5 thoughts on “A Good Poem About Whether A Parent Deserves Blame

  • May 20, 2010 at 4:17 am

    the other is a construct of the son’s imagination– I dont agree with this
    sentence… the body remembers…

  • May 20, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I see it as a question of past or present. While growing up, either intentionally or not, the father would hurt or abuse him in some if way. That might mean substance abuse, violent rages, physical abuse, emotional abuse, possibly even abuse of a sexual nature. This father was the enemy of his humanity, contributing to many issues he may harbor today.

    But that controlling, strong father is no longer there. Instead, in his place operates an elderly man, eating TV dinners and mellowed out due to age. The abusive father, while very real at one point, now only hurts him in his memory. His elderly father is still responsible for causing him pain; but this son now needs to focus on healing himself, so he may live a somewhat fulfilled life, and maybe even exist alongside this new father that has moved past his anger. But it does not relieve the father of his blame and responsibility.

    While in most cases, parents are not the blame of many mental illnesses, they can be a major for a lot, and contribute to almost all of them. With personality disorders, for example, studies have shown that abuse and a dysfunctional home life can be a major factor, very possibly even causing it that person. It has been proved that many narcissists come from parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, abusing the child who is now empty at the core, so he puts up narcissism as a way to keep his image of himself in tact; it is accepted by many professionals that Borderline Personality Disorder can result from abuse off all forms and family dysfunction; and one of Antisocial Personality Disorder’s risk factors is abuse. In addition, while not representative of the majority of cases, stress can be the trigger for most all mental illnesses. Then there is PTSD, which can result directly from abuse, among many other things.

    I don’t blame my parents and abusers for most of my mental illnesses; but I am aware that they are in some way responsible for my borderline traits, PTSD, and depersonalization. Do I think they had anything to do with my Schizoaffective disorder and most of my anxiety? Absolutely not. With my PTSD, however, almost all of my flashbacks center around sexual abuse (not done by parent) and my father’s verbal/some physical abuse. I dissociate when triggered about the sexual and verbal/physical abuse. My mother’s borderline traits certainly influence mine, and the abuse from my dad and other abuser has a lot do with my borderline thought patterns.

    But just like the author of that poem is learning, I am see the good, loving, sensitive, caring side of all of them – even the one who sexually abused me. And I’m not saying parents cause most mental illness; but they do have the potential to cause and contribute to a lot of them, too. Many are willing to accept that others who abuse and hurt us can cause mental health difficulties; why not parents? It doesn’t have to be flat out abuse to have an impact. Even having extremely harsh and high expectations can make somebody feel as if they need to prove that person, are a disappointment, and must be perfect. Among many other examples. It is important, however, to put a focus on healing, instead of blaming, when one attempts recovery.


    • May 20, 2010 at 11:33 am

      Wow, Erika, what an amazing reply! I hope everyone reads this. I will be featuring it in a post soon, to make sure they do. Thank you for the time and thought you gave to your comment!

  • September 11, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Do not agree at all from a poem-analysis perspective.
    The imaginative one is the second father whose “TV dinner is getting cold/ while he holds the phone in his left hand/ and stares blankly out the window”. The son/speaker chooses to remember him because he does not “want to scream forever” nor “live without proportion like some kind of infection from the past”, apparently trying to forget the real father who has “[blighted his] crops and/ [stroke] down [his] herds”.
    It is a poem of father-son relationship and psychological influences from the parent, but it certainly is not a positive one.
    Tony Hoagland in his speech “Articulate Deformity” said that “The poet is and should be the designated complainer of the trial”, so I do not believe that his intention is trying to create a beautiful and moving scene of the son forgiving his father.
    At last, I’m not saying that blaming and unforgiving is the right way to go. I just believe that this poem is misinterpreted.

  • February 28, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Well, here is the thing. The father may really have hurt the child – all of us parents hurt our children by our imperfect parenting, whether is it a cut finger instead of a fingernail, or the implantation of a deep seated belief that we will never be good enough, that everything we want and everything we really are inside is somehow wrong. Worse still, some parents really do brutally exploit or abuse their children and/or practice extreme narcissism. It is not so much the splitting of the real dad versus the imaginary dad that was a monster – it is the realization that we are all both good and bad, and that forgiveness goes hand in hand with recognizing and acknowledging, rather than denying or excusing, the hurts that require the forgiveness.


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