Rupi Kaur: Father Poem Shows Troubling Relationship

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Milk and Honey" by Rupi Kaur. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the Rupi Kaur father poem about? How do Rupi Kaur’s father poems reflect the relationship with her father?

Rupi Kaur has had a challenging relationship with her father because she finds it difficult to connect with him. Rupi Kaur’s father poem reflects this father-daughter dynamic.

Read more about the story behind the Rupi Kaur father poem.

Rupi Kaur: Father Poems Reflect the Dynamic With Her Dad

When asked about her tendency to show kindness, Kaur explains that people weren’t kind to her growing up and she doesn’t want to make anyone else feel the way she felt. She believes everyone is capable of love, yet many choose to be toxic. 

She compares her journey through childhood to someone pinning her legs to the ground then demanding she stand. She felt as though people expected a lot from her while actively working against her instead of supporting her. Throughout her childhood, she experienced the fallout of a distant father, gender oppression, and sexual assault. Each Rupi Kaur father poem stems from her childhood dynamic.

A Distant Father

Kaur states that your father is supposed to be the first man you love, but that she didn’t have that experience because she never connected to her father. Kaur’s father was an alcoholic. She explains that there’s no such thing as an alcoholic parent. Instead, there are just alcoholics who fail to parent. When they would speak, her father often screamed at her. He claimed this was out of love, but this confused Kaur. She began to associate love with aggression. In fact, she began to develop angry tendencies like those of her father.

While Kaur had to beg her father to have a relationship, her mother showered her with love and affection. This difference in their approach to attention and affection caused her parents to fight. All at once, she was the thing that kept them together, and the thing that split them apart. Because of their constant fighting, she couldn’t tell if her mother was scared of her father or in love with him. To Kaur, it all looked the same.

She related to her father through their shared inability to share their feelings with one another. When she got older, she would try to talk with her father over the phone, but their conversations would usually just consist of small talk. She always wanted to tell him that she didn’t blame him for his distance but never could. She knew that his behavior was a product of his upbringing and hardships in life. His attempts at small talk were his way of saying “I love you.” Kaur knew this because she used small talk in the same way. 

Rupi Kaur: Father Poem Shows Troubling Relationship

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Milk and Honey summary:

  • How Rupi Kaur suffered sexual assault and oppression as a child
  • What red flags Kaur missed in her toxic relationship
  • How Kaur was able to heal and embrace her femininity

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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