For What It's Worth

Monday, May 20, 2019

My Monday Musings




I have an actual musing for My Monday Musing this week!

I’m also going to link up with 2019 Book Blog Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight as a Discussion Dabbler with 1-10 posts(sign-ups are still open and the challenge runs through December 31st & did I mention there are prizes??)

I have a couple of topics in mind (but already forgot one šŸ˜œ so we’ll see).

Discussion numero uno….


Does reading YA make you a better/more empathetic parent?

I read a few YA books last week that had mothers that were really hard on their daughters.



In The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – Xiomara’s mother uses her religion to shame her physically blossoming daughter.

In There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Moon, Sweetie's mom constantly criticizes Sweetie’s weight – outright telling her she’s not good enough for the boy who wants to date her, making her cover her body, commenting on her choices of food, despite Sweetie being confident, healthy and happy.

Both of these books broke my heart a little each time the mother would make another dig at their daughter and I thought these were great books for teens. What I really wished for though, was for parents to read them so they understand that even well meaning comments - coming from a parent - can hurt in a way that hurts so much more than from a stranger. And they also showed parents realizing the pain they were causing and being willing to try a new way of communicating.

Now, I’m not a parent, but I was a troubled teen, and I think that’s why I connect so much to teens in YA who feel like outcasts or disconnected. I remember that feeling so well and almost always see their side of things more than I relate to the parent in most books. It just hurts me to read when a parent hurts their child. Especially when it's out of love. And I think reading YA could add a new perspective - and for teens - maybe see where their parents are coming from. They aren't perfect either and it's usually out of a need to protect the child from life. Even if misguided.

*Note - I'm not talking about physical abuse here. More a judgy, controlling type of parent who thinks they're helping by *being honest* and *preparing kids for reality*.

So many adults/parents read YA now and it got me wondering if you think that reading YA makes you a better parent?

I have a lot of non-YA reading parent friends that are struggling with their teens and behave the way these book parents above did – maybe not to that extreme – but not understanding that teens do dumb things – even if you raised them with your values. So many of the things that come up aren't even on their radar. Whereas most of us have been reading YA for years - probably long before you became parents and have been exposed to all kinds of subject matter.

As we get further away from our own teenage years, we tend to expect teens to behave and act perfectly, not understanding that a.) they don’t have the hindsight we do and b.) we adults don’t exactly make great choices all the time either. lol

Of course, I understand that that you all are parents and you have to have rules, boundaries and discipline but do you think reading YA makes you understand where your kids are coming from better? Or help you know how to NOT react?

Reading, in general, has open my eyes to other experiences, especially of marginalized people, and has drastically changed my opinions and the way I interact with people and helped me empathize more.

I think this older generation is unique in our consumption of teen entertainment and I was curious reading YA has had the same effect for you – especially as it pertains to parenting.

33 comments:

  1. That's a great point actually, I'd never thought about it!

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    1. I think about it a lot when parents are being awful. We always say that this is a book teens should read (& YA IS for THEM) but I also think this is something a parent should read so they learn what their kids are going through and how their words/actions can hurt.

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  2. Being a parent is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Reading Ya books reminds me of the struggles I faced as a teen and gives me insight into what the world is like now for my kids. I don’t know if it will help or not. My daughter will be 11 this year so we are getting close. I am choosing to be careful not to repeat the mistakes my mother made because she was often overly critical of me and it still effects me to this day.

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    1. The world is so different now for teens - especially with the internet - and most parents don't think these things will happen to THEIR kid or don't know about it at all.

      So maybe reading what's going on and what not to do helps.

      Thanks for sharing Heidi :-)

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  3. I read it to be a better parent, because what I had growing up was so different then my kids. I have seen more issues with cell phones and kids mental health then when we just had phones. So it makes me a better parent I hope.

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    1. I can't help but think it would. It gives you insight into how a kid receives, even well meaning, criticism and exposes parents to topics that might be uncomfortable but give them time to work it out in their heads before approaching their child.

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  4. I think there might be something to this. Even though parents have been teens themselves that doesn't mean they realize that they can be hurtful to their kids by what they say and do. Anything that helps a parent (or a teen) see things from another perspective, or especially helps parents and kids communicate with each other, rather than past each other, is a good thing in my view -and that definitely includes YA book!

    I often think that parenting is so different now (or can be, because of things like this- having YA to help us relate more to what the world is like NOW) and I wonder- if our parents had had stuff like this help them understand, would it have been different? My parents were great in a lot of ways, but they did some screwed up stuff too lol.

    Great discussion Karen!!

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    1. ALL parents screw up lol I know people say - I won't do that with MY kids. But they just do something different wrong lol There's no way to do it perfectly.

      But, I feel like this may be the first generation on parents that enjoys YA entertainment, and I wonder if that influences anything.

      With communication, or understanding peer pressure better, or the newer challenges - like the internet, or being more accepting of LGBQT teens. They might not even know these things exist.

      It can show examples of doing things wrong and right. And yes, it helps teens understand where the parents are coming from.

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  5. I'm not sure reading YA would make a better parent, but then again it might be a reminder to what you went through at that age. I so need to read those books. You have me curious even though I'm sure it would break my heart too.

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    1. I just wonder if you might catch yourself saying things and acting like a bad YA parent or, as an adult & parent, do you relate more to the parent in the book??


      Both books are great though!

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  6. I wonder if it will help when my kids are teens. I hope so. God I am scared for that to happen!

