Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the blog posts are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Are you having a boy or a girl?

As a Hmong woman, this incident was so normal that I didn’t think to share it at all but when I shared it with my non-Hmong friends it completely shocked them. Since we have many non-Hmong readers I thought I would share this very ordinary encounter.

I was at my nephew’s birthday party when my sister’s mother-in-law asked me whether I was having a boy or a girl. I told her we’ll find out in a few weeks. I already have two daughters so she told me that if this baby wasn’t a boy, there are Hmong herbs I can take to guarantee a boy the next time around. I told her this was going to be the last baby, whether it’s a boy or a girl. She said, “If you don’t have a boy your husband will go marry a second wife”. Statements like these don’t personally bother me so I simply said, “That’s fine” and ended the conversation.

My non-Hmong friends asked me if it was even possible for a Hmong man to marry a second wife. Yes, it is.

Rather than educate the mother-in-law on the scientific details of how the sex of the baby is determined or argue with her (at my nephew’s 6 year birthday party) I chose to ignore her statement and show her that the possibility of having another baby girl or my husband marrying a second wife does not intimidate me. To women who may not be so confident, it’s a reason for them to keep having babies until they have a boy or to be open to the idea of their husband marrying a second wife.

Hmong women can be the harshest critics of Hmong women. This is just the way we were brought up. I try to catch my sisters, my friends, and myself when I resort to these types of statements but it takes an enormous amount of awareness to catch these statements-they’re so ingrained in us. If we tried a little harder to avoid degrading statements that put down our self-worth, we can all take a step closer to empowering ourselves and our fellow Hmong sisters.  

Mai Vang


  1. Furthermore, as Hmong women, we put that stress onto ourselves. Even though I have no fear that my husband would leave because I couldn't bear him a son; I was relieved when I learned that our first child would be a boy. I felt a weight lifted off of me. I know several very intelligent and capable women who have been in the mindset of trying until they have a son as well. I think in the back of our minds, we still value our own success as a wife and mother based somewhat on this concept.


  2. I had something similar happen to me. I have three girls and my mother-in-law told me that I should keep trying until we have boy, so he can carry on the family last name. That I should look into getting those herbs so I can have a boy. I personally don't believe in that but that's just my opinion. As long as we are blessed with a healthy baby, that's all that matters to me. Of course, my husband wants a boy and I do too but for me it's about "Am I able to support my family?" I'm not going to keep on trying until I have a boy and not being able to provide for my family.