Sunday, July 8, 2012

Marmees or lack thereof

As I submerge myself in YA fiction--and even in a lot of adult fiction as well--I can't help but notice there is a lack of parental focus. Either the parent has died, absent from the YA's life in some way, or is a complete jerk. I know not everyone is blessed with the same fabulous parents and sister I have, but it makes me sad to see such underdeveloped characters in YA, and like I said sometimes in even regular fiction. Even though I'm traveling the road of adulthood and live two hours away, (or I will again this fall) my parents still play a such role in my life.

I get texts from my dad every week, and whenever I start to panic, I immediatly call my mom. Their advice is important to me along with their respect. While they don't govern me, their opinion still does matter. However, I'm noticing a lot of YA MCs just don't care about their parents.

 I've always loved the character Marmee in Little Women. While she is somewhat of a saintly figure, she is always giving the girls advice and helps guide them through their journeys. Sadly, I haven't seen a lot of characters like her in popular fiction aside from Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter series. She was also more spunky then Mrs. March, but I still loved her.

Dads are also another character--and important figure in their daughter's lives--who are often overlooked. Even the good ones--like Bella's dad in the Twilight--come across as "bad" because they are being over-protective. Frankly, I wouldn't want my daughter to marry a 100+ year old vampire or have his child which could fatally harm her, but I digress.

I would like to see more strong relationships between MCs and their parents. The mom or dad don't have to be perfect, but just real. They can offer their advice, give their opinion, and even show general concern for their child without being "typical, jerk dad/mom."

Why do you think we don't see alot of good parental figures in YA any more?


  1. Intentional or not, I think it is a comment on our society. So many parents just don't care what their kids are doing. I'm constantly reminded of this when I go to the mall and see pre-teens milling about it groups. Or see a young girl out in public and dressed inappropriately.

    I am lucky to have good parents. Even though they divorced when I was young, I had a pretty good relationships with both my mom and my dad.

    I don't write YA, but my relationship with my parents often doesn't show in my writing. The mother is almost always dead and the father usually dies within the first few chapters (or has recently died). Perhaps it is easier to not complicate the plot with extra characters if they don't play into the scheme of things.

    In regards to YA historicals, it is a bit odd that parents don't play more of a role. Particularly with women, they were supposed to be subservient to their parents (or father) until they were married whereupon they became their husband's property. Perhaps it is the modern concept of parenting showing up in today's fiction!

  2. I agree that there are lots of parents who let their kids get away with too much, but I also think there are plenty of parents who still care about their children. I guess care is the wrong word, but they wouldn't be afraid to tell them "That's WAY too short! You can't go out like that." I also think there are a lot of parents who try to be "cool" and "hip." They want their kids to be the "popular" ones, and let them go out like that.

    However, I'm sure there are plenty of parents like my own. I would like to see more strong-willed and better parents in YA. They all seem to be jerks and control freaks. I know not every teenager gets along with their parents, and EVERY teenager does fight with them, but parents play an important role in our lives. I would like to see more Marmee-type characters.

  3. I, too, noticed the lack of parental figures on YA novels. I don't read them as much as I read other genres, and I'm not a writer of YA, but it's definitely something I question myself about: why do the parents have to be absent?

    I think it's more because of the imagery that teenagers and young adults are detached of their parents and family as a whole, thus YA novels are much more focused on the friends of the protagonist. As all stereotypes, it happens to be false in a lot of cases. Still, adolescence is about growing apart from your parents. I suppose even if one has a healthy and strong relationships with his/her parents, he or she could still easily not notice the lack of parents on the protagonist's life and relate that the MC's life revolves around her friends.

    I certainly do, but then again, YA is not my favorite genre.

  4. I agree that there seem to be a lot of missing parents in YA.

    In the project I'm working on I'm in a middle way. In the beginning it seems like the normal 'no parents' situation but my MC lives with her uncle who she has a very good/close relationship with. Also, part of the novel's story is the (re)appearance of her father and her relationship with him. So while I'm not showing a typical/happy family I think family still plays a bigger role in the novel.