Siberiaki - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship. Patrilineal exogamous families ( sem'ie ) with male family heads were the norm for Siberiaki, who have maintained this as an ideal. A family patriarch is fondly termed batiushka, and his lineage is rod. (The Russian word for homeland, rodina, stems from consanguineal kin ties.) Some proud Siberiak families maintain knowledge of their patrikin back to roots beyond Siberia, especially if ancestors came with the Cossacks Ermak, Vladimir Atlasov, or Semen Dezhnev.

Marriage and Domestic Unit. Extended families with many, especially male, children were considered signs of divine favor, key to a family's survival and the well-being of its elders. Marriage took place as early as age 13, especially for girls, but wedding pairs in their 20s were more common. In-marrying women included those from nearby Siberiaki or native groups, although most liaisons were not sanctified by marriage. Arranged marriages, although illegal in the Soviet period, persisted. Patrilocality remains ideal, with the hope that multiple generations can grow within one courtyard or in nearby households. But this goal is elusive for families with city-bound children availing themselves of education, abortion, and divorce.

Inheritance. Land inheritance historically varied according to whether land was governmental, leased, or private. In principle both men and women were able to own and pass on property, including land. Brides brought property into marriage as dowries, whereas grooms' families gave goods and animals. Exchanges declined with collectivization, when family members became workers merely using land and forest resources. Small plots nonetheless stay in the same family. Children inherit bilaterally, but unequally. Boys are preferred over girls, with the youngest son expected to take over the family house.

Socialization. Child discipline is based on the rigors of work and survival and includes corporal punishment. Families vary in encouragement of schoolwork over farm work for children. Youths ideally obey not only parents and grandparents but also an extended network of village elders.

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