Follow TV Tropes

Following

Breaking the Cycle of Bad Parenting

Go To

Now I'm a grown man with a child of my own
And I swear, I'll never let her know all the pain I've known
Everclear, "Father of Mine"

When parents or parental figures do a much better job at raising kids compared to their own parents.

How this happens varies between people. Maybe they know how they were raised wasn't the best and decides not to repeat the mistakes with their own kids. Maybe it's a case of Values Dissonance; what might have been good parenting back in the day would look poorly in modern society.

Advertisement:

Expect some parents to still have some issues in raising their kids because of how they were raised. They may still be seen as abusive or neglectful, but when compared to the people that raised them, they are seen as better. There might be a chance they will realize they are making the same mistakes as their parents and do try and correct it.

A Sub-Trope of I Am Not My Father and sometimes a means of attempting to avert The Chain of Harm. Compare to Evil Parents Want Good Kids.


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Orihime’s own parents were stated to have been abusive by her older brother (who ran off with her as soon as he was old enough to act as her legal guardian). In contrast, she's shown to be a loving and attentive mother to Kazui in the epilogue.
  • Boruto:
    • Sasuke had a distant relationship with his "Well Done, Son!" Guy father. He's trying to be a more affectionate father towards his own daughter Sarada after spending a long time being away.
    • Hinata is a kind but still strict mother to both Boruto and Himawari. Contrast to her own father Hiashi who was emotionally distant and looked down on Hinata throughout most of her childhood because he thought she was weak.
    • Gaara ends up adopting a son named Shinki. Shinki is shown to be very happy with Gaara and Gaara himself is very encouraging towards Shinki. Compare that to Gaara's father who ordered his death when he was still a child.
  • Discussed in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Kaguya's father is the very definition of neglectful, and while she may not be a parent yet, Yume's fortune-telling during the culture festival (which was 100% accurate in every other respect) said that she would grow up to be "a good wife and a wise mother".
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Fate Testarossa was raised by her incredibly abusive mother (at least until she was adopted by Lindy Harlaown), and from StrikerS onward she is driven to be as good a parent as possible to her three adopted children. While she normally does a good job, her desire to not repeat her mother's mistakes occasionally causes her to overcompensate and come across as My Beloved Smother.
  • In the final episode of Michiko & Hatchin, a Time Skip shows Hatchin with a baby who she actually cares for. This actually makes her a much better parent to Hiroshi who abandoned Hatchin twice.
  • One Piece: Big Mom, while generally generous towards her children, is quite abusive towards Chiffon specifically because of what her twin did, i.e Lola ran away from an Arranged Marriage with a prince of the Giant race that will help Big Mom Pirates achieve her dream of becoming the Pirate King, even though said prince was genuinely smitten with Lola. By contrast, Chiffon herself is a good parent towards her own son (with Capone Bege), Pez.
  • A few of the Sohmas who have kids (Kyo, Yuki, Akito, Momiji, and Rin) do this in Fruits Basket Another because their Character Development allows them to be better adults than their parents before them. Tohru's mom Kyoko feared she would be a bad parent to her child, but also broke the cycle (even when she had a brief relapse over her husband's death).

    Comic Books 
  • Wally West's parents weren't the best. Their treatment of him ranged from emotionally to physically abusive, with a dose of manipulation when he became an adult. It got to the point that Wally, as a kid, would cherish his summer visits to his aunt Iris because it got him away from his parents. Once Wally became a father with twins, he was shown to be very loving and protective of them. He was even willing to confront the entire Justice League when he thought they were going to take them away.
  • Green Arrow: Roy Harper to Oliver Queen. While Ollie does care for his ward, he was shown as neglectful and unable to notice Roy's drug addiction. And when he did, he disowned Roy. In contrast, Roy did everything he could for his daughter Lian, even though he was a single parent and did make mistakes.
  • Bruce Banner had a horribly abusive father, so both he and Hulk (in one of those instances where both personas agree on something) try to be a kind and caring father to their son Skaar.
  • Venom has Eddie Brock, whose father is emotionally and physically abusive. When Eddie learns he has a son, one who grew up under Eddie's father thinking that Eddie was his brother, he tries to damnedest to not continue the abuse, though his life as Venom makes this difficult at times.
  • Emma Frost confessed in Warsong she tried to teach her daughters/clones the Stepford Cuckoos to survive in this world the same way her father taught her, which was to be cold and uncaring, but realises that this is not the best way and wants to encourage them to accept their feelings instead.