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    1. I don't envy parents at all! I'm a wreck about my pets and I can control everything lol

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  7. I think it probably would but it would depend on the parent as well. Some parents tend to forget that being a teen doesn't mean life is easy because you don't have to pay bills or a mortgage. So many tens are struggling with their sense of self, their own beliefs and sexuality, their personality and what type of adult they will become. Teens need to make their own mistakes, non harmful of course but they need to experience life without feeling sheltered. Then again, parents need to be parents and not try to be their teens friend.

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    1. Yes! I wonder if reading YA - and I'm talking more about bloggers who consume a large volume of YA - not the causal YA reader - exposes them to teen anxieties more, or LGBQT content, so it's not as foreign a concept. And maybe they see examples of what not to do or how to handle it better.

      But then - they could also relate to the parents more. Because once you have to take care of and be responsible for this other life, your perspective changes. It's one thing to know that teens will try drugs, drinking etc but you now you fear for their future and safety. Like you said, you aren't friends.

      Have you read Sweetie yet? So in that example - she shames Sweetie for being fat a lot - and I wonder if a parent reading that would be like...OMG is that what I'M doing?? I need to learn how to talk to her without hurting her like that.

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  8. My ex and I got a lot of grief from family for raising my son more like a best friend than dominate parent over child, but he has turned out the most well-adjusted and academically successful of all the grandchildren on both sides of the family, and he has worked part-time during school semesters and full-time during summer and winter breaks. Sure, every once and a while he would get lippy with us if he thought something was unfair (like you would with a friend), but he always told us everything that was going on with him and wasn't afraid to ask questions, or ask for help. I thank gawd that we didn't have to go through the teen defiance phase because I was a single parent by then, and it was hard enough dealing with everything else. Ha ha. After I got on social media I started seeing that meme that says, "Be the parent you wished you had as a child," and I really think that is the essence of good parenting. šŸ˜Š

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    1. My mom was like that. She was very open about things and I felt like i could ask her anything or go to her if I was in trouble. I wouldn't say I was an angel - but I rarely made bad choices because of it.

      But she passed away when I was 15 and my dad was a whole other story. He was very distant and I was on my own a lot and got into a lot of trouble - drinking & drugs. Probably to get a reaction.

      It's so funny, but when he was old - he would tell anyone who would listen what a perfect teen I was - never got into any trouble lol And he knew what I was up to.

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    2. I'm sorry about that. ((((HUGS))))

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  9. I'm not a parent, but I think more parents SHOULD read YA books if they have kids about to be teens, or who are teens, because it can show you insight into a teen's mind. I think it can also show you ways to parent better. I know that reading books has definitely made me more empathetic and taught me a lot about myself and the world around me, so I think it would make sense that it would do the same if I have kids.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I agree. I've been introduced to so many topics through reading and it's changed how I look at things and helps me empathize with people.

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  10. Well, it couldn't hurt and reading usually broadens thinking so why not? Nothing says a parent, or a teen for that matter, is reduced to just one tool to build with- why not fiction stories about teens and parents?

    Great discussion, Karen!

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    1. Exactly. i think it can be one more tool in the parents toolbox.

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  11. I started reading my daughter's books as another way to connect with her, but I do think you can gain some insight. For the most part, they prompted me to ask my daughter questions about her being biracial and growing up without a father, which I seem to read about a lot in the my YA books. I was happy when she told me she didn't encounter the issues that the characters in the book did.

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    1. I think there are so many bad examples (sadly) in YA and I think I would read it and go whoa....I hope I don't do that! lol

      I even find in adult romance that I learn relationship do's and don'ts so why not YA for parents.

      I think it can be used as a prompt - like you did - to open discussion.

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  12. I do see things differently now when I have a kid. I just people to be safe! Also gods, ya book parents suck! I want to read books with at least normal parents

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  13. I don't read a lot of contemporary YA so I honestly have no clue whether it would impact on me or my parenting style.
    I just like to remind myself of the stupid shit I did when I was younger whenever I'm tempted to be overly harsh on the kid. He's so like me in personality that it's easy to emphasise when I stop to think about the whys...

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    1. I have a few friends who never got into trouble as a teen and they just can't fathom when their kid does lol

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  14. Just popping in to say I loved this discussion, though I'm not a parent (then again, neither are you). And I loved to get to know some of my bookish friends better by reading their answers. So you had a wild phase? I would never have imagined!

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    1. I was VERY wild! lol Well with drinking and drugs. I stopped everything before I was legal though and I don't do anything now. Not because of an addiction or recovery or anything like that but I guess I got it all out of my system and like to be in control now.

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  15. As a mom of teenagers, I have OFTEN felt like YA books help me empathize and connect to my kids better. Don't get me wrong, I still make tons of mistakes, but I can often see myself in the parents in books (both the good and bad aspects) and it makes me think about my parenting through that lens. Plus, reading has made me more empathetic in general, which translates to better parenting (I hope!).

    What a great discussion topic!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. This is what I was hoping! I sometimes see myself (in an unflattering way) when I'm reading and think...do I sound like that?? I better knock it off lol So I always hope parent scan see how their words and actions can hurt their kids. Or at least see what kids are facing things these days. It's always a little different than past generations.

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  16. Okay, so I am not a mother :P So I know this question is not directed toward me. But I am very much looking forward to being a mother some day, and I spend a lot of time working with kids at the moment as a teaching assitant at a primary school and also an au pair. I think YA and middle grade definitely has helped me when it comes to how to talk to and treat kids...

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  17. I think YA books might point out flaws a parent was unaware of, but I've never really thought about it before! Reading a lot of YA books offers a unique perspective, and a wide variety of circumstances and situations, so I believe it's possible for books to influence parents. Likely in a positive way, too.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

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