.

Stress can envelop, encircle, entangle.
Strictures can pressure from every angle.

Tripping and slipping to ways that are errant
happen to all who endeavor to parent.

What should you do when in need of a breather?
Run or surrender? The answer is neither.

Here are some morsels you might tightly cling to.
Try them for size and assess if they ring true.

Speak with kind gentleness. Make it habitual.
Pause when you’re furious. Make that a ritual.

Words can cause injury, or they can bolster.
Weapons of warfare should stay in your holster.

Look in their eyes when you share your emotion.
Time and attention will prove your devotion.

Show them your love, since for them, that is bliss.
Put them to bed with a hug and a kiss.

Treat them with methods and means that are measured.
Children are gifts that should truly be treasured.

.

.

Mark F. Stone grew up near Seattle, Washington. After graduating from Brandeis University and Stanford Law School, he worked as an attorney for the United States Air Force for 33 years. He served 11 years as an active duty Air Force JAG attorney. He then served 22 years as an Air Force civilian attorney (while serving part time in the Air Force Reserves as a JAG attorney).  He began writing poems in 2005, as a way to woo his bride-to-be into wedlock.  He recently retired, giving him time to focus on poetry. He lives in central Ohio.


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22 Responses

  1. Gail Root

    Good advice. Self discipline and self acceptance promote good parenting. That old adage–more is caught, than is taught.

    Reply
    • Mark F. Stone

      Gail, I like the adage at the end of your comment. I had not heard that before. Thank you for stopping by. Mark

      Reply
  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    A set of beautiful couplets that sing with words of wonder and wisdom – a smooth and soothing poetic balm for every fraught and fevered parent. Reading this will restore peace and reason to the hearts of fractious households. Bravo, Mr. Stone!

    Reply
    • Mark F. Stone

      Susan, Your comment has almost as much alliteration and assonance as my poem! Thank you for your kind words. Mark

      Reply
  3. Yael

    That’s a lovely poem and such good advice, too. I’m going to print this out and give it to a young mother at my church who needs these words as an occasional reminder. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Mark F. Stone

      Yael, You’re welcome. I’m always happy when a poem I write is “useful” somewhere out there in the big world. Thank you for sharing it! Mark

      Reply
  4. Margaret Coats

    Well-versified wisdom! This poem has a light touch created through meticulous attention to artistic details. The dactylic tetrameter is quite competent, but what really sets it off is the rhymes. The final foot is a single syllable with the masculine rhyme bliss/kiss–but it usually has two syllables with perfect feminine rhymes. And then there is the one couplet with the triple rhyme habitual/ritual, where the three syllables in the final foot give you four dactylic feet, or a couplet of perfectly regular meter. Immediately before it we find your only imperfect rhyme cling to/ring true, which in context is both an acceptable imperfection needed for the sense of the sentence, and an embellishment providing one more kind of rhyme for a reader to enjoy. Whether you planned this special meter with these pleasing variations, or composed the whole by ear, the poem is splendid and sophisticated work hiding in an informal sage-grandparent-to-parent demeanor.

    Reply
    • Mark F. Stone

      Margaret, Thank you for your incisive analysis. There was a lot of attention to detail in composing the poem–the poem was “completed” at least six times before it was actually done. I can’t say I had any plan for the meter; it was done by ear. I’m very glad you like the poem. Mark

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        If you always listen to kind people, Mark, then you will never learn who you truly are.

  5. Julian D. Woodruff

    True, C.B. And if you hear only kind words from a speaker, you won’t know that individual. “I appreciate your concern, Peter, but we’re not quite on the same page here.”) Nonetheless I liked the poem and the challenge it issues.

    Reply
  6. Mark F. Stone

    C.B., I am not sure if I understand what you’re trying to say, but I will respond with this. I am not suggesting that one should not be firm or principled or sometimes adamant when speaking with children or others. However, I have found that things go better for me when interacting with people, if I speak in a tone that’s not aggressive or threatening, and if I use words that are not caustic or incendiary (e.g., “misguided” or “questionable” rather than “idiotic” or “foolish”). It’s a style issue. Speaking with kind gentleness is the style I aspire to (although I don’t always succeed–just ask my wife!). Mark

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      No worries, Mark. I was only suggesting that unfettered praise is not the best measure by which you should assess the quality of your work. Your advice is sound, your meter is adequate, and your rhymes are excellent. But I won’t ask your wife.

      Reply
      • Mark F. Stone

        C.B., Thank you for your favorable review of the poem! Mark

  7. James Sale

    Excellent poem Mark and great sentiments. As the astute American psychologist William James once observed, ‘The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated’. Notice the word ‘craving’ – not need, not desire, but craving; it’s a drug. It was this that led GM Hopkins to cry out in his famous poem: ‘send my roots rain’. The default position of most people is not to encourage, but the opposite, even as parents. Thus your poem is an admirable antidote to that sort of negativity and I like it very much. Well done.

    Reply

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