Lampshading Of Parental Absence In Children’s Literature

What’s lampshading? Full explanation here.

TECHNIQUE 1: PARENTS/CAREGIVERS TOO BUSY WITH WORK

Pip-_Story_of_Olive

In Pip: The Story Of Olive, an upper middle-grade novel by Australian Kim Kane, the mother of the main character is a busy and successful lawyer, left at home alone to tuck herself into bed with a hottie, but with full access to a credit card. When Pip tries to tell her mother (Mog) on the phone what’s been going on in her life, the mother gets interrupted by work colleagues, because they’re working on a big case, and so Olive is left to conclude that talking to her mother is a wasted effort.

TECHNIQUE 2: PARENTS ARE OUT-AND-OUT INADEQUATE

The-Illustrated-Mum-cover

 

Jacqueline Wilson has written a few such parents. In these cases, the children have to step in and be little adults. The main character is usually the eldest of a group of siblings and has to look after the younger ones.

TECHNIQUE 3: THE CHILDREN ARE ORPHANS

Even orphans tend to have assigned caregivers, but in stories these caregivers cannot possible care about someone else’s children as much as they would their own. This says something rather disturbing about parents who adopt and extended family members who care for nieces and nephews. However, there is a long history of orphans in kidlit, especially when that kidlit is American.

See: Why So Many Orphans In Children’s Literature?

TECHNIQUE 4: COMMUNICATION IS SUBVERTED UNINTENTIONALLY

Five Children and It cover

E. Nesbit makes use of this technique in Five Children and It when the children sit down to write to their mother, telling her all about the Psammead. First, they don’t know how to spell Psammead, nor can they find it in the dictionary. Next, ink gets spilt all over the letter. Finally it’s time for the postman to arrive and pick up the mail, so the news is truncated to ‘We found something very interesting’. Nesbit’s narrator explains that this is the reason why the mother was never told about the sand fairy who can grant one wish per day.

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