{Bookish Babble} Why We Need More Awesome Parents in YA

Posted February 24, 2017 by Bee in Discussion, Memes & Features / 30 Comments

You know what I still want more of in YA? Awesome parents. Because they just make books that much more amazing. Throw away the love triangles and insta-loves and bring in more great parental figures. Because YA books are prone to have absent parents. Even in Contemporary. Which makes me sad because most Contemporary books that I ADORE have fantastic parents.

Here are some of them:

See this goodreads shelf for more books I read that feature awesome parentals!

Of course, all of these books are awesome for different reason. But they do have in common that they feature great parental figures that are there and they make the book SO much better for it! So much more real and relatable.

Listen people. Yes, parents can be a pain in the behind for young teens that live in YA book. I mean… Imagine this…

YA MC: Mom I’m going out! I have a destiny to fulfill and whatnot because I’m the chosen one you know.
Mom: Your chosen ass isn’t going anywhere you’re grounded.
Mom: Go to your room! The world has managed so far, it will do so one more day.
YA MC: *groans and grumbles on their way upstairs*

I mean… buzzkill much? But relatable, yes? Admittedly, if all parents in YA books would do this, we wouldn’t get many happy endings of our MC can’t do their thing. Of course there would be parents that would ask if they need to pack a lunch for their kid and tell them to be careful before sending them on their merry way.

(Phil Dunphy wins all the awesome parent-awards.)

POINT IS. Parents make books more awesome. In the books mentioned above, there are awesome fantastic parents that I adored and envied because WANT. Some even stole the show for me. (HI SLOANE’S DAD (This Adventure Ends)) It is just nice to have parents in books that are there and aren’t horrible human beings, but in fact fantastic lovable precious things that need to be treasured.

Okay this post is messy and doesn’t make much sense but oh well. You get the message, right? Awesome parents are needed in YA. There.

Do you agree and want more parents in YA? Or do you say NAH andΒ  tell me I’m crazy? (Don’t do that… that would hurt my sensitive soul.) Shout (gently speak) about it in the comments!

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30 responses to “{Bookish Babble} Why We Need More Awesome Parents in YA

  1. This. So much this. It seems like every book for young readers out there, MG as well as YA, has parents who are either missing, dead, or terrible. Where are the parents like mine: loving, supportive, firm when necessary, but not too strict? We definitely need more of them.

    There are a few out there, though they aren’t always the parents of the main character(s.) The Weasleys jump to mind as a great example. And I find more in MG books than in YA, perhaps because adolescents are beginning to move toward independence and might be more open to reading books in which the MC is, for whatever reason, independent. Some MG examples that do hold up: In The SaturdaysCuffy (the housekeeper/nanny) and Mr. Melendy do an excellent job of providing safety, love, and structure while still allowing a surprising amount of independence. Charles and Caroline Ingalls (the Little House series) are good parents, if you discount Pa’s tendency to uproot his family and go start over somewhere else.

    And then there are the near-misses. Although Marilla is reluctant and stern at first, in the long run she and Matthew do a very good job of parenting Anne in Anne of Green Gables — but Anne is an orphan. Keladry of Mindelan (Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series) has wonderfully supportive parents, but as a page, then squire, she doesn’t live with them; instead, she’s in knight-training school at the palace, then wherever her knight-master’s duties take him.

    All in all, though, I can understand where children’s and YA authors are coming from. It’s hard to write a story about adventures or hard-won experience or coming of age if your main character has to come home by curfew every night, or has a stay-home parent keeping an eye on them, or has someone they really trust and can talk to when things aren’t going well. It’s not impossible, but it’s harder. So writers fall back on all the obvious ways to get their characters out from under parental supervision and encourage them to make their own decisions and mistakes: dead parents, missing parents, neglectful or abusive parents, boarding school, summer camp, summer vacations with lots of unsupervised time, gates into other worlds, and so on. Plus, if you can give your character some sort of trauma in their past, it’s easier to make them interesting and give them emotional conflict.

    I’d like to see more writers challenge themselves to break those tropes and find ways to write interesting MG and YA main characters who have supportive, loving parents who stay part of the story. I’m sure there are creative ways to do it.

    • Bee

      Same! Yes, there are people out there with absent parents one way or another. But SO many have parents that are a huge part of their lives and I feel like they (and I include myself in that) would be able to relate to the MC so much more if they have parents that are there and loving and supportive. Because they can be written without letting the story suffer for it.

  2. I definitely agree with you! Now, of course there are some stories where parents’ absence is central to the plot, or serves a purpose, or whatever. And that is fine. But when it is just because it is “easier” to leave the teen to their own devices? No. Hard pass. Seeing a book where there is some kind of relationship with family is so much more authentic feeling, as a reader. Especially in contemporary! I get in fantasy, or dystopian, or apocalyptic, a lot of times parents wind up dead (and so does half the cast of characters bwhaha) but to always get rid of the parents is cheap, and it takes away from the essence of the MC, because we’re not getting to see that critical relationship. LOVE this post, Bee!

