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May 14, 2012



When I started to write THE STORY OF OWEN, I decided that both of my MCs had to have great mothers. It was REALLY HARD to pull that off! But it was totally worth it (and I got two bonus aunts out of it, meaning that the male MC has a mother, a surrogate mother AND an over-protective aunt...).

Burgandy Ice

I'm glad you brought this up. I have so many reactions, it's comical. Sort of.

I love being me and finding my own adventures, I love reading YA and overcoming new conflicts. That's one.

Two, I love my growing up experience and drinking coffee with my mom every morning when I was literally YA. I'd love to see her portrayed in a book!! I can see how that's not exciting, tho.

Three... I'm a mom. I am not looking forward to sending my kids off to college and letting them experience their own adventures. NO WAY!! What if... gah!! I can't even imagine it.

Which leads to FOUR - Do I want my kids to feel the same way that I do about having adventures?!?! Do I want them to revel in choices and consequences and discover the joys of growing up... the kind that I love so much in #1?!?!


I know you mean just stories... but it's true in real life, too. It's so exciting when mom doesn't rule & reign absolutely everywhere all the time.

I'll think about letting my kids grow up some.

And I'll brainstorm how to fit a great mom in a great story, too.


Chiming back in again to mention Edward Eager and E. Nesbit's stories. The parents are around in almost all of those - some of the themes actually revolve around how the kids have to protect the parents from the magic, which is a neat inversion. And, of course, in Knight's Castle (Eager), the protags are the children of the original protags from Half Magic, and much of the humor comes from how the children have a tremendously hard time accepting that their parents could ever have been young and had magical adventures, too, while the parents are quite matter-of-fact about the magic.


The mother in The Iron Giant is awesome. (Remember that movie? That was a good movie.)


Someone once mentioned to me, with a doleful headshake, when I talked about how much I love Pixar's storytelling, that "Pixar always kills off at least one parent." He took this to mean the stories weren't family-friendly! I think he was specifically referring to the Toy Story movies, since most of the others aren't necessarily about nuclear families (Monsters Inc., A Bug's Life, Ratatouille, and Wall-E). And then you have the Incredibles, such a great family.

Still though, thinking back to my reading experience, I think some of those stories speak to the need for kids and teens to understand and begin to think about who they will be when they are, inevitably, on their own or away from a mother's guidance. I learned from Emily and Anne that mothers come in all shapes and sizes. I learned from Jo and Meg and Amy and Beth (and the lesser known Polly, Alcott's 'Old Fashioned Girl') to appreciate my own mother's experience and wisdom and that you eventually need to step away from those supports in order to have adventures. I learned from so many more stories about independence and family. I don't think absent parents necessarily means that a mother-figure is less significant.


oh, and I am also REALLY excited to see a clear mother-daughter story in the upcoming 'Brave'.

Linda W

This is such a great post. I admit in my own stories, the moms are missing. I have a grandmother who is involved in the story. This reminds me of a great book by Richard Peck--a Long Way from Chicago, which has a wonderful grandmother.
There's also Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising, which features a mom.


I don't think anyone has mentioned A Wrinkle in Time yet. I love that mother character.


Most of Louisa May Alcott's books have a a mother.

'Mother Carey's Chickens' by Kate Douglas Wiggens has a very good mother.

The Little House Books, and Betsy-Tacy both do.

Maybe this is why I prefer old books?


Ditto on many of the books and mothers mentioned: Mrs. Frisby is wonderful, Marmee is wonderful, Cimerone is wonderful, etc.

One that I haven't seen mentioned yet is in another book by Patricia Wrede: "Caught in Crystal." The main character is a mother who had given up her adventuring days to settle down and have kids, but adventure comes to find her again. The kids are teen/tween age in the story. They get to come along, but they don't take over the story. I very much enjoyed watching Kayl gently mother her children in age-appropriate ways in the midst of a dangerous situation.


