Happy Childhood Makes a Happy Person.

Our childhood is our life coaching.

Everything begins in childhood. Like our physical body is programmed in a DNA molecule within a nucleus of a tiny cell, so our attitude to life is programmed in our childhood. Our childhood is our life coaching.

May be this opinion is primitive and very subjective. It is based only on my personal observations. If you see a sarcastic person with bitterness inside, most likely you are going to find out that he was under-cared or even ignored by his parents when a child. Lack of love in one’s childhood will echo in his adulthood.

Not necessarily it will echo negatively. Sometimes such a person acquires the necessity to be caring for his family exactly because he lacked the same. But mostly the person will grow up according a template he got while being built as a character.

Happy childhood makes a happy child.
Happy childhood makes a happy child.

I was tremendously lucky to have the best mother in the world. She was a single parent and raised me all by herself. She was a surgeon and she worked long hours. Being a doctor (or an engineer, or a teacher) in a Soviet Union was not the same as in America, or any other capitalistic country. In Soviet Union it meant “lot of respect", but very little money. To raise me while being a single parent, my mother had to work a lot.

It was not customary to have baby-sitters, so I slept in the hospital on a couch when she worked night shifts; I sat in a last row when she was lecturing in college. I was with her at their parties (many doctors and nurses were bringing their kids with them, because if one didn’t have Grandmothers to watch the kids, there was no other choice). Those parties were something to remember- always full of laughter, humor and warm atmosphere. Every summer my mother was taking me travelling, usually it was to the Black Sea resorts. She made a great impact on me and she was the same excellent Grandmother for my son. Here you can read my son’s essay about his Grandma.

My mother and myself, summer of 1968.
My mother and myself, summer of 1968.

Jewish soul always predominates

My mother is Jewish. My father is Russian. My mother refused to marry my Dad as she didn’t want to ruin his career. He was a promising young soviet officer with a bright future. Marrying a Jewish girl who in addition was not a member of the Communist Party was equivalent of a total career crush. My mother loved him and that's why she didn't want to cause him troubles. Frankly speaking I am happy of such. I can’t imagine being raised by a politically correct parent. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Dad and respect him very much, though I grew up without him and got to know him only when I was an adult person.

I took after my Dad in my looks but I have a Jewish soul. I was surrounded by Jewish members of the family, I grew to be proud of my identity. It was not so easy in Soviet reality.

Sometimes I was trashed by kids only for being Jewish. As a rule my offenders were from low uneducated families, neglected by their alcoholic parents. Their parents didn’t have time to raise their kids properly, but for sure they were talking not nice about Jews at home, otherwise where those kids would take it? Everything begins in childhood; envy and hatred are no exception.

The feeling of being proud of my identity didn't come easily.

Though Kazakhstan was not so evidently Anti-Semitic, as some parts of Russia, but still, I had a feeling of a stigma on me being Jewish. It was subconsciously implanted into people’s brains. I remember that I wanted to be a Kazakh, because Kazakh people lived in Kazakhstan and it was their land, their heritage. Russians had Russia, etc. But the Jews were chased from everywhere and by everyone. We didn't know much about Israel and what little we knew was not good. Soviet propaganda didn't leave us choices.

When I was little, I felt that it was better not to advertize that I was Jewish. It is different now, but those days it was almost a shame to be Jewish. Things changed and now it is even fashionable, or at least acceptable to be Jewish.

Look at all those celebrities who try to dig out their Jewish roots. Maybe it is happening because of an amazing progress Israel made as a country.

However, when I was growing it was not easy to be a Jew. I am very grateful to my family and to my mother especially that they taught me how to be proud of your identity even when people around try to offend and insult you just because.

I was raised a happy child and got really right life coaching.

Though I grew up to be proud of my Jewish identity, it was not connected with Judaism at all. Soviet Union was and atheist country and it was implanted into fresh brains from a kindergarten. There was no talking about God or Judaism in my Jewish family, though it seemed that we always knew the dates of Passover (which was called Jewish Pascha) or of a Jewish New Year. This information was passed from one Jewish family to another almost secretly, as a word of mouth, from some old Jews in the area.

Only after we left the Soviet Union and got to have more choices, I started learning the things. I never became religious in a common sense, but it feels that I always was a believer. I have my God inside me and for me it is called conscience that would not allow me to do wrong things or to make bad choices. This is also something I got from my Jewish family in my childhood.