    Fan Works 
  • In Bluefur's Choice, Bluefur decides to be involved in her children's apprenticeships because her own mother was distant during her apprenticeship.
  • Codex Equus: One way for someone to break free of the Vicious Cycles that constantly plague Equus is to discard previous abusive patterns and show their children (biological or adopted) the love and respect they deserve.
    • The Poenan deities (and their mortal followers) raised Silver Bane to follow their ruthless philosophy of Justice, and gave him harmful, hypocritical, and self-righteous teachings that would have eventually killed him if his friends and other benevolent individuals hadn't intervened and saved him. After adopting Friede, he would become a much better surrogate parent for her than the Poenans had ever been for him, as he genuinely tried to be a good father and role model for his daughter - to the point where the normally Emotionless Girl Friede started crying openly and loudly for the first time after he got severely injured and fell into a coma (which he thankfully woke up from).
    • As a colt, Prince Blueblood's birth parents emotionally abused him in their attempts to mold him into the ideal Scion of House Platinum, including trying to destroy his childhood dreams of being an adventurer after he got a compass rose Cutie Mark. Years later, after he was adopted by Princess Celestia and he was introduced to Prince Léon, then an infant Alicorn, he initially had doubts over his parenting skills and feared having Léon's innocence corrupted by Equestria's incompetent, selfish, and cruel nobility... but he ultimately chose to take responsibility and become the good parent to Léon that his own parents were not, resulting in an emotionally well-adjusted toddler. Both Luminiferous and Celestia believe that lots of good things await him if he continues raising Léon right.
    • The parents of Prince Golden Ash were not abusive to him or his brother, but they still held the toxic, xenophobic, and reactionary beliefs shared by the larger Alvslog Deer Herds and promoted by the Elternteil Deer Pantheon. Years later, after settling down in Kerajaan Cahaya and marrying his husband Victory Road, Golden Ash would become a father himself after adopting a young orphaned pegasus colt. Unlike his parents, though, Golden Ash is a genuinely loving parent who is raising his son outside of the harmful beliefs that he himself grew up with.
    • As a colt, Moon Ray Vaughoof was abused by his bad-tempered, alcoholic father, leaving him with physical and mental scars that took him a long time to heal from. In the Fourth Age, he would adopt a few children, such as Prince Dissonant Tune, Ruya Clear Feather, and Princess Voľná Láska, and be the loving father to them that Sunny Mane wasn't to him. This is notable since Dissonant Tune and Voľná Láska grew up with abusive parents themselves.
    • Prince Dissonant Tune ends up invoking this on both levels.
      • Dissonant's birth father, War Rock, was essentially a narcissistic, sociopathic monster who abandoned his kids. Dissonant's stepfather resented and abused him, and later tried to kill him after killing his mother in a rage. Years later, after falling in love with Zmeniť and siring Hudba, Dissonant vowed to be the good father that Hudba deserved and has made good on his promise, despite his own fears, insecurities, and mistakes as a parent.
      • Dissonant's biological grandparents were perfectionists who constantly pushed their musically-talented son to succeed and then spoiled him rotten as a reward whenever he did, turning War Rock into a narcissistic, entitled sociopath who inflicted much harm on everyone around him. By stark contrast, Dissonant made huge efforts in being a genuinely good father to his daughter, Hudba; he initially tried compensating for his abusive foalhood by spoiling Hudba, only to realize his mistake when it turned her into a Spoiled Brat and got him chewed out by Moon Ray/Canticum Lunae.
    • Prince Dühroham Erobreseg's birth parents were horribly abusive to him and treated him more like a Human Weapon than a person, which left him a Shell-Shocked Veteran with incredible amounts of PTSD. By present-day, he still has issues, but he's significantly more adjusted than before thanks to Yarost adopting him and receiving psychiatric help. Dühroham's entry notes that all of his children were adopted due to him being gay, but he's nonetheless a much better parent to them than his birth parents were to him. One of Dühroham's children is Noo-Noo, a robotic vacuum cleaner he adopted as his son after Noo-Noo gained sapience.
    • Princess Voľná Láska's birth parents, as Neo-Alvslog Deer, bore the same bigoted, traditional, and reactionary mindsets as the original Alvslog Deer Herds. They were also both religious fanatics and eco-extremists who exploited her precognitive visions by essentially turning her into a drug addict so they could lead Erobreseg Deerkind back to their "birthright" as caretakers of nature. In stark contrast, Voľná herself would become a good mother for her adoptive and biological children, including one Shàngtiān Jiùēn, whom she and Moon Ray saved from himself after her son's repressed traumas and negative emotions finally caught up to him.