    • Bee

      HAhaha yes. xD parents are in the way in all genres except Contemporary. I am currently working on an Urban Fantasy book and yes, parents are very much dead or not in the picture. BUT IN MY DEFENSE it has a good reason. But in Contemporary I think parents do need to be there. Whether they’re bad parents or good ones depends on the story but don’t leave out parents because they’ll gat in the way of the romance and other shenanigans. NO.

  3. I totally agree! We need more parents in YA books, and MG books, while we’re on the topic. I love seeing *good* relationships between the characters and their parents, even when it isn’t ideal or ruins the character’s plans. Books that neglect having parents in the mix because they’re afraid of messing up the story’s dynamic are really missing a gem.
    One of my favorite series with prominent parents is The Ever Afters by Shelby Bach. The MC is twelve and is still coming to grips with her parents’ divorce -but that’s all side story to the fact that she realizes she has a Destiny to stop the Snow Queen from taking over the world. Adding in the developing relationship with both her parents throughout the series added great depth and made the character even easier to relate to. <3
    Great post!

  4. I LOVE it when MCs in YA have meaningful interactions with their parents. Not only is it relatable and more REAL, but it gives a whole cast of support characters that really help you understand the MC that much better. After all, the way our parents raise and interact with us has a HUGE impact on who WE are, so seeing the parents in a meaningful light adds some color on the MC too πŸ˜€

  5. I love it when a main character has a great relationship with family and parents. They don’t have to be part of the plot, the MC can still do what they need to, but it adds so much for them to be there and interacted with.

  6. I agree with you so much, Bee! I think awesome and present parents in YA books can bring a lot more to the story than many authors think. They don’t necessarily have to slow the story down, or make the MC feel inadequate – that’s not what awesome parents do anyway! They are secure in the knowledge that they’ve raised their kids to be able to handle difficult situations, right?
    Awesome post πŸ˜‰

  7. Yes! I agree with this so much. I don’t always mind absentee parents, but I agree that there should be more present ones! ESPECIALLY in books that take place in a more modern world (contemporary and the like). It’s so not realistic for parents to never question where there kids are, where they’re going, and all the crazy stuff kids in books to that goes unnoticed lol

  8. I completely agree with you. I actually can’t think of many books that feature great YA parents and it’s so sad. I’m actually going to start reading Simon vs the homosapiens agenda tonight so I’m looking forward to seeing the parents in that one!

    • Bee

      Right?? I have that shelf on Goodreads and there are so few books on it compared to how many I’ve read. That’s super sad. And I HOPE you love Simon VS because that book is everything to me.

  9. i totally want more awesome parents in YA! i am currently reading the hate u give and starr’s family is so lovely! i’ve also read simon VS and omg friendship goals and plan to read this adventure ends very soon!! this was such an interesting topic to write a blog post on and really well done! <3

  10. Nathan

    Maybe we need better parents in some YA books, but sometimes we need the absent or monster parents to talk about issues that are not pleasant. Still, too much of that is too much, I will agree. Not all books need to be those kinds of morality tales or warnings on how to behave (or how parents should NOT behave). Sometimes parents or grandparents turn out to be supportive characters, but it depends on the story. For example Kelly Armstong’s Bitten mentions abusive foster parents, which is a real problem in the foster system. So, we need all types of parents and grandparents in books and I admit i like reading about support parents, too, Such as Cori’s family in Confessions from the Dark, but when the author makes less then supportive parents, they are possibly trying to tell us to change out behavior for the better. I am not shouting at you, just gently discussing parents in books in general.

    • Bee

      Yes, of course we need the kinds of stories with bad parents. But parents in YA always tend to be either neglecting, absent or horrible. And that gets tiresome after a while.

      • Nathan

        I have thought about the YA books I have read and realize your right, neglectful, absent (dead or moved away) and horrible parents are well represented, but supportive parents less so. Some books have one of each, one supportive the other parent not. I think your right, this could get tiresome after a while, I just haven’t reached that point yet.

  11. YES. We need more wonderful parents in YA. And that’s why I completely adored The Inexplicable Logic of My Life because the dad was literally the bessssst dad in the universe and I nearly cried. <3 BLESS HIM. BLESS THAT BOOK. (Btw you should totally read that one if you haven't already, I think you'd like it!!) I'm actually making a spreadsheet for all the books I read this year to see how many good vs bad vs uninvolved vs dead parents there are in books. So far "uninvolved" is the favourite. *facepalm* I hate it when there ARE parents there but they don't even care about their kids lives. Like sure that happens!! But lots of parents DO REALLY CARE AND I WANT TO READ ABOUT THEM!!

    • Bee

      AWWW yes I need to read that book. I should get on that. (She says, staring at the TBR with hundreds of books on.) Totally. And yes, we want to read about them! Though admittedly, my current WIP doesn’t really have parents either but it works for this story so it’s okay???

  12. I totally agree with you. There are so many orphans, neglected children, children with absent parents in stories. I enjoy reading books where the parents play a role in the children’s lives. I’m glad to see that you think that The Upside of Unrequited is such a book, as it’s on my TBR!

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