With Father’s Day being next Sunday, I started thinking about dads in young adult fiction. Unless he’s a total jerk, abusive, or otherwise larger than life and causing conflict for the teen protagonist, most dads present tend to lurk in the background. Loving, supportive, but probably confused by how his DNA could possibly have anything to do with the hormonal being living in his house, eating all the food, and constantly asking for money.
While some dad relationships are formed by a crisis or major trial, the stuff that makes for great fiction writing, I’m pretty darned content that I didn’t have to suffer through that. Sure, I had a whopping total of three dates in high school. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned in front of the cute guy at the lunch table that my dad would likely greet a date at the front gate with a shotgun, but my teen years were relatively dad-conflict-free.
My dad should automatically qualify for a spot in Heaven having tolerated so much estrogen and drama by raising three girls. He earns extra credit for dealing with all that baton twirling stuff: the lessons, sitting through a decade’s worth of recitals, and paying for costumes. And in my competitive twirling years? The man survived endless hours of marching music, a severe case of bleacher butt, and subsisted on gymnasium snack-bar cuisine. That’s got to count for something. But as far as filling my teen years with inspiring novel-worthy conflict? Dad’s a total slacker.
I’m sure I probably complained stuff my dad wouldn’t let me do, but chances are my cafeteria conversations had more to do with the hot new guy in my French class or how unfair that seniors couldn’t have off-campus lunch despite the hole in the fence separating the school from Burger King. My dad hasn’t had a direct influence on my writing. He didn’t encourage me to write, but he did something more important. He encouraged me to follow my heart, to take a chance, and to do my best, no matter what the endeavor. Thanks Dad!