I recently entered a contest where the first few pages of my novel was critiqued by an agent. I've had this novel read by my critique group, several writing friends and the editor of a publishing company and not one person made a comment on how convenient it was that the main character's parents weren't around. This agent did and HATED IT.
The novel is BLOOD BOUND, a YA paranormal romance where the main character's father died when she was four and her mother ran off with her flavor-of-the-month boyfriend. This happened about six months before the story begins, leaving a 17 year-old alone. This is important, not because she needs her freedom, but because it's necessary for her to feel abandoned. It's part of the plot. It's also important that her mother chose that kind of lifestyle because Kira (MC) has watched her mother go through men like candy her whole life and because of it, Kira has chosen to be chaste and hold herself to higher standards than most girls her age. She wants ONE man and that man to be her mate forever. GO OCTAVION! (the hunky hero)
Also, as the story develops, Kira's independence is pivotal to some choices she makes, one of which thrusts her into another world. Having no ties to this world makes that choice believable.
So, when I read this agent's comments I was a little upset at first. I thought I'd have to recreate the entire story if this is how ALL agents feel. But then I thought of some other books I've read, one of which was made into a movie . . . Where the Heart Is. You might remember it as the girl who lived in Walmart and had her baby there. I believe it was based on a true story, so maybe that's where I went wrong. There's a saying that goes: "The difference between Fiction and reality (non-fiction) is that Fiction has to be believable."
So, I'm curious how you deal with the parent issue in your YA work. It seems like almost every book I read, the parents are always gone. Either they work too much, or are irresponsible, or don't care or travel afar. Aren't those ALL cliche? Tell me your take on all this. I really want to know.