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Parents as People

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"I hate it when they look at me that way."
"We're all flawed people, Emily. Being a parent doesn't change any of that."
Emily's mother, Misfile

Unlike the all-powerful but undercharacterised Parent ex Machina, the reader/viewer knows about The Protagonist's parents. They have friends outside the home, hobbies that take them out of the house, and full-time jobs. The audience will also be able to discern what kind of relationship the two have as a couple – whether they're still as starry-eyed over each other as they were when they started dating, or making each other miserable and on the brink of divorce. In any event, they will have their own quirks, character strengths, and character failings.

They'll also be hopeless as parents. Or, if they're Good Parents – and they may be! – sometimes still their lives and personalities will get in the way and cause some level of woe to their offspring.

This couple are not usually nasty – or, if they are, we'll be told all about their Freudian Excuse. They're probably at least sympathetic, if not downright likable. We'd probably like to have them as friends but definitely wouldn't want them as parents. One way to tell which you're dealing with is to see the actions the story takes to humanize the parent. If the parent is actively evil like a Wicked Stepmother or Evil Matriarch, then that is not this trope. Instead of villainous behavior; the parent will be neglectful, demanding, or ignorant of the damage they are causing, but the story shows that they're doing this unknowingly. Said parent(s) may display a lack of awareness while partaking in activities or backstory that explain their behavior. They may not even be treated as a bad parent by others, but the story makes sure to frame their behavior as selfish or, at the very least, neglectful. Exactly how this is intended to be taken depends on the work. In some versions, the parent may be treated more comedically and may have little active participation in the plot, while more dramatic examples may make this conflict the entire point of the story. Be aware that such a character can still be an Antagonist without being an outright Villain.

If you're a protagonist, and your parents are given lots of witty one-liners, lots of characterisation and inhabit the Competence Zone to some degree, expect to suffer Parental Abandonment as they pursue their hobbies and relationships at your expense. If mom and dad are still together, you'll be a living example of the phrase "the children of lovers are orphans," as the parental units will be too wrapped up in each other to spend much time with you. On the other hand, if they're fighting constantly, they'll be too busy yelling at each other to notice that you haven't eaten in three days.

One particular type of this parent is one, usually-single parent that is firmly in the Competence Zone, and probably a part of their child's zany schemes. Their friends will think these parents are "cool" and they will probably agree… he just wishes his dad would occasionally show up to parents' night, and that mom remembered to cook dinner every so often.

The "golfing dad" is an old trope, and if dad's the only absent parent the child probably won't suffer too badly (until the plot calls for it). However, if mom has a hobby that takes her out of the house, works at a demanding job, or has a problem that makes her borderline unfit as a parent, parental neglect will almost certainly be a plot point. How it's approached varies from show to show, from the mother realising she'd go mad without her career, to an enormous guilt trip about abandoning her child.

If this happens in a family of sufficiently high social standing, particularly in a medieval setting (being a king requires a lot of work, you know), there is a chance that the protagonist and/or one or more of his siblings may become Royally Screwed Up as a result.

Unlike Parent ex Machina, these parents aren't infallible, and they can't solve all of their kids' problems because they can barely handle their own. Their son or daughter can't blithely assume that "dad will take care of it," because he won't. Or he can't. Or he'll try to and fail spectacularly.

To compensate, there's usually an alternative mentor who fills in for the absent or ineffective parent. If not, the child will be an adult long before his time as being the Only Sane Man in a crazy family will force them to take care of themselves. If they're the oldest sibling, they'll probably be the "alternative parent." Again, Good Parents sometimes also fit into this category. A good parent in a bad situation may be forced to neglect or leave their beloved child, may get caught up in Anger Born of Worry, or might just be so embarrassing that it impacts the kid's social life.