I looked through my book case and a lot of Jean Little's books have strong parent roles in them: Willow and Twig, Mine for Keeps, and From Anna. Danny Champion of the World and A Day no Pigs Would Die have strong father figures in them. Mr. Popper's Penguins has a father as the main character. It is interesting to realize though how absent parents/adults can be in a story.


I think it's interesting that there seem to be more fathers than mothers in kid's books. (Examples: The Penderwicks, Because of Winn-Dixie, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.)

This is a topic that I've always been interested in. Thanks for posting it!


James Dashner's 13th Reality (the first book in the series - Journal of Curious Letters?) was fantastic because it showed a solid relationship between a father and son, even though that father was imperfect. I care a lot about that too. Fathers don't get enough good press either! :)


Percy Jackson and the Olympians isn't a bad example


What about 'The Moon Riders'? Myrina comes from a full family (Mom, Dad, Sister, Grandmother) as part of a tribe. She then leaves to join the Moon Riders, but since it has only women there are still several mothering influnces! She also becomes a mother herself in the next book...

What about stories with BOTH a mother and a father? Do they even exist? With the obvious exception of 'Harry Potter', of course. Almost every character has a mom and dad mentioned at least once. And Neville had his Gran. :-)I love how James and Lily still play a large part of the story even though they are dead.

Z Parks

Mums are too amazing to be needed in children's adventures. Remember, when we each hit those teenage years? We loathed our mothers and did everything we could to avoid them? We did it so we could "come into our own powers". Then, once we'd grown up a bit, our mothers were once again our heroes. So even for us "real life characters", our mothers are "absent" during our adventure sequence.


Oh! I just remembered another interesting situation.

In Born of Ice, by Nora Roberts, the main character's father has passed on and her mother is... unkind. She's spent most of her life trying to satisfy her mother. Her mother, in return, told the main character's fiancee that the main character had slept with another man, causing him to leave her, for no reason that the main character could discern.


In The Book Theif, Liesel's adopted mother and birth mother both play important roles, thought her birth mother is forced to give her up and her adopted mother has an tough-love-bordering-on-verbal-abuse style. But she is still very important to the girl. Also, Rudy's mom plays a very important role, by insisting Rudy not go to the military school...not to spoil! Excellent book, everyone should read it.

Jennifer Wright

I came up with quite a few realistic fiction that had strong present moms but fantasy was much less. I also thought of Diane Duane's "So You Want to Be a Wizard" series. Another one not mentioned yet is E D Baker's "Frog Princess" series which covers the adventures of several generations of moms, daughters, aunts, and grandmas. Sharon Shinn's "Dream maker's Magic", "Safe Keeper's Secret", and "Truth Teller's Tale" all have at least one supportive mother, even if they aren't the MC's actual mother.

It seems like most fantasy that have present mothers are ones where the fantasy elements are an accepted part of the world. The ones that are less frequent are the ones where magic is introduced into our world and the kids discover it. James Dashner's "13th Reality" series (and Diane Duane's mentioned above) have parents who are eventually aware of their children's powers/adventures and are supportive. Edward Eager's books have children who later in other books grow up and have children who also continue to have magical adventures but the grown-ups aren't really involved in those adventures.

One book that came to mind when reading this post was "Forest Born". That definitely contains the theme of breaking away from mom to try and find out who you are and what you are capable of.


I discussed this myself over on my blog. It's not just mothers, either. Quite often, fathers or both parents are conspicuously absent in YA literature. There are good examples out there of parents having a part to play in YA stories (I see somebody mentioned Buffy's mother; that's an excellent example), but I think they're less common.

Why? Because parent characters are work. One's hard enough; having two makes things even more complicated (which is why quite often a mother or a father is missing, as in the case of Buffy). Because parents get in the way. Realistically, as a parent, if my daughter found herself involved in the sorts of things YA protagonists encounter in literature, I'd be swooping in to the rescue. It's what parents do. Edward Cullen? Meet father's baseball bat.

To deal with this, parents are often made to be utterly clueless, or placed in a predicament for the children to get them out of (see Meg Murry in "A Wrinkle in Time") or just done away with altogether.

My wife said it best when writing her birth story memoir: "Saturday, I try to write: a little bit of my fairy tale novel, the one with the talking cat and the orphan girl. Why so many orphan heroes? It’s always seemed obvious: our parents get between us and the story. Our parents keep our lives little and safe and not good material for fiction. (Or, that’s what we want to believe, though every day I see children whose stories are too big for them.) ... Now I see, no. Our parents get between the stories and us. I’d get between a freight train and Vivi. Uselessly, knowing it to be useless. But I would. It wouldn’t require the least scrap of courage. I’d just do it. (Courage, maybe, would be stepping off the track.)

Sara Lester

The mother is present, and important in The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, one of my children's favorite stories.


I have just been having this conversation with my sister! I went looking for mothers in literature to try to learn what kind of mom I want to be, and found a surprising lack of mother-figures.

What I found have been mentioned, the Little House on the Prairie Books, and Little Women. Both of those series have a continuation of one of the daughter's stories-- Jo in Little Women (Jo's Boys), and Laura in the other (The Rose Years). I think that is a very natural transition, because it is easier to transition into later life with a heroine we came to love when she was young.
I think some of us are looking for the wrong thing when looking for mothers in literature. For a story to be great, the heroine needs to be having an adventure- so the mother needs to be more than a stay-at-home-nurse-the-baby kind of figure. She needs to get out there and have adventures! I would love to read more stories like that!

Shannon Morris

Such an interesting idea. Having lost my own mother when I was 18 I've often wondered how my life would be different had she been around. I probably would have made many better choices and have, on hundreds if not thousands of occasions, felt saddened that she was not around as a sounding board and support. And as I have written my own stories writing a mother character has been incredibly difficult because, I thought, it's been so long since I have had that relationship in my life. It seem a strange thought to have a mother and I don't know how it would be done. On the other hand I am the mother of four and almost certainly I would interfere with my children's adventures to prevent and harm (and growth) from occurring.

Mary Anne

One comment mentioned that they'd like to read a book where the MC realized that family isn't just a nuisance but has value and although it is far from Young Adult Literaure, Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake is about that very thing. She also has two collections of short stories and writes about family relationships quite a bit.

It's true that most examples I can think of are realistic fiction like Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, A Girl of the Limberlost.

I agree to that in Book of a Thousand Days the mother still has a strong influence and helps her to be strong, and on the other hand Goose Girl has a strong mother but Ani can only get strong when she gets away from her, but there were other mother influences Finn's mom and the lady that runs the worker's hall and it's not long in the series before Ani is a mother herself. Rinn and Razo also draw strength from their mother even though she isn't there.

I would say that strong fathers are also missing.

Another story with strong parents is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Those kids have plenty of adventures that the parents don't interfere with but at the end of the day the parents and grandparents are there.

And another far-from-young-adult-fiction, but with great adventure is Poisonwood Bible. The mother and her 4 daughters each narrate sections of the story and you can see the growth and development of each of them. The mother does do a lot, but the girls do have to rely on themselves more and more too, because circumstances are all just too much for the mother and she does get sick for a while. The Dad is around but his influence and participation in the family dissapates. I imagine that style of writing could be used for young adult writing, and a less traumatic story, although Barbara Kingsolver did an amazing job with writing those 5 very distinct voices. It'd be hard to live up to.


Cindy it's been 17yr since I lost my mom and it seems like yesterday.I miss her a lot too, but I do look at the good meeoirms we had.I lost my only sibling (sister) who was only 64yr in Feb. and I prayed for her only child to make it through today. The first everything is hard. Good meeoirms help us get through. (((HUGS TO YOU))). Happy Mother's Day .


Wow, your cards are fantastic. No wednor they keep appearing in Treasuries :)Hey! You happen to be my 3rd Commenter for the Pay It Forward project! Super.Please e-mail me your mailing address (my e-mail address is found on the right-hand sidebar of my blog -- not revealing it here)...Oh! And since it is a "pay it forward", don't forget to share the love by posting about it, and spreading it out to 3 more lucky people :)Can't wait to get started on my 3 little P.I.F. mail-outs... Hear from you soon!


Just wanted to metionn I saw your bio today on running like a mother and I am just inspired by you and what you are doing! Way to go on losing weight and starting a movement in your community. Do not be discouraged by the nay-sayers! You have extended your life and probably made your pre-teen very proud. God Bless you, good luck in your race, and keep up the good work!


- They're great the pics and this family. How sweet and what a great idea. Have to hint to Chad and Jamie for next Mother's Day or hey they could have my pesmrision to meet with ya and give me a late Mother's Day. Ha.


I am still trying to firuge out how IVF has anything to do with abortions. I am not for abortions, only if the mother's life is effected. I have been married now for 14 years and started trying to conceive 3 months after getting married (we had dated off and on for 9 years). We had many test done and treatments over the years before trying IVF. August 2005 was our first try and it did not work we tried several more times still nothing, Jan 2010 we tried again, they placed 3 day 3 embryo's in hoping for 1, but nothing they were able to freeze the last 2 and Dec 17, 2010 we tranferred them. We found out Christmas we were pregnant, can you imagine how Blessed we felt?? 1 survived and grew for 38 weeks and born to us on my birthday, August 26, 2011 . Yes the best birthday present ever sits in my lap as I am typing this. She is a very healthy girl 8 pounds 10 ounces and 22 inches long at birth. If this Initiative 26 passes, I am not sure if Miracles like I have will exist. Please before you vote read more into this, its not just about abortions and they have left it pretty much open to what if's and not exacts .it breaks my heart to think of all of the babies not surviving due to abortions especially after going through all we did to finally have ours but this is not what we need.Thank you and God Bless,Monica Korczak


You guys need to ignore the mlndeaiisg information that planned parenthood is giving out and do some research so you make sure that you understand the truth about initiative 26. simply voting yes is not going to sign any laws into effect. Initiative 26 proposes to clearly define ‘personhood’ s to include all human beings from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof. And if you're going to vote no, I mean come on, you're just lying to yourself. Life begins from the moment of conception, everyone knows that. And this initiative is not going to make birth control illegal! I know there are rare cases where the mothers' life is in danger, and I don't know what they are planning to do for those women yet, but I'm pretty sure they're not going to not allow them to go through with cancer treatments or anything. Besides, these are extremely rare cases, and babies are aborted every day in this state. They deserve a chance to live!


If a 13 year old girl gets raped, she should unretsdand God made that happen to her for a reason. If she is depressed and suicidal, then that's how God wants her to be. Yes, the experience of getting raped is horrible, but that is a thing that is just a part of life for some people. We all have bad experiences. It should NOT be the people's decision. It should be GOD'S decision. The government is enforcing God's decision. Did not he WHO MADE ME IN THE WOMB make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? (Job 31:15). God treats a fetus in the womb as a living person. God's decision was made clear to us in the Bible (there are obviously other verses than the one I quoted), but some of us have failed to see it. Also, you do NOT need birth control to help you with your menstrual cycle. Suck it up! YES ON 26!!!!


We've presented tandshous of words' worth of explanations for exactly why we take the positions we do. All we hear back is that we're misinformed , and nobody ever addresses the detailed points we raise.If we're misinformed about IVF, how do you answer our statements that the limitations proposed by 26 amount to an effective ban? If we're misinformed about birth control, why do Dr. Beverly McMillan and Personhood Colorado both agree with us that birth control pills can potentially prevent implantation? (Actually, both of them go farther than we do and refer to hormonal birth control as abortifacient .) If we're misinformed about ectopic pregnancies, why does Personhood Colorado agree with us that the only personhood-compatible treatment for ectopic pregnancies is tubal removal surgery?We support our claims. Yes On 26 asks us to take your word for it.


Ectopic pregnancies hpaepn every day in this state, too. They're not rare, and they are certainly life-threatening. I don't think you'll find any information on this site that comes from Planned Parenthood. In fact, a great deal of it comes from pro-life sources such as the Association of Pro-Life Physicians. If you don't think birth control could be at risk, I suggest you read on the issue bearing in mind that they're hosting press conferences for Yes On 26. I find it disturbing that you're willing to handwave and say you're pretty sure , when we've spent thousands of words telling you in great detail why we are very UNSURE.


My Mom has been gone for 6 years now. Still, Mother's day is so bitter sweet. I awayls remember her and all her gifts to me. I miss her and she is so alive in my memories. At my daughter's Mother Day Brunch, my son used one of my Mom's Fiesta Ware platters to serve appetizers. I was so touched and pleased to have a bit of her present.


you are an idiot! miscarriages are emltaoniloy devastating and if you have never had to experience that then who are you to say big whoop Also birth control is used for other things besides preventing pregnancy. if you were the least bit intelligent you would know that. Anti-christ? Please . you must be one of those religous extremist who blow up abortion clinics because abortion is murder and it makes so much sense to kill hundreds of adults. you are ignorant and that's all i have to say.


I love everything about this post. I have an itty bitty cemuptor screen so before I could scroll down and see your comment about how much your baby photo looks like Asher, I was already thinking it! Uncanny indeed. If we ever make it to TX you will take photos of my girls in those beautiful bluebonnets. :o)

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Nancy Indelicato - WOW! Angelique really crtpuaed the innocence of youth in photo form. I love them all so far and can't wait to see the rest. The kids in the trailer are some of my fav's, but I like the fairie, and Sir Knight, and Buddy, and Brittany, and the family!!! I like them all! The kids are smiling so good and natural for the camera. I can't get Ryan & Ella to do that for me, How does she do that??Great job, Great Family.LYB&B MOM


Approaches in small bathroom dnsiges are rather well-known to those households situated on metropolitan areas. New York for example, plus the surrounding suburbs of Boston and Washington DC with its high density population, leads the pursuit for smaller however highly posh and sophisticated accommodations.


WHOA! I've been reading your blog and wniderong, for awhile now, who your family is, and now I'm REALLY curious!! I am currently in undergrad and aspiring to be a field biologist/ecologist/animal behaviorist/etc...If your parents are ever looking for graduate-level kids to help them with their research, I would love to get in touch with them, if none of you mind such a weird connection! Haha =)


This just really remednid me of my aunt... She used to tell my cousin and I that we were really chimpanzees that she stole from the ape house at the zoo when we were babies. If she had had pictures like the one of your mother with chimps... Oh my....


I am so proud of my son for doing this testimonial for and with me. Thank you Cedric. I want all paenrts to have this experience. Will be posting more content about having a super relationship with your teenagers!


Hi Cindy...I know how hard it is to lose our Moms. But-----she IS with you still. Her spirit lives in your heart, in your laghtuer, in your joy! She left a great legacy----YOU! Happy Mother's Day and thank your for your very beautiful blog. It was the first I ever saw in blogland!


I know how hard a day like this can be...I wonder someitmes if the ache will ever subside. It probably won't. I think what happens is that we learn to live with the ache, and in a funny way, accept it as part of life. I hope there were bright moments in your Mother's Day...~Ann


Whoeevr edits and publishes these articles really knows what they're doing.


After my mother died I rbeememr telling someone that I felt like I had lost my rudder - I think I spent a year at least in a daze. Hugs and prayers to you - it gets easier but it takes a while.daisymum


Mother's day was a beautiful celbirateon..espceially to have Grandma with us for the last time. I think she was waiting for that day..to celebrate. You did a beautiful job..Alli. Your photos that da will always be treasured! i am very lucky to have you in my life! Love you with all my heart..mommy


Wow great info. Is not easy being a super mom. Many mothers allow the strses go to their heart, which is not good. You have to develope a very thick skin as a mother in whatever you do. In that way you can avoid heart attack.


Anne Baker - Angelique, These are incredibly beftiuaul photographs of my niece and nephew. I can't wait to see more!!! You certainly captured their gentle, kind, happy and loving spirits with each other,and with nature.

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