Symbols of Youth organizations of Soviet Union (pins)

Oktiabryata (8-10 years)
Oktiabryata (8-10 years)
Pioneers (10-14 years)
Pioneers (10-14 years)
Komsomol (14-28 years)
Komsomol (14-28 years)

First lesson of hypocrisy.

As every child in the Soviet Union, I was raised as an atheist from “young nails”. Kindergarten, pre-school, elementary school, secondary school and high school ( University) had an agenda of implanting in students’ brains socialistic propaganda.

Godless society we were. Vladimir Lenin was our leader!

My family was not religious, but neither it was atheistic. We never talked politics in our family, but later I understood that we were in silent opposition.

I got in trouble first time in a kindergarten. A teacher read to us, 5 year olds, a book of stories about Lenin. He was called “Grandpa Lenin” for those little youngsters, who were brainwashed to love him. Then a teacher was asking questions to check our comprehension.

I don’t know, what I was thinking about and very likely that I just missed the whole idea of the reading. Probably I was not listening at all. At home my mother read me only fairy tales and stories about animals.

In short, when a teacher asked me, “Vera, whom do you love the most?” and the answer, apparently, should had been “I love Grandpa Lenin”, my pink childish mouth betrayed, “I love Mommy the most”. “NO”, yelled the teacher, ”We all love Grandpa Lenin, because thanks to him we have the happiest life in the whole world! VERA! SAY, THAT YOU LOVE GRANDPA LENIN!”.

"I love Grandpa Lenin", pronounced my little mouth. My brain was blank.

So simple….. Just answer what they expect, not what you really think, and you avoid being in trouble.

Hypocrisy lasted through all years of socialistic school. Image of Vladimir Lenin was everywhere. 

My childhood was perfect thanks to my mother.

I was raised by a socialistic school in a socialistic country. Someone would think that since it was in a socialistic country, it was like growing up in a jail. We were not hungry, we had roof above our heads, we had books and entertainments, but we were not free in our moves and speeches, we didn't know else.

The comparison might be right in a global meaning. But look at me. I was a happy child, as well as millions of others of my age. I was free inside, inventive in my activities, merry and good hearted.

It was thanks to my mother and to my family, who furnished a happy childhood for me, who bathed me in their love and attention, who taught me dignity, respect and gratefulness by their lives.

One does not need money or expensive gadgets to have a happy childhood.

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Comments 27 comments

Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 6 years ago from HubPages, FB

Great Hub ReuVera. You should write the book.

Some part remained me my life.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

This is a fascinating account of your childhood. I appreciate getting to know what life was like growing up in a country that made being Jewish difficult. My grandmother fled Russia at the age of 17. She learned to read and write in secret. A rabbi that her parents paid taught her and her sisters. I remember her telling me how frightened she always was not only of getting caught, but of the rabbi!

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Vladimir, thank you. If I write a book, it will be a bestseller. LOL.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi, BP, I am always glad to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your grandma story. My family was pretty much assimilated and we didn't follow any traditions (though my mother knows Yiddish, as she remembers it from the time when her grandparents were alive), I was never exposed to real Jewish knowledge until we moved to Israel. I understand that "cover-up" assimilation was a way of protection, especially that Soviet Jews did not have any possibility to keep their ways and traditions. But inside, in our inner world the Jewish identity was kept in in our hearts and spirit.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks

ReuVera, I enjoyed reading about your childhood and your mother. Sometimes not having access to child care services is the very best thing! It's great that your mother was able to take you everywhere with her and that you could be present at adult events and learn about her life and work firsthand.

sjk6101983 profile image

sjk6101983 6 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

Hi again! Wow, this is...I just don't have any words for this. This really (once again) changes my views on life so thank you. I always wondered what you meant by "If I write a book, it will be a best seller" - now I know.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Aya, thank you for reading and commenting. You are right, it is very beneficiary for a child to watch parents as role models, given that parents are role models.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Sarah, LOL. I have more stories to share, as anyone does. Every person has experience that can teach others. Thanks for visiting.

kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago

ReuVera, what a beautiful story about growing up Jewish in Russia - and by a single parent who was a physician and made such a difficult choice about your father! I just came from another hub where I learned about S Africa. I love this hubpage community. Thanks for telling your story.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, Kim. I appreciate your comment very much. You are right about HP, so much to learn here.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Thanks for share you childhood experience. I believe it can't forgotten from your life. Mom has a big role in our life. She always give us the best, start from protection until give us great education. I really enjoy your story. Good to remind again how the old stories give us a lot of memories. I never know that you are Jewish. But I really appreciate all the religion entire the world, include Jewish. Thank you very much.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Prasetio, I know that you contribute a lot to teaching you students to become better people. I appreciate your visit and comments. I write a lot about Jewish holidays and about Israel.

