- Suite Scarlett (and its sequel Scarlett Fever) by Maureen Johnson: Scarlett Martin and her family have nothing but affection for each other aside from the occasional bout of sibling disagreement. They might not know much about running a hotel, but the Martins know lots about good parenting.
- Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt: Turner Buckminster’s mother is a regular moral compass, she always knows the right path and tries to show her husband where it is while encouraging young Turner to follow his own path which, eventually, might set his own father back on the straight and narrow.
- Incarceron by Catherine Fisher: No one is going to agree with me on this. The Warden might be ruthless and cold and scary, but by the end of the story I defy you to tell me he did not have his child’s best interests at heart in a weird, ruthless, cold and scary kind of way.
- Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta: Trevanion went to prison for his son! And rescued him! And lots of other awesome things!
- Holes by Louis Sachar: Cursed, probably. Bad parents, no way. The Yelnatses are nothing but loving and supportive–even if they couldn’t stop Stanley’s dirty-rotten-no-good-pig-stealing ancestor from causing trouble.
- Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli: Stargirl is a free spirit and her parents are cool enough to let her. This book is filled with delightfully odd yet authentic adult characters besides parents.
- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: Nothing speaks more to parental involvement and engagement like not telling your daughter she has the Sight. Lies aside, Jocelyn has Clary’s best interests at heart. And as a father figure it doesn’t get much more realistic than Luke–even when he’s swinging a knife fighting monsters.
- The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman: Sometimes being a responsible parent is just standing back while your daughters decide to pursue their own dreams instead of yours.
- The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander: Austin knows exactly what she wants. And her mom knows it might not end exactly as Austin plans. But she also knows that Austin needs to learn that lesson on her own. A realistic and often amusing depiction of a single mother at her best.
- The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga: I include this one to point out that sometimes the best parental characters are the ones that teens think they hate. The Step-Fascist is one of my favorite parents in YA because Fanboy hates him (thus the nickname) but the Step-Fascist still steps up repeatedly as a parent with no expectations of gratitude–totally real and totally awesome–because it takes a man to be a dad.