In these short stories about parents and children, the prominent interactions are between parents and their young, teenage or grown children. Also included are stories with stepparents and stepchildren. There are separate sections below for Parents & Grown Children and Stepparents/Stepchildren, but there could be some overlap between the categories. See also:
Short Stories About Parents and Children
“Nobody Said Anything” by Raymond Carver
A married couple argue one morning before work. One of their sons, Roger, fakes being sick so he can stay home by himself. He ends up being bored. He looks through his parents room, trying to get some insight into romantic matters. He decides to set out for Birch Creek to do some fishing.
This story can be read in the preview of Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories.
“Sticks” by George Saunders
A father has a pole in his yard that he dresses according to the occasion. He’s a stingy man and his family lives on edge. (Summary & Analysis)
This is the second story in the preview of Tenth of December: Stories.
“Royal Beatings” by Alice Munro
Rose lives with her father and stepmother in a poor area. Her stepmother relates the story of a local man who gets attacked. She also threatens Rose with a “royal beating.”
This is the first story in the preview of Alice Munro’s Best: Selected Stories. (25% into preview)
“Half a Moon” by Renée Watson
The seventeen-year-old narrator remembers when her Dad left when she was seven. Her Mom doesn’t think she remembers her Dad, but she does. She remembers lots of things from back then. She works at Oak Creek Campgrounds on spring break to help with the bills. She’ll be going to college next year, so she wants her last year on the job to be good. When the sixth-grade girls arrive, she recognizes one of them—Brooke, her Dad’s daughter.
This story can be read in the preview of Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. (19% into preview)
“Relative Stranger” by Amanda Witt
Glory is working in the kitchen when the doorbell rings. Through a window, she catches a glimpse of her husband, Owen on the step. When she opens it and he fully faces her, she’s surprised to see it’s not him. He knows her name and says Owen told him to come inside. Glory is unsettled, but she can’t lock him out—her boys are outside.
This story can be read in the preview of When a Stranger Comes to Town. (39% in)
Short Stories About Parents and Children, Cont’d
“Curly Red” by Joyce Carol Oates
Lili Rose wasn’t allowed to return home until her father was weakened and dying at seventy-three. She was exiled at thirteen, sent to live with an aunt and uncle. She had four older brothers who were often in trouble. Things changed when a local boy was attacked and beaten, and died soon after from his injuries. Lili Rose overheard some conversation. She made a decision that alienated her from her family.
This story can be read in the preview of I Am No One You Know: And Other Stories. (9% in)
“Calved” by Sam J. Miller
A father sees his son, Thede, after being away on a job for three months. Thede has changed; he’s a teenager so he’s grown some, but more importantly his demeanor is different. His eyes are flat and joyless. They have trouble connecting. Thede’s mother says he’s having some trouble at school with bullies. The dad has a sentimental gift for Thede that he hopes will turn the tide.
This story can be read in the preview of The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 1. (32% in)
“Rocket Man” by Ray Bradbury
Doug’s father is a rocket man, an astronaut, who’s coming home after three months in space. Doug’s mother wants her husband to stay home with them, but he always feels the pull of space and leaves again. He is torn between his family and his love of space.
“Oliver’s Evolution” by John Updike
Oliver was born later in his parents’ lives when they didn’t have much energy for raising him. They made some mistakes with him, and he has some close calls as he grows up.
“Miles City, Montana” by Alice Munro
A wife, husband, and their two young daughters are driving to visit the grandparents in Ontario. The wife, who is the narrator, remembers an incident from her childhood when a local boy drowned. During the drive, there are some squabbles and the family gets very hot, causing them to look for a cool spot to take a break.
Short Stories About Parents and Children, Cont’d
“Likes” by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
A father scrolls through his daughter’s Instagram, trying to get a sense of how she’s doing. She doesn’t talk to him much. He drives her to physical therapy twice a week for joint problems. Her mood varies, and she doesn’t feel like she has friends. She’s going to try out for a part in the “Nutcracker.”
“Sixpence” by Katherine Mansfield
Dicky is almost always a good boy. He has rare times when he gets into a mood and rebels. Dicky’s mother is entertaining Mrs. Spears one afternoon when Dicky starts acting up. He breaks a plate and runs off. Mrs. Spears offers some child-rearing advice.
“Simple Arithmetic” by Virginia Moriconi
A teenage son and his divorced parents correspond by mail. He has trouble reaching his mother, and his father nags him about various things.
“Simple Recipes” by Madeleine Thien
The narrator relates some memories from her childhood. She learned a special way of cooking rice from her father. Her mother worked at Woodward’s. Her older brother was more distant with their family. They immigrated to Canada from Malaysia before the narrator was born.
“How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again” by Joyce Carol Oates
A sixteen-year-old girl relates the events that lead her to a house of correction. Looking for love and attention at home, she engages in petty crimes, which escalates to her running away.
“Important Things” by Barbara L. Greenberg
A parent has promised to tell the children the “Important Things” in life. The parent puts it off until the kids are older and then tells them, but the kids aren’t impressed with the shared wisdom.
Short Stories About Parents & Grown Children
“Goodbye, My Brother” by John Cheever
A mother and her four grown children and their families gather at Laud’s Head, their family-owned summer house. The youngest brother, Lawrence, is the outsider of the siblings. Everyone mingles but Lawrence’s presence creates some tension. They talk, drink and play games.
This is the first story in the preview of The Stories of John Cheever.
“Home” by George Saunders
A man, Mikey, returns home. The place is untidy, his Ma is watching her language because she works at a church now, and she’s living with a new man, Harris, who is unemployed. Mikey had done something while away that got him in trouble. He visits his dysfunctional family.
“Timothy’s Birthday” by William Trevor
Charlotte and Odo, an elderly married couple, prepare for a birthday visit from their son, Timothy. They don’t see him often, but he does visit on his birthday each year. Charlotte prepares his favorite meal, and Odo makes sure the gin and tonic is ready to serve. Meanwhile, Timothy tells Eddie that he isn’t going to go.
This is the third story in the preview of Selected Stories. (50% into preview)
“How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes)” by Lorrie Moore
The narrator covers events in the life of the protagonist starting in 1982 and working back to 1939. It relates significant moments with her mother, father, brother, and her interactions with men.
Short Stories About Stepparents & Stepchildren
“The Rockpile” by James Baldwin
Johnny and Roy live across the street from a mass of natural rock, known as the rockpile. It’s a popular play spot for the neighborhood kids. The boys are warned to stay away from it by their parents, who think it’s dangerous. One day while sitting on the fire escape, some of Roy’s friends ask him to come with them.
This story can be read in the preview of Going to Meet the Man: Stories. (14% in)
“Remembering Orchards” by Barry Lopez
The narrator lived with his stepfather from twelve to seventeen, and they weren’t close. He was a highly skilled orchardist and farmer, who brought serenity to the home. The narrator talks about his stepfather and his assistant, Ramon. He appreciates his stepfather now, and knows what he’s lost.
“Approximations” by Mona Simpson
Melinda, a teenager, relates events from her childhood. She and her mother, Carol, ice-skated regularly. She didn’t know her father until she was seven. He calls and invites her and her mother to go with him to Disneyland. He’s a waiter, and lives with three roommates. Soon after, Carol marries Jerry, a professional skater.
I’ll keep adding short stories about parents and children as I find more.