Home Forums Fiction Writing Characters Perfect Parents?

This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  bethanys.inky.roses 8 months, 1 week ago.

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    What do you think of parents who have no personality and never make mistakes? Is there a good excuse for writers who do this?

    For example, in the Mennonite Millers book series, the parents are portrayed as all-wise and unerring. Perfect-no flaws, no mistakes, ever. Maybe they are this way to encourage the small fry in the audience to respect their parents, but isn’t that bad characterization? How should Christian writers encourage respect of parents while keeping the parental characters human???
    I’m stressing way too much over this, I know, but I have parents in my story, and I want to do a good job developing them. I also do not want to dishonor Christ by encouraging disrespect.

    @aratrea @daeus @anne-of-lothlorien @elizabeth @katherine @faithdk @ceaseless-prayer @ethryndal

    I’m new here so…I can’t tag a lot of people. P.S. My username that you can tag is: @bethanysinkyroses

    Discipline is how Art becomes worship, and how Worship becomes art.


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    @bethanysinkyroses Quick answer: It’s okay to portray anyone unrealistically.

    Long answer:

    I think what’s going on in your example (not having read it) is that the author is trying to shine the spotlight on Christianity by making it idealistic in their story.

    This isn’t really doing what they think it is though. The spotlight is focused in the wrong place. In the bible, stories are used to show transformation from darkness to light, rarely is the focus ever on the end state of this journey. Perfection is something we are called to in the “academic” portions of the bible like the epistles, but the story portions are more about the journey there.

    I think this will help put things into perspective. Having perfect characters honors the characters. Having imperfect characters who are called to a higher order honors God. Which is better?

    I would, however, encourage you that good parents can be a great element in a novel if you feel they belong there. The rule of thumb for fiction is to imitate reality, so honorable parents can work so long as they’re not perfect little angels.

    Of course, they can also be perfect little demons too, if that is necessary for your story.

    It depends on the story.

    *smiley face*



    Josiah DeGraaf
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    @bethanysinkyroses I’ll second what Daeus said about the importance of characters who journey from darkness to light. I’ll also say that I dislike the current trend in fiction where parents are incompetent and merely obstacles in the protagonist’s path. =P

    That being said, I don’t think writing perfect parents is a good solution to that problem because readers can tell when the author is dressing up characters like this. =P If you want to convince readers to honor their parents, writing perfect parents isn’t going to help because the reader will see the disconnect with the reader and likely ignore your point in that part of the story entirely.

    If you want to show a reader what it looks like to have a healthy, honoring relationship with their parents, I believe the best path is to write parents who have clear flaws and virtues, and then show the reader the importance of honoring parents through the protagonist’s example. This doesn’t mean the protagonist needs to perfectly honor their parents. But it does mean that the protagonist should grow in their understanding of what it means to honor their parents over the course of the story. Force the protagonist to grapple with what it looks like to honor parents who have flaws and lead the protagonist to see how much wisdom their parents have to offer even though they’re imperfect human beings. This example will have a much better moral effect on the reader than simply writing perfect parents, IMO.

    Hopefully that helps. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Writing fantasy stories w/superheroes. ยท josiahdegraaf.com

    Kate Flournoy
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    @bethanysinkyroses yeah… what they said. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Also just realize that ‘parents’ is not some sort of alternate reality slot that some human beings choose to fall into and become not-human beings. Some people are parents, but all parents are people. These characters should be as developed as your other characters because they’re just as complex.

    Spinning a little off what @daeus and @aratrea said, is it more honest and powerful to show kids that parents, even with their flaws, are worthy of respect, as God clearly thinks they are? Or that parents should only be respected if they’re perfect, which no parent can be?

    Keleigha Liess
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    @bethanysinkyroses Definitely agree with everyone else. Another thing I thought of is that in trying to teach or encourage your audience in any way, you need them to be able to identify with your characters, & they can’t do that if your characters are perfect. Make sense?

    Also, I really like @kate-flournoy‘s point. Showing the real life struggle between choosing to honor God or choosing to honor self, regardless of circumstances or other people makes the story real & impacting, whether you’re focusing on the parent or the child. ๐Ÿ™‚


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    @daeus @aratrea @kate-flournoy @ceaseless-prayer Thanks for the feedback. The gist of what ya’ll said was kind of my gut feeling, but I didn’t want to run with it on a story this important to me. So thank you, because I really needed some sound thoughts on this.

    Now I think I’ll have to go develop my parents. (Why is that so exciting?!)

    Discipline is how Art becomes worship, and how Worship becomes art.

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