Character Types: The Parents

We all know that parent in YA novels. theparentspinterestYou know: the one who doesn’t know what’s going on and opposes the young protagonist for most of the book–but then finally admits that their child was right all along right before the book ends.

If you haven’t noticed already, it’s a rather problematic stereotype. Which is exactly why we’re tackling it in today’s video. We also call for questions for our first-ever Q&A at the end of the video! So if there are any questions you’ve been dying to ask, then now’s your chance!

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Josiah’s Article on Coming-of-Age Stories and How Parents Fit Into Them

Previous Stereotypes:

The Comic Relief

The Mentor

The Damsel in Distress

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.
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  1. Oh man, I love it when another one of these comes out. XD XD XD
    And I agree, as usual. In fact, I actually find parents one of the more interesting and potentially powerful character-slots to fill. I mean, technically they were ‘normal people’ before they got married, so… XD
    And I thought I caught something about Q&A amidst all the hysterical teasing, so… did you already do a video on the dark lord stereotype? This series has been going so long, I don’t remember. If you haven’t, could you?

    • So true! If only the general principles of character development were applied to parents as well in more YA novels. =P

      Yeah, our announcement there was kind of overshadowed with our other shenanigans. 😉 But yes, we’re doing a Q&A video later this month or next month. I can answer your question here, though: it’s been on my list of stereotypes to tackle for a while, but I’ll see if I can move it closer to the top! And let me know if you have any other questions for me to throw at Daniel and Anna in our Q&A video.

      • Yes, I know! It would be really great if we could get rid of all character ‘categories’ and just stick with ‘people’. 😛

        Ooh, good. I love that stereotype. 😀 I have way too much fun messing with it. 😛 Can’t wait to see what you have to say on it.
        Is the Q&A more for just any question writing related whatsoever then?

        • More intended for personal/humorous questions for us to tackle on the show, similar to the questions Anna’s asked before in the “Behind the Scenes Interviews.” Probably should have made that more clear in the end clip. But basically, whatever off-the-cuff question(s) you want to see us tackle in the video. We may answer writing questions as well if we have different opinions on them, a la the damsel-in-distress video.

  2. As usual, I am laughing hysterically. 😛 Awesome video, once again! The Parent Stereotype drives me crazy, too. Like in Finding Nemo…Marlin was RIGHT, and Nemo was WRONG, and Marlin was the one who apologized!

    • Haha, great example. I hadn’t thought about that one, but it’s so true!

    • Yes, great example Greta. I never noticed that. Now I always will. *half-hearted glare* Thanks a lot. 😛
      One instance of this stereotype rather better handled, speaking of Pixar, is Ratatouille— Remy and his dad both had to come to grips with the central issues in different ways. In a sense they were both wrong. So although Remy’s vision ended up being the correct one, neither situation (disrespect of parents or insensitivity to children) was promoted. Rather, both of them being wrong on different things made us focus on the actual BELIEFS on trial more than their strained relationship.
      Or something like that. 😛

  3. I’m watching this and then Anna appears and says “Shout out to Bluejay” and I think, “Hey, that’s my name…oh wait she’s talking to me.” 🙂 Yay! Seriously Anna, that slap, very real. *Hopes you’ve seen Race to Witch Mountain, otherwise you’ll never know where that line comes from*
    Hmm…as for questions…I shall have to think. Oh wait, I thought of one. Q: Is Daniel really like that in real life, or he just an amazing actor??? 😉
    “A classical woman”… Watch out Daniel. There are more females on KP than guys. *stares at you suspiciously*

  4. Thank you so much for this! The Parent stereotype is so annoying, even if I do feel that way about my parents sometimes 😛 It’s sad how much this has spread. I remember a few years back listening to an Adventures in Odyssey episode that was about a daughter growing up, and noticing (for the first time) that her dad was “really embarrassing.” At the end she did realize that she was prioritizing what others thought about her too much, but he still apologized -_- One classic that has this stereotype is Pride and Prejudice (what I immediately thought of), but I think Elizabeth’s parents were portrayed like that because that’s how most people around her acted.
    Another parent stereotype is “dead” 😉 What do you think about that one?

    • Mr. and Mrs. Bennett are some of my favorite parent characters in fiction. ^_^ They do kind of fall into this stereotype, but they feel so real and authentic as characters that I don’t terribly mind. Plus, they’re great comic relief.
      Ha. Yep; that would be the other main stereotype about the parents. I think that practically-speaking, that often happens in order to force the young protagonist to make decisions for themselves, as I discussed in my article on coming-of-age stories… So I dislike how often it pops up in fiction, but I do get why it’s a common trope.

      • Yeah, they are quite amusing to watch 😀 My family members kept giving me strange looks because I laughed so much while reading Pride and Prejudice.
        It is getting annoying how many stories (looking at Disney right now -_-) use one or both of these stereotypes. I’m writing a novel in which the main character’s mother is dead, but it’s crucial to the plot, and not just to establish a tragic backstory or get rid of a character.

        • Yeah; I had some fun with this trope in the last novel I was working on. One of my goals with the novel was to subvert this stereotype so I made it that the hero could only succeed when he listened to his parent’s advice. But then in my current novel, the way the story required one parent to be the villain and another parent to be dead. =P So unfortunately, not all stories can subvert this trope…

  5. What kind of questions are you looking for? Any? Such as, how many words makes a chapter?

  6. Here’s one: does Daniel always wear his hair like that???

  7. This is a good one, you guys XD One way you could tackle this would be to let the hero be at a farther stage in his maturity and make his parents encouraging, thus letting the conflict come from other places. Sort of like in CW’s The Flash first season, where Barry’s dad is more of a minor character who is important to him, and the conflict that might normally come from parents comes from other areas like Harrison Wells (the mentor), or something like that. IDK though. It’s definitely something to think about.

    Ooohh a Q and A video! 😀 I have a few. What books/movies do you guys like? If Daniel was in charge of these videos, what would they be about/would he do differently ( ;P )? What music groups do you like?

    Also, how often does Anna normally slap Daniel?

    • Good thoughts! I only saw the pilot episode of the Flash, so I can’t comment much on that, but it sounds like a good example!

      Man, I love those questions. Unfortunately, though, we’ve already filmed the Q&A video. 🙁 We will try to do another in the future, though, so keep those in mind for when we do it again! I’d love to get Daniel’s answer to that question. 😉

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