Meet the Author, Keen Berger, at ‘Grandmothering’ book talk

Ten years transpired from idea to the new bound book that Keen Berger authored. Three grandchildren, politicking, teaching and writing text books kept Berger busy and juggling time. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

BY TEQUILA MINSKY | On Sunday at Judson Church, grandmothers, grandfathers, and parents will meet Greenwich Village’s Keen Berger to discuss her new book “Grandmothering: Building Strong Ties With Every Generation.”

It will be a chance to listen, question, learn, laugh and disagree with Keen Berger, whose author name is Kathleen Stassen Berger, on the pitfalls of too much or too little grandmothering while eating and drinking.

Combining personal experience with scholarship is what propelled Berger to write “Grandmothering.”

“My book is unlike the others, which are often too sweet, too personal, or too uninformed about other grandmothers or about what the research says,” the author explains. In the second part of the book she covers each age of grandchildren and provides some advice.

“Finding time to write was hard,” Berger admits, and with another grandson, juggling teaching, politicking, and writing textbooks, it took ten years from idea to the bound book. Furthermore, she never knew if it would be published.

Our Greenwich Villager also credits the encouragement from her neighbors after she read part of the first chapter at the Bedford/Barrow block annual literary soiree.

“I have been heartened to see that the book resonates with many other people,” Berger reflects, thrilled by the positive feedback.

A local political activist, Berger recently completed a 14-year tenure as (West Village) Democratic District Leader.

Professionally, her academic emersion in developmental psychology includes writing four textbooks on the subject and teaching this field of study at Bronx Community College for 40 years. Berger’s textbook The Developing Person through Childhood and Adolescence, in its 11th edition, is used at more than 700 colleges and universities and has been translated into five languages.

Starting with her first grandchild, Keen remembers her own trajectory of grandmotherhood. St. Vincent’s Hospital did not know what to do with her as she languished for hours in the waiting room, while her daughter Elissa labored and son-in-law Oscar and the midwife attended the birth of her first grandson.

The grandchildren three years ago reading “Where’s Waldo.” Caleb, 5, whose birth Berger attended, Asa, 6, and Isaac, 2, with Berger’s new book. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Subsequently, Keen realized that grandmothers are not respected or understood, nor is the science that she has learned about all her life.

Then, her eldest daughter Bethany asked her to be her birth partner during the delivery of her second grandson. Berger was exulted for not being excluded.

Welcomed to prenatal classes, medical check-ups, and the labor-delivery room, with the midwife, she tended grandson Caleb’s delivery. Her daughter began to nurse and Keen was in bliss. But then, overhead lights became stars flashing bright and she fainted, there in the delivery room.

After that, Berger realized that something deep within her, and probably all grandmothers, is a powerful force and has been for 100,000 years.

She knows from science how important families are for human development, “but the specific roles and tasks of each family member varies depending on history, past relationships, and much more.”

Keen Berger’s grandchildren, three years ago, reading “Where’s Waldo.” (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Available through her website KathleenBergerAuthor.com and on Amazon (printed “just in time” printing, more as demand increases), “Grandmothering” will be for sale at the Judson book talk and in the future, there will be an audio book. Her event will be held on Nov. 24, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.