Someone who believes in Honor Thy Parent may point out that parents still deserve respect despite their failings; how much the child agrees with that is up to them.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Batman does truly love all of his children but since he’s an emotionally constipated Control Freak, he has trouble opening up to them. His only biological child Damian was introduced in Batman (Grant Morrison), only for Bruce to die in the pages of Final Crisis before they really got to be close. Dick Grayson became Batman in the interim and got promoted to being Damian’s dad and mentor. Dick being more of a Nice Guy, gets Damian to calm down and respect him much easier than Bruce ever did. By the time Bruce came back as Batman, he and Damian still clashed like crazy. Damian even lived with Dick for a little bit afterwards. The 2011 Batman and Robin series deals with them getting to know each other as both father and son and Batman and Robin. It takes them both a lot of time and work but they got there by the end of the series at issue #40.
  • In the Blue Devil comics, Kid Devil aka Eddie Bloomberg's parents were this to him, with his aunt Marla Bloom being the alternative parent and Blue Devil being a kind of surrogate uncle. His parents' neglect ended up having some effects on Eddie later in life when he joined the Teen Titans, making him very desperate to have a family.
  • Deadpool has a daughter who lives with foster parents. It's probably for the best since he's been shown to be pretty neglectful and is an objectively terrible role model. However, he's also a Papa Wolf who dotes on her when he gets to see her and does sincerely try to be a good father.
  • In Eight Billion Genies, Ed clearly loves his son Robbie dearly but is reeling over the loss of his wife June and drinks himself into a stupor while sitting at the bar. It isn't long before Ed spends his wish to bring June back, knowing full well that he won't be able to give Robbie the upbringing he needs without her.
  • General Ross has been presented chiefly as this sort of parent since the mid-80s in Hulk comics (as he is in the films, below). He loves Betty, but he's not equipped to get emotionally close to her, particularly not since the death of his wife, and his obsessions have often gotten between them. He's trying to reconnect with her these days, but it's not proving easy.
    • It's shown to be generational, as Ross's own father was a career officer who was rarely around.
  • The Knights of the Old Republic comic plays this for as much drama as it can. Krynda Draay, mother of the Big Bad, was a Jedi seer who lived through the Great Sith War and lost her husband in the process. As a seer, she blamed herself for failing to predict and prevent the war, which caused her to dedicate her life to training new seers afterward so that such a war could never come to pass again. This led to her neglecting her own son Lucien since he had no talent for Force Sight. Lucien thus grew up desperate for his mother's approval, leading to him slaughtering his own students when he believed it was what Krynda would have wanted.
  • Recent interpretation of Lois Lane's father Sam to be in this light. He's a high-ranking military officer, which frequently clashes with his daughter's career as a famous journalist who exposes corruption and dirty deeds of the government. He has hesitation about Superman - the man his daughter supports and is in love with.
    • Lois herself is portrayed as this after she gave birth to Jon. She is loving and wants the best for him, but she still doesn't really know what to do with a child with superpowers on top of balancing her love for her career. In fact, she sometimes gets herself into trouble that Jon has to use his superpower to help her.
  • Maus: Vladek is an obnoxiously stingy and controlling parent who works Art's last nerves on more than one occasion. But to be fair, Vladek's life was not easy: he lost his family (including his firstborn son) in the Holocaust and lost his wife to suicide. Art eventually accepts his father as an imperfect being.
  • PS238: Atlas is what you'd expect classic Superman to be as a father: Somewhat bumbling, well-intentioned and eager to show his superpowered son how to take part in the 'family business', but also chronically busy saving the world and somewhat uncomprehending of the fact that his son, Ron, is a slight Shrinking Violet who'd prefer to become a musician. Then he has to leave Ron behind to try and reform his still-existent, Evil Empire of a home world.