Thanks again for stopping.

sjk6101983 profile image

sjk6101983 6 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

Vera, I should mention that this something was I was talking about with Reuven during Shabbat last week. The topic was "Do you thank those who matter the most? Who are they and why?" I told him the following: "I break mine down to gender - for female, I thank my mom, my grandma, my aunts, any of my friends who are moms, my girls here, Drew's mom, your mama, and my teachers...." It went from there.

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 6 years ago

Hi, I believe that a happy childhood reflects heavily on the parents, my mom, did a great job insuring a happy childhood for me and my siblings. She made sure we stayed innocent as long as possible, not tainted by society, like learning about sex too early and the like. And I am sure now that I look back I believed we had more than we did. Keeping things from us like lack of money, etc. After like you said we didn't need money to be happy. Loved reading you story.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Diane, thank you for visiting. And I agree with you, it looks like our parents did a good job!

mikeq107 5 years ago

Great Hub..Great story and I just became your 400 follower...soon you will bat 3000:0)

I wish I had had a mom like yours!!!

Mike :0)

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, Mike for reading, commenting and becoming my 400 follower!!!!!!!

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

Mike, I just became your 400 follower too!!!!!

mikeq107 5 years ago

:):):):):):):):) Happy New year !!!!!

Lol mike :0)

gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

Excellent hub-you have made some good points.

A M Lehrer profile image

A M Lehrer 5 years ago from Southern United States

Lovely! I admire this first story of your mother as single mom. I find it very inspirational, as I am a single mom also. It is great to be reminded that I CAN DO This, plus I agree that childhood shapes us! Thank you for sharing.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

AM, I am a single mom too. My son is 23 by now and I can say for sure that I did a great job. It was not easy to raise a boy alone, but I had my mother by my side. The only secret of single parenting is to give all attention to your child, to play with him, to travel with him, to make him laugh. To discipline him when needed. Never tell that he is bad! But it is appropriate to tell that his action was bad (when it really was). All what you invest in a child will pay off later!

And, of course, YOU CAN DO IT!

livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

Hi ReuVera: Thank you for sharing your story about your childhood, and how difficult it was to be Jewish in the Soviet Union. My mother is from Croatia and also was forced to say "I love Tito" when she was a child. It sounds silly now, but it was a sick form of indoctrination (especially to force a child to say they love a political leader more than their *parents*!!!)

So, to answer your forum question, my decision to become Jewish was my own personal decision, after a very long, complex process that tied all the loose ends in one knot in a way that's very hard to capture in one comment (maybe I'll write a Hub on it, but it would probably be the most complex, longest thing I've ever written). When I was growing up, it was certainly not cool to be Jewish. Most kids were Catholic or another form of Christianity, but the kids I respected - for being bright, funny, and always good people - were Jewish. They never talked about their religion, but I knew they were Jewish. So even though Jews were "not cool" I was always fascinated by what made them who they were. I was a geeky outcast, very bookish but a good student, and an unconventional background (Armenian and Croatian) so I felt a lot of affinity to them on a number of different levels.

I did not know much about Judaism; our family was not religious so what little I knew about Judaism was shaped by a couple years of a Catholic after-school program. I didn't know then but I know now that Christians' concept of Judaism is frozen in time and about 2,000 years old. I think they deliberately do so to make Judaism look backwards and brutal (and if it were only the "Old Testament"/Tanakh, I wouldn't be Jewish, either) compared to Christianity. At any rate, my concept for a very long time was Jews were very smart, decent people *despite* their religion, which was so backwards that most seemed to have abandoned it. Fortunately, since my parents were not religious and the Catholic indoctrination was limited, I had misconceptions but did not "feel" the anti-Semitism that so many Christians feel instinctively.

I'm not sure when in my adulthood that I met Jews who were still smart and decent people, but also very observant - talking about the Passover seder, Hanukkah, and other things in Hebrew & Yiddish that I didn't understand. I didn't think much of it, but it planted a seed in the back of my head.

