Monday, 4 October 2010

Be This The Verse? ... Parents, Parenting, Families

Recently, for personal reasons, I've been revisiting the wonderful poem by Philip Larkin, "This Be The Verse". It's one that most psychotherapists are familiar with; we appreciate its truth and its irony.

It also makes me think about being a parent. I'm a little uncomfortable with Larkin's final rejoinder "And don't have any kids yourself", which to me speaks of Larkin's well-known glumness, his tendency towards polarized views, and a kind of lack of hope for humankind. He seems to suggest that the handing on of misery cannot be avoided.

This might be true in some ways; no parents are perfect, after all. But I wonder if it's also true that some of the misery can be turned into something else, or even quarantined, so that Larkin's dark outcome can be (at least partially) averted.

People can change. They can decide to do things differently, if they want to and realize they have the opportunity to do so. Otherwise, they may be able to achieve some of this in therapy.

I guess what I'm saying is, Mr Larkin made an astute observation, but I have more hope - for me as a parent, anyway, and for people who work on therapeutic change in themselves and others.


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