Dorothy said it best during her time travel from Oz:  “There’s no place
like home.” 

A recent vacation to New York City, where I grew up, was such a
relaxing and rejuvenating experience that it sparked me to think about
the significance of home.  Home may be where you actually grew up. 
Or, it may be another place or even a group of people you strongly
identify with. 

As I write my book about stepparenting grieving children, I wonder,
“What is home to a child who’s lost her parent or parents?”

I’m also reminded of a colleague, Rebecah Propst, who lost her
memories of everything that made up her life prior to age 47.  What is
home to her? 

On my trip to NYC, I saw many people and places that are part of my
roots.  I didn’t expect that these connections would help me feel more
grounded, more secure, and more loved the way that they did.  After
all, when I was growing up, I didn’t appreciate my home this way. 
Like most of us as young adults, I couldn’t wait to move away from
home and have bold, new adventures all my own.

How then do we and can we create a sense of home for our children
and stepchildren? 

Some highlights emerge from my recent experience:

  • Keep in touch with your extended family, assuming they are
    anywhere in the realm of healthy.  Create opportunities for your
    children to get a glimpse of their lives and to listen to some of
    their stories.  We’ve always told my daughter Amy about the
    uncle who, in his finest Brooklyn accent, calls bad drivers
    “bananas” or “pineapples.”  She met him in person this summer.
  • Take your kids to where you grew up.  Tell them about some
    significant milestones in your life (age-appropriate please) and
    then back up your stories with visual cues.  “Here’s where I
    swam for the Flushing YMCA.”  “Here’s my old elementary school
    – how do you think it compares to yours?”  “Let’s eat ice cream
    at the old Carvel shop.” “I had my first kiss in this park.” If the
    kids don’t act interested now, they just might remember these
    nuggets later on.
  • Encourage the relationships your kids have with any positive
    individual or community of people – any of these could later
    represent “home.”
  • Give it time. We process home differently through every age and
    stage of our lives.

And a few special tips for stepfamilies:

  • Be sensitive to both emotional and material treasures that might
    represent home to your stepkids – for example, a special
    anniversary date, or a hand-sewn blanket.  My stepchildren’s
    mother passed away from breast cancer. Over the years I’ve
    realized how important it is to allow them any connection to that
    part of their home. 
  • Honor the first family while building your stepfamily.  When my
    stepkids were young, we made sure to visit their mom’s home
    town, where they could kick around with relatives from that side
    of the family.  We did also make a pilgrimage to New York City
    and introduced them to a few of my special people and places. 

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in
Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book,
go to


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2 Comments on Going Home

  1. Clueless says:

    When Diane asked me what “home” is to me, I had a hard time answering. My feelings regarding the various places I’ve lived don’t feel particularly different from places I’ve visited. With one exception.
    Several years ago, an acquaintance asked if I would accompany him into the sandhills close to his childhood home to take a picture of him beside “Weeping Rock.” I wasn’t enthusiastic about going anywhere with him, but we lived in an area that averaged 12″ of precipitation per year. The idea of water bubbling out of some rock in the middle of that near-desert was mind-boggling.
    The trip took about an hour, and as the little town disappeared in the distance, the prairie was soon all that surrounded us. I started to feel an unfamiliar, welcoming sense of relief. For the first time in my memory, I felt like I belonged. The prairie that had seemed so desolate from the edges of town was now an exhilarating world of hills and hawks and clouds in an endless, remarkable sky. The grass was still brown, but it felt inexplicably more alive than it had ever seemed before. When we stopped, it took a few minutes to find the dripping trickle, but when we did, the illogical phenomenon felt unsurprisingly natural. I was home.

  2. luvmybabes says:

    This topic really gets me thinking about the daily memories that our children are making. Thanks “Mama J” for spotlighting this for me!

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