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What happens when one frustrated dad turns his kids' lives upside down in search of a new way to be together? Slate editor Dan Kois sets out with his wife and daughters on a journey around the world to change their lives together.
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 book, the fractious, loving Kois family goes 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-- hike 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.
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.
"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."—Andrew Solomon, author of Far and Away and Far From the Tree
"Lots of people talk about pulling up stakes and traveling for a year. Dan Kois and his family actually did it. He's funny and honest about how it all turned out."—Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bébé and There Are No Grown-Ups
"This sometimes hair-raising adventure in family togetherness across many continents took courage even to attempt, and a lively sense of humor to describe. Kois has produced a delightful and eye-opening book about what it means to be a family in the modern world."—Ian Frazier, author of Family and Coyote V Acme
"Many parents will relate to the experiences in this book of trying to get your kids to do stuff. Dan gives us some hope that we can ask our kids to do hard things, to adapt to new challenges, and it can be good for everyone. Also, the book is wildly entertaining."—Emily Oster, author of Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool
"As many parents know, the key to making a family work is: Put in the time. Dan Kois and his wife took their two kids on the trip of a lifetime and learned what's great (and miserable) about how that time passes. The result is a funny, thoughtful, well-reported and inspiring guide for anyone hoping to create family adventures (and misadventures) of their own."—Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better