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The situation of fathers in modern Russia

In Russia, these problems are even more acute. The public consciousness of pre-revolutionary Russia fluctuated between the traditional ideal of authoritarian power and the weakness of real fatherhood: a specific father looked like a pale copy of the father-tsar. Soviet power exacerbated this contradiction. First, she undermined a patriarchal family based on private property, and then tacitly adopted the family model, in which a man is assigned primarily the role of a breadwinner and a breadwinner, leaving all social and pedagogical functions to the mother. As the secretary of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, N. Popova, once said frankly, "although the father is legally responsible for raising children, no one can replace a mother, especially in raising preschool children, so there is no need to make excessive demands on my father."

The identification of parenthood with motherhood is to some extent preserved in the Russian political consciousness to this day. In our legislation, as a constitutional principle, it is emphasized that “taking care of children and their upbringing is the equal right and duties of both parents” (Clause 2, Article 38), but in fact they rarely mention fathers. It is characteristic that in the new demographic program the task of increasing the birth rate is entirely addressed to women.

As in the West, Russian youth is increasingly oriented not so much on procreation as on personal achievements. Young women and men want fewer children than their parents' generation. Gender differences are also quite large. Among men surveyed by the Levada Center, 43% preferred career and work, and 38% preferred family and children; in women, the ratio is the opposite - 36% and 48%. Younger respondents, especially men and Muscovites, are also very popular with the answer “to live for your own pleasure”.

However, there is an opposite trend: many adult and socially successful men have a need for children. “It has become fashionable to love children. This has happened in recent years. It’s fashionable with my friends, pals, with the people I communicate with ... ”, says the famous political journalist Andrei Kolesnikov, who created the“ Fathers ”column in the newspaper Kommersant. Around the "School of the Young Father", created by Ashot Nasibov, the Echo of Moscow radio group brings together journalists, musicians and politicians who, by the age of forty or a little later, unexpectedly discovered that they want to become fathers, and not what they were before.

Russian media strongly support the traditional stereotype of a powerful father. For example, in the popular television series Kadetstvo, all the young men are different, but their fathers are one authoritarian than the other, they can only speak with their sons in raised tones. School commanders look softer and more understanding ...

Meanwhile, the traditional definitions of the paternal role and the associated social expectations not only very often do not correspond to the real conditions of life and the individual characteristics of both parents, but in many families there are simply no fathers. A large number of maternal families in post-war Russia is not the result of free choice, but an objective necessity: physical losses of the male population as a result of two world wars, exacerbated by excessive male supermortality, could not but affect the composition and structure of the family.

A conservative mind plays a cruel joke with men when family-role conflicts arise. If a man is evaluated primarily by his extra-family achievements, then any social setbacks, such as job loss, reduce his family status, and with it self-esteem. The sociologist Glen Elder, who studied the psychological consequences of the American Great Depression of 1929-1932, found that although men who lost their jobs spent more time with their children, the quality of these relationships deteriorated markedly. Unemployed fathers became more irritable, made arbitrary decisions, etc., moreover, the deterioration of family relations depends not so much on the scale of financial difficulties, but on how the man himself perceives them: the consciousness of his failure as a breadwinner demoralizes the man and complicates his relationship with children. Over the past 70 years, male psychology has changed somewhat in Western countries, and the role of the breadwinner has ceased to be the only one, a young American who is left without work can go to redistribute household duties and sit with children, temporarily providing his wife with making money.

In Russia, a market economy is also revolutionizing the social division of labor, forcing people to change jobs and relearn. However, it is difficult for a conservative consciousness to adapt to this, especially if the changes, as was the case in the 1990s, are of a crisis nature. Together with the usual work and status, many men lose their self-esteem and self-confidence, and this, in turn, negatively affects their family life.

Negatively affects paternity and wild capitalism.

An employer does not need an employee burdened with too much obligations outside the office.
Sociologists note that a father with many children, like a woman, is much more difficult to get a decent job than a childless or one-child. Large fathers have neither legal nor even moral protection.

A difficult test for fathers is divorce. Divorce rates in Russia are higher than in Europe, and only a third of divorced fathers surveyed by sociologists said they see their children quite often and can to some extent engage in their upbringing. Wives talk about the absence of any kind of relationship between a divorced father and a child twice as often (this statistic looks about the same in France). This is explained not only and not so much by the unwillingness of the fathers as by the mood of the divorced wives: only 17% of them said that they would like more frequent contacts of the father with the children, and 41% would prefer that there were no such contacts at all. Some divorced fathers are forced to defend their rights to the child in court, and, as a rule, unsuccessfully, because conservative judges usually resolve these disputes in favor of mothers.

Summing up some results, we can, on the basis of modern research, highlight the main features of paternity that are characteristic of the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

1. A certain crisis of paternity, about which much is written in modern scientific and popular literature, as well as the crisis of masculinity in general, is associated with the appearance of profound regular changes in gender relations in society. Traditional normative ideas about “correct” paternal behavior implied, first of all, the “power vertical” in society and in the family. The social distance between father and children was maintained with the help of special rituals, rules of avoidance, transfer of children to foster families, etc. However, this did not exclude the variety of real fatherly practices, due to the individual characteristics of the couple and its social environment.

2. The socio-pedagogical functions of the fathers (personification of authority, breadwinner, strict teacher, role model and direct mentor of sons in social and labor activities) changed along with the historical conditions of life and the structure of the family. In modern times, under the influence of accelerating the pace of social renewal and the creation of many extra-family educational institutions, the father's power functions are gradually weakening, and father-child relations are individualized and psychologized. The father is becoming more and more in the family not a symbolic figure, which must be given respect, but a real person with his own weaknesses and characteristics. The father has less rights and more responsibilities. The images of fathers in fiction are also changing.

3. The weakening of authoritarian fatherhood was a world-historical process not only in Western Europe, but, with some chronological lag, in Russia. The contrast between the official normative concepts of authoritarian, imperious fatherhood and the real paternal practices of the most educated estates at one time generated many conflicts reflected in Russian culture, especially in literature. The idea of ​​the weakness and bankruptcy of the “Russian fathers” is reflected, in particular, in the famous novel “Fathers and Sons”. In general, there are very few “moralizing” examples of effective and happy fatherhood in Russian classical literature of the 19th century.

4. Post-industrial society continued this line of development. The democratization of society, the involvement of women in extra-family work, the recognition of the rights of the child, etc. made authoritarian fatherhood morally and psychologically unacceptable. The father has ceased to be the sole breadwinner of the family, but they expect him to spend more time with the children, to be caring and gentle. Many “new men” accept this requirement, but it is poorly compatible with socio-economic realities, because the norms of keeping and raising children now require more and more costs. In addition, the number of bachelors is growing in society, and humanity as a whole has markedly reduced the need for children.

5. All these problems exist in Russia. The Soviet government not only did not eliminate the contradiction between the idealization of authoritarian power and the weakness of real fatherhood inherited from the pre-revolutionary past, but also aggravated it. This contradiction exists today. Judging by the mass polls, fatherhood in Russia is still associated with material security, and gender equality is understood formally. A conservative consciousness, oriented toward a return to the "Domostroi", and an aggressive masculine ideology only exacerbate the socio-psychological difficulties of men and women. No wonder that in the famous Russian films of recent years (“The Return” by Andrei Zvyagintsev and “Father and Son” by Alexander Sokurov), the motive of fatherlessness sounds so piercing and tragic ...
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