    • While Vicearch Iniquitous' own mother wasn't outright abusive to her and her brother, she was rather emotionally neglectful and later estranged herself from her children to keep her other life as a Lilithian witch a secret following her divorce. If Iniquitous' brother is to be believed, they rarely saw their mother except during occasions when she wants something from them. When their mother died, neither of them shed a tear, with Iniquitous' brother seeing her act of bequeathing her own belongings to her daughter as finally doing them some good. By contrast, once she became a mother herself, Iniquitous would remain consistently present in the lives of her children, the Princelings of Vice, which influenced the Princelings' relationships with her and how they see her overall.
  • Ex Tenebris, Lux: Cinderella's biological parents died when she was young and she grew up with an abusive Wicked Stepmother. As a result, Cinderella wants to be the best mother she could be to her own children. She gets upset when her husband tells her that he's been keeping their young son away from her because she's weak from her difficult pregnancy. Years later, Cinderella's bottled-up emotions explode and she grabs her son's hand in anger, but she's instantly horrified by being so physical with her child.
  • How the Light Gets In: Dean's mother was murdered before she could be much of a mother, and his father then became a vengeance-driven and emotionally abusive man. Laurel's parents both preferred Sara to her, were emotionally abusive (her father could get downright cruel when he was drunk), and her mother kept some very vital secrets from her. They have both sworn to be better parents for their daughter, and have succeeded admirably.
  • In Lasting Fame, Pizzazz is a doting mother to her son because her own father was emotionally neglectful and her mother abandoned her at a young age. However, Pizzazz ends up being too doting and smothers her son.
  • one day at a time: Jason Todd. His father was an abusive wannabe henchman, and while his adoptive mother loved him, she was a heroin addict that eventually succumbed to cancer. The less said about his biological mother, the better. And as for Bruce Wayne... as much the two honestly did love each other in the end, Bruce was not a good father. He was emotionally unstable, and that lead to him being anywhere from neglectful to outright cruel and abusive to his children whenever he was hit hard with something. Left with all these examples of bad parenting, Jason strove to be completely unlike all of them when he ended up becoming a father, and besides some bouts of overprotectiveness, succeeded. His children absolutely adored him, and when he died, they heavily mourned his death.
  • Restraint: Azula grew up with an emotionally neglectful mother and a physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive father. She wants to be a better parent than her own parents were, but she's so emotionally stunted and unsure of how to bond with others that she does the opposite. Her wife, Ty Lee, has to call her out specifically because she's neglecting their toddler Azusami.
  • The Second Try: Both Shinji and Asuka are phenomenally better parents to their daughter, Aki, than their own parents ever were for them, managing to raise her in a post-apocalyptic environment while dealing with their own psychoses and still have her come out well adjusted enough to integrate into normal society when they're sent back in time. They both lampshade this repeatedly.
  • Something New:
    • Growing up with emotionally distant and abusive parents (as well as an unhappy childhood) has traumatized Sophia (Miss Pauling) to the point where she's uncertain she'll be a good mother to her own children. It doesn't stop her from trying to be a good parent, however.
    • Liam (Scout) himself vows to be a better father due to his own dad never being around.
  • Son of the Sannin: Asuma mentions during his wedding reception how he didn't have a very good relationship with his father growing up (since the latter had so many responsibilities that he never had any time for his family), and says that he wants to have a better relationship with his own kid once they're born. Given how the epilogue shows him and his now teenage daughter happily sparring together, he seems to have succeeded.
  • In Michael’s segment of the For Better or for Worse fanfiction The Unauthorized Litographies Of The Patterson Family, he looks at himself in the mirror one day after shooing his children away from his study and sees that he has the same scared and cheated expression his mother Elly wore often. After looking at various photo albums and thinking about his childhood, Michael realizes he’s become his emotionally abusive, neglectful, and perpetually unhappy mother. he goes to family therapy with Deanna and the kids and becomes a better father after that.
    • Side stories imply that Elizabeth is also working to be a better parent to her son James especially after divorcing Anthony.
Advertisement:

    Films — Animation 
  • In Despicable Me, Gru's mother, while not a terrible parent, was still quite mean and aloof. Gru starts out this way too when he adopts Margo, Edith, and Agnes but when he turns good, he becomes a rather good dad. Heck, she even lampshades it, first by saying he turned out a good parent like her, then adds "Maybe even better."
  • Far From The Tree: The raccoon protagonist's father never took the time to explain why she needed to be cautious when searching for food, instead resorting to keeping her hidden and being harsh with her when she stepped out of line. As a result, she gets hurt. Years later, when the protagonist has a child of her own, she catches herself repeating her father's strategy and resolves to do better, carefully involving her own child in the scavenging and taking pains to explain the dangers of the world.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony calls Peter to check in, mentioning that his father was never really there for him and saying he's trying to "break the cycle." While he's making an effort to be a more active mentor/father figure, he still rarely takes Peter's calls, having him make reports to Happy instead (though he does refer back to one of those reports, proving that he did listen to them), and when Peter comes to him for advice about an illegal arms deal, Tony basically blows him off, leading to the situation getting worse, for which he then blames Peter. He's gotten better by Avengers: Infinity War, where he still tries to keep Peter away from dangerous situations but does take time to discuss plans with Peter and actually takes advice from him. By Avengers: Endgame, he's improved greatly. When Peter is restored from Thanos's dusting, Tony's immediate response is to give him a hug, to ensure he knows Tony cares, and every scene with Tony's new daughter Morgan shows that he's emotionally invested with her.
    • In Endgame, it also turns out that Howard's father was even more abusive, and while Howard may have subjected Tony to some emotional abuse, he was never that bad. Howard tried to invoke this trope but unfortunately wasn't able to.

