I also know plenty of Russians who enjoy cooking all kinds of foods (just like you, I'm sure), singing all kinds of songs, e.t.c. If you are influenced by the rest of the world, why do you assume your MIL lives in some kind of Russian bubble?
Her MIL might not speak English or she, Russian.

I lived with Russians in the former S.U. for... oh, six years.

I love that a Russian is actually denying the notion of "national character" You are the first one to suggest that of all the Russians I've met.

I love Russia but to deny that there are cultural attributes pretty much is to suggest that culture does not exist. I would not be surprised or offended to see a similar thread on a Russian board with directions for a person about to come to the U.S.

In fact, I HAVE! On odnoklassniki.ru among my DH's friends. And it was hilarious.

And nobody said her MIL was going to cook only borsch and blini, kwim? Just that she might like to provide for the family in that way. Nobody said, "stock up on beets and potatoes, hold the teriyaki." A lot of the advice was MIL stuff.

And if you think you can get by a Russian babushka with a draft in your house, then I say, time to leave Moscow. Eeeks, another stereotype.

Quote:
"Are you really non judgmental, or just pretending because your culture is all about being politically correct"
Oh, totally! I have asked that myself and I'm from here.
post #69 of 91
I see your point and won't deny that there ARE cultural differences and that there is such a thing as national character. When did I deny that? It is the character of a NATION, not each person within it. I am the "first Russian" to suggest that having a laugh at a stereotype of how individuals think and what they believe based on their nationality? Then so be it. Someone always has to be the first. Language differences are hard, but not insurmountable. Her husband may have to do some translation work, but facial expressions, gestures, e.t.c. can bea great tool of communication. And fun! As for odnoklassniki, of course there are stereotypes about America in Russia! I disagree with those as well. I do have a loving babushka who is conscious of drafts. *shrug* That IS something they have been taught to believe culturally. There are similarities between people because of their culture. All I am trying to say is that there is no formula for dealing with a Russian! And contrary to what you wrote, there were discussions in this thread of things Russians stereotypically eat. There was even a suggestion that she stock up on potatoes. FYI, the amount of potatoes consumed by Russians stems from the desperate poverty in which many were raised and the necessity to eat them for lack of anything else. Russians don't LOVE all things potatoes or need them to be stocked up in the cupboard. lol.
Anyway, it's all in good fun. I'm over it. Just had to stand up for my feelings about it.
post #70 of 91
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Originally Posted by Beene View Post
Language differences are hard, but not insurmountable. Her husband may have to do some translation work, but facial expressions, gestures, e.t.c. can bea great tool of communication.
Not just language differences, but cultural differences are hard but not insurmountable. That's what this thread is about.

Relying on facial expressions and so on can be just as problematic if there are cultural differences. I'm just jumping in here because despite the fact that I work with Russians (80% of the company I work for is in Moscow and Novgorod) I really don't know much about the face-to-face culture, but I do know that there are many potential differences in non-verbal cues. Do Russians like to look each other directly in the eye when speaking? I don't know, but it's possible they find it rude if you don't - or rude if you do. How much touching is considered appropriate? Is complimenting polite or rude? (I've heard that complimenting material things is rude for Indians, because it obligates the complimentee to give the object to the complimentor). All these things can easily go awry even if the OP is sincere and friendly and open, simply because of cultural differences. Of course her MIL might have different opinions about body language and so on than most Russians - but it's not likely, and it certainly doesn't hurt to find out what Russians generally appreciate and admire.

I just don't see the problem with this - seems maybe too overly PC to say that you can't talk about cultural differences at all and pretend they don't exist or that every individual is completely different and you can't even somewhat generalize what they'll probably appreciate.
post #71 of 91
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Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
Not just language differences, but cultural differences are hard but not insurmountable. That's what this thread is about.

Relying on facial expressions and so on can be just as problematic if there are cultural differences. I'm just jumping in here because despite the fact that I work with Russians (80% of the company I work for is in Moscow and Novgorod) I really don't know much about the face-to-face culture, but I do know that there are many potential differences in non-verbal cues. Do Russians like to look each other directly in the eye when speaking? I don't know, but it's possible they find it rude if you don't - or rude if you do. How much touching is considered appropriate? Is complimenting polite or rude? (I've heard that complimenting material things is rude for Indians, because it obligates the complimentee to give the object to the complimentor). All these things can easily go awry even if the OP is sincere and friendly and open, simply because of cultural differences. Of course her MIL might have different opinions about body language and so on than most Russians - but it's not likely, and it certainly doesn't hurt to find out what Russians generally appreciate and admire.

