Sunday Book Club: Where Are All the Dads (and Moms)?

June 18, 2017 Sunday Book Club 17

Happy Father’s Day to the two men that read my blog – my husband and my father lol. I hope you are enjoying a day with your father or simply resting in the deep deep love that your Heavenly Father has for you.

On Tuesday, I looked at my favorite dads in kiddy lit, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction. To be honest, I really could only think of 10. And barely that. The moms list that I came up with around Mother’s Day was tough too.

So my question today is where have all the good parents in fiction gone? I know there are a lot still out there – Reese Mitchell, Eisley Barrett (both from Pepper Basham), the Porters (Becky Wade), the Carringtons (Sarah Monzon) and more. But it seems as though – especially in young adult fiction – there aren’t as many examples of good parents anymore. Not as many healthy marriages either, fewer two-parent homes for teens/young kids, etc.

Why do you think this is? Is it a reflection of society? Is it because – thanks to the changing world – there are a growing number of authors who didn’t have good relationships with their parents? I really don’t know and it’s something I’ve been mulling over as I read more young adult fiction.

So what about you? Where are the good parents in fiction – or even picture books? Give me your fave examples. I’d love to hear your thoughts on why they’re being more rare, too!

Carrie

17 Responses to “Sunday Book Club: Where Are All the Dads (and Moms)?”

  1. David Booth

    OK. As one of the few male blog readers — and I confess I don’t read them all — I have to add a fictional dad that isn’t in the normal reading list for this group. That dad is Arthur Weasley. He is someone I admire in how he loves his family and does what is right, regardless of the consequences or personal sacrifice. It doesn’t hurt to be a bit quirky and also magical. He and Molly compare so wonderfully against the Malfoys as the right kind of parents.

    • Karen

      Oh, good call! He’s such a wonderful literary dad!

    • Carrie

      You know how much I love Arthur Weasley (he made my list on Tuesday, btw) And I love that comparison between the Weasleys and the Malfoys – definitely the antitheses of each other! (P.S. – Love you, Daddy!)

  2. Karen

    One of my favorite books is Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. The dad in that book was pretty good, I think, especially being a widower. I haven’t read much YA fiction in awhile, so I can’t think of any good dads in that genre. I wonder why authors feel like they need write more “realistic” fiction that doesn’t always include a happy ending. I know that people always talk about relatable characters who are flawed and human. So does that mean that authors are writing about parents in a more negative light because parents are getting worse, or are they just speaking more freely about poor parenting that’s been happening? It seems like a very chicken vs. egg question, and I’m unsure about the answer! I myself prefer to read about good parents because it inspires me to be better in my efforts to parent my child. Poor parents just make me sad and sometimes very angry. I don’t need that in my literature! Lol

    • Carrie

      It’s very much a chicken vs egg question! Yes

  3. Beckie B.

    Even in fiction geared to adults, the characters are missing parents, usually due to one or both having died. I find this sad too. Parents can be a great source of wisdom and encouragement for adult children. Deborah Raney’s Chickory Inn series is a good example. My dad died when I was 32 and my mom when I was 39. There have been so many times through the years when I have wished for their advice in difficult situations and when I wished to share the joys.

    Great question as always. I hope authors will take notice and add a few more positive parent-child relationships.

    • Carrie

      I hope so too, and I agree about the Chicory Inn parents. I love them!!

  4. Karen Sargent

    English teacher answer here…Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a favorite dad in literature for me. He wasn’t especially affectionate to his children, but he stood up for his beliefs even when he stood alone. He wanted Jem and Scout to learn the importance of seeing beyond the limited views of the majority. As for the absence of parents in today’s literature, I do believe it is reflection of our society and the decay of family. So sad.

  5. Patti Smith

    English Teacher response here as well 🙂 I studied YA lit in grad school and the absence of parents in much of YA lit was discussed a lot. The research at that time pointed to young adults as still being very egocentric…their lives don’t revolve around their parents…even when they have “good” parents. Their lives revolve around their friends. With that being said, I think that means that YA writers in particular, if they want young adults to read their books and connect with their characters, then they have to write realistically to their audience. Hope that makes sense. It always made sense to me. I have 3 daughters, 24, 22, and 13. 🙂 Love your blog 🙂

    • Carrie

      Hi Patty – thanks so much! And yes, I think you are exactly right

  6. Brittaney B

    I noticed the same thing when I made my lists and it made me sad when I came to the same conclusion. Maybe it’s the fact that grown adults don’t always live in close proximity to their parents and this carries over to fiction. Plus once you become an adult life tends to keep you busy and you don’t always tend to focus on the relationships you can take for granted. And in fiction conflict and dysfunction tend to be more interesting. I also wonder if the lack of good parents reflects author experiences? I love Case Walker in Melissa Tagg’s series and Cheyney Duvall’s parents in the old Gilbert Morris series. Lisa T Bergen has good parents in her River of Time YA series as does Denise Hunter in her Chapel Springs series.

    • Carrie

      Yes!! I agree with your observations. And great examples too 🙂

  7. Rachael

    I recently read an interesting YA book–Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw–in which the main character suffers from a plethora of parents (actual parents divorced and remarried, plus an aunt and uncle who raised her during senior year of high school, plus an honorary uncle who understands her best), and they are all very parent-like–sometimes pushy, sometimes too nosy, but in general, marvelously imperfectly loving. She’s just out of high school and trying to decide if she even wants to go to college, so it’s something of a coming-of-age book, and maybe that’s why her “seven parents” work well in the story. And it was written in 1968, before such complicated families had become so common.

    • Carrie

      “Marvelously imperfectly loving” – I love that!

  8. Carolyn Astfalk

    I’m sensitive to the number of broken homes in children’s and YA fiction, and I notice my kids are too. There’s making characters relatable to kids from broken homes and then there’s making it seem like EVERY child’s family is broken and/or dysfunctional.

    From an author’s perspective, I can see how “bad” parents make for a more interesting character arc or backstory, but I think we need to resists creating a false impression about parents and family life.