“When I Had My Third Baby Girl, I Was Told To ‘Try Again’ For A Boy”

Blogger Karen Gill recounts the horrific comments she faced for raising three daughters and being told to ‘try again’ for a boy

For modern British South Asian mothers, the criticism of raising daughters instead of sons is whispered behind closed doors and subtly hidden in comments such as ‘You must want to complete your family, don’t worry you can try again.’

Blogger Karen Gill heard similar comments when she gave birth to her third daughter. On learning she was expecting another girl, she was riddled with anxiety about what people would say.

“The weight of my unfortunate reaction when finding out the gender of my baby was constant and heavy. I couldn’t be the only person in the world that had felt this way, could I? Was there something wrong with me? Was this on the spectrum of postpartum depression? Was I an unfit mother? Did I need to speak to a professional about this?”

Throughout the years, Karen was constantly faced with criticism for the gender of her children.

She recounted, “A random old lady at my daughter’s school made a point to walk over to me [while I had my 3-week-old baby girl strapped to my chest in a carrier and held my other two daughters’ hands while we happily walked home] and asked what I had. Then when I replied with “a girl” proceeded to kiss her teeth and say “Ohhhh that’s too bad. I’d said a little prayer to God to bless your poor soul with a boy this time.”

Karen spoke about the impact of hearing negative comments on her mental health.

“Words can linger for years.” She explained, “They weigh on your mind which in turn can change you as a person”

“There is no question in my mind that words at times hurt much more than physical pain.”

She explained was made harder due to extreme South Asian expectations of mothers.

“Within a family, the pressure needs to be taken off the mother,” Karen stated.

“She is not capable of choosing the gender of her baby so she should not have to endure being mentally abused before, during and after having her baby.”

“She deserves support in that delicate time not added unnecessary anxieties. And daughters should be loved, nurtured, and treated well in all aspects of their lives just like their male counterparts”

“Girls are smart, strong, ambitious just like boys as well as being kind, sensitive and caring. Given the right support and encouragement, our girls will change the world.”

Even throughout being bullied and looked down upon, Karen could rely on her husband to support and empower her daughters.

“We made sure the girls don’t hear the condescending comments and take it to heart. They are innocent, sweet little girls whom we adore and wouldn’t trade for anything.”

Many South Asian women go through the same stigma, apprehension and confusion when having a daughter due to social pressures.

“The stigma may be changing but it is not gone. The majority of our generation of parents who are born in a more western, open-minded, equality driven culture see no difference between boys and girls.”

“But the generations before us are still very much enveloped in the thought that a family is not complete unless it has a boy as a part of it. I hope that conversations like this one will put an end to this narrative much sooner.”

Through her journey, Karen was able to encourage her community to speak openly about their experiences.

“I have many titles, but my favourite is definitely Mama. I am a mother to 3 beautiful daughters, married to my best friend for almost 10 years and created this blog [www.TheAgencyBlog.ca and @TheAgencyBlog on Instagram] as an outlet for my interests but it has blossomed into something far greater– a community that is all about learning & growing together. A safe place without judgement and good vibes only.”

The conversations of accepting girls are a necessary and important change that needs to be made to support younger generations as well as encourage and aid South Asian parents.

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