Tv Mums & their Parenting Styles : Role Models or Pure Entertainment?

Before I had children I knew exactly the type of parent I was going to be and subsequently I knew exactly the type of children I was going to ‘create’. They would never throw tantrums in the middle of the supermarket aisle like those other kids with parents who had no control. They would never make noise and annoy other diners at a restaurant and would never spill a full glass of soft drink despite repeated warnings. In fact they wouldnt have nor ask for soft drink. They would never have anything dripping from their nose and nor would they ever sit in a dirty nappy for any length of time whotsoever. They would always come when they were called, would learn to iron by 6, give pedicures and facials, cook a roast like a masterchef kid….ok so it wasnt long before the pre children ideology morphed into something more realistic, something less glamourous and somewhat unpredictable,  but still found itself sticking to a few basic ideals based on some firmly entrenched values.

When thinking about different parenting styles, I started to think about the role models we may have consiously or sub-consciously modelled ourselves on. It wasnt long before I began to examine all sorts of highly influential people, including those mums we spent hours watching on TV.  So role model or pure entertainment value,  I thought I would share some famous TV mums with you and whilst you are perusing have a think about which ones:

  • best represent your parenting style
  • you most admire
  • you think got it all wrong



  • Bree Van De Camp (Desperate Houseives) – perfectionism and obsession with appearances led to the alienation of her children. Domestic and culinary skills well above normal…but at what price??
  •  Marion Cunningham (Happy Days)  – good old fashioned back to basics parenting. Always providing a good meal (more than likely meat and 3 veg), a clean house, sound advice, a witty sense of humour and raised nice kids.


  • Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show) – Intelligent and classy, managed to hold an esteemed career as an attorney, organised, loving and able to teach good moral values.


  • Peggy Bundy (Married with Children) – Loved her children despite refusing to cook or clean for them, always trying to get the attention of her husband with her big hair, high heels and tight pants. Good for some laughs.


  • Marge Simpson (The Simpsons) – Despite dealing with the ridiculous antics of her donut eating husband, trouble making son, over-achieving daughter and dummy sucking toddler, Marge is able to parent with good humour and  a sense of pride, most of the time keeping her cool.


  • Debra Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond) – Has to deal with difficult husband and in- laws who live next door, she is one of the toughest mums around, saying it how it is, happy to stand up for herself and her family. Teaches her kids that respect for others is far more important than being a good cook.


  • Betty Draper (Mad Men) – Often aloof, seemingly spending little time with the children but always looking immaculate!


  • Roseanne Barr (Roseanne) – Not the warm and fuzzy kind of mum but still we always learnt a lesson at the end of each episode, as did her family..and more often than not they learnt it the hard way.  A low income family, she managed to make the best of every situation with plenty of humour to get them through.


  • Lynette Scavo (Desperate Housewives) – The working mum with lots of kids who tries desperately to have it all. A loud and chaotic household, Lynette is the first to admit her mistakes and shortcomings but nonetheless a devoted mother.


  • Estelle Costanza (Seinfeld) – George’s mum, whilst often overbearing and obnoxious, allowed us to laugh along with their often dysfunctioning relationsips.


  •  Miranda Hobbs (Sex in the City) – Loved her high profile career and single life in Manhattan and not afraid to admit that parenting did interfere with a good chunk of that lifestyle, but made the sacrifices to give her child the best upbringing she could.


  • Carol Brady (The Brady Bunch) – With Alice to help with the cooking and cleaning, Carol was able to devote her time to the trials and tribulations of the blended family, managing  to prevent many disastrous  situations as she battled the complexities of young children through to the teenagers.



Well for me, I like to think I have the tolerance of Marge Simpson, the intellect of Claire huxtable, the honesty of Roseanne Barr, the perfectly groomed looks of Betty Draper, the culinary skills of Bree Van Der Camp and the integrity of Debra Barone…however my family may beg to differ! But what it does show however…is that whatever we may think of their parenting skills…there is not always a right way or a wrong way. If it works for you and you create the family life you desire and you stick to the values you see as important, then you are not only a great parent, but also a great role model for your own children.

I know there have been many other great mums out their in TV land, so let me know if you can think of any others that you relate to, admire or leave you shaking your head. Oh and sorry men,  there are some great TV dads out there so feel free to share them too! I am sensing a few Homers and the odd Al Bundy out there!

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This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Kelly B

    LOVE THIS! The start made me laugh. I tell you, I was an expert at parenting before I became a parent HA!

    I was raised Marion Cunningham style and it was a very lovely way to grow up. There’s a lot about this way of parenting that I incorporate into my own parenting style. Although, I would say I have far more choice than my Mum did which account for a bit more Claire Huxtable (without the esteemed career). lol

    1. Martine

      Thanks Kelly, Yes I think most of us were parenting experts pre-children! Marion Cunningham was a lovely way to grow up, and you are right, we are lucky to be better able to achieve a balance with the Claire Huxtable version.

  2. Dotti

    My parents were firm but fair!, we certainly lived a very simple life but thank them everyday as I appreciate everything and every relationship/ friendship I have due to the morals of right and wrong that were instilled in us. My mum was a definately mrs Cunningham and with a mix of Debra barone and Lynette Scavo but I think Mrs Doubtfire springs being an allrounder-hence firm but fair n fun. Overall I think, like I am sure everyone else would of thier own mother, my mum is perfect- thanks mum x

    1. Martine

      Firm but fair..certainly still the most beneficial style of parenting for both children and parents. Oh…and wouldnt we all love a Mrs Doubtfire to helpus look after our kids! By the way…my mum is pretty special too and certainly my greatest role model.

  3. PlanningQueen

    Like Kelly, think this is a great post. I reckon I am a mix of Clair Huxtable and Family Ties mum Elyse Keaton.

    1. Martine

      