A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Getting Rid of the Parents

How many parents feature in kids and YA books? They may well be present, but they won’t be driving the story forwards. That’s the role of the kids.

But in order for the kids to be able to drive the story forward, away from adult supervision, we first have to get them away from the parents.

Fortunately there are lots of ways to get rid of the parents, freeing the kids to get on with whatever mischief or adventure the writer may have planned for them.

Here are just a few of the different ways in which this can be done.

1. Kill them off
This is the easiest option – the parents are out of the way and there’s plenty of scope for the kids to try to come to terms with what has happened or to find out the truth behind their parent’s death.

2. The self absorbed parents
In this scenario the parents are around but are taking so little interest in what the kids are getting up to that they might just as well not be there at all. Maybe there are totally career focused, flitting in and out to work or shifts and so leaving the kids to their own devices. Or maybe they are having problems of their own and are so caught up that they haven’t noticed what’s going on with the kids.

3. Send the kids away
Another relatively simple option – pack the kids off for the summer to stay with a weird elderly relative, or maybe they are simply being sent to boarding school. Whatever the reason the kids are now free of any parental influence.

4. Physical Separation
This can be achieved by a wide variety of methods and probably covers the widest range of scenarios. Perhaps the kids have been captured by pirates or some other type of dastardly baddie. Maybe it is the parents who have been taken prisoner? Or perhaps there is some other form of physical separation – a natural disaster – a breakdown in society. The options here are endless.

5. Emotional separation
In this scenario something has happened to force the kids and their parents apart emotionally. They may well be living under the same roof but their relationship has broken down to a level where they pass as strangers and barely speak.

So what other methods for getting rid of the parents have you come across in children’s fiction?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Kate Kelly works as a Marine Scientist by day and by night she writes SF thrillers for kids. Kate has written all her life and has had a number of science fiction short stories published in various magazines and anthologies. Her debut novel, RED ROCK, a SF thriller for the 10+ age group is published by Curious Fox.

2 comments on “Getting Rid of the Parents

  1. Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary
    October 16, 2013

    I’ve found this really interesting to read and hadn’t really noticed it before – now that I think about it it’s very obvious.

    My current WIP has a parent that plays a very important role but she does get pushed away by the main character so it’s been interesting to think about that.

    Emotional breakdown is the most likely in my WIP. 🙂

  2. EmmaH
    October 19, 2013

    I think you’ve covered them all! It’s a knotty problem for all children’s and YA writers, particularly those of us writing contemporary stuff.

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