Parents in YA


Today I want to talk about parents in YA. Do you notice how often parents are either completely ignorant or just plain not there in YA books? I know not all parents are wonderful, but I'm often appalled by the constant portrayal of parents in YA as horrible people...

I love my parents. Of course we don't see eye-to-eye on everything, but they are always present in my life and always there to support or give helpful advice. The parent figures in YA tend to fall into these three tropes:

1. Parent/s is/are dead.
Whether it be a heartfelt contemporary, a thrilling mystery, a paranormal, or even a fantasy, many YA book main characters' have a dead parent. These always pull at my heartstrings...

2. Parent is missing in action.
The parent mysteriously disappears or is presumed dead when (sometimes) *surprise* they really aren't! It's usually one or a combination of kid has either been lied to by relatives or other parent about parent, parent suddenly reappears and wants to get to know kid, or kid goes in search of parent and is disappointed by what he/she finds. The likelihood of this happening isn't as likely or prevalent as YA books would make it seem. This option really just isn't as realistic.

3. Parent is ignorant.
The kid can practically run wild and come home super late at night (or not all), and the parent either won't notice or won't care. The parent(s) fail to notice when the kid is upset, dealing with something, or clearly needs a parent's help. Parent literally has no idea what is going on in the kid's life.


3a. The parent is vain and only cares about appearances and reliving their child's youth.



3b The parent is a workaholic.

With all the parental tropes I keep seeing in YA, I can't help but wonder what YA in general says about parents these days. It's so hard to find a loving parental relationship, I wish more YA books focused on that because family is important! Instead of keep seeing how horrible so many parents are when really I think good parents are being heavily under-represented.


What do you think of the portrayal of parents in YA?

Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.

16 comments:

  1. The workaholic parent is one that absolutely kills me. All of these are honestly "convenient excuses" for the main character to be able to do whatever without getting in trouble and whatnot, but the workaholic is a particular pet peeve of mine. My dad WAS a bit of a workaholic, but he still knew what was going on with me, if only because he'd NOTICE if I was still awake/out by the time he got home.

    Otherwise, this is one of those things that doesn't REALLY bug me unless/until I read a book where parents are appropriately engaged --- then I absolutely notice and go "Oh hey! Parents exist! Yay!"

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  2. I agree with you on this. There are those rare books when you find families who love and support one another, or even are there to begin with. I'm hoping authors make note of this and start adding more families back into books. I know the few I can think of off the top of my head that WERE there are The Selection, Simon vs., Outrun the Moon...and....uh. lol. xD

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  3. I couldn't agree more with your post!! My parents were a huge part of my high school years, and still even now in college I have a great relationship with them! To me, they were as integral as my best friends or boyfriend are. What are some of your favorite books where parents actually have a part in their kid's life?

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  4. Have you read any of Morgan Matson's books? I honestly read her books not for the romances, but for the family relationships. I just finished her book The Unexpected Everything, and although the dad was a workaholic, the relationship between the dad and the MC was my favorite in the book. Also, her book, Second Chance Summer, does an AMAZING job focusing on the family, and I'm not going to lie, I did tear up a little.

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  5. Ah yeah I see this happen a lot in novels and in things like anime, but I think now people are learning that having a healthy parent relationship in the story can help a lot. Maybe writers get lazy and don't want to write the parents? LOL

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  6. Absentation of the parent is a huge theme that goes back to days of yore. (I took this fairy tales and folk traditions class. I never notice the whole missing parent was so prevalent before that class). I do agree, the parent are often pretty negligent or self involved, BUT I have read some books with great parents lately. So, I was encouraged.

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  7. THIS. The number of YA books I've read with supportive, attentive parents I can count on one hand. We need more present parents in books. Thanks for sharing this Rachel and, as always, fabulous post! ♥

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  8. I am so with you on this. I HATE how parents are depicted! So when I do find a book that depicts a realistic parent/child dynamic in YA, I just cherish it even more.

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  9. So true! I'm really close to my parents and I'm sure quite a few people are, yet in books practically nobody a) has parents or b) gets along with them. Family is so important and I wish more books included good family relationships! I'm actually currently reading a book and although the parents are present, they don't care where there kids are and I'm like SERIOUSLY?! Great post!

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  10. I agree that is most parents in YA. It's a shame too because the ones that have good parents in it are really good.

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  11. OMG THIS POST. I always always always go on about the parents in YA. I love family-oriented books with involved and supportive parents, and thankfully, those are ever-increasing. Family is what tides us over in tough times, and it. is. important. YA needs to show more parent-teen dynamics, and more of the positive. It's not, of course, possible to always agree with parents, but they need to be portrayed as human beings with flaws, rather than the absent-minded, workaholic beings that they always supposedly are in YA.
    Thank you SO MUCH for this post, Rachel <3

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  12. It really bothers me that parents are always portrayed in such a bad light. I mean, it makes sense because in YA it's a stage where lots of teenagers have issues with their parents or where you know, it's inconvenient for the parents to be around. But I really love books especially where the family feel is done well in them! Maybe it's because I love my parents and family so much. But I would want more variation in how parents are portrayed.

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  13. This is such a frustrating thing about YA, how the parents never seem to have a big part in the teen's life when it's not really relatable at all. I can see recent contemporaries attempting to make this more realistic. Lovely discussion Rach!

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  14. I would add a #4 - The parents are present but are so dysfunctional that the child has to take care of them and any siblings also.

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  15. I think a lot of the parents in YA being sorta absent/not attentive/dead/etc is because it's gonna give the child a complex in most cases, or in other words, make the character more interesting/dynamic, so in some books I totally get it, but it's definitely overused at times. I'd love to see more good parents in books, too! I also feel like sometimes, if there's nothing wrong with the parents and they're not important to the plot/character development (which, honestly, parents usually are), there's really no need to give them much spotlight... maybe that's why it's not as common in YA lit.

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  16. This drives me crazy! All of the above. There are the rare stories where the parents being MIA for whatever reason just CLICKS with the story, but for the most part? It drives me nuts. I know there are terrible parents in the world. I know kids lose their parents at young ages, like I lost my daddy. I know there are parents who work too much, or get a divorce and one disappears... However, this whole trope makes it seem like there are NO good parents in the world, and that is the furthest thing from the truth. SHOW THAT! The good ones... a story can still be just as amazing with parents that are There!!!!

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