The Vauv Series: The Youngest Son




In the Hmong culture, the youngest son typically shoulders the burden of caring for his parents as he starts his life with his wife. In this intimate interview, we get to pick the brain of the youngest son, and his wonderful outlook on balancing his role as a son and a vauv. This vauv definitely is a wise one!

1. What's your current age?


2. How old were you when you got married?


3. What birth order are you? Oldest, middle or youngest son? Only son?

Youngest son

4. How do you think your birth order affects the expectations of your parents of you and your wife?

Being the youngest son, you are usually the last to marry and it was the case in my family. Since I'm the last, I was expected to stay and help out my parents.

5. How did you meet your wife? Were you in love?

I met my wife at a Hmong New Year. We were in love.

6. Did you know your in-laws prior to meeting them? Did you get along with them?

I did not know my in-laws before meeting them. I get along with them.

7. What is your current relationship with your in-laws, including your wife's brothers and sisters?

We have a good relationship.

8. Did your parents know your wife before you got married? Did they get along with her?

My parents didn't know my wife before we got married.

9. Did you ask your in-laws to see if you could marry their daughter? If so, how did that go?

I did not ask my in-laws about marrying their daughter.

10. What are the expectations that you had prior to becoming a vauv? What did your parents teach you about being a vauv?

I was away in the military so I didn't really get to see or really learn about being a vauv from others. My expectations were just to provide for my wife and respect her family. My parents never really taught me anything about being a vauv. They taught me to be a good person and always try to help out with anything I can do.

11. Was it what you expected? Why or why not?

It is like how I expected it. I treat my in-laws like my family and contribute whenever and however I can.

12. What has been the biggest struggle for you?

I believe the biggest trouble is spreading time among the two families. My parents would tell me that I should go to gatherings at my in-laws instead of family becausethe family will forgive faster than in-laws.

13. Do you and your wife live with your parents? Would you move out? How would this affect your relationship with your parents?

My wife, kids, and I currently live with my parents. We would not move out as I'm the youngest son and feel like I should take care of my parents. My parents are okay with us moving out, and I believe it will not affect our relationship.

14. What are your parents' expectations of you?

To be a good son, husband, and overall person.

15. If you could tell your parents how you really feel about the responsibilities put on you, what would you say?

I would tell them that the way they have carried themselves and treated others have taught me how to become a better person. By learning through their actions and teachings has given me the confidence in taking on the responsibilities given.

16. Does your wife support you in your role as a vauv and/or father? And if so, how?

My wife supports me because we communicate. We are open about decisions towards both families and shares ideas in improving our lives.

17. What kind of advice would you give to a younger vauv on how to navigate both his or her sides of the family?

To have patience as two families become one. There will be ups and downs. Learn from the experiences and learn from others. Like my parents always say "take the good and leave the bad." Don't be afraid of not knowing. When I got out of the military, I had been away from the culture my whole adult life. I didn't know how to butcher a pig, watch a shaman ritual, or say hi to the uncles. I built up the courage and started learning. It's never too late to learn and anyone can be your teacher.

18. What is your view on what it is like to be a vauv versus a nyab?

I feel like in our culture, it is harder for the nyabs. The nyabs are expected to do much more household chores than the vauv. The vauv is expected to have a job and pay for the bills while the nyab is expected to cook and take care of the kids. The majority of the time the nyab is also working so she is doing twice the work a vauv is. It is up to us as the man to really love our significant other and help her with it.

19. How do you think your parents treat your wife, and how does she think your parents treat her?

I believe my parents treat my wife really good. My parents are not very traditional where she has to get up early in the morning and cook as they are still young and very capable of cooking. In any relationship, there is room for growth and through communication, we can learn how to treat everyone. 

20. Do you feel like your wife is living up to your parents' expectations of her?

Through my eyes she is. She cooks, she cleans, she takes care of our kids, my niece and nephews when they are over, loves me, loves them, loves my family, and last but not least, tries her very best to be understanding of everything. Without communication on expectations, I believe she is doing a wonderful job as a nyab. 

21. What will you expect of your sons someday?

I would expect them to be respectful, righteous, communicative, and understanding.

22. What will your expect of your daughters someday?

I would expect them to be respectful, righteous, communicative, and understanding.

23. Any other last thoughts?

In the vauv series, you will get many vauvs at different stages of life and experience, and I want to remind them that not everyone's experience is going to be the same. My life experience will be different from yours, but what will be the same is the way we choose to react and carry ourselves through this journey of life. To be the helpful vauv or the couch potato vauv. You can choose to learn something new or to hide out in fear of the unknown. If you want to be culturally involved, then you will have to eventually learn it. After the military, I knew nothing about being a vauv, but I chose to learn. I may not know everything I need to know now but I'm not the couch potato or the individual hiding. The choices are ours to make. We just have to decide which one.


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