The Good, The Bad, The Parents of YA

Let it be known, when offered a challenge, most of the time I’m game – and ready to accept whatever is asked of me. Especially so if the said challenge involves book and/or reading books. In 2009 I challenged myself to read 100 books (a challenge I found on goodreads.com), and this year I have decided to take the 100 book challenge again, however my goal is to read 150 books instead of 100.

Recently, a friend and fellow blogger, Miss Print,  offered an enticing challenge – to find good parents within young adult books. After reading her blog, and the article which sparked the challenge, many thoughts and feelings within me were stirred in regards to this subject.

I’m going on record and saying: I do not agree with what the author wrote in her article. After much thought I’ve come to the conclusions of why I do not agree with her.

First: Judging from the titles mentioned within her article, I feel that she is not making a fair judgement. I think it is safe to say that she has not read every young adult book that has been published. Therefore she does not fully know the kinds of parents that are featured and/or characterized within young adult books. Yes, it is true there are YA books that feature ‘bad parents’ but it’s a generalization to say that all parents within the genre are bad.

Second: Again, judging from the titles mentioned in her article, I feel that she has chosen to criticize books, where the parents, or parental figures may not be central to the main plot. Most YA books I have read I’ve found that they are character driven, and focus mainly on the central character. My opinion: maybe parents or parental figures aren’t mentioned or are misrepresented because they just aren’t crucial to the story.

Third: Still judging from the article and from the books mentioned in it, maybe journalist Just does not realize that many young adult books are realistic, and reality is: not every parent is a good parent, and not every child or teenager has a good relationship with his/her parents. Many problems within the lives of teenagers have to do with their parents – if that’s the case – should parents always be represented in a good light?

Take “Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank for example – it is known through many diary entries that Anne does not have a strong relationship with her mother, in fact she goes as far as to say that her mother isn’t a “motherly” mother, and she knows from her the kind of mother she does not want to be. Does that make Mrs. Frank a bad parent? Not at all – reality is, they didn’t have a close relationship or bond with one another.

Fourth: An aspect, I do not think the article considered is the fact that parents are busy – not just raising their family, but also working to support that family, being there emotionally as well as physically for family members, and trying their hardest to spread themselves out evenly. With all of those facts taken into consideration parents, in reality, do ask their children to “leave them alone” or to “go away.” I’m not at all saying that it’s right, and it’s justified, I’m saying it’s human.

Just criticizes Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline” for having bad parents. I do fully understand why this book was criticized – because both of Coraline’s parents ask her to leave them alone. However, Just did not mentioned the reason of why they wanted Coraline to leave them alone – they were working – trying to support Coraline by earning a living that will keep a roof over her head, food in her stomach, and even will be able to buy her those funky gloves she’s wanted.  I don’t think parents in Gaiman’s “Coraline” were bad parents – preoccupied yes, but not bad.

I’m not a parent, but I have heard parents tell their children to leave them alone, or suggest activities that will force the child to leave them alone – again, not right, but realistic.

After some research I have decided that I will, for the month of April, list two to three titles that have examples of “good parents” and my reasoning of why those parents are “good.”

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What makes Atticus Finch a good parent? There are many components that make up the answer to this question. Atticus, father to Jem and Scout, works hard to provide for his family, showing them that work is, not only necessary, but meaningful. He not only provides financially, but he provides his family with love, respect, and honesty. Atticus, takes the time to not only tuck his children in bed at night, but also to talk to them, and listens to what they have to say. He’s never too busy, or preoccupied for them. In taking a case to prove the integrity of a black man, Atticus show’s his children to stand up for what they believe it, and for what is right. Through his actions, his respect for all – no matter of skin color – Atticus teaches his children that they shouldn’t judge a person without knowing them or knowing where they’ve come from. Sure, Atticus reprimands his children when they’ve done something wrong, but  what parent doesn’t? What parent wouldn’t care so much about their children to help them grow into wise, strong adults?

Atticus Finch is a good parent because he has given his children a foundation to stand upon, he has given them a set of morals to guide them through life, and he loves them unconditionally – even when they do something wrong.

 – Hoot by Carl Hiaasan

Mr. and Mrs. Eberhardt are good parents and it is shown through, not just words, but by the actions represented in the pages of Hoot. Sure they are upset when son, Roy,  gets thrown off the bus, and sure they are upset when he is brought home by a police officer, but they are understanding enough to hear Roy’s side of the story, to drive him to and from school, and to stick up for their son. They believe in Roy, and encourage him to always do the right thing. Because of this Roy has a great relationship with his parents. He loves and respects them, just as they do Roy. They are the kinds of parents that aren’t only proud, but the kind of parents that let their child have their moment to shine.

The Eberhardt’s give Roy the best gift a parent could give – independence and freedom. They let him make decisions for himself, they let him figure out what’s right and wrong for his own life. Roy return’s that gift by being as open and honest with his parents, and because of that they are all closer to one another.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

After reading this reading this book readers may view Jenna Fox’s parents as the enemy – the people who changed her life, and took it away from her at the same time. However, after reading this, I felt differently. 

I don’t know how you could fault two parents for doing whatever it takes to save their one and only child, and give her a second chance at life and a chance to start over new. Was it right for them to lie and to keep what really happened from Jenna, not at all. But in their defense it was a protective mechanism. Parents often lie or not tell their children everything honestly because they want to protect them, and because they love them enough to protect them.

The Foxs’ love their daughter, they try their hardest to keep her spirits up when she is feeling down, they protect her even though she feels she doesn’t need the protection, and above all they give her the chance and the freedom to live a life that was taken away from her once. 

One a final note – there is more where this came from. Please stay tuned!

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