    Comic Strips 
  • Baby Blues is a comic strip all about parenting, and it's not afraid to showcase the Warts and All aspect of the subject. As a result, while Darryl and Wanda always try to be Good Parents to Zoe, Hammie, and Wren, they are definitely not perfect. They're both capable of making mistakes, and even when they do have a handle on parenting, their life as a family is always going to be a little crazy...and they wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Dad often remarks that he would've preferred to just get a dog. Mom generally keeps her game face on, but even she has her limits. In some fairness, Calvin is a Bratty Half-Pint who would definitely be a handful for most parents in general (while a lot of Alternative Character Interpretation theories abound that Calvin may have ADHD or be somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, two disorders that were way less known back in the strip's running days in the late '80s/early '90s), and even Bill Watterson did later express some regret at the way he depicted them (even though he's also remarked they're doing a lot better than he would've). Of course, a good deal of strips show that they do love Calvin at the end of the day; he's just hard to deal with at times. In short, they're ordinary people, and Calvin is extraordinary.
    • During the story arc where their house was broken into by burglars while they were away, several strips are devoted to Calvin's parents being shown as afraid and vulnerable. Calvin's dad discusses to his wife that he always believed parents were infallible and always knew what to do as a kid, but now a parent himself, he was a bit disappointed to discover the whole thing was improvised.

