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(juridical), individuals who have not reached majority. The period of childhood is divided into the following age groups: infancy (up to the age of one year), nursery age (from one to three years), preschool (from three to seven), early school (from seven to 12), middle school (from 12 to 14), and senior school age (from 14 to 17). In civil and family law the term “children” is also used to mean individuals who have reached the legally established age of majority. For example, children are the heirs of their parents regardless of age.

In the USSR underage children enjoy broad legal protection. Soviet legislation on marriage and the family defines as its goal the utmost protection of the interests of the mother and children and the providing of a happy childhood for the child. The extent of rights accorded to children by legislation depends upon the child’s age. According to law full transactional capacity as a citizen is attained upon reaching majority at the age of 18. Underage children either have no transactional capacity at all (up to the age of 15) or have a limited transactional capacity (from 15 to 18 years). The rights of 15-to 18-year-olds may be realized by establishing a curatorship, or a tutorship in the case of individuals under the age of 15. Parents are the legal representatives of their minor children; that is, they exercise their children’s rights and obligations without any sort of special power of attorney. Some personal rights of minors can only be exercised by the child himself—for example, the adoption of a child over the age often is carried out, as a rule, with his agreement, in the same way as he takes on a new surname and patronymic or changes his name upon adoption.

While their parents are living, children (both minors and those who have reached majority) have no rights to the property of their parents. They may acquire such rights after the death of the parents by way of inheritance. However, seeking to protect the rights and interests of children, Soviet law establishes that, even if there is a will, minors and children over 18 who are unable to work cannot be deprived of their inheritance and receive a so-called compulsory share (Civil Code of the RSFSR, art. 535).

Minors have the right to material support from their parents or adopted parents. Children over 18 also have the right to such support but only in the case of neediness or physical disability. In some Union republics (RSFSR, for instance), the de facto guardians are obliged to materially support their wards, both minors and those over 18. In turn, children and wards are obliged to support their parents, adopted parents, and de facto guardians (the last only in some Union republics). Legislation on marriage and the family likewise establishes the conditions of the material support of minors by other relatives (grandfather, grandmother, brothers, sisters) or relatives by marriage (stepfather, stepmother).

When paternity is established, either voluntarily or through the courts, the children acquire the same rights and obligations as children born of a registered marriage. Adopted children have the same rights, and obligations as children born out of wedlock. Soviet legislation states that parents and parent surrogates (adopted parents, tutors, curators) are obliged to provide the proper upbringing for their children. Those who do not fulfill these obligations are subject to compulsory measures stipulated by law (deprivation of parental rights, removal from the position of tutor or curator). There are various measures of an organizational and material nature that ensure proper upbringing for children, such as the creation of a broad network of children’s establishments and a system of grants to mothers with many children or mothers without spouses.

In all socialist countries laws likewise establish the equal rights of all children, regardless of nationality, race, place of birth, property status, or religious affiliation; children are not distinguished in terms of their legal position according to whether they are born in or out of wedlock; the court is permitted to establish the descent of children from given parents.

In prerevolutionary Russia the legal position of children born out of wedlock was different from that of children born of a registered marriage. Children born out of wedlock were called illegitimate; after 1902, they were called out-of-wedlock children. They had no rights in relation to their father, carried the mother’s surname, and had limited inheritance rights in relation to her. The rights of children also depended upon their religious affiliation and upon their social group; that is, the social inequalities of children were emphasized in every way possible.

Legislation of contemporary capitalist countries likewise strengthens the inequality of children in society (for example, different rights for the children of Negroes and whites in the USA) and the inequality of children’s rights in family relations (such as the limitation of rights of children born out of wedlock).


Vorozheikin, E. M. Pravovye osnovy braka i sem’i. Moscow, 1969.
Grazhdanskoe i torgovoe pravo kapitalisticheskikh gosudarstv. Moscow, 1966.


What does it mean when you dream about children?

Dreaming of children may symbolize the inner emotional needs of the dreamer. Returning to a less complicated state and way of life may be indicated. Dreaming of children frequently symbolizes a longing for the past, for another chance to satisfy repressed desires and unfulfilled hopes. Therapists engaged in trauma work have reported that parents who grieve the loss of a child will dream of that child until they have accepted their loss.


See also Youth.
Pan, Peter
determined always to remain a little boy. [Br. Lit.: J.M. Barrie Peter Pan]
Pancras, St.
boy saint, patron of young boys. [Christian Hagiog.: Brewer Dictionary, 799]
olive branches
humorous appellation for children. [O.T.: Psalms 128:3]
snaps, snails, and puppy-dogs’ tails
“what little boys are made of.” [Nurs. Rhyme: Mother Goose, 108]
sugar and spice
“what little girls are made of.” [Nurs. Rhyme: Mother Goose, 108]
References in classic literature ?
But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again.
"We don't know," answered the children; "he has gone away."
Half-dead with fright, and trembling in every limb, the poor children lay down to sleep on a heap of straw in the corner of the hut; but they dared not close their eyes, and scarcely ventured to breathe.
And the witch returned to see how the children were getting on; and she crept up to the window, and whispered:
So she took up the frock, and was soon as busily at work again with her needle as the two children with their snow-image.
"My little girl and boy deserve such playmates, if mortal children ever did!" said the mother to herself; and then she smiled again at her own motherly pride.
Do you think there are not women who, as it is their trade and they get their bread by it, value themselves upon their being as careful of children as their own mothers can be, and understand it rather better?
She perceived the disorder I was in, but did not know the meaning of it; so she ran on in her wild talk upon the weakness of my supposing that children were murdered because they were not all nursed by the mother, and to persuade me that the children she disposed of were as well used as if the mothers had the nursing of them themselves.
The children used to pelt her with mud; so she begged to be taken on as assistant cowherd, but the cowherd would not have her.
Only the children had altered--for then they were all on my side and had learned to love Marie.
That I'm wasting my life, never having a moment's peace, either with child, or nursing a child, forever irritable, peevish, wretched myself and worrying others, repulsive to my husband, while the children are growing up unhappy, badly educated, and penniless.
He watched Eva feverishly day by day, as might be told by the frequency with which he repeated over that "the child was quite well"--that there wasn't anything in that cough,--it was only some little stomach affection, such as children often had.

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