Middle Age and Old Age

A woman enters marriage knowing that she must be compliant before her new parents and accommodating to all the kwv tij of her husband. (Given the pressures of adapting to, and winning the acceptance of, a new set of kin, it is not surprising that Hmong American women prefer to establish their own independent nuclear families as soon as possible after marriage.) She will be expected to bear at least one son, and preferably two or three. Her status increases as the family grows, and she comes to be regarded as nurturing mother and loyal wife. When a man has shown that he is a reliable family provider, kind father, and considerate husband, the neej tsa had a special ceremony to confer upon him a npe laus, an elder name, which he afterwards proudly used in conjunction with his given name.

Upon reaching 50 years of age or so in Laos, a couple looked to the youngest son and his wife to take over most of the duties of running the household. The institutionalization of elder care in the United States has caused Hmong to worry a great deal about the depressing prospect of being forced to live with strangers during their declining years. Rather than placing all of the responsibility on the family of the youngest son, infirm parents live, sometimes serially, with daughters as well as older sons. This has increased the value of daughters inasmuch as they and their families might become a major source of support in the future. When parents must be sent to a facility for specialized medical treatment or hospice care, members of the extended kin network, including the neejtsa as well as the kwv tij, arrange their schedules to be with them as often as possible.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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