    Films — Animation 
  • Barbie movies:
    • In Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, Princess Annika's parents are overprotective, but it's revealed that this is largely because an evil sorcerer previously cursed their eldest daughter to be a pegasus when she was around the same age as Annika after she rejected his marriage proposal, and they haven't seen her since. Her parents are terrified that the same might happen to Annika.
    • King Randolph in Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses loves his twelve daughters unconditionally, calling them the "best part of [his] life", but he's often overwhelmed by their antics and energy, and believes they need a maternal presence to guide them in the absence of their late mother, Queen Isabella. Unfortunately, his choice for said maternal guardian is his treacherous cousin Rowena.
  • Cartoon Saloon:
    • Abbot Cellach from The Secret of Kells is technically Brendan's uncle, but he's still the closest thing to a father figure Brendan has. While he can be very strict and harsh towards his nephew to the point of locking him in his room to punish him, he still cares for Brendan, making sure to send him breakfast and being devastated when he thinks Brendan was killed in a Viking attack.
    • Conor from Song of the Sea does genuinely love both his children, but his grief over his wife's disappearance makes him emotionally unavailable a lot of the time, and his doting on Saoirse makes Ben feel like The Unfavorite. He eventually feels his inadequacies as a parent to the point that he lets his mother take his children away to live with her in the city.
    • Bill Goodfellowe from Wolfwalkers clearly loves his daughter Robyn, but he still insists on her staying in town and going to work in the scullery despite how much she hates doing both and would rather go hunting with him. This is driven by his desire to keep her safe like he promised his wife, and also because he's scared of losing her if either of them disobeys the Lord Protector.
  • Flint's father Tim in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs does care for Flint and is proud of him but simply has a hard time expressing it properly to Flint, ending up seemingly callous and uncaring to Flint's career choices and successes. Meanwhile, Flint desperately wants his father to acknowledge him and is frustrated when his father doesn't say so.
  • Coraline's parents are too busy trying to move into a new house and meet a publishing deadline to cater to their bored daughter—as her mother points out, she is old enough to entertain herself. What she finds when she goes exploring is more than enough to make her appreciate her lovingly boring parents. The book has a similar vibe, but Coraline's mother is harsh and unsympathetic, while her father is loving but too distracted to pay much attention.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • In Frozen, the King and Queen meant well but understandably did not know how to handle a daughter with vast magical powers and an anxiety disorder. Their attempts to keep her isolated from everyone and telling Elsa to "conceal, not feel" prevented disaster in the short-term but they also strained the once close bond between their children and left them both with issues. Worse, the psychological toll this had on Elsa ensured that when she did eventually lose control she would lose it to such a degree that the entire kingdom was threatened. The sequel reveals that they were killed trying to find someone who could help them understand Elsa's powers.
    • Judy's parents in Zootopia have a loving, supportive relationship with their daughter, but they wish she would choose a safer career. They mean well but they do acknowledge and advise to a young Judy that it's near impossible for her to be a police officer and try to attempt to convince her to "settle" and be a carrot farmer instead. While they're honestly relieved that Judy is only a meter maid, Judy, who had higher aspirations, is not happy to hear their reactions.
    • Moana's father Chief Tui loves her very much and wholeheartedly believes that she'll be capable of leading the people of Motunui when she becomes the next Chief. However, because of his Dark and Troubled Past where his best friend drowned in a storm when the two of them recklessly stole a fishing boat and sailed beyond the reef as teens, he actively discourages Moana from her desires to wayfind despite being fully aware of her fascination for it because he fears that his only child might suffer the same fate if she tries it.
    • In Encanto, Abuela Alma has a demanding attitude toward her children and grandkids. Mirabel calls her out for turning them all into Stepford Smilers and driving Bruno away, but this has severe consequences. Ultimately, Mirabel realizes that Alma, who founded Encanto as a widowed refugee, was motivated by fear of losing everything again, while Alma admits to losing sight of the fact that the family, rather than their magic, is the real "miracle" in her life.
  • Dreamworks Animation:
    • King Harold in Shrek 2 clearly loves his daughter Fiona very much, but he also has his own views of what a happily ever after for a princess should be. Not only that, he has a secret Deal with the Devil that involved his daughter entering an Arranged Marriage with the son of the Fairy Godmother and breaking this pact has serious consequences. He does eventually have a Heel–Face Turn when he sees how unhappy Fiona is without Shrek as well as seeing just how low the Fairy Godmother and Charming were willing to stoop, realizing he was wrong to impose upon her free will and that being with Shrek is what truly makes Fiona happy.
    • Kung Fu Panda:
      • Shifu loved and spoiled his adopted son Tai Lung, having been convinced Tai Lung would be the Dragon Warrior and unfortunately neglected to teach him humility and the spiritual side of kung-fu. So when Oogway denied Tai Lung the dragon scroll and Shifu did not step in to defend or comfort him, Tai Lung took Shifu's silence as a withdrawal of unconditional love and that he needed to become the Dragon Warrior to be worthy of Shifu's love at any cost.
      • Even when Shifu adopted Tigress, he acted far more coldly and aloofly towards her, in an attempt not to repeat the same mistake as he had with Tai Lung. However, this made him often criticize Tigress, along with his other pupils, far more harshly if they did not meet his incredibly high standards.
      • Mr. Ping is usually a Good Parent to his adopted son Po and is very supportive of him. However, in the third film, he displays signs of jealousy and fear that Po's biological father Li Shan might try to steal Po away from him.
      • Li Shan is naturally afraid for Po when he sees Po fighting, having been reunited with his long-lost son after twenty years and doesn't want to lose him again. This causes him to lie to Po about teaching him to master chi and bringing him to the panda village to hide him from Kai in a futile attempt to protect him. This actually sours his relationship with Po until Mr. Ping helps him through it.
  • Rick in The Mitchells vs. the Machines wants to connect with his daughter. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand technology at all, whereas Katie's passion lies in filmmaking. The split between them is not either's fault, and it's simply a matter of having completely different interests.
  • Pixar:
    • Bob and Helen in The Incredibles love their kids and normally are doting parents to them, but that doesn't stop Bob's desire to return to superheroics from causing issues. In the sequel, Bob's attempt at being a House Husband doesn't work out very well and he ends up making Violet's problems worse, but he's genuinely trying to help them. He even admits to Violet that he thinks he's being a bad father.
    • Brave: Queen Elinor is very dedicated to her role as queen, running the kingdom of Scotland and following tradition to a fault to ever notice that Merida feels trapped in such a rigid environment that doesn't allow her to do her own choices. Due to this clash of ideas, the two fight and lead to the main plot of the movie.
    • Riley's parents from Inside Out are somewhere between here and straight-up Good Parents. It's shown that they're usually the latter — being affectionate, attentive, and compassionate caregivers — but they're not perfect. The bumpy move to San Francisco at the start of the movie (combined with Dad's stressful new job) has them distracted and stressed, and they make a couple major missteps. Most notably, Mom thanks Riley for being so understanding and cheerful in the face of the move, acknowledging that it's difficult for everyone... but then says that if they can just try and stay positive for Dad, it'd be a huge help to him. She obviously didn't mean to, but this encourages Riley to not only mask her sadness but try not to feel it at all, which leads to her making some pretty bad choices. Fortunately, when Riley breaks down sobbing towards the end of the movie and admits she just can't pretend to be happy right now, her parents immediately realize their mistake and comfort her.
    • Explored in Coco where the story shows that parents and adults are like any other human being and can make mistakes, all while their ultimate goal is to support and protect their family.
      • When Miguel's grandmother Elena isn't doting on him, she harshly lectures him for having any love of music, not out of malice but because she is afraid that Miguel would lose sight of his family and abandon them as his great-great-grandfather had.
      • Miguel's father also continues the Riveras' generation-long stance against music and wishes his son would follow in their footsteps. When Elena destroys Miguel's guitar, he looks horrified but can't bring himself to stop his mother, leading to Miguel running away.
      • Imelda has nothing but fierce love for her family but her stubbornness and refusal to let go of grudges cause problems for Miguel, especially when she tries to force him to give up music for good in exchange for getting her blessing to return to the land of the living.
      • As it turns out, Hector did not mean to abandon his family; he left to be a musician to make money for them and loved his daughter with all his heart. Unfortunately, his partner did not take him wanting to go home lightly.
    • Turning Red has a major focus on the parental relationship of Mei Lee and Ming Lee. Ming tries to be a perfect parent while Mei tries to be the perfect daughter. It doesn't take long, however, for it to become apparent that Ming is a helicopter parent who doesn't listen to Mei and assumes she knows best at all times. This is then further explained when it becomes apparent that Ming has unresolved issues with her own mother. During the climax of the film, Mei finds a teenage Ming in the astral plane and sees her emotionally break down. Mei, for the first time, sees that her mother's behavior is due to the fact that her grandmother expected the same of Ming, and after a serious argument that resulted in injury to her own mom, Ming has never forgiven herself for being imperfect.
  • Sing:
    • Meena's family is shown to be loving and supportive of her but their attempts to encourage and push her to pursue a singing career have the unfortunate effect of putting a lot of pressure on the already shy Meena. This is especially noticeable with her grandfather, who is one of Meena's biggest supporters but has a tendency to be abrasive towards her stage fright.
    • Rosita loves her husband and 25 children with all her heart but she feels consumed with taking care of them and wants to re-ignite her dream of being a star. That's the reason why she auditions for the singing competition in the first place.
    • Rosita's husband Norman is a loving husband and father who truly appreciates his family but he is a Workaholic who works 12-14 hours a day and is often fatigued and distracted as a result.

