How can women manage family work



Children and the problems associated with their upbringing occupy a central place in the lives of Russian women. It is no coincidence that Russian women place their love for children at the bottom of the pyramid of qualities that they believe the ideal woman should have. No less important is the love of children as an indispensable characteristic of the ideal man who takes on the role of a constant companion at their side. In other words: for Russian women, children are not only an indispensable part of the life of women themselves, but also a necessary "link" in the relationship between men and women in the family as a whole.

As the research has shown, good child-rearing is one of the life plans of the overwhelming majority of Russian women (96.4%). The formal self-assessment of the women with regard to the goals achieved in this regard is not that high: only 28.9% of the Russian women surveyed can say with certainty that they raised their children well.

This looks particularly vivid against the background of the successes of women in the "mixed" areas of life. For example, 40% of them think they have had a happy family and 50.1% think they have found true love.

However, the low level of assessments of their success is more likely to be linked to the fact that they are actually not satisfied with what they have achieved in child-rearing, as well as the fact that the process of parenting itself is not perceived by them as something narrowly limited . On the contrary, the traditions and socio-economic conditions of intergenerational relationships in Russian society mean that children often remain financially and socially dependent on their parents, even as adults. Accordingly, they continue to be perceived by parents as objects of upbringing.

In this sense, the low proportion of women who think that they could not raise their children well does not mean that they explain their failure as parents, but rather reflects the special relationship of Russian women to the problem of upbringing and to intra-family relationships between representatives of the various

generations in Russian society. The data of the study document the strong conviction of the women that they will be able to realize their goals in life with regard to the upbringing of children: 60.6% believe that they have not been successful so far, but in Could be the future, and only 5.8% think that they are hardly able to do so.

In any case, the majority of Russian women cannot imagine their life without children. How many children do you want and to what extent is it possible for you to fulfill this wish in real life?

As the study shows, three quarters of Russian women adhere to the traditional family model, considering it to be the ideal option (provided that material circumstances allow this) to have no fewer than two children. The majority of them (54.7%) would be satisfied with two children, and one in five Russian women (21%) would be willing to have three or more children, if living conditions permit. The one-child model appears to be ideal only for 13.5% of women (see Figure 9).

Graph 9: Ideal number of children who want Russian women (in percent)

However, the real life strategy of Russian women, as it is closely linked to the socio-economic situation in the country today, is far from the ideal schemes of their family stereotypes. The material difficulties from which the majority of Russian families suffer significantly lowers the bar on women's goals with regard to childbirth and upbringing, and a significant proportion of women are forced to reduce the number of children they want in favor of the One -Child model. Thus, only two out of three women put the ideal family model into practice, 45.8% plan to have two children (while 54.7% actually want this). Three or more plan only 6.3% (with 21% who wish this).

The women are primarily forced by material difficulties to renounce their "birth rights". From a social perspective, however, they also command them

Another tendency is halted: as the income level rises, women orientate themselves more towards raising only one child.

So if we compare the Russian women’s desire for children with their actual behavior in this area, we see the tendency towards one decreasing number of children with increasing income confirmed (see Table 10).

Table 10: Existing children among women with different income levels (in percent)

Number and age of children


With little

With through

With high

Don't have children





Have minors
- one
- two or more





Have minor and adult children





Have grown children





When analyzing the data from Table 10, it is noticeable that the gap between rich and poor is more than double, this being the case for the number of childless women as well as for women with two or more children.

This is probably connected with the fact that in practice women are forced to correct their ideas and plans not only because of their material circumstances, but also because of how the number of children affects their social status and that of families as a whole. First, the burden of underage children significantly lowers the level of per capita income and is able to place even relatively wealthy families in the category of the underprivileged. Second, women with two children are less mobile, primarily in economic and professional terms. Even if the time invested in caring for and raising children is reduced to a reasonable minimum, the women themselves are deprived of many opportunities. While only 21.3% of the childless women who strive for a good education are of the opinion that they will not be able to do this, 43.2% of the women with two underage children do. Conversely, 50.5% of childless women and only 12.1% of women with two children are convinced of their possibilities in this area. We have the same situation when assessing the possibilities of finding interesting work.