I just don't see the problem with this - seems maybe too overly PC to say that you can't talk about cultural differences at all and pretend they don't exist or that every individual is completely different and you can't even somewhat generalize what they'll probably appreciate.
I completely agree with you. I am not in denial of cultural differences and beliefs. The eye contact, touching, all true and good points! What I have a problem with is stereotypes. Like that Russians overbundle their children. Wear house dresses and house shoes. Put socks on children no matter what. Eat tons of potatoes. Those things are misconceptions. They are not how I was raised and I was raised IN Russia. It's like somebody saying that all Americans get drugged up in hospitals to give birth and prefer c-sections. We all know that although it happens frequently in this country and may seem crazy to a Russian, we don't all think like that.
post #72 of 91
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Originally Posted by Beene View Post
It's like somebody saying that all Americans get drugged up in hospitals to give birth and prefer c-sections.
Well, I am sure statistics would not completely disagree with that assumption

I am sure I shouldn't be commenting any more, because I am in Serbia, not Russia. But I can't take my child out barefooted on a sunny day without getting AT LEAST two comments about it. Really. Does observing that make me a stereo-typer? Well, actually, I am just commenting on what happens to me.
post #73 of 91
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What I have a problem with is stereotypes. Like that Russians overbundle their children. Wear house dresses and house shoes. Put socks on children no matter what. Eat tons of potatoes.
To me, knowing about these stereotypes serves a practical purpose, especially for those who haven't lived in Russia/the FSU. I don't think my MIL really knew what to expect before she came to visit us the first time--so I felt more obligated to create a comfortable environment. So I think the ultimate aim of the suggestions in this thread is to make a more harmonious home environment, not perpetuate stereotypes. This is especially important given that in the U.S., we're not used to intergenerational living. for instance, it was disconcerting for me when my MIL snapped at me for walking around the house barefoot. So I can say, yes, my MIL did all of the above (and she's not even from Russia proper), and others might do the same, in a spirit of wanting to help others' MILs better adjust to life in the U.S.
post #74 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beene View Post
Hi MittensKittens,
Of course not all the replies in this thread offended me, just the ones with generalizations. It is my experience and understanding that most MILs offer unwanted advice/criticism/stick their nose where it doesn't belong. MOST, not all. I think it's a family dynamic issue, not specifically a cultural clash, although of course cultural differences can complicate things. I am sorry your Serbian MIL gave you a hard time and offended you, but from that I wouldn't assume that ALL Serbian women share her views or would act offensively. I was only responding to the stereotypes in the thread. I spent the last bit of my childhood in this country after growing up in Russia and if I had a penny for every time someone asked me about cold soups, communism, unbearably cold weather and grayness, e.t.c. e.t.c. e.t.c., let's just say I'd have a lot more spending money.
Anyway, no hostility meant. I just don't like the idea that because women originate from one place geographically that they are assumed to have the same personalities and hang ups.
Oh, somehow I completely missed this post. No Serbian MIL here - no MIL at all. That's one of the great bonuses of being a solo mom!

And to add, I actually met not one, but two Serbian moms through this thread. Both of them thought it was funny to read what other people observed about their culture.
post #75 of 91
I guess I could really stand to lighten up. The funny thing is that I myself tend to have many laughs at the aspects of my heritage, especially ones I feel removed from. I think this may be years of emotional baggage surfacing. I was only an awkward teen when my family came here and the most frustrating experience of all was not knowing a word of English and having children and (amazingly!) adults around me assume they knew what I was about from movies they have seen or jokes they have heard or generalizations they were able to make. I shouldn't snap at people trying to understand and instead take some time to heal.

P.S. I know that for me, and this could be because I was a child, it was much more exciting to explore the peculiarities of American culture (such as the overabundance of yogurt flavors at the grocery.....whaaaa???) than it was to find the things I left in my country here. Hope the MIL s adventurous and up for exploring.
post #76 of 91
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Originally Posted by MittensKittens View Post
It's funny to hear that there are so many similarities. How about this one? It always makes me laugh. In Serbia, you are never allowed to put your handbag on the floor, because this will make you go bankrupt. Have you heard about this?

I've heard of that and I'm Spaniard. Seriously, I'm familiar with several of the things posted in here. Maybe becuase a Polish mom and that's not far away from those countries??
post #77 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beene View Post
I guess I could really stand to lighten up. The funny thing is that I myself tend to have many laughs at the aspects of my heritage, especially ones I feel removed from. I think this may be years of emotional baggage surfacing. I was only an awkward teen when my family came here and the most frustrating experience of all was not knowing a word of English and having children and (amazingly!) adults around me assume they knew what I was about from movies they have seen or jokes they have heard or generalizations they were able to make. I shouldn't snap at people trying to understand and instead take some time to heal.

P.S. I know that for me, and this could be because I was a child, it was much more exciting to explore the peculiarities of American culture (such as the overabundance of yogurt flavors at the grocery.....whaaaa???) than it was to find the things I left in my country here. Hope the MIL s adventurous and up for exploring.
Yes! I noticed that they mainly have just plain yoghurt here! And of the drink yoghurt kind, not the thick stuff! And it is annoying when people think they know all about you just because they know where you are from. I can imagine what it must have been like coming to the US .
post #78 of 91
I can sort of see where you are coming from (I won't pretend I know what it's like to be an immigrant) but I do think the equivalent to the generalizations listed here are not Britney or political correctness, even, but things like:

-Americans don't eat a lot of beets.
-Americans are usually used to having snack foods around the house.
-(Young) Americans do not iron their clothes unless they are really nice clothes or linen.
-For most Americans, walking is a mode of transport, or exercise, not a leisure activity (no promenade / stroll in our culture except when associated with shopping e.g. at the mall).
-American babies and children often go out without a hat or shoes, even when the weather is below 70 degrees Farenheit. (As an American, I am appalled by the whole bare-headed newborn in February thing, but it appears I am the only one.)

Etc.
post #79 of 91
 
 

Edited by GoGoGirl - 3/9/14 at 3:38pm
post #80 of 91
Ohhh, Kathy, if you did the patronynic, you totally deserve the 1st name. We did middle names.
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