  • This is a realisation that The Divine Comedy had come to in his song 'Mother Dear', but uses this fact to sing her praises for how she was ever able to put up with him in his youth.
    It was not that long ago it first occurred to me,
    That my mother was a person in her own right.
    Now I realize how very lucky I have been,
    And there, but for the grace of God, go I.
    Mother dear, she can see inside.
    Mother dear, and I've nowhere to hide.
    Mother dear, did I spoil your plans?
    Mother dear, I do the best I can.
  • The protagonist in "Rockabye" by Clean Bandit is a poor single mother, work as a prostitute who struggles to provide for her son but love him dearly and wants him to have a better life than she did.
    Now she got a six-year-old
    Trying to keep him warm
    Trying to keep out the cold
    When he looks in her eyes
    He don't know he is safe when she says
    She tells him, "Oh, love, no one's ever gonna hurt you, love."
    "I'm gonna give you all of my love."
    "Nobody matters like you."
    (Stay up there, stay up there!)
    She tells him, "Your life ain't gon' be nothing like my life." (Straight!)
    "You're gonna grow and have a good life."
    "I'm gonna do what I got to do.", yeah.
  • One of the most famous and utterly tragic examples comes in the form of "Cat's In The Cradle" by Harry Chapin as a father is too busy at work to pay much attention to his son and only realizes it after his son has grown up and moved away.
  • The narrator's father from the 10-minute version of "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift. He obviously loves his daughter and is concerned and sad for her when her boyfriend stands her up, but unfortunately didn't notice the red flags in the relationship (such as him being much older than her) and bought into the boyfriend's sweet facade until the damage was done. She doesn't seem to hold it against him; after all, she bought it, too.