The life strategies of Russian women with regard to the birth of children are not only influenced by subcultural differences in the various social classes and groups in Russian society. The stress caused by children themselves also determines the material and social situation of women and the assessment of their own professional prospects to a considerable extent.

As the self-assessments show, the increasing difficulties associated with raising children are a matter of great concern for women. Because among all other activities (job search, training, private life, housekeeping, etc.)

The position of "giving birth and raising children" was most frequently cited by Russian women as an area in which it has become more difficult for them to realize their plans over the past decade (85.8%). Conversely, only 2.8% of the women surveyed stated that it had become easier to bear and raise children in the last ten years (another 11.4% believe that there has been no change in this area). Even among the financially best off Russian women, the majority (79.9%) think it has become more difficult to have and raise children. As far as the poorest sections of the population are concerned, the situation has deteriorated across the board, with 94.2% of women representing this group saying that it has become more difficult to raise children.

As was to be expected, the education of the children is primarily the greatest difficulty for the representatives of the poorest strata of the population (see graph 10). The implementation of the wishes that women have with regard to the education of their children is closely linked to their own successes in this area.

Graph 10:Proportion of those who fear a lack of opportunities to get their children or themselves the desired education, among women with different income levels (in percent)

The inability to provide their children or themselves with an education therefore worries 29.1% of Russian women with intermediate technical training, but only 18.8% of those with higher education. All in all, the opportunities to get a good education, which the majority of women primarily perceive through the prism of the education of their children, are viewed extremely critically by Russian women today. Only 20.4% think it has become easier to get the education they want than it was ten years ago, while the majority (64.8%) believe it has become more difficult.

Another task that, together with education, makes up the quintessential problem of raising children, is to keep children away from drugs. Let us underline again that today practically every third Russian woman is afraid, more than anything else in life, that her child could become addicted to drugs. This concern is about equally widespread among women of different social groups and classes. It frightens both poor and rich Russian women as well as representatives of various professional

groups alike, from unskilled workers to specialists with university education. In other words, from the point of view of Russian women, neither the material livelihood nor the high social status of the family can protect the children from the drug problem.


For the overwhelming majority of Russian women, an intact family is the most important requirement for a happy life. 40% of our fellow citizens have already started such a family. But what does a family have to look like for a woman to see her family life as happy?

A happy family means, above all, a family based on love. 87.3% of women who think their family is happy believed that they have already found their true love. And it is no coincidence that 75.8% of women in this group are convinced that a love marriage is stronger than a marriage of convenience, while only half of those who no longer hope to have a happy family believe this.

The second compulsory part of a happy family is children. The number of children is less important than the very existence of a child. 46.2% of all happy families have a minor child, 19.4% two and 2% three or more.

The third requirement of a family that can be called happy is formally registered marriage. Among women who are married, 69% think their family is happy. Of the women who lived together without a marriage license, 40.2% could say this about their family, and the existence of a steady partner is not regarded by the women as a family at all. Only 5.3% of women in this group said they had a happy family. Almost 80% of them still hoped for this in the future. The same hope was shared by almost 40% of women who lived with a partner without a marriage license. The "marriage without a marriage certificate" was particularly popular in the age groups from 21 to 40 years (9-11%), a steady partner for women between the ages of 17 and 25, with 10 in the group of women between 17 and 20 years % of Russian women had one.

As for the other characteristics of a typical happy family, the picture is far from romantic. If the ideal man for women is primarily one who is able to guarantee protection from the outside world, then a happy family is one in which the woman is married (in Russian, literally: "behind her husband" ), less in the sense that it is "behind a stone wall", but behind a strong back, and where the man earns the main part of the family's material livelihood. In any case, 56.5% of the women who stated that they had managed to start a happy family were mainly prosperous from their husbands' income (see Table 11).

Let us add that in happy families, men are more likely than women to bring in additional income if the family does not have enough money. And although this is required in three quarters of these families, in 40.1% of the cases the men and only in 16% of the women provide an additional income (in 14.6% of the cases both do this). In all other families, the women themselves bear a significantly greater burden in the area of ​​additional income.

Table 11: Who makes the main contribution to the family budget (in percent)?

