The 15 Best Parenting Role Models from Pop Culture

Real life parenting is tough. Problems are rarely resolved neatly in a bow, with a motivating pep talk, and big group hug after 22 minutes (or two hours). Even though TV and celebrity parenthood isn’t our reality, it can be nice to sit back and see how other people cope with the roller coaster that is modern parenting. We may not parent like them, and we may never want to, because they’re often flawed, just like us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy watching them whether it’s on TV, the silver screen or the cover of magazines. Maybe once in a while, on top of being entertained, we can take a little maternal or paternal inspiration for the way they publicly parent their brood.

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15 Martin Crane, Frasier

Even grown-ups can use the sage advice from a loving parent. The once strained relationship between Martin and his sons, Frasier and Niles, evolves into a close connecting one naturally after Martin is forced to move in with Frasier after sustaining an injury, shot on the job, as a police officer. Martin Crane’s tough love and direct approach to his sons is often the wake-up call that grown psychiatrists Frasier and Niles Crane need. The show demonstrates how know-it-all white collar sons can learn a lot via their blue collar dad, who lacks their psychological acumen, taste in furniture or sherry, but understands common sense and compassion. Martin’s protective nature and dislike for ex-wives Lilith and Maris shows how “father knows best” but balances that being right can often occur at the expense of closeness.

14 Hilda and Zelda Spellman, Sabrina the Teenage Witch

You don’t need to be someone’s mom or dad to be a loving parent, family can be comprised of so many different things. Sabrina figures out how to be a teenager, and a witch at the same time along with the help of her two awesome aunts, when she discovers that her aunts, and everyone on her father’s side of the family are witches. She has to learn to control her powers and keep this magical secret from her first boyfriend, friends and her suspicious school vice-principal, Mr. Kraft. Thanks to the help of her aunts, who often let Sabrina make her own mistakes, but also offer a guiding spell casting hand when they’re needed make being a witch seem a lot simpler.

13 Keith Mars, Veronica Mars

Keith Mars is a newly single dad to his smart, detective daughter Veronica. He has a very close relationship with Veronica and does his best to be there for her, despite having a slew of problems of his own (failed marriage, being disgraced as a police officer, the list goes on and on). The duo work with each other as partners in Keith’s Private investigation company, have a strong, yet highly complicated father-daughter bond, and often lean on each other as close friends with witty banter that rivals most adults. Their loyalty to each other is unparalleled, and even when they end up keeping secrets from each other, Keith still rushes in, no questions asked, to literally save his daughter when she needs him.

12 Morticia and Gomez Addams, The Addams Family

Being different and unique is something worthy of celebration if you’re a member of the very strange Addams family. Mom and Dad, Morticia and Gomez, are “terrifyingly” deeply in love with each other, setting a great example of parents who have kept the spark alive, despite their caregiving roles. While others don’t understand The Addams’ they certainly “get” and support each other.

11 Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Photo credit - Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Celebrity and parenthood aren’t always the best combination. With jobs dependant upon the positive and negative attention received in the media celeb parents expose their children to life in the public eye, and a very grown-up world riddled with body obsession, sex, drugs, and constant criticism. That being said, celebrity parents can use their influence to set a great example for their children. Beyond being a prime positive example of adoptive parents who provide their children a loving home, Brad and Angelina support many charitable causes including their own, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation which was founded to provide aid to humanitarian crisis around the world. They both routinely pay back their good fortune through regular philanthropy, which is a good example for their own kids and parents everywhere.

10 Michael Bluth, Arrested Development

The Bluth family is a hot mess filled with dysfunction, with one shining bright spot, the father and son relationship between Michael Bluth and his son, George Michael. No matter what’s going on the two make sure to spend quality time together with Michael determined not to make the same mistakes raising George Michael as his father has made with him. There are references to sometimes eerie similarities surrounding how the Bluth family felt about Michael’s deceased wife Tracey Bluth and Michael’s not lukewarm feelings about George Michael’s first girlfriend Anne “Egg, Who, her?“ Michael shows us that sometimes despite best efforts we can be similar to our own parents, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

9 Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is one of the most famous chefs in the world, he’s also father to four rather unusually named children (youngest daughter named Petal Blossom Rainbow). Jamie has used his celebrity, talents as chef, and dedication towards helping families (primarily children) change their eating habits and ultimately live longer and healthier lives. As a parent he is living what he’s preaching, and has secured several contracts, television shows, and written cook books to focus on better nutrition for the next generation. Jamie is known for giving back to his community and involving his family in his sustainable and healthy eating lifestyle. In his show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution he’s seen teaching kids to stand up for what they believe in, even when bureaucracy makes this difficult.