  • Dot Harper from Unwell Podcast. While she clearly loves her daughter Lily, they have a strained relationship.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is how Rey Mysterio's feud with his son Dominik Mysterio portrayed him as. Rey admits that Dominik's criticisms about him aren't unwarranted and that he wasn't the best father to his children, constantly prioritizing his career over them. However, he points out the reason for his Parental Neglect was so he could give them a life he could only ever dream of, including fabulous wealth and a privileged name. In the end, despite whatever Dominik may believe or claim, Rey does love him, and it is only because of that love that he hasn't kicked his son's ass in a match yet. Adding to that, while he was willing to endure Dominik's verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse of him, he drew the line at Dominik flinging that abuse at his mother and sister as well. When Dominik finally crossed that line, Rey had enough and attacked his son, and then accepted his challenge for a match at WrestleMania.

  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto has an extreme (historical) example — Cesare has been a political tool for his father, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, for almost his entire life. At 16, he's serving as an ambassador, playing the game through the corrupt city-states of 1491 Italy to help his father get elected pope. During their negotiations, Lorenzo "The Magnificent" de'Medici comments on Cesare's maturity and competence (especially compared to Lorenzo's own sons). Rodrigo's scenes make a b-plot, as they show him arguing with the other cardinals and establishing the political landscape. Likewise, the viewer sees Lorenzo as more than just a parent all along, but when his teenaged son Giovanni learns his father is dying, he has to very quickly grow to understand his father's accomplishments as a politician in order to carry on his goals.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright from Ace Attorney is obviously a loving, devoted father to his adoptive daughter Trucy, and while they have a very close relationship, he isn't infallible. For example, he jets off to Khura'in when he believes his old assistant Maya is in danger, just days before Trucy's big television debut. When it turns out Maya is fine but isn't going to be done with her training for a few more weeks, he decides to stay in Khura'in rather than come home to support his daughter. When poor Trucy gets accused of murdering her costar during the show, he still doesn't come home; while Apollo may be a capable attorney, the game makes it clear he's a complete legend by this point, and even if he weren't, Trucy would probably appreciate her father being there for her.
  • Averted in CLANNAD with Nagisa Furukawa's parents. Her father Akio has the phases of the tough guy and the Boyfriend-Blocking Dad, while her mother Sanae has the sensitive and loving personality as The Ditz. They are willing to do everything to protect and help Nagisa whilst trying to maintain a healthy, loving relationship between their own selves. It was eventually revealed that the two indeed followed this trope earlier in their lives, as they were constantly busy pursuing their dream careers in acting (Akio) and teaching (Sanae), and little Nagisa was left alone at home constantly. After an incident where Nagisa fell seriously ill while they were working and they just managed to save her before she nearly died, they find out she was born sickly and have decided to both quit their jobs to pursue the goal of protecting Nagisa instead. This explains the bakery they set up, and why Sanae is so horrible at baking to begin with. Poor Nagisa doesn't know this, and falls into an Heroic BSoD after she finds out, but eventually recovers when her parents tell her directly during an important play she was doing that she shouldn't blame herself. In After Story they still fit in as they raise Ushio during her early years, after Nagisa's Death by Childbirth and Tomoya's years-old Heroic BSoD, but don't allow themselves to grieve for Nagisa so they can do their best for Ushio..
  • Dream Daddy: Robert never managed to be the most caring and attentive father to his daughter, he also didn't have the best example of a father. He deeply regrets their currently estranged relationship and the end game shows he is desperate to make amends with her in any way he can.
  • Perseverance: Jack and Natalie are each flawed and fighting their own demons, but despite the strained relationship between them and Jack's at times thoughtless behaviour, they still care for each other, love their daughter a lot, and are doing the best they can.
  • Umineko: When They Cry is one of the most radical examples of this trope. The parents aren't just people, they're full-fledged main characters. All of the mothers got some great development, and the fathers have quite a bit as well. (Except Hideyoshi, who despite being really nice we don't know much about, to the disappointment of the fanbase.) They also have one of the Biggest, Most Screwed Up Families a video game player is ever going to meet.

