The Interracial Series: Growing up in an Interracial Family
I grew up in an interracial family. My parents are both Hmong and divorced, but I don't have much memories with my biological father. My mom remarried when I was around six years old. I don't remember much about my father because once he got remarried, he started life with his new family. Once my mom got full custody, we haven't seen or heard much of him since.
My stepdad is Caucasian. When I was a kid, I knew how to speak Hmong fluently but when we moved to be with my stepdad's family, I lost the lanuage. I could understand minor things people said, but couldn't translate it back.
I think because of the divorce, I couldn't see myself marrying within my race even though my mom did want me to meet a Hmong man. She's still traditional when it comes to the culture and customs.
Growing up with a Caucasian dad was hard at first. There was a lot of misunderstandings, but also a lot of joy growing up with two different cultures. My grandma (from my stepdad's side) did her best to learn about our culture and to be respectful of it and my Dad learned some Hmong along the way as well. We didn't always eat Hmong food or hang around Hmong people. I did feel different not having a Hmong Dad because I didn't grow up fishing or camping or hunting. There's parts of me that felt like an outcast as a teen. There are things I don't understand about our culture because I only know what I'm told or what I hear from family and friends.
When I got married, I was 21. We first met at a community college and dated a few months after meeting. We have been married for four years now. He's African-American. My family didn't approve of us at first because of me. I had a hard time letting my family in on my dating life, and felt judged dating outside my race and especially with a black guy for that matter.
My family is definitely more understanding now of our relationship, having gotten to know him and see how he was raised. It took time to get past the doubts and pain but we got through it somehow.
We didn't have a traditional wedding or Hmong wedding. We just had a small ceremony with family. My parents did want a dowry.
With my in-laws, they are very sweet, but they do come from different backgrounds so it took time for me to learn my husband's culture. Hearing stories of how he grew up made me realize that it was hard to relate to some things because we grew up differently. He grew up not knowing much of his family's side, but I grew up knowing my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. When we go to events, we both feel like a fish out of the water, but we just learn as we go. His family had to overcome a lot because of their color, and even though I'm a minority too, there's still a lot of stereotypes.
My husband participates in events. We have two kids right now, and they bring a lot of joy to our family. I don't think they're treated any differently. My oldest daughter knows she doesn't look just like me, but like her dad as well. She doesn't speak Hmong, but she knows phrases. I do hope she'll learn someday as I can't really teach her right now as I'm not fluent myself either.
I love looking at interracial families, and I like learning about other people's backgrounds. Being married into another culture is hard though because you have to learn to compromise and also how to raise your kids to know both sides of their culture, but it can be beautiful.