Whether absent, normal, or slightly crazy, parents have a huge impact on our main characters, particularly in young adult books. The actions and opinions of these parents create a lasting impression on our characters and help shape who they are and what decisions they make in the books we read. If they're absent or dead, it gives our MC more emotional depth and the freedom to adventure and explore. If they're normal, it creates some obstacles for the MC to get around when going through the story and it also gives them a support system for if things go wrong. Slightly crazy shapes the MC and may give them a bit of eccentricity to go along with all of the adventures they'll likely be taking.
Absent or Dead
The first people that come to mind when I think about absent or dead parents are James and Lily Potter. Their death played a crucial role throughout the Harry Potter series, often guiding Harry in the decisions he made. The entire series wouldn't have even happened without their death. It shaped Harry and made him who he was in the story.
Normal parents can be seen as both a good and a bad thing. They can offer support and a safe environment for the MC but they canals create obstacles for the MC to get around in their story. My favorite pair of normal parents are Mr. and Mrs. Dyer from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. They are both of these things to Mara and it is just done so well. You can help but love them, even when they were keeping Mara from doing some of the things she needed to do. They were doing the things they did to keep Mara safe and protected. They had her best interest at heart.
Crazy parents always make things interesting. Often times, they don't play a huge role in the novel except for shaping the MC to be who they are while we're reading. However, there are times in which the crazy parents play a huge role in the actual story being told. My favorite crazy parent is Penryn's mom from Angelfall. This lady is absolutely, 100% mad but her madness is used as a tool to guide the story and protect Penryn and her little sister. It's wonderfully done!
Each of these parent archetypes have different pros and cons. If done right, they all can be good for the MC and the plot. My favorite out of them all is probably the crazy type, just because of how interesting they can make a story!
What do you think about parents in YA? What is your favorite "type"?