I read an essay in the New York Times the other day about parents in YA fiction that I wanted to share with you all. I found it interesting because it takes the angle that certain types of parents have become the "bad guys" in a lot of popular YA books.
What makes a bad parent in YA? I can think of two books off the top of my head with parents that just make me cringe--Say the Word by Jeanine Garsee and North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley. In both, the main character has a father who is downright terrible. Garsee's father is vindictive and cold, and is bent on getting revenge on his ex-wife after death, dragging the narrator through it all. The father in Headley's book is suffering from a career failure and micromanages his family's lives--to the extent that his wife overeats rather than stand up to him.
Then of course there is the classic example of the absent parent in YA, forcing the main character to grow up quickly, raise themselves (and any other siblings hanging around), and make their own way. These absent parents seem to be more ubiquitous in fiction coming out now (perhaps because it's more convenient for the story?), and I see less and less YA characters with good relationships with their parents.
I know that a good relationship isn't always realistic--parents can be frustrating and overbearing, and it is true that not everyone is a good parents, which can cause some friction. But, I've always had a great relationship with my parents, and sometimes I'd like to see books that reflect that a little more often--books like The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott.
So, what do you think of parental protrayal in YA fiction? Are bad parents believable? What makes good parents believeable?