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 crap out 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, or worse.
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, and Disneyland Dad where parents give their children big, splashy gifts but don't pay much attention to them only a daily basis, sometimes due to custodial agreements.
- 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 (that he continues the behavior that caused the divorce in the first place is a big roadblock between the two). Ironically enough, Maka was very much a Daddy's Girl as a child and elements of this remain in the present, even if masked by her animosity.
- In Shinji Ikari Raising Project, Shinji seems a bit embarrassed on the way Gendo shows his approval of his son. In stark contrast to the canon version the series.
- 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.
- One could make a strong case that this is the driving thematic conflict of CLANNAD. Tomoya spends most of the story hating his father, and the audience bears witness to his father's nonchalance, drinking habits, and rather messy lifestyle, though the father is continuously confused at why his son hates him so. This culminates in episode 18 of After Story, where Tomoya, now a distant father to his young daughter, speaks with his father's mother about the hard times his dad was going through. Tomoya finally admits that, as horrible a person his dad is, he ultimately did a good job of fathering. This gives him the strength to have a similar moment with his daughter, whom we hear call him "daddy" for the first time, signifying her acceptance of him as her father after he had been so cold to her. This is followed up with the next episode, where Tomoya goes to thank and apologize to his father personally, and we learn that this entire idea was very much on his father's mind the whole time. Finally, the last scene we see in the epilogue is a flashback to a young Tomoya and his dad walking hand-in-hand in a field of flowers, symbolizing their closure.
- Played for Laughs in Dragon Ball GT: when Vegeta's daughter Bulla demands that Vegeta shave off his mustache, telling him it makes him look like a "total geek", it devastates Vegeta so badly that he reacts as if he just had a Heroic B.S.O.D. over a horrific "The Reason You Suck" Speech, complete with a GASP!, Hidden Eyes, a Dramatic Spotlight, and Bulla's voice echoing dramatically in a mocking "total geek...total geek...total geek..." He then shaves off the mustache the very next day.
- 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.
- A Taste of the Good Life has Ebby, a recovering alcoholic who spends much of the story trying to regain the trust of her daughter, ultimately succeeding with the help of Scootaloo's adoptive father.
- In Slice of Souls!, Ornstein is this to his daughter Zoe. The reason he takes her hiking on her birthday is because he feels he's been neglectful and wants to impress her. Ironically, Ornstein is actually a pretty capable father and most of his insecurities are because of Smough taunting him.
- Deconstructed in The Wrestler. Randy Robinson has let down his daughter Stephanie for not being around her a lot due to reliving his glory days in the wrestling ring and didn't get the chance to once again redeem himself in her eyes after he failed to keep his promise to have dinner with her.
- 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 Manchild 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.
- Both Juan and Lazaro in Juan of the Dead.
- Joe Brody of Godzilla (2014). As a result of the death of his wife Sandra at Janjira and his subsequent development into a Properly Paranoid Conspiracy 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.
- The Diviners (1974) : Christie and Prin Logan took in Morag when her parents died of scarlet fever. Her childhood was very difficult, as the adopted daughter of the town garbageman and an obese, prematurely senile woman. When Christie is in the hospital, during his last days, Morag finally admits that he was a good father to her.
- 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...
- 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.
- Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy was this towards his stepson Jax Teller in the early seasons. Clay clearly cared about Jax and wanted him to love him as a father figure and mentor, but Jax only respected him as club president. From Season 4 onwards Clay stopped trying to become Jax's father as a sign of his rowing selfishness and disconnect from the fraternity of the Sons. He tried to claim that his more dubious actions were for Jax's future, but Jax doesn't believe him.
- 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.
- In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Calvin Johnson would like for his daughter Daisy to love and accept him despite his long absence from her life and his tendencies toward supervillainy. His daughter tries giving him attention and approval in order to see if doing so will curtail his violent behavior. This doesn't work.
- In season 9 of HowIMetYourMother, Daphne is trying to get to her daughter's Model-U.N. speech in time because the daughter has started like her father more than her mother lately.
- One episode of Full House has Danny worried DJ doesn't think he's as cool as Jesse or Joey, and tries WAY too hard to look like a badass rocker so she'll think he's cool enough to take part in a fundraiser party she's organized. It fails miserably, DJ's embarrassed beyond belief and Danny decides not to take part in the festivities. Thankfully it ends happily when DJ asks him to sing after all, and he picks a song and a performance method that's not quite so over the top.
- 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 Misérables 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 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Apollo Justice is this to his foster dad, Dhurke Sahdmadhi. Dhurke makes a surprise visit to see Apollo... after leaving him in America at least a dozen years prior. Dhurke is constantly talking to his adopted son and trying to make a connection, or even get a smile out of him, but Apollo refuses. Things eventually get better as Apollo finally comes around and acknowledges Dhurke, and even comes to appreciate him.
- In G-Senjou no Maou, Kanesaki Ikuko desperately seeks the approval of her daughter Azai Kanon, despite forcefully pushing her to do figure-skating to fulfill her dream of being an Olympic gold medalist. She constantly dishes out over-the-top praise, gives her whatever she wants and generally spoils her. While Kanon appears to accept this at first, she grows increasingly distant towards her, stopped calling her Mom and moved in with her brother. Eventually, Kanon sees through her veil and nearly decides to drive her to suicide, holding back at the last moment when she realised that, despite all that Ikuko had done to her, Ikuko was her mother.
- Tenshirock from Noob, who also happens to be oblivious to his son's Inferiority Superiority Complex. That resulted in his son resenting him each time he attempted to impress him in the backstory, to the point that the two have grown estranged in the main timeframe. They eventually make up near the end of Season 5.
- 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. Various other episodes have him doing whatever he can to gain Lisa's and Maggie's respect (which it's not easy, that with him being not as smart as either of them, his own rampant Jerkassery and the show's Negative Continuity), to varying degrees of success by episode's end.
- Timmy Turner's dad from The Fairly OddParents! is, when not unwittingly contributing to Timmy's Hilariously Abusive Childhood, desperately trying to make his son proud.
- 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.
- Phineas and Ferb: Dr. Doofenshmirtz' relationship with his daughter Vanessa revolves around this. For Vanessa's case, she's quite annoyed with his father's pestering and tries to convince her mom that he's evil. However, in episodes such as "Dude, We're Getting The Band Back Together" and "Finding Mary McGuffin", she does show appreciation for Doofenshmirtz.
- 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 the episode "Peter's Daughter" of Family Guy (at least just for one episode), Peter vows to become a better father to Meg after saving her from a flood which put her into a coma. Meg begins to appreciate him, but unfortunately, Peter takes it too far when Michael comes in the mix.
- 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.
- Goofy in Goof Troop and A Goofy Movie really wants his son Max to think he's cool.
- 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. Though his son still uses a hot rod engine.
- Little Johnny Jet, also by Tex Avery, has a very similar premise. B-29 Bomber John can't get a job because everyone is looking for jets instead. His feelings of inadequacy are compounded when he and his wife Mary's (a Douglas DC-3) newborn son Junior turns out to be a jet as well. John decides to enter a contest for jets to land a huge contract to provide for his family and to prove to himself and to Junior that a bomber like him still has value. In the end, Junior bails him out, which shows John that he doesn't need to prove anything to his son. Which is good, since the military is so impressed by Junior that they place an order for 10,000 more jets just like him.
- 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.
- Looney Tunes: Sylvester wouldn't even try to tangle with the "giant mouse" (baby kangaroo) if it weren't for his son.