Writing Relationships: Families
Welcome to my first post on writing relationships. This is sort of a follow-up to my post on rebellious writing. By writing relationships, I don't mean relationships between a writer and their writing or something. I'm talking about the relationships we find in writing.
Too often in novels and movies, people make these horrible relationships between people. Whether they know the person or not, they don't have people treat one another well. The relationships are unkind, thoughtless, or not even there. This series is going to talk about how to write good, healthy relationships. There will be four parts- families, friends, couples, and other people (all those other relationships we don't think about a lot). Let's get into this first post on families.
Quick, tell me of a good set of parents, who are both alive, around, and care about their child, in a young adult novel. Let me guess, you're having a hard time finding one. We all know about the parents of YA literature. They're either not there, don't care, one's dead or gone, or both totally disappear from the plot.
This needs to change. I understand in books when characters go on a quest, they can't exactly bring their parents along. But we can do much better than what is currently around. It's time to start writing real parents.
Most parents I know are very loving, caring people that are interested in what their kids are in. They enjoy spending time with their kids and are fairly soft spoken. They actually discipline their kids when they need it. These are things you don't see most parents in novels doing.
Don't have parents in your novel be jerks. They are people too. Draw inspiration from the parents you know to write good ones for your novel. Have your parents be both around and alive, and actually care about what their child does.
• Sally Jackson from The Lightning Thief. Even though she is a single mom, she is one of the better parents I can think of in a book. She's exactly what a mom would be like if they found out their kid was a demigod and fighting monsters.
• Tui and Sina from Moana. Moana is one of the few Disney princess that actually has two living parents. Her father is trying to protect her from the harm that came to him when he was younger, which is why he's so hard on her. He's also trying to teach her to be the chief she will need to become one day. Her mother, however, is one of my favorite moms in movies. Sina tells her about what happened to Tui. She catches Moana leaving, but doesn't stop her. Instead she helps her pack her bag. That is a good parent.
Kids in YA are almost as bad as the parents. They always seem to be lying, disobeying, and generally disrespecting their parents as well as other people. I know that this is unfortunately common these days, but that doesn't mean we can't show the world a better example through our writing.
We need to write better relationships between children and parents. YA novels are full of the cliche "my parents don't understand me, so I won't tell them anything" thing. Instead of that, how about we show respectful kids that act kindly towards the people around them?
Children, no matter how old they are, should always be obedient to their parents. They should listen to the people around them. Let's start writing better parent-child relationships, shall we?
• The Coopers from The Cooper Kids Adventure Series. This is a Christian series, so these books have a great parent-child relationship. The kids travel around with their father, who they love and obey. (Check out this series if you want some awesome Christian thrillers.)
• The Cortez family from Spy Kids. This is one of my favorite families from a film series, even if it is a bit cheesy. The Cortez's are always working together and have a pretty good relationship between parents and kids. That was only changed in number four, which was still pretty good.
Have you noticed how terrible the relationships between siblings are in books these days? They're always being mean, calling each other names, and hurting one another. Yeah, siblings fight. That's a part of being a sibling. But I find in literature they are so much worse than what I've seen.
Instead, why don't we write real siblings, that are there for each other and actually get along at least 50% of time? We need to show families that lift each other up instead of tearing one another down. Siblings can be some of the best friends a person has.
I know not everyone has great siblings. We aren't all blessed with great families. However, we can make an example again with our literature and show how families and siblings are supposed to be.
• The Pevensies from The Chronicles of Narnia. One of my all time favorite families from literature. These four children are there for each other through it all, whether that be bombings or finding a magical land. They fight, but they also make-up, and come together despite everything.
• The Beardsley and North kids from Yours, Mine, and Ours. Okay, maybe these aren't the best families, but I love the relationships of the siblings from each one. They are willing to do all sorts of things to stay together. The ending, however, is the best part. When the kids realize they want to be one big family, and start showing it by helping each other with their unique talents. They're awesome when they work together.
Have you ever noticed how little extended family is brought into YA literature? Unless it's the grandparents, they're either not there or not liked. Why don't we see more cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews in books?
Once again, I know we all have extended family that might not be the greatest. But why is it that they don't come into fiction except to be weird or annoying? Or why are all our grandparents kind of boring? We need to show more authentic relationships between our families.
In my family, we see our one set of grandparents quite often. The other set is gone, but when they were alive, we would see them all the time too. I have pretty good relationships with my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Family should be there for each other as much in fiction as they are in real life.
• Bilbo and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo takes in Frodo after his parents die, and I think he's one of the best uncles in literature. He's fun, he lets Frodo explore and have adventures, plus has some secrets of his own. The two of them are quite close, which is lovely.
• Gramma Tala from Moana. I think she's like the best grandmother ever. She helps Moana follow her heart, while also reminding her to listen to her father. She's crazy (that's her job), a beautiful dancer, and is always there for her granddaughter.
For parents. . . Why not make it a full family adventure? Bring the parents along and see what it adds to the story. Or have the parents be fully in support of what the kid is doing over the course of the book and helping them? Think of ways you can improve the roll of the parents in your novels.
For children. . . No matter if they're a teenager or not, they should be respectful to their authorities. Try having a girl that has a night with her mom once a week where she tells her everything. Or a boy who tells his dad he has magic powers. There are so many ways we can improve the parent child relationships in our books.
For siblings. . . We need more Pevensies. Why not have a book where all the kids get caught up in the adventure and have to defend each other? I would personally love to see more fantasy and sci-fi novels where quests or adventures are taken on by families or siblings.
For extended family. . . Why don't we have cooler grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? What about a cousin filled mystery or grandparents that train their grandchildren how to use their powers? Think of ways we can use more of these relations in our books as well.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Come back next Thursday for part two on friends.
Let's talk! What do you think about family relationships in YA novels? Do you agree with my points? What examples can you add? Tell me in the comments.