  • Batman: Wayne Family Adventures shows a lot of the Bat family adults this way, especially Bruce. In this continuity, Bruce (even after literally or metaphorically adopting six children and taking in his young son) still occasionally struggles with balancing his life as a businessman, a superhero, and a father. He always owns up, however, when he messes up (such as when he accidentally missed Cassandra's ballet recital, or how he and Jason still have a bit of a strain in their relationship) and strives to make amends, and he's very good at talking to his kids when they have problems. Talia al Ghul (of all people) has one of these moments in the comics, too. Despite putting her son through abusive training for most of his life to make him the ultimate assassin, Talia does love her son, and makes it clear when she visits him that sending him to live with Bruce was hard for her, but she knew that Bruce could give him a happier, more stable life than she could.
  • Occurs in Friendly Hostility. Padma and Nefertari Maharassa are still besotted with each other, and they aren't conventional parents — especially since "conventional parents" generally don't have a pet Satanist (Rafi) occupying the spare room. They're not bad parents though; the Maharassa kids have an interesting/fun childhood, it's just prone to some… drama. Such as the parents leaving Rafi to babysit only to find he'd lost their daughter to cannibals. Fatima, their oldest child, has a strange love-hate relationship with her family, but then again she's an extremely cynical Deadpan Snarker. Their younger son Fox just adores them. Padma and Nefertari are always there for their now grown-up children, but they're still prone to some rather eccentric behaviour.
    • In comparison to Collin's ultra-conventional, narrow-minded family, however, the Maharassas are model parents. "Different is good" is a bit of a mantra for this webcomic.
  • Anthony Carver in Gunnerkrigg Court is a cold, distant, and emotionally abusive father to his daughter Antimony, but as chapter 53 showed, he's a deeply flawed and neurotic man who blames himself for his wife's death, and deeply regrets the choices he made in its wake. Anthony does love his daughter, but he's so neurotic that he's assumed that she blames him for Surma's death and that it would have been better if he just stayed away from Annie's life. Especially after he discovers that the "ritual" that would bring his wife back from the dead is a fake and nearly killed their daughter in the process. He was also unprepared to see Annie after such a long time and how much she looked like Surma and admits that humiliating her in front of class was wrong, but has yet to apologize to her for it.
  • In Homestuck, this develops into a prominent theme. At the start, the kids do not understand their parents/guardians whatsoever. Instead, they regard them as obstacles and annoyances that are Are Useless to their quest and must be engaged in Strife. (The stylized way they are drawn reinforces this perspective: Guardians appear as imposing silhouettes lacking facial features, seeming at once more and less than human.) As the kids undergo Character Development and grow older their perspective changes. They gain the ability to empathize with their parental figures and appreciate their virtues as well as their flaws.
    • Questions about parenthood are thrust upon the kids by the game of SBURB they play. Since it makes them participants in a Creation Myth, they confront the responsibility of bringing forth new life and even discuss the (distant) prospect of repopulating humanity the old-fashioned way. John is the first to face these challenges when (thanks to cloning) he makes a bunch of babies (including himself).
    • This is further explored when the Beta kids meet the Alpha kids. Each kid comes face-to-face with an alternate version of their Guardian, but this time they are equal in age. Though they are not the same person as the adult they knew, they exhibit the way their parental figure must have looked and behaved as a kid. It gives them yet another perspective to grapple with.
  • In Jupiter-Men, Quintin and Jackie's father is nowhere to be seen, leaving Bea to take care of her two kids alone. She loves, dotes upon, and frets over her children and is paid well enough as a police officer to own a spacious home. But she's continuously exasperated by Quintin's antics and is constantly away due to the nature of her work. This leaves the twins to their own devices much of the time, which Quintin exploits to sneak out of the house repeatedly. This strains Quintin's relationship with her, as he feels he can't open up to her about why he's so interested in Jupiter-Man and she can't wrap her head around his obsession.
    Bea: The Lord is testing me... and I'm failing.
  • Danny in Other People's Business (same creator as Friendly Hostility). Though she feels a certain amount of shame at not having custody of her son, she admits late in the comic that the first moment he called her "mommy" she felt like she wanted to die. She hated being a parent and begrudgingly admits to feeling relieved that she doesn't have to be a full-time mother anymore.
  • Tripping Over You: Liam's father Eli is a strict widower who struggles to fill the emotional void left by his wife's death and whose parenting alienates Liam more often than not. Standouts include getting confidential information from Liam's therapist rather than speaking directly and pushing Liam into studying law, a field Liam hates because he wants Liam to have a secure future. In a rare candid moment, he admits that he had dreamt of Liam joining his law office as a Family Business. He's also a bit homophobic but makes a deliberate effort to overcome that when Liam comes out about his relationship with Milo.
  • In Whispers in the Wind, Scarlet literally abandons her daughter Robin's side in the middle of a pirate attack because she's too caught up in the fire of the battle. Bailey, on the other hand, not only hides from their son Evan that he is his real father but he also will try to mould him in the way he needs by influencing and manipulating his decisions.

