Saturday, August 13, 2011

Good Parents Vs. Bad Parents

What happened to the days when families loved one another? Today, I'm bringing up the topic of bad parents (in books) vs. the good parents. More times I read a book about the protagonists having a terrible upbringing: drugged up parents, alcoholic parents, abusive parents, cheating parents, being abandoned by parents, etc.

As much as I love a survival story... because I'm all for overcoming hardships, I'm starting to wonder, "Where have all the good parents gone?" Why? Where? How? Huh?!

Do characters ever say this in books?!
Is it really necessary for the book to have the main character come from a bad background? Does this story arc sale books? Why are readers drawn to characters who've been through the ringer?

Okay, I know I'm throwing a lot of questions out there, but I'm starting to get bored with the same ol' same ol' story plots revolving around bad parents. I, for one, had a really great upbringing. I'd love to be able to read a story, or two, about the characters having a good family dynamic.

What say you, readers. Does this story arc bother you as much as me? Also, do you know of any books where parents are actually nice... and by golly, the kids actually get along with them?

Please share with me!



  1. Amen! I really think there needs to be more parents in YA. I know that teens who don't have supportive & active parents get into more trouble, but I know plenty of kids with great parents who have still messed up. Honestly, I kinda think that the bad or missing parents thing is a cop-out. It gives an easy explanation for why/how the kids are the way the are, and you also don't really have to worry about writing the parents in. I think it's something that needs to change... We need to see more parents being parents in YA... Sigh. 

  2. I didn't come from a great home. I won't go into details, but I don't seem to notice this no "good parents" in books problem many people talk about. I have heard other people mention wanting more of the "good parents" like you mention (you're not the only one :) ), but I'm personally not bothered by always having "bad" ones in a story. Is it because mine weren't and still aren't so great...maybe. I connect well with stories written this way because I still carry around my upbringing on my shoulders and I think about it daily. 

  3. The Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy - the main character Stephanie. Her parents are together, happy, normal people. Who love Stephanie a lot but also give her the space she needs.
    It is refreshing to read. But as others have said. If the characters aren't troubled in some way the story wouldn't go anywhere a lot of the time, and one way to make trouble is to have bad parents. And they are out there, kids deal with it all the time so from that point of view it does sell books - gives them something to relate to.

  4. Sam @ Tiny LibraryOctober 1, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    I think it's true to and reflects life - there are bad parents as well as good.  Sorry to be the pessimist in the thread! :P

  5. It's hard not to notice this common theme of parents being dead, divorced or absent. I guess like you say it makes the point that the protagonist has so many hardships to survive through. Sure real life reflects this change in family generally, but on such a drastic scale...? I'm not quite sure. It would definitely be good to see more stories with  a different angle to this.

  6. Good and happy families do seem to be an exception in books. I find a lighter read, like a stereotypical beach read, usually contains happier and more "normal" family situations.

  7. Amen! I do stumble upon books where there are good parents but it seems like they are increasingly bad. So annoying!

  8. Well, unfortunately, teens in books wouldn't get in nearly as much trouble if their parents were supportive and aware. I think it's difficult to come up with a riveting plot and still give the characters familial support.... so authors take the easy way out. It's just like sex in books -- not every teen is having sex, but sometimes books make it seem that way.

  9. ReflectionsofabookaholicOctober 1, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    I'm starting to wonder about the families in the books as well.  If they are abusive, drunks, and etc.  They are DEAD or extremely absent for one reason or the other.  I have no guess for what is going on.  I just know I don't particularly like it.


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