How to Raise a Texan Long Distance

Loving Texas is one thing. Teaching your children to do the same when they no longer live here is something else altogether.

By Emily DonahueMarch 2, 2015 9:35 am

Jake Silverstein left his post as editor of Texas Monthly to head up a little outfit called The New York Times Magazine –a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

But back when he was at the helm of the Monthly, he was responsible for one of its most popular issues: it featured babies in cowboy boots under a banner asking: “How Do You Raise a Texan?”

Well, we asked him: how hard is to raise a Texan when you don’t live in Texas anymore? Silverstein currently lives in New Jersey and he faces the challenge of teaching his kids to appreciate their Texas roots.

“We … acquired a bunch of history books, Texas history for kids when we were still living there [Texas]… We have books on the shelf that we bring down and read. My kids do miss Texas, so we talk about it and read about it.”

Though Silverstein was not born in Texas, he was here long enough for the word “y’all” to stick – and he doesn’t see it going anywhere any time soon.  The real way to separate the true from the pretenders, he says, is being able to write the word “y’all” in an email.

“If you write it in an email to work colleagues, you know, that’s really is like a marker that you’re not from around here. Which I do, because I find it to be useful word.”

But Silverstein admits he misses Austin quite a bit and can see himself coming back. Especially back to Marfa, where he has a “falling down adobe” he loves.

As to Silverstein’s advice on how to raise a little Texan?

“I think the key is that before you move away, you have to establish something that the kid is gonna genuinely miss and want once they’re gone … [for] my younger son is really into Texas barbecue, particularly brisket. And what he calls black edges barbecue because of the nice ring of the crust on the brisket. So he’s always asking me, he’s five years old, he’s always asking me if we can go have black edges barbecue and that always does my heart good when I hear him ask that.”

This story was prepared with assistance by Brenda Lau.