Can Poetry Improve Your Relationship With Your Parents?
In a previous article, I discussed the benefits of reading poetry with your child. Poetry can give parents the opportunity to help nurture their children’s imagination while encouraging their intellectual growth and emotional intelligence. These are skills we carry with us as we get older that can help us relate to our world and each other. But it got me thinking: how can poetry impact the relationship we have with our parents?
As I started researching this question, I stumbled upon the loveliest news story about poetry bringing families closer during the pandemic. In the article, Beth Calverley, a poet from Bristol, finds unique ways to connect families online for group poetry sessions. During the group calls, Calverley would encourage the families to talk about their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. She used this information to create a one-of-a-kind poem for each family, drawing inspiration from what she learned in their call. I was so moved by this story and the heart of what Calverley was striving to do: finding ways to bring people together in a time when so many of us feel alone.
Calverley’s methods were effective because she would seek information about feelings and memories that the group could bond over. I think this is a beautiful way to try and connect with our parents because it opens up our hearts to reflection and recollection. Whether you are part of a poetry party like Calverley’s or you are sharing a meaningful poem with your parents, poetry may be a great tool to improve your relationship with one another.
It gives you something to bond over.
Poetry invites contemplation and conversation with others. Reading a favorite poem with your parents—or even a whole collection—can be something that brings you closer. You can discuss your favorite lines or your interpretations of specific paragraphs. It’s a fun opportunity to connect and to share observations with one another. Like bonding over a favorite song or movie, poetry opens up a new world of possible common ground with your parents. You might even introduce one another to some new favorite poets.
It paves the way for a bigger conversation.
Sometimes, we feel the farthest away from those we are closest to. Family dynamics are complicated for so many reasons, and it can be hard to know how to talk about some of our hardest emotions or memories. Diving into a favorite poem or poetry collection with a parent may be the perfect way to start talking about the topics that matter most to you. It may help you bring awareness to a subject or create a dialogue together. Reading poetry that matters to you will result in having conversations that matter to you. Having these conversations with your parents can bring you closer and make it easier to talk more freely about emotions with one another in the future.
It increases our understanding of each other.
The poems we usually love the most are the ones we can relate to on a soul level. When we connect so deeply with the words, we can welcome others in to see a piece of our hearts they may have never understood before. It may be a poem about grief, heartbreak, or loss. Maybe it’s a poem you feel perfectly describes a complicated relationship or the roadblocks to healing. Maybe it’s even your own poetry that you’ve written during your highest highs or your lowest lows. Regardless, sharing these types of poems with our parents can help them to see the world through our eyes and have a better understanding of what we experience.
Poetry is a powerful connector, and it can be a great way to try to build deeper connections with your parents. It gives us a unique way to share our experiences, memories, hopes, disappointments, and emotions. It gives us a starting point and a common ground to talk about the things that matter and to nurture the parent-child relationship as we evolve and grow.
As we get older—and as our parental relationships continue to change— we can find new ways to read poetry together and to grow in our love and understanding of one another, one poem at a time.