Silent Figures...

So often they are non-existent, as characters go, in young adult fiction. They are distant figures that you know have to be there – how could the MC be alive without them, after all? – but who never really make an appearance. And if they do? If they do they are typically presented as annoyances or unimportant factors of home life. That’s it, you got it. I’m talking about parents.

I remember reading (somewhere!) that it was becoming a cliché for writers to use the slang ‘rents to represent parents. After all, do teens even say that anymore? It seemed a lot of authors were attempting to portray a blasé attitude towards parental overlords in that way. But with that comes the realization that those same authors were portraying the same relationship dynamic along with the slang. How is it possible these vastly different teens handle their parents in the same manner?

Parents, however quiet we try to make them, have a huge impact on the everyday workings of teen lives:

1) How late the teen is allowed out

2) if the teen works or receives an allowance

3) if the teen is given assistance for a car or not

4) if the teen’s parents buy him cigarettes or alcohol (yes, it happens)

5) whether parties in the basement are possible… and…

6) … a million other things. Parents have a direct influence on how a student tackles homework, and lots of teens treat relationships in different ways based on how their mom and dad interact. Not all teens have a huge group of friends and Mom or Dad can often be a soundboard, a shoulder to cry on. If I got dumped I’d go to my mom. Is it because I’m 20 years old and not a teen anymore? No. If I got dumped at 15 I’d go to my mom too. So I find it hard to believe every teenager in YA fiction (that I’ve read) lives a life so separate from home. Every teenager I’ve ever met loves their mom. I remember having a conversation at college that revolved around our love of our mothers.

At that point, I could say that we can appreciate our parents more when we’ve left the nest. The teen angst is gone. But that is just the problem. Not all teens have the same emotions. I, for one, didn’t go through the angst phase. Neither did my younger brother, but my older brother did! And before I continue rambling and going in all sorts of directions with this, let me just say I think it wouldn’t hurt to have more parent time in YA fiction. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think parents are a great source of humor or drama or conflict for a writer. Anyone who’s been to the “S**t my dad says” site or “Crazy things parents say” knows what I mean. And with that I leave you examples. And you can decide for yourself.

AND I just started three sentences in a row with “and,” so I should be shot.

Two crazy things some parents said from the site "Crazy things parents say," link above:

Me: I love you.

Dad: Cool story, bro.

Mom: Your sister met a guy by elbowing him..wait..

Me: ?

Mom: I think she punched him on Facebook.