1. For the expecting family
“Expecting” by Kevin Young captures the terror and then the goofy excitement of a father hearing his baby’s heartbeat for the first time during a doctor’s appointment.
2. For the family with a newborn
“Bathing the Newborn” by Sharon Olds records with painstaking care every detail of giving a new baby a bath. Perhaps because, as she mentions, it’s her second child, she is able to observe the details of the experience.
3. For the parents of a kid who has started getting out of bed on his own
“After Making Love We Hear Footsteps” by Galway Kinnell is a sweet ode to parents whose attempts at lovemaking are thwarted by the very fruits of their loins.
4. For the parents whose kid has started totally taking them for granted
“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden may perhaps give you solace that your ungrateful kids may grow up to appreciate everything you do someday. Probably after they have kids of their own.
5. For parents of teens
“This Be the Verse” by Philip Larkin (NSFW) is a pessimistic but funny take on how parenthood is just one big cycle of parents messing up their kids. Show this to your teenager who swears you’re ruining her life (maybe she’ll think you’re cool for having her see something with a swear word in it) or just read it for comfort while you try to figure out where you went wrong.
6. For soon-to-be-empty nesters
“On Children” by Khalil Gibran is the perfect poem to read when you’re sending your children out into the world and need to remember that you can only do so much.