Parents love their children very much. They put clothes on their back, food on their table, and made many other sacrifices to assure their safety. Heck, they would beat the living crapout of anyone who tried to harm them. Sometimes, children ought to be grateful for having such awesome parents.
Well, not really. Often, not only do parents teach their children things like being responsible and being kind to others, they would like it even more if their children took pride in them.
Because of this, parents might indignantly accuse their children of being ungrateful, although this isn't always the case for those who are not. There could be valid reasons why children show indifference toward their parents. Maybe parents are a bit strict when it comes to setting rules for their children, especially those who are rebellious and disrespectful, creating further animosity. Maybe parents want to force their children to pursue a particular career, treating their own aspirations as meaningless; in this case, it's all about the Family Business. Also, it could be that the children think they have better things to do, such as playing video games and hanging out with their friends, rather than spending time with their parents. Whatever reason it may be, it shouldn't hurt them to acknowledge who their parents are and what they have done for them.
Some variations of this trope show that parents aren't always paragons of virtue and that the children who withhold their approval of them may be in the right. Parents who have done some very bad things in the past will want to redeem themselves just for their children's sake, whether it was being abusive, neglectful, distant, etc. It's a long, hard road for parents to seek reconciliation from their children.
If the child does indeed show how much they're proud of what their parents have done for them, or at least pardon them for their shortcomings, then the results will be very heartwarming. For cynical portrayals of this trope, the parent-child bond will turn sour, orworse.
Keep in mind that while this trope commonly involves a parent and child, it can also involve an older sibling and a younger sibling, a mentor and a student, and any other equivalent pairing.
This is the inverse of "Well Done, Son" Guy, although both tropes can overlap if the parent and child long for each other's respect but Cannot Spit It Out. An interesting variant would be that the child tries to gain their parent's respect, but, as the years go by, the roles are switched. If parents care about the approval of one child and shun the others, then it's Parental Favoritism.
Compare and contrast Abusive Parents, where the parents don't care about their children, even if they may care for their respect.
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Spirit in Soul Eater desperately tries to get the respect and love of his daughter, who sympathizes with her mother over him in their divorce. Whenever he saves her life his internal monologue always shows that he hopes Maka can see how cool he's being. Maka appreciates his efforts, but is reluctant to tell him that thanks to her continued animosity towards him.
In Tiger & Bunny, the only person who Kotetsu really cares about winning the respect and approval of is his daughter, Kaede. Later on, Barnaby starts feeling this way in respects to Kotetsu.
Barnaby: I just aspire to be someone worthy of his trust.
In Nobody Dies, Asuka plays this Up to Eleven to the point where Kyoko is an outright Abusive Parent, but it also remains a facet of Shinji's relationship with his father; Gendo might be a lot less messed up with Yui still at his side, but he isn't prone to overt displays of emotion and it's not always obvious that yes, he does love his son. They spend a fair chunk of the story working through this.
In Warrior, Paddy Conlon, who was an alcoholic dad, tries to seek forgiveness from his son Brendan, who was under-appreciated in favor of his brother Tommy. Despite being reluctant about it, Brendan eventually forgave his father.
In That's My Boy, Donny spends most of the film trying to gain his estranged son's approval. Initially his son was so embarassed by his Man Child father and the circumstances which led to his birth (a Teacher/Student Romance between his then preteen father and adult mother) that he changed his name from Han Solo to Todd Peterson. His antics during the film only make things worse. When Donny saves his son from marrying his seemingly nice fiance, Todd proudly takes back his original name.
Joe Brody of Godzilla (2014). As a result of the death of his wife Sandra at Janjira and his subsequent development into a Properly ParanoidConspiracy Theorist investigating what really caused the plant to collapse, he has become estranged from his son Ford, who thinks all his dad's crazy-sounding theories are just a pathetic attempt keep from moving on from that grief like he has. The fact that the first time in years Ford meets up with Joe is to retrieve him after he got arrested trying to sneak into the Janjira quarantine zone didn't help either.
In The Truce at Bakura of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, we have Anakin Skywalker who was a Force ghost expresses to Leia how he is really proud of her, but she became angry with him due to the atrocities he had committed in his reign as Darth Vader. Later on though, she does come around, albeit uneasily.
