How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together

How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together

by Dan Kois


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In this "refreshingly relatable" (Outside) memoir, perfect for the self-isolating family, Slate editor Dan Kois sets out with his family on a journey around the world to change their lives together.

What happens when one frustrated dad turns his kids' lives upside down in search of a new way to be a family?

Dan Kois and his wife always did their best for their kids. Busy professionals living in the D.C. suburbs, they scheduled their children's time wisely, and when they weren't arguing over screen time, the Kois family-Dan, his wife Alia, and their two pre-teen daughters-could each be found searching for their own happiness. But aren't families supposed to achieve happiness together?

In this eye-opening, heartwarming, and very funny family memoir, the fractious, loving Kois' go in search of other places on the map that might offer them the chance to live away from home-but closer together. Over a year the family lands in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and small-town Kansas. The goal? To get out of their rut of busyness and distractedness and to see how other families live outside the East Coast parenting bubble.

HOW TO BE A FAMILY brings readers along as the Kois girls-witty, solitary, extremely online Lyra and goofy, sensitive, social butterfly Harper-like through the Kiwi bush, ride bikes to a Dutch school in the pouring rain, battle iguanas in their Costa Rican kitchen, and learn to love a town where everyone knows your name. Meanwhile, Dan interviews neighbors, public officials, and scholars to learn why each of these places work the way they do. Will this trip change the Kois family's lives? Or do families take their problems and conflicts with them wherever we go?

A journalistic memoir filled with heart, empathy, and lots of whining, HOW TO BE A FAMILY will make readers dream about the amazing adventures their own families might take.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316552622
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/17/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 465,514
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Dan Kois is an editor at Slate, founding host of the podcast Mom and Dad Are Fighting, and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

Table of Contents

You're Screwing Up 3

New Zealand: January-April

Steves 31

Chapter 1 Number 8 Wire 39

Chapter 2 Te Aroha 57

Chapter 3 On Any Walk 72

The Goodbye Party 99

The Netherlands: April-July

Phantom Ducks 107

Chapter 4 A Revolting Attitude 117

Chapter 5 Fietsen 137

Chapter 6 The Poldermodel 151

The Dance Recital 173

Costa Rica: July-September

Tides 181

Chapter 7 Every Day 186

Kansas: October-December

Bricks 241

Chapter 8 A Quiet America 247

Chapter 9 Bloom Where You're Planted 265

Chapter 10 A Holy Hug 286

The Posada 305

Love and Attention 313

What People are Saying About This

Author of Far and Away and Far From the Tree - Andrew Solomon

“In this highly entertaining and wryly insightful book, Dan Kois shows how elastic the very concept of family is. As he recounts his family’s encounters with four foreign cultures, he illuminates not only those other societies, but also our own. He argues persuasively that we have much to learn from divorcing ourselves from our own assumptions.”

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