To keep things legally and morally acceptable, the things that any teenagers set in a modern (American) society can do is limited. Plus I am a high school teacher, so I work with teenagers every day and some of the things they do, which would obviously fall within the realm of YA actions and possibilities since my students are actual young adults, are things that I wish they didn't do.
I don't want high school students having sex, or doing drugs, or making decisions that could affect the rest of their futures. And I know that even the seemingly mature teenagers have a limited understanding of the long-term consequences of their actions.
Some of that is limited maturity, some of that is due to brain development, but it's all real.
So I don't want my YA characters to be in relationships, because I don't think high school kids should be having sex; I don't want them partying, because I don't want to present underage drinking as a good idea to my target audience (because a YA novel is targeted at high school students), and I don't want violence (or at least too much violence) because of that limited understanding of long-term consequences and how actions affect the future.
So what do I have left? Family problems? Friend problems? Homework problems?
The story idea in my head would fall under the category of paranormal YA (and no, not vampires or werewolves, I'm thinking more along the lines of a demigod) and it would work really well in a high school setting because high school is not optional, therefore my demigod would have to put up with being in social situations with the same small group of people day-after-day.
But I don't want his future romantic ventures to be limited to holding hands. And I don't want the outgoing girl he is going to be interested in to invite him to the coffee shop rather than a party. And I really don't want to see him struggling with how to conceal his developing powers from his adoptive parents.
But if he isn't in high school, why does he have to see the same people every day? College is optional, and if your goal job is minimum wage unskilled labor you can go move around pretty easily if things start to go wrong in one place.
So what am I supposed to do? Let the idea wither and die? Make the situation forced so that he is locked into some sort of artificial situation where his presence is required like it would be in high school (and I don't want to turn this into a dystopian novel, so some sort of mandatory college wouldn't work for me)? Should I try to fit my non-YA desires into an acceptable YA mold?
I want to write this story, but I can't figure out how to get past all of these genre barriers. Any advice?