In "Water Child," Nadine has a difficult and distant relationship with her parents. It is as though their roles have been reversed, and she is the absentee parent who gives them money but withholds affection from them. It is clear that Nadine's parents love her, and they write regular letters in which they tell her:
We have not heard your voice in a while and our ears ache for it.
They are grateful for the money she sends them, and embarrassed that they need her financial support to pay for medical expenses.
Nadine is physically distant from her parents, but her relations with them reflect her difficulties in connecting with the people around her. The other nurses are happy to socialize with her, but she will not talk to them. Her natural inclination to be solitary is increased by the psychological scars of a recent abortion. When she finally does speak to her mother, she avoids questions about relationships.
Nadine misses her relationship with her parents, but will not attempt to repair and renew it. She views this relationship as something that took place in the past, in Haiti, and cannot be recaptured. It is also increasingly uncomfortable for her to make any effort to break out of her seclusion and silence.