    Literature 
  • Mentioned in The Dresden Files. At one point, Harry helps a woman realize that her child is being abused, and Uriel confirms that she will take her child and get out of there, breaking a cycle of abuse a couple centuries old. Harry, being the Humble Hero he is, barely even remembered doing it.
  • Implied in Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi. As a child, Lan Wangji faced Parental Neglect due to his father being in seclusion, his mother forbidden to raise him, and his uncle placing very high expectations on him. Whereas, he was a very good father to his adopted son Wen Yuan/Lan Sizhui. He made sure to raise his son with good values and not be overly restrictive.
  • In Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy has been raised by his parents to uphold their supremacist values regarding pure-blood wizards. However, being forced to work for Voldemort makes him realize that Evil Is Not a Toy, and he repents and subsequently raises his son Scorpius to not have the ideals his own parents taught him.
  • Amber's parents in Hive Mind (2016) made it clear they would love her no matter what level she ended up on. This is in reaction to her father's parents abandoning him when he came out as level 27, 13 levels below them.
  • InCryptid: Jonathan had Good Parents, but his Overprotective Dad tendencies towards Alice (sometimes bordering on abusive) definitely had a lasting effect on her views of parenting. She didn't abuse her children Kevin and Jane but left them to be raised by her best friend while she was a Missing Mom traveling through dimensions looking for her husband Thomas. She even says in her narration that she "didn't allow herself to love Jane" (who was born after Thomas was taken) to avoid further heartbreak. Fortunately, Jane and Kevin seem to have completely broken the chain, becoming Good Parents and being present for their children's entire upbringing.
  • Whateley Universe: As said in "The Big Idea", the Sawyer family, as said to the youngest son in the youngest generation:
    I never thought that I’d see the day when I sang Quentin Sawyer’s praises, but compared to his father Grady, Quent’s a SAINT! I mean, Quent’s mean, but he works hard, makes a decent living for his family, and he doesn’t hit your mother- leastways, not as I could ever tell. But your Grampaw Grady? *Phew!* Now THERE was a mean old man! I remember back in Middle School, he never missed a chance to humiliate Quent in front of the other kids. He wasn’t ever quite drunk, but he always had a beer or two under his belt. Never spent a penny on his family that he didn’t absolutely have to. And he put Quent and his sister in the hospital a couple of times that I’m sure of.
    “If Quent has a single redeeming trait, it’s that he’s not as bad as his father was. And I shudder to think of what Grady’s father was probably like. But Quent never really managed to get out from under his father’s thumb. The old man’s been dead for twelve years now and on some level, Quent’s still trying to please the old rip.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Invoked by Will from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After being abandoned yet again by his father, Will tells Phil that he did pretty well without him and that he's going to marry a fine girl and have great kids who he will never abandon.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond could be called "Breaking The Cycle Of Bad Parenting: The Series" where a few episodes would show that Frank is snarky and distant with his sons as adults and even when they were children, in contrast to Ray and Robert being a good father and Cool Uncle to Ray's kids. One episode revealed that Frank was abused by his father growing up.
    Ray: So granddad hit your dad, and your dad hit you, and... you never really hit us.
    Frank: I couldn't, you know. I was always weaker than him.
    Robert: Maybe you didn't want to be like him.
    Frank: I didn't.
  • Friends: Monica and Chandler fight this battle on two fronts as they prepare to have children. Monica already spent the series avoiding becoming like her emotionally abusive and critical mother, while Chandler is scared of repeating his incompetent and neglectful parent's mistakes. After discovering they have infertility issues, they decide to adopt so they can give an unwanted child a home and the love they never had, and the series ends with the arrival of their instantly beloved newborn twins.
    • Subverted with Judy Geller, who thinks she's the trope but is just as cruel to Monica as her own mother was to her.
    Judy: "Do you know what it's like to grow up with someone who is critical of every single thing you say?
    Monica: "I can imagine."
    Judy: "It's a wonder your mother turned out to be the positive, life-affirming person she is."
  • The George Lopez Show:
    • George when compare to his disappearing father Manny and abusive mother Benny. Many episodes deal with George making the same mistakes his mother made, I.e. not giving Max help with his dyslexia or not believing that Carmen can make it into college, and correcting them in the end.
    • Downplayed with Benny. While she was abusive toward George, she does genuinely loves him and did her best at raising him. In contrast, her father was an alcoholic abuser and her mother considers her worthless.
  • Murray Goldberg from The Goldbergs does call his kids morons from time to time and often doesn't get them when it comes to any of their interests. But he was like that because his father was neglectful to the point that Murray had to raise his brother by himself and it's hard for him to express himself. But he does show he loves his kids very much and is a good father.
  • Mama's Family
