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Relation(ship) Dilemma

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Guys, I finally drew up a draft plot for a new story, but I've reached a self-conscious problem that makes me think I shouldn't continue the story.
Is it taboo for a character to be ignored by their parents these days? It's completely emotional. She's provided for physically and intellectual needs are ensured, but their conversation is non-existent and communication is barren.
Would that be too much? I am tempted ditch the story and it's only in its early stages so it wouldn't be that much of a loss, but I'm just curious.
#1 - October 15, 2013, 09:32 AM

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I just finished JUMPING OFF SWINGS, and some of the characters definitely have relationships with their parents that would fall under this category. It seems to be the norm with my current stack of books, actually. Good luck with the new draft!
#2 - October 15, 2013, 09:38 AM

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Alas, emotional distance is far too common. I know many kids who are well provided for and have the latest toys and gadgets, but they hardly see their parents because they're too busy working. And even when they're around, they're not exactly present. They're self-centered. I've also seen the contrast. Roald Dahl gives a great example of both types of parents in Danny and Matilda. Run with your idea ... this is not the time to censor yourself.

And of course, an ignored child can get into lots of sticky situations, which would work well plot-wise.

Vijaya
#3 - October 15, 2013, 10:24 AM
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Not all parents are helicopter parents today. Yes, I think emotional distance is all too possible, and something a wide range of kids can identify with.
#4 - October 15, 2013, 11:57 AM
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Thanks for your input, guys. I appreciate it immensely. Alas, the presence of males in the household has scuppered any hope of writing (particularly an eight month demanding kitten). :voodoo
Tomorrow I will abandon the pair of them and concentrate on my character's dilemmas. There is a kitten in this story so I have plenty of character profiles on the little cheeky chap who has progressed to a large plastic bag...and a chilli.
Further suggestions might be required.
#5 - October 16, 2013, 08:09 AM

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As an additional note: I did some writing about abuse years ago, and someone in the mental health field told me an interesting fact.

Some of the most painful parental abuse isn't being slapped around (although I'd never excuse that either). Rather, great pain comes from being ignored. People need to be acknowledged as human beings. That's the reason some children act out for attention--their subconscious thought is that any attention from a parent, even negative attention, is better than none.

Maybe that's too much information, but anyway...
#6 - October 18, 2013, 08:36 AM

As an additional note: I did some writing about abuse years ago, and someone in the mental health field told me an interesting fact.

Some of the most painful parental abuse isn't being slapped around (although I'd never excuse that either). Rather, great pain comes from being ignored. People need to be acknowledged as human beings. That's the reason some children act out for attention--their subconscious thought is that any attention from a parent, even negative attention, is better than none.

Maybe that's too much information, but anyway..
That seems to be what she is receiving. At the moment, it is from her mother who seems to have an unusual interest in her daughter's activities. I did a module on abuse as part of child care course many years back so I am aware of the effects of such behaviour on children and young adults. That is probably one reason why I am self-conscious about approaching the subject. The line is very narrow.
I'm only into my third chapter so I've a long way to go.
#7 - October 18, 2013, 09:42 AM

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Not wanting to put a spanner in the works but a well-known agent recently told me that she was tired of reading about characters whose parents ignored or neglected them. She feels it's overdone. But as with all these things, if you do it well, that shouldn't matter.
#8 - October 18, 2013, 04:27 PM

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I think it is definitely realistic. You can explore why the parents act the way they do. Was one of them ignored as a child? Are they grieving something? Consumed with stress about something? Not that it's an excuse, but it could make it more believable.

Yvonne
#9 - October 18, 2013, 08:13 PM
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FWIW, I don't think the issue need involve neglect per se. I am reading a book at the morning in which a father is away on contract work in Saudi Arabia, and the mother spends a lot of time in her art studio getting ready for her first big exhibition. She is not always away from the kids, but the period of time covered in the novel is one in which she is away a lot - emotionally if not physically.
#10 - October 18, 2013, 08:55 PM
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The sad fact is that there are children your book will speak to, and let them know that they aren't alone. A recent episode on Criminal Minds was about a guy who was committing horrific crimes to force his father to notice him. I'm not suggesting you do that with your character, just illustrating that this is a valid problem across all age groups.

I was at an SCBWI conference last week where agents and editors both encouraged writers to have the courage to write the books that make them have nightmares; the stories they want to write but are afraid to confront. So keep writing! And good luck with your story.
#11 - October 18, 2013, 10:52 PM
« Last Edit: October 18, 2013, 10:58 PM by Bobi Martin »
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She does have a friend that spends rather a lot of time with her and visits her house often. Her friend isn't aware of the full extent of the family situation, but she does know her parents aren't the most attentive.  That's as far as I've got.
The ignorance is what affects her most and I'm only writing an average of five hundred a day so I've a long way to go.
#12 - October 19, 2013, 05:21 AM

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Good luck with the project. Keep us posted!
#13 - October 19, 2013, 07:25 AM
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Good luck with the project. Keep us posted!
Sadly, to your ultimate frustration, I probably will.  :ha

OT: I'm sure you who know me in Revisionland will be aware I used to refer to Moggy and John as the beasties.
Any thoughts on what I can refer to my mad alien Spock now?
#14 - October 20, 2013, 05:09 AM

Hope you don't mind this. I've discovered that Mother has a soft side, but won't show it. Pop is too engrossed in his own selfish world that he doesn't care about either Mother or Laura. Basically, it's communication.
It is a little like my own relationship with my parents, more specifically Dad. So I've taken a step back and re-drafted my male mc's profile. Dad's (my own) an excellent, highly intellectual man, but he's a typical "hear" but not "listen" kind of person. He's changed a lot, but I don't think my character will.
She has also befriended a cat whose love is completely unconditional and she can't understand it.
I wonder that influence came from... :eh2
#15 - November 03, 2013, 06:08 AM

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