In one of the two third Red Dwarf novels, Last Human, Arnold Rimmer faces extreme disappointment from his long-lost son who was told lies of his father's heroism by his mother. He eventually gained his respect after freeing himself from the neurosis.
In The Zombie Knight, Hector's mother actually admits when he asks that she never loved him. She isn't exaggerating.
Jolene Barnes of Nashville: pretty much a "Well Done, Mom" gal. Though she's a neglectful, irresponsible drug addict for most of her daughter Juliette's life, she seems to want to kick the drugs so she can win back her love. Juliette, unsurprisingly, is too damaged to trust her. Jolene ultimately shows her love by killing the guy who swindled beaucoup bucks from Juliette and tried to get even more via a sex tape. Tragically, she then kills herself...
This was inverted and played straight in Gilmore Girls where Lorelai stresses herself in earning the respect of her Meddling Parents, though she's earned only her father's after she helps him set up his new business, but after this, she's actually horrified whenever she earns the respect of her mother.
Paul Sr. from American Chopper tries to repair his broken relationship with his son, Paul Jr. in the Grand Finale of American Chopper: Senior Vs. Junior after he fired him from the previous series which lead to its Cancellation.
Paul Hennessey on 8 Simple Rules, who really valued the love and affection of his two teenage daughters and son.
Psych: With Henry and Shawn, though it's far from one-sided. One of the reasons why Shawn hated Henry so much was because he blamed him for the divorce between him and Shawn's mother (he took the blame because he didn't want Shawn to resent his mother), though he mostly resents him for the Training from Hell.
Juliet's father, who she rejected for being a lying conman, never being home, and abandoning her and her brothers. Now that she's an adult, he wants to atone, and is trying to win back her respect and affection.
On Angel, the titular character constantly seeks the approval and loyalty of his son Connor. This is complicated by the fact that Connor's a Broken Bird teetering on the edge of sanity who spent his entire childhood in a hell dimension, being raised by his adoptive father to consider Angel a dangerous monster whom Connor was destined to kill.
Once Upon a Time, both Regina/the Wicked Queen, and Mr. Gold/Rupelstiltskin perform a heel-face turn primarily to get the respect and love of their respective children, Henry and Baelfire.
The song "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin starts out with a father being too busy to hang out with his son. By the end, the son is too busy to hang out with his aged father.
Jean Valjean of Les MisÚrables may be a variation; though he has Cosette's love and devotion, he is terrified of losing her respect if she finds out about his convict past.
In Homestuck, John is quite annoyed with his dad telling him how proud he is of him to the point that it's become redundant, leading John to become angsty about himself not worthy of his dad's respect. The two did got along better, though.
In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer becomes a bodybuilder and tries to climb Springfield's tallest mountain, the Murderhorn, in a bid to impress Bart.
In the Kim Possible episode "Mathter and Fervent", Mr. Stoppable spends the episode doing things like wearing a cape, volunteering at the fire department (ending up as a cook), and coming along on a mission to get Ron to write the assignment on his hero about him.
Mr. Krabs seems to have this relationship with Pearl in some episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants, such as "Squeaky Boots" and "Whale Of A Birthday", despite Pearl being sometimes annoyed with him.
In Gargoyles, if Fox would show the slightest respect for honor, morality, heck, even respect for other people's property rights, her father Halcyon Renard would give her his full approval and mega-corporation in an instant. Instead, she tries to bankrupt him so her husband Xanatos can buy the business, because she considers corporate espionage and sabotage more fun.
In "April in Quahog", Peter admits that he hated his kids. The whole episode has him trying to win back the love the kids had for him, so at the end, he buys an X-Box and the kids automatically love him again.
One of Tex Avery's cartoons One Cab's Family has some aspects of this. The father wants his son to be a taxi cab just like him, and is burdened on him being interested in being a hot rod convertible. But that changed when the son chooses the taxi cab and now everything is set right with the father.
Hunson Abadeer of Adventure Time loves his vampire daughter Marceline and cares about her approval, but has, on a couple of notable occasions, either hurt her or forced her into something in which she has no interest.
It doesn't help that he pretty much abandoned her as a child, which led to her Simon being her Parental Substitute.