Where are the families in YA?

Hey guys! Discussion time! So as you can tell by the title, I’m going to be talking about families in YA books-or really the lack off families in YA.

I got the inspiration to do this post after reading two fantastic posts. One of them being by Joan @ Fiddle Blue titled I Want These Love Stories In My Books which focuses on different relationships that books seem to lack nowadays. And the other post being by Analee @ Book Snacks titled  Not all books hate families, I assure you..! | A list of books with pro-family themes which finally pushed me to make this topic.

The main question is- where are the families in YA?

I kind of get where this stemmed off from- YA books wanting to offer something different from the nuclear family. Nuclear families clearly aren’t the norm anymore with there being more remarried couples, single parent families and so on and so forth. I think this is one aspect of YA that reflects real life realistically. Not necessarily that they are full of single parent families but that they are not full of the perfect two parents, two children types of families.

However, I think people, including myself are starting to realise that there is an awful lack of loving families. I hardly read books where the protagonist have a nice, healthy relationship with their parents. In some instances, especially with the fantasy genre, it can come off a bit lazy when the main protagonist is an orphan, almost like the writer couldn’t be bothered to build and write a parent-child relationship. This isn’t the only genre I see this problem in, I also see this problem in contemporary. Normally the families are single parent (which I have no problem with) and the protagonist normally claims to have a strong relationship with that parent but we never see it demonstrated!

In Analee’s post she does post many books with Pro-Family themes which is greatly appreciated because I think I am unconsciously trying to scout them out.And In Joan’s post she puts the magnifying glass on other relationships in novels. Family relationships really do need to be written about more, especially in contemporary novels were relationships are primary. I’m not just wanting parent-child relationships but sibling relationships. Sibling relationships are one of my favourite relationships as I have a brother and sister myself and I love to see how characters interact with their siblings.

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The lack of families also bring the practical problem of what they are letting their kids do. Like I know that each child has a degree of independence that the parent lays out for them, but sometimes it can be a tad unrealistic. I want parents who ask what the main protagonist has done at school, or scold them about having a messy room. I think these little interactions help build up a realistic relationship between the main protagonist and the parent. Not all parent-child relationships have to be all rainbows and sunshine. A great example of family love is the Weasley family from Harry Potter. Though Rowling gets across the warmth of the family unit she also shows realistic tribulations inside it. Having these dynamics can make the characters even more interesting

We all love the boyfriend/girlfriend  relationship, I know. But sometimes I think I want a different type of love while reading.

What are your thoughts? Comment below and I’ll be sure to get back!

I’ll write soon!

-Astra

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22 thoughts on “Where are the families in YA?

  1. jbgarner58 says:

    I’ve certainly noticed it myself.

    I think it represents a couple of things on the main. First, it’s quick, easy drama to create a dysfunctional family dynamic (at least if that’s the intent). Low-hanging dramatic fruit, so to speak. Plus a dysfunctional or absent family is a few less characters for an author to worry about, which may come into play consciously or subconsciously to a struggling writer.

    Second, it may come about as a subset of the ‘All Adults Are Useless’ trope, where in an effort to make the YA protagonists so, well, protagonist-y, all adults, parents included, get put on a backburner and handed a pile of Idiot Balls to play with.

    I’m sure there are more reasons, but those are the ones that spring to mind from my own observations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A Stranger's Guide to Novels says:

      Those are all brilliant reasons!
      I certainly see why they would make the parents useless to make the protagonist seem more strong and important and independent. And most of the time their isn’t a logical reason why the protagonist just doesn’t go to their parent when dealing with problems. It’s just one of of those things I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Katherine Viti says:

    This is so true! When reading YA, I often wonder where the characters’ parents are when all the craziness goes down. I mean, unless the parents are physically absent, parents are the biggest force in a teen’s life, and that’s hardly ever reflected.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RaeAnne says:

    So true!!

    I think some of it can be attributed to laziness–the character “development” is already done for you in the cases of the protagonist’s “family”–if there is one to speak of! (Ooh, the orphan thing gets on my nerves!)
    There’s easy drama there, too…but there are plenty of opportunities in a healthy family dynamic for drama, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul @ The Galaxial Word says:

    YES! I couldn’t agree more! I feel like normal, supporting families are slowly dying out because they’re not dramatic enough, and instead, we’re getting dysfunctional, depressing families with little to no family connection. Sometimes, the family is there but just completely ignored or underdeveloped. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Analee @ Book Snacks says:

    Yayyyyyy I’m so happy my post was one of the things that inspired you to do this post!! *Happy dances* Because this was amazing—and such an important topic to discuss too. Young adult books with families in them are not so common, which really sucks! Romance featuring more-than-just-friend-or-family feelings is perfectly fine, but it’s really important to have romance featuring family-love too. 🙂 Loved this post, Astra!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A Stranger's Guide to Novels says:

      Hahahaha well you post was really great so I had to mention it 🙂
      It is a very important topic and I would love to see more posts about it. Your right, it totally sucks especially because I think while your a teenager family is important to your development. I love romance as much as the next person but I love family dynamics just as much.
      Aw thank you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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