8 Jason Seaver, Growing Pains

Dr. Jason Seaver understood the importance of work-life balance. The psychiatrist ran his business out of a home office in order to be there for his children. This hands-on dad knew enough to treat each of his children differently, and switch up his parenting style accordingly. The advice he offered class-clown and trouble-maker Mike was very different than the words of wisdom he passed on to teacher’s pet and honor roll driven Carol. The Seavers set an example that showed that both career and family can be important in a household.

7 DJ Tanner, Fuller House

DJ Tanner was raised by the king of group hugs, Danny Tanner, her Uncles Joey, Jesse, and Aunt Becky. It’s no wonder some of those studio audience “awwww” moments have popped up in her own parenting style. Not afraid to lean on her sister, best friend, or three dads for support, DJ knows it takes a village to raise a family. Smart, hard-working, and fair, she’s become the type of mom who would make her dads proud. Thanks to Netflix, and John Stamos, we can see how the next generation cope with the ups and downs of single parenthood, epic lesson recap speeches, and double entendre jokes clearly geared towards us millennials who grew up on the TGIF line-up.

6 Roseanne, Roseanne

Sure, she’s loud, she’s obnoxious, but this working class mother cares about her kids. Alongside failed entrepreneur/ handy-man Dan Conner, she does her best to teach her kids about life without sugar coating it. Whether she’s showing Darlene’s Home Economics cl ass the harsh realities of being a homemaker, advocating for Becky to get access to birth control pills, or being downright terrifying when anyone messes with her kids, particularly when bad girl neighbor Molly abandons Darlene at a Daisy Chainsaw concert in Rockford. The Conner Family may not have a lot, but their generous nature shines through in the way they open up their home and hearts to misfit David, and Roseanne’s sister Jackie.

5 The Huxtables, The Cosby Show (current real-life pending issues, withstanding)

Cliff and Claire Huxtable are the ultimate super parents. Fulfilling professional careers as a doctor and a lawyer, and raising five very different children in Brooklyn New York. Both parents offer home cooked meals, they introduced us to hoagies, and taught their children valuable lessons in unique and humorous ways. Who could forget the episode where Theo claims that he doesn’t need good grades to get a good job, and the entire family gets involved to teach him the value of money, and education, using monopoly money? The Huxtable family has worked hard for their successes but never forget their past, often revisiting lessons from grandparents and other inspiring role models, sharing a historical perspective with their kids.

4 Sophia Petrillo, The Golden Girls

Despite her wise-cracking and tough exterior, everyone’s favorite Sicilian Sophia Petrillo loves her grown daughter Dorothy and her wacky friends. Sophia is known for her stories and unsolicited advice via stories that are often set in her past, often beginning with the catch phrase, “Picture it”. Through thick and thin, and despite many problems and fights, Dorothy and Sophia remain close in a grown mother-daughter relationship worthy of envy.

3 Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

Phil Dunphy isn’t just the “fun” dad, he’s the kind dad, the try hard dad, and the dad who remembers what it’s like to be a kid because he’s still a kid at heart. He’s not afraid to admit that he’s wrong, and loves his wife passionately. Whether he’s trying to get his conservative daughter Alex to jump into a pool in a prom dress, practicing magic with his son Luke, or role playing to spice things up with his wife as business man Clive Bixby and bored housewife Julianna, everything about his role as dad and husband comes from an admirable place of love.

2 Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

Independent young teenage mom Lorelai Gilmore is in her thirties now and insistent on raising her Ivey League bound daughter, and namesake, Rory (Lorelei) her own way. She both rejects her own silver spoon upbringing, but still wants to afford Rory all of the academic and career advantages possible. Best friends before family, audiences see the two “Gilmore Girls” grow up alongside each other in a quirky town. While the mother-daughter relationship is remembered for an unparalleled bond for moms everywhere, the two still experienced ups and downs, and fought.

1 Mac and Bren MacGuff, Juno

Parenting a teen is hard, parenting a newly pregnant teen is even harder, but Mac and Bren MacGuff do it with ease. They are blunt, tell their daughter when she screws up, but support her anyway. They let Juno make all of her own decisions, but have her back to the very end. In the beginning of the movie we see Bren as Juno’s step mom, but as the film progresses it’s clear that Juno is her daughter as she painstakingly makes Juno maternity jeans, defends her at medical appointments, and gives her important advice on boundaries surrounding her child’s adoptive parents. I can’t think of a better more loving environment to be in as a pregnant teen than the one created by Mac and Bren, it’s no wonder their daughter Juno is so freaking awesome!

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