Jan 7 2014
On a recent morning before school, while zipping up his fall vest, my son Lucien announced that his father and I will make the best grandparents ever.
“When I have a son,” Lucien added, “if I have a son, I’ll let him come see you when he’s 5 or 6 years old.”
I gently explained that in most families grandparents get to know kids from day one, not when they are 5 or 6. This comes as a revelation to Lucien, because he has no grandparents.
I haven’t spoken to either of my parents, or my two brothers, since long before Lucien was born. The estrangement was my choice, the hardest–and best–decision I’ve ever made. But when I decided to cut my parents out of my life at the age of 28, after a childhood of physical and verbal abuse, and young adult years filled with dysfunction, I didn’t think about how the choice would one day shape my child’s life. I’ve protected my son from my family, but I’ve also kept him from knowing what it means to have grandparents. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 20 2013
We live in New York and have members of our families that live in California and Beijing, so it was important for us to figure out some ways for our kids to feel they were part of their lives, despite the distance. Here were some things that we did:
1) Photos: Pictures have always been very important to me and it’s a great way to help build the memory. Very early on in both of our children’s lives, I started photo albums for them. I included photos of them with their family members and friends. We would look through the albums with them repeatedly, pointing out who everyone was.
As they got older and had more words, they were able to go through them on their own, identifying people and starting to attach them to experiences. On the same wavelength as the photo albums, my father started making a family photo calendar several years ago. We have strategically kept it in the kitchen, in full view of the children as they eat every meal. Last year, my son was so excited about the calendar that he wanted to help make it which he did. We also keep a website filled with photos of our lives that we share with our family and friends. Read the rest of this entry →