- And I turned 21 in prison doing life without paroleNo-one could steer me right, but Mama tried, Mama tried— Mama Tried by Merle Haggard
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, however cruel and idiotic she is, Cersei Lannister does try to be a good mother to her children. While things work out with Myrcella and Tommen, the same can't be said for her eldest, Joffrey.
- In EastEnders, Dot Cotton, a god-fearing, chain-smoking member of society raised Nick. Although, she apparently did try.
- Inverted with Joxer of Xena: Warrior Princess, who is the White Sheep of the family - he comes from a long line of warlords but no matter how hard he tries, he just can't be evil.
- "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard. He talks about turning 21 in prison, doing life without parole, and states he is the only one to blame, as Mama tried.
- The first verse of "Don't go chasing waterfalls" by TLC has a mother trying to dissuade her son from dealing drugs. He gets killed.
- Johnny Cash: "When I was just a baby, my momma told me 'Son, always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns' but I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die..."
- Another song, called "Don't take your guns to town".
- While Drew and Charlotte often spoil or enable Angelica in Rugrats, Drew frequently attempts to properly discipline and educate her, but she never learns.
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