Main contribution to the family budget

Assessment of her family

Already have a happy family

Do not have any yet, but believe this is possible

Hardly think this is possible

Is not a goal in life

My own





That of the husband





The one
other family
members of the woman





The one
other family
member of the man





Both perform
one same





It is very important to point out that although in happy families the man is the main breadwinner, the woman has an extremely active part in using the money. In 91% of the cases, she either decides independently how to use the money or does this together with her husband. The most widespread in these families with 40% is the model in which all household money is managed together and all expenses are planned together.

In general, that turned out to be Feeling of equal rights in the family as the most important prerequisite for the woman to consider her family life to be happy. It was more important for women to have the same rights as their husbands than to have more rights and to play the main role in the family. 70.2% of women from happy families felt that they had the same rights as their husbands and only 9.6% that they had more rights (15.8% said that men had more rights, and the rest could not answer this question).

In happy families, the main causes of conflict were material difficulties, problems in the relationship with parents and insufficient attention on the part of the man to the family; in the unhappy it was material difficulties, drunkenness and drug addiction, incompatible characters, infidelity and jealousy. According to the data in Table 12, these reasons usually led to divorce.

Another important element of happy family life were for women normal living conditions. Over 60% of women from happy families (42.5% in the total sample) lived in their own apartments. Among the women who lived in dormitories and company apartments, the proportion of those who no longer believe in having a happy family was significantly higher than the average.

Table 12: Women's opinion on what leads to conflicts in the family (in percent)

Most common causes of conflict within the family



People living together without a marriage license

Unmarried with a steady partnerv

Disagreements on questions of upbringing and education of children





Character incompatibilities





Material difficulties





Problems in relationships with the man's parents or the man with his parents





The man devotes little time to the family





Infidelity, jealousy





Disagreements about necessary expenses





Problems in sexual relationship with the man





Drunkenness, drug addiction





Disagreements on topics of conversation





Differences in the intellectual and cultural level of the spouses





Disagreement about the distribution of family responsibilities





Disagreements regarding leisure activities





One of the partners is upset that the other has achieved more in his life (e.g. the woman earns significantly more than the man)





What has been said above also corresponds to the peculiarity characteristic of a family considered to be happy, namely the feeling of living "no worse than others". It is no coincidence that among all women who thought they lived “no worse than others”, almost two thirds were women from happy families.This was related not only, and not so much, to their earnings (the proportion of disadvantaged and poor women among those who thought their families were happy was 35.2% out of 41.7% in the total sample) but more to theirs Living conditions and their general psychological well-being that allowed them to feel better protected and more confident in life.

Two other points of view must be noted that will help to understand the place of the family in the life of Russian women. These are their ideas about

what marriage is necessary for and its relationship to extramarital sexual relations. The Main function of marriage Russian women see it as ensuring that children are raised in the best possible way (28.8%). Another 27.3% say that the woman feels more secure in it, and 9.5% that she is a material support for the family. Such a low proportion of those who believe that marriage is a material support for the family is not surprising when looking at data on the contribution of women to the real family budget: in the majority of cases, the man's earnings alone can do in no way satisfy the needs of the family. Women who have happy families are much more likely than others to say that formal marriage gives women security and offers favorable conditions for a successful child-rearing process.

What extramarital relationships As far as is concerned, only 9.8% of Russian women have a positive attitude towards this because they believe that it is not possible to limit one's sex life to one partner. 57% think that such relationships are not good in principle, but anything is possible in life. And a third (33.1%) of Russian women see this as betraying their spouse, which is in principle unacceptable. The proportion of women who see betrayal in extramarital relationships is almost 40% of those who have already started a happy family, while only 8.2% would tolerate such a thing.

The family is a special, very meaningful and emotionally shaped type of partnership, the aim of which is the upbringing of children. It can be assumed that because of the family's self-worth, each of the partners involved should be prepared to make sacrifices in their own interest. And if the partnership is realized in the form of a family, concrete differences of opinion, including those that are connected with the use of household money, will not harm either the woman or the family, but the woman feels relatively safe and protected. Moreover, even if the man is unable to guarantee a comfortable standard of living for the family but makes a sincere effort (working, seeking extra income, not drinking), the woman is usually satisfied with her family life.

© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | June 2003