    Web Original 
  • CollegeHumor: In "The Six Ways You'll See Your Dad", the last way you'll see your father, after viewing him as a superhero, a clown, a tyrant, a sell-out, and a source of income, is that he's a guy with his own hopes and dreams just like you.
  • Goku is depicted this way in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, which is surprising given how the series treats his Parental Neglect as a long-running gag. Episode 60 shows that his desire to push Gohan into being a better fighter is because that's what he likes, and he wants to share that with his son. The problem is well, he's Goku, and thus never even considered Gohan may not be like him.
  • Big D from Hunter: The Parenting is a loud-mouthed DMT-junkie who gets on his sons' nerves, keeps vital secrets from them that ultimately costs everyone dearly, and openly favors his son Horse. However, Big-D genuinely loves his sons (and grandson), has no problem with their love lives, and praises and expresses for one of his sons, Markcus... when Marckus is not around or in earshot. It's heavily implied in both the main episodes and audio logs that his Hunter life has deeply affected him, and the fourth audio log has him confessing to Horse that he is frequently troubled over how to protect his family and whether his choices are the right ones. Meanwhile, we see the fallout of his actions in his sons, especially Marckus, who has started to resent Big-D to the point of distrusting his father and seeing him as a Manipulative Bastard who treats everyone like weapons in his war with Vampirekind. Even Door, who is otherwise loyal to Big-D and understands the latter's more questionable decisions, agrees that Big-D has made serious mistakes that he cannot condone.
  • We don't see them, but The Nostalgia Critic's parents. Abusive, scary, implied to have expected way too much of him and apparently raised him as a girl for a short time, but took him out for a meal when he got an A—and his mum sorted things out when he was getting bullied as a child. That last bit more than likely induced Stockholm Syndrome, as he's still living with her and calls her his world.
  • Jobe in the Whateley Universe has parents like this. His parents are still together, but his father is a megalomaniacal supervillain who now runs his own country, and his mother is The Ditz. They seem proud of the fact that they have managed to raise a sociopath. The biggest area of friction before this year was that Jobe prefers bio-devising while his father is a robots-and-power-armor kind of inventor.


Video Example(s):


Camila Noceda

Camila, Luz's mother, is trying her best to care for both her daughter and her witch friends now stranded in the human realm, but she's shown to struggle greatly. During a flashback nightmare, we see what it was like for her as a single mother raising a neurodivergent child, and how pressure from society and her own trauma of being bullied in school led her to decide to send Luz to Reality Check camp. When Luz comes to her for advice, Camila tells her that learning from her mistakes is what really matters, missing the fact that what Luz is blaming herself for genuinely wasn't her fault.

How well does it match the trope?

4.43 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / ParentsAsPeople

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