Actually, in Israel I had very little contact with Judaism as a religion, thinking again that most Jews were completely secular, except the strange "black hat" haredim. Again, I thought it was these "post-religious" Jews that I respected, but I still didn't understand where they got their system of ethics, which was different from Christians and which I didn't particularly like, the more I learned.

During this whole time I had become disenchanted with Christianity and stopped calling myself a Christian, saying I was either agnostic or atheist. I explored Taoism, Buddhism, Secular Humanism, even Hinduism, but although I respected them, I didn't feel a natural connection and an internal pull to them. So I spent some time forming my own "religion," detailing what I believed and just said, "I am a religion of one." That was about 6-7 years ago.

I think around the time gay marriage was starting to be legalized, I remember reading that the Reform movement supported it, and some spokesperson said that Judaism treasures scientific revelation, and since homosexuality was a normal variant and we shouldn't stop people from being happy, that Reform Judaism supported the rights of gay people to marry. This was mind-blowing to me. I thought Judaism was the originator of all the homophobic stuff in Christianity and Islam! So I started reading more about Judaism. Needless to say, I learned that what I knew about the religion was wrong in so, so many ways. I also learned that my "religion of one" matched up with Judaism in just about every possible way.

To me, that was the important revelation. It felt like a "homecoming" to me and I haven't regretted it ever since. I am part of a religious process that goes back 3,000 years but draws its strength from its ability to evolve and its eagerness to confront and wrestle with things. It has been a very natural fit for me, and the source of a lot of personal inspiration.

Thank you for allowing me to share this! Like I said, this is just a tiny fraction of my many, many thoughts on Judaism and my personal journey.

As for it now being "cool" to be Jewish in Russia: isn't this because it's an easy ticket out of Russia? You can make aliyah and escape Russia, which, I'm sorry, is far more depressing a country than Israel. Or did you mean here in the US? In cosmopolitan circles, I don't know if it is "cool" but it is certainly not a drawback to be Jewish.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

LL, thank you so much for telling your story. I am sure it might make a great hub.

I truly appreciate the way how you came to Judaism. I consider this is the only right way to come to it (or to any views). All by your own contemplation, without being pushed or brainwashed.

I call myself a believer, but not religious. In my life I encountered a number of situations when Christians tried to prove me the points where Judaism "was missing the point", in other words, trying to serve a missionary. No way it can work with me.

Anyway, thanks again for your story. Armenian and Croatian people also suffered a lot. Armenian went through a genocide no less than Jews.

You know, in Soviet Union one of 15 republics was Armenian Republic. I had several Armenian friends.

livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

I agree. I appreciate that Judaism does not proselytize and believes that you can be a righteous person with another belief system or no beliefs whatsoever. That was one of my own beliefs before I converted anyway. (There are many people I know who are atheist who are decent, moral people, and the same among Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc that I know)

I actually don't call myself a believer because in this country that means "evangelical Christian" but I do have my beliefs. I occasionally get the missionary-type Christian but I can explain that I abandoned Christianity a long time before I converted to Judaism. If they press the matter, I can explain why (they are usually not prepared for someone who's done their homework!).

Yes, I've actually been to Armenia! My father is actually from Iran (which had a large ethnic Armenian population) but we visited Armenia about 13 years ago and thought it was beautiful.

ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi, LL. It's been long time since I visited here and I missed this comment of yours... I agree about the meaning of "believer" in this country and I stopped applying this terminology to myself after realizing its meaning. What I mean is that you don't have to be religious, but can have your own connection (relationship) with God.

I have a good friend here who from time to time again and again tries to prove me that we, Jews, "miss the point" regarding Jesus. I in my turn try to prove to him that they, Christians, "miss the point" regarding homosexuality. Finally, in order not to have any intellectual fights and to stay friends, we made an agreement to penalize each other ($5) when we start our topics.... :-) It solved the problem ;-) No one wants to waste 5 bucks..... ;-)

livelonger profile image

livelonger 4 years ago from San Francisco

Haha! I do think there are some arguments for which there can be no resolution whatsoever. Christians and Jews will never agree on certain theological matters, which is not a problem (well, at least for Jews it's never been a problem...). I like the idea of getting a monetary penalty when touchy subjects are brought up - it's a policy I should probably institute in our household. ;)

Take care!

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