Growing Up Russian-American

Growing up Russian-American

I wanted to try something new and share a little of what it was like growing up Russian in America. You might resonate with the few points, or you might see them for the first time. Either way, enjoy!


For as long as I can remember, my name was always butchered. Especially during roll call in school. By the time I was in third grade, I quickly raised my hand and yelled, “here!” before the teacher could even try to pronounce my name. 

Aside from the confusing last names, most Slavic kids have patronymic middle names. Meaning, it derived from our dads. So, if your dad’s name is Peter, then your middle name is Petrovna (feminine) or Petrovich (masculine). Not Marie, Ann, or James. 


My full name is Tatyana Sergeyevna Myasnyankina (maiden), Yaremkiv (married) – it really is a mouthful.


It’s ubiquitous to have a big family. Most have four or more kids. 

The oldest kids usually get the most of it. Meaning – by the time you turn 12, you should know how to cook for the family, host a party, babysit your siblings AND cousins, translate for your parents, and possibly fill out some documents that require proper grammar. You might even get punishing rights for the younger ones.

Oh, and if you’re a guy, best bet you’re going to work with dad after school. 

House Rules

Russian-Americans have similar unspoken house rules. For instance, we don’t wear shoes in the house. That’s what socks and slippers are for. I remember bringing an American friend over who walked right in with her boots on. Big no-no because mom most likely just mopped the floors. 

When going to someone’s house, it’s encouraged to bring a gift or two. You can never go wrong with fruit or candy, just something to say thanks to the host. 

Always offer your guests food. Even if they just ate. If not a full meal, then tea or coffee and dessert. And sunflower seeds, or semechki.


In MOST cases, dating is terrible, but it’s somewhat expected for people to get married young. Basically, court quickly and get married. Girls are usually likely to get married before they turn twenty, and once that happens, they have kids. Right away. Oh, and after your first kid, have another. 

If you want to get married, MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT RELATED.

Another thing: learn how to make borscht.

These are just a few things I experienced growing up as a Russian-American. I’d love to hear about how you grew up and what stood out to you, too, no matter what your background is! There’s a lot of other hilarious aspects that I didn’t mention (check out @slavicpeeps or @slavicyouthmemes on Instagram or Russia Beyond) or leave your comments/questions below!

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