    • Thelma may yell, criticize, mock, and embarrass her kids, she does genuinely love them in her own Jerk with a Heart of Gold ways. The same could not be said of her parents. Especially her mother who had all of Thelma's negative aspects but none of her positives. In fact, an apparition of Thelma's mother actually causes her to be afraid of it as she starts criticizing everything Thelma does.
    • Vinton is an interesting case of being this and invoking it. In the early season when he had his two kids Buzz and Sonia, he never once belittled them like Thelma did to him. In fact, Buzz himself told him he was a good dad since a lesser person could have easily abandoned him and Sonia. In a later season when he and Naomi were trying for a child and Sonia and Buzz were retconned out, he told Thelma he was going to be a great dad since he would encourage his child. Something Thelma never did for him.
  • Zigzagged in Mom. Christy was raised by her alcoholic and drug-using mom Bonnie who messed up her childhood. Unfortunately, Christy does the exact same thing to Violet and Roscoe. However, the series does start with her in recovery and makes genuine efforts to be a good parent and make up for her mistakes. It just doesn't stick most of the time. Even Bonnie's own mother left her when she was young and never return even when her life was stable. While Bonnie did keep Christy and did attempt to raise her, she still messed up. And while Violet did give up her baby, she made sure she went to a loving family.
  • Raising Hope:
    • Both Burt and Virginia Chance did make bad decisions when raising Jimmy. These include using his name for credit card loans and damaging his credit score and using Christmas as a time to sell stuff to make extra money and not celebrating it with him. However, they are still treated as Good Parents who love Jimmy and did the best they could given they were teen parents. They even made up ruining Jimmy's Christmases by treating other non-major holidays as special so he wouldn't be left out. Jimmy for his part tries harder to raise Hope like getting a stable job so he could get some Health Care and making sure she has a better childhood than his.
    • Despite the mistakes Burt and Virginia did while raising Jimmy, they are still better parents than their own. Burt's played favorite with his older brother and never thought Burt would ever amount to anything. While Virginia's parents left her while she was still young to be raised by her grandparents. Her father was also a narcissist who tried to change her life to better fit his own needs. Though, he is shown to still love her compare to the mother.
    • Sabrina was a Lonely Rich Kid whose parents were barely there. Worst was her mother who would bad-mouth Sabrina, hurting her emotionally. Sabrina became a wonderful mother to Hope. One episode had Sabrina trying to give Hope a great family vacation despite everything going wrong. And when Sabrina has a nightmare in which Hope grew up in the same lonely family life like her, she was terrified and tried to fix it.
  • Roseanne: Multiple:
    • Invoked by Darlene after a bad day with her grandmother. She mentions how Bev's mom wasn't a good mother, that Bev was better than her, and Roseanne is really better than Bev. She then concludes that when she has a kid, she'll be a super mom.
    • Going from the above, Roseanne is seen as a better mom than her father who abused her and Jackie, and her mother who was critical and didn't do anything to stop the abuse. She does love her kids despite her yelling and manipulation as she wants them to do better than she did. When she hit DJ after a very frustrating day, she was traumatized by the incident as she didn't want to be like her father.
    • Dan grew up with a barely-there father and a mentally ill mother who actually attempted to kill him when he was an adult. He is shown to be a very loving father who does spend time with his kids, and who is also shown to be very protective of them.
    • Jackie herself actively invokes this trope for Andy as she wants to be a better mother than Bev who she hates. However, it's shown she sometimes overdoes it and comes off more as an overprotective parent. However, a conversation between Bev and Jackie does have the former admit she was a bad mother and Jackie was a good one.
    • Subverted with Bev and her mother Mary. Mary was a very free-spirited parent which actually cause Bev to grow up to be very strict with Roseanne and Jackie. Both styles are shown to be very bad.
  • Bones: Seeley Booth was abided by his alcoholic father for years until his grandfather rescued him. Hank seems to have raised him well, as Booth is like him rather than his birth father, a loving father who would do anything for his kids and they love him.
  • The Sopranos: Somewhat downplayed. Tony Sopranos's children have their issues and Tony himself is a bit rough around the edges as a parent. However, he does make every attempt he can and, in spite of his flaws raising them, he still comes across as a lightyears better parent to his children than his sadistic mother and manipulative father were to him. Even with his frustrations towards his children, his desire to do right by them is the one redeeming quality he carries to the end of the series.
  • Cobra Kai: Deconstructed. Johnny Lawrence desperately wants to be a good sensei and father figure to his students, his actual son Robby Keene and his bonus-son Miguel Diaz. However, he grew up abused by both his father figures, verbally and emotionally by his stepfather Sid Weinberg, and verbally, emotionally, and physically by John Kreese. He really has no good role models and only a vague idea of what he should be doing, and while his intentions are good, his trial-and-error approach to parenting and his own demons mean he messes up a lot.

    Music 
  • "I Have a Right" by Sonata Arctica:
    Father, there's a little flower
    Beautiful and different, all alone, all alone
    Is it so, Dad? I'm not supposed to
    Make the world anew, and be like you? Am I you?
    [...]
    You made it clear right from the start
    I am to take your sour heart within, one sad day
    But I will never teach my son
    Embittered history, tried and true, 'cause I'm not you!

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: If the player slept with Morrigan and/or allowed her to undergo a "ritual" in Dragon Age: Origins, she will return 10 years later in Inquisition with a son. Regardless of the partnership or circumstances (whether she conceived the child with her One True Love, whether the boy is the reincarnation of an Old God and whether or not she and the father raised the boy together), Morrigan loves her son and is very protective of him. If the boy IS a reincarnation, during the course of the game, he will be abducted by Morrigan's mother, Flemeth, and Morrigan will do everything she can to get him back. She says this is because she's determined to not be the sort of mother to him that Flemeth was to her. Flemeth is visibly hurt by that statement and then takes the Old God soul from Kieran before giving him back to his mother, almost as if in apology. Made even awesome considering Flemeth's real identity as Mythal. Mythal is the goddess of motherhood and justice. She's so focused on the latter that she forgets to be the former for her daughter Morrigan. This is something that Morrigan is morally higher than her mother, even if both of them are more than willing to be unscrupulous to achieve their goals.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, both Henry and Libra had Abusive Parents who abandoned them. Both are specifically singled out as good parents in their endings, as Henry notes that he became an excellent father while Libra ends up opening an Orphanage of Love.
  • John Marston from Red Dead Redemption and its Prequel Red Dead Redemption II rarely talks about his long-dead biological father but makes clear that he wasn't a good parent. He was a pimp who got blinded in a bar fight and died from the complications, leaving John to grow up in an orphanage and then join a gang. John certainly has his issues as a parent (at least at the start) but is determined to give his son, Jack, a better life than he did and ultimately succeeds in doing it, including giving his own life so Jack can be free of his (John's) past.
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus introduced Rip Blazkowicz, B.J.'s abusive father. A man who made his son's life a living hell by wanting him to become the same racist and misogynistic bag of crap like him and who sold his wife to the Nazis by the time the game took place. B.J., whose partner was expecting twins as revealed at the beginning of the game, said that he could expect to die and would be a better parent than him. Come Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and B.J.'s twin daughters, Jess and Soph, who hold their father in high regard, are introduced.
  • Ultimately subverted in LISA. Brad's father Marty was a terrible parent, a raging alcoholic who verbally and physically abused him and sexually abused his little sister Lisa. When, several decades later, he's tasked with parenting an orphaned baby girl who he names Buddy, he vows to be a better parent than his father ever was. But his extreme overprotectiveness and his drug addiction make him almost as bad of a father as Marty. As soon as Buddy gets her first taste of the outside world, she realizes that her childhood wasn't normal and comes to despise her father, and pretty much every other character in the game - evil and heroic - agrees that Brad is a terrible dad.
  • God of War: Kratos is the demigod son of Zeus, who repeatedly tried to kill the Spartan to prevent Kratos from fulfilling a prophecy where he would kill Zeus and overthrow Olympus (which, needless to say, gave Kratos motivation to do exactly that). This being a game based on Classical Mythology, it's made clear Zeus did the exact same thing to his own father, Kronus (though the latter was merely exiled after his defeat), and it's implied the same played out with Kronus' father, Ouranos. Come the events of the Midgard saga, and Kratos makes a concerted effort to ensure that his son, Atreus/Loki, defies this cycle and becomes a better person than Kratos himself. Ironically, this seems to be the one virtue Kratos has always had, as he was clearly a Good Parent to his daughter Calliope and she was very happy to see him in Elysium during the events of God of War: Chains of Olympus.

    Webcomics 
  • Adelie from Ennui GO! might not be the best parent given her alcoholism, but she's still miles better than her own mother who is depicted in flashbacks as having been incredibly abusive and outright tried to murder both her and her twin sister Izzy.
    • In Part 2, after one of her wives gives birth to twins, Izzy tells Max she plans to love and cherish them, and treat them far better than her own mother treated her and Adelie. Izzy also openly admits that she's doing this to spite the old woman.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: Bob and Linda did not come from the best families. Bob's father was well-meaning, but distant, controlling, and cold, leaving their relationship strained well into his adulthood; Linda's mother is selfish and emotionally abusive towards Linda, with a father that won't stand up for his daughters against her. In heavy contrast to them, Bob and Linda are loving, self-sacrificing, ever-present, open-minded, and supportive to their children. Bob is doing it consciously, as he lampshades he tries to do better for his kids than his father did for him; Linda, however, does this unconsciously as she doesn't realize that her family is awful despite Bob's warnings.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Numbuh 1's father, Monty Uno also known as Numbuh Zero was raised by Grandfather, who was willing to use his own kids as slave labor. Monty himself does his best to bond with Numbuh 1, all the while letting him have more freedom. Numbuh 1, despite finding his father embarrassing, does have a pretty good relationship with him.
  • Daria had Jake and Helen Morgendorffer, the former having been abused and traumatized by his Drill Sergeant Nasty father well after the old man died and into his middle age and the latter having had her Mother shower affection and attention on her sister Rita. They are not perfect parents, what with the fact they are self-absorbed by their need for attention or career ambitions, but they do prove to be better parents to Quinn and Daria than their own parents have been to them. Jake tries to understand his daughters (backing up Daria's less conformist moments and personality while merely expressing surprise at the idea that Quinn could be dating women without any sense of contempt), and Helen's relationship with Daria actually evolves from that of a social/career climbing woman who has more or less sold out her Sixties-era feminist beliefs to urge her daughter to fit in, to that of a trusted mother and a sensitive young adult daughter who can communicate on an emotional and intellectual level.
  • The short-lived God, the Devil and Bob had "Bob's Father", which shows that Bob's father was an emotionally abusive Jerkass who did nothing but belittle his son till the moment he died. This causes Bob to have a crisis of faith upon learning his father was forgiven by God and allowed into heaven, despite a lifetime of abuse. Later in the episode, Bob shouts at Andy for leaving his toys out combined with his anger over the situation with his father, only Andy to calmly reply "That's okay Dad. I know you're upset about Grandpa." Doing so calms Bob down, and he immediately apologizes and compliments Andy on being so insightful.
    • This is invoked by God later in the episode, who explains that he and his father come from a long line of abusive fathers, and while that doesn't excuse how Bob's dad treated him, Bob's dad was at least trying to "throw a softer punch", which allowed Bob to be the one to finally break the cycle.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Cotton was emotionally abusive to Hank which led him to repress most emotions. Hank tries to be a better father to Bobby, but Bobby is a very different person than Hank, and Hank ends up being somewhat abusive in his attempts to help him. While he does give genuinely good advice and loves his son, he has to relearn the same lesson (that accepting Bobby for who he is leads to a better outcome than trying to change him) multiple times a season. Hank once expressed worry that he is a bad father to Cotton who responded with this gem:
      Cotton: Oh, Hank. You ain't in competition with me! Hell, if it's a contest on who's the better daddy, you win. I mean, you made Bobby! All I made was you.
    • There's also Peggy. Her own mother was shown to be a hard woman who always criticized anything Peggy does and never gave Peggy any approval. Peggy herself deeply loves both her son Bobby and her niece Luanne to the point she will go Mama Bear for them. Like when she beat up Leanne, Luanne's mother, to protect Luanne.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Attempted by Toph: in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph was raised by extremely overprotective parents who had great difficulty in believing their blind daughter could handle herself, much less aid in ending a century-long war. So she raised her own daughters, Lin and Suyin, with a lot more freedom. Unfortunately, Toph's hands-off parenting style led to Lin and Suyin feeling like Toph didn't care for them and like they had to compete for their mother's affection. As a result, Lin became a humorless By-the-Book Cop in an attempt to get Toph's affection by following in her footsteps, while Suyin became a criminal as a teenager as a rejection of her mother before leaving and founding her own city elsewhere. The two of them stopped speaking to each other when Lin was about 20 and Suyin was 14, and did not make peace with each other until thirty years later.
    • Suyin came uncomfortably close to looping back into being as overprotective as her grandparents when she tried to stop her daughter Opal from leaving to develop her bending powers. With Lin's encouragement, Opal was able to convince Suyin to find a balance between caring for her children and stifling their personal growth, making Suyin a more successful example of this trope than her mother.
    • Zuko famously had an extremely abusive father who burned his face for daring to speak against him, even though his objections were morally and practically justifiable (and his grandfather Azulon is implied to have been abusive as well). From what little we see of her, his only known child, Izumi, is a well-adjusted and capable leader as well as a very good mother to her son and her unseen daughter. It is safe to assume that Izumi's children will become better people than their grandaunt.
  • In the The Loud House episode "Home of the Fave", it's revealed that Lynn Sr.'s father played favorites when he was a kid, giving him the short end of the stick. When he fears he's doing the same thing to his own kids with Luan, he makes a genuine effort to spend equal time with all eleven of his children.
  • In Moral Orel, Orel's parents both had dysfunctional childhoods that led to them developing a ton of issues as adults. Clay is downright abusive to Orel while Bloberta is neglectful. The third season shows Orel finally starting to realize this for himself and, in the Distant Finale montage, he's shown in what appears to be a happy family with his childhood crush.
  • Dr. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb was The Un-Favourite of both his parents, his mother preferring his younger brother, Roger, while his dad preferred a dog he named "Only Son". His dad made him replace the lawn gnome after it was repossessed, forcing him to stand still for hours and through the night. Neither of his parents attended any of his birthdays, including the day of his actual birth, and he was eventually disowned by them and raised by a family of ocelots. Doofenshmirtz himself, on the other hand, is over-protective, if anything, to his daughter Vanessa, finding her one of the few things he loves outside of his evil schemes.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Adora and Catra both suffered under Shadow Weaver's abuse, and she was the closest thing they had to a mother. According to a post-finale charity stream, when they have their own child, Finn, they do their best to make sure that they know that they're loved and have the childhood that the two of them were deprived of.
  • Squidbillies: Early was subjected to constant abuse as a child, and abuses his own son Rusty as an adult. When Rusty becomes a father himself in the final season, he resolves to be a better parent than Early.
  • Steven Universe: During Future, Greg was revealed to have lived with controlling and emotionally abusive parents and sought to be a fun and hands-free dad who let Steven have freedom. However, his actions serve as a Deconstruction, showing how doing this trope isn't inherently a good thing. His rather loose manner of raising Steven in which he basically left Steven to his own devices and encouraged his freedom is revealed in "Mr. Universe" to be a result of him fighting back against the controlling environment he grew up in under his own. Unfortunately, this causes a whole new set of problems for Steven by then, as it led to Steven having a very atypical childhood. Due to the trauma that came from that time and his desire to have some kind of direction in his life, Steven ends up losing all respect for Greg after he finds out about how Greg ran away from his comparatively mundane home. Overall, while Greg meant well and desired to be a better parent than his own, he lacked the knowledge of how to properly raise his son and swung too far in the other direction from his parents. This eventually bites Greg in the ass when his lackluster parenting contributed to Steven turning into a corrupted Gem monster, with Greg lamenting how he failed Steven as a father by not being there when he needed him most. He then resolves to make things right by joining in the massive group hug that turns Steven back into himself.
  • Young Justice (2010): Cheshire's parents were both super-villains, with her father Sportsmaster raising her as a mercenary. Her mother was sent to jail and reformed upon coming out but her father is still an active criminal. In contrast, Cheshire loves Lian dearly and wanted Roy to clean up his act for his daughter's sake as much as Roy's. In fact, while Cheshire did abandon Lian by season 3, it's because she believes Lian would be better off without a mercenary mother. There's also Artemis. While she isn't a mother, she is Lian's maternal aunt and she did raise her with plenty of love.

Top