This is one of the most frequently asked questions. As a religious, one is called to be set apart exclusively for God. This means close contact with family becomes somewhat limited. Each congregation has different policies concerning contact with family.
Families are a blessing. God showed us how important families are by creating Adam and Eve and commanding them to be fruitful and multiply. Later God gave the people of Israel a law to honor their parents. Jesus was a member of a family. One could ponder on this time of Jesus' life. Jesus learned gentleness, kindness, and many other virtues from His mother Mary and His foster father, Joseph. Perhaps, they prepared Jesus to say "yes" to God at all times. As Jesus was dying, He showed concern for the wellbeing of His mother and entrusted her to the beloved disciple John.
A Sister whom I know, commented on the number of her aunts who were Sisters, and uncles who were priests. They would visit her house throughout her childhood and adolescence. Being around religious predisposed her to say "yes" to God as a Sister of St. Joseph. In fact, her only brother became a priest and her only sister became a religious Sister. Her mother and father supported their vocation and no doubt encouraged them to seek God's call in their life.
My former parish priest was the vocations director for the diocese. He encouraged religious and priests who originated from that parish community to come and be visible witnesses when they would come to visit their families. He thought the witness of a religious would bring inspiration to the whole community especially to those discerning their vocation.
When one becomes a religious, there will be some separation from family as I stated earlier. Just as when a son or daughter leaves home and gets married, religious communities have a variety of ways of keeping contact with the family. This may be by writing letters or making phone calls on special days like their birthdays and anniversaries. Generally, Sisters in active communities whose apostolate is teaching or health-care, visit their families frequently. Cloistered and some contemplative communities encourage families to visit the Sister at the convent and visiting the family may be less frequent. Some communities who live a more austere way of life may prohibit visiting family.
In our congregation, we encourage communication through letter-writing and phone calls on special occasions. We encourage families to visit the Sisters at Prayer Town, our convent. We refer to all our Sister's parents as "mom" and "dad." This enables them to know that they do not lose a daughter when she becomes a Sister but gain many more.
As a contemplative community with evangelistic apostolates, our present practice is to visit our family home every two years. Our families are welcome to visit us each year at our convent.
Mother Lucy, DLJC