What to Call the Parents in a Young Adult/Children’s Book?

Almost everyone who knows me well, or has just had a really long conversation with me, knows that I have been a little obsessed with names for a very long time. My early stories (written on Storybook Weaver) consisted mostly of me writing something like: One day girl’s name met boy’s name and they got married and had ten children named list of names, often all starting with the same letter Duggar family style. And they would continue in that vein until I got bored and I would end with something catchy like and they lived happily ever after or the end.  

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Luckily, I’ve moved on to more complicated story lines, but you can imagine how much fun I’ve had deciding the names for the characters in my novel. Some of them are changing even now! 

However, I run into a bit of a road block when it comes to how to refer to the main characters’ parents. I’m using a close third-person point of view, switching between the two main characters. Because I’m not using a first person narrator, using “Mom” and “Dad” seems overly close and childish. Using last names seems foo formal, and also confusing as on of the mother’s uses her maiden name. I see two options: referring to the parent’s by their first names or always using the possessive (Alison’s mom said this Alison’s mom did that). I’ve been experimenting with both and neither feels comfortable yet. 

I might just be going a little stir crazy … but I wanted to see if any readers or writers had suggestions for things they’ve seen work well in other children’s or young adult books. Thanks in advance! I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend. 

2 thoughts on “What to Call the Parents in a Young Adult/Children’s Book?

  1. I’ve always kind of wondered about that too. I, personally, like names myself but reading a YA novel and hearing the main character’s parents referred to by their first name just doesn’t ring true. Like when I was in high school we didn’t talk about our friends parents by their first names we’d just say so-and-so’s mom/dad/stepwhatever.

    I guess in the novels I like best the author’s come up with some creative type nicname the character uses for their parents so it’s not quite as contrite as mom/dad but not as formal as actual names. (if that makes sense). Not that that’s really helpful at all. I guess if I were to sum it up in an advice sounding package I’d say just think about what your characters would call their parents, go from there, and hope it works out.

    • Thank you so much for commenting. This is seriously so helpful. I hadn’t even thought of a nickname … you’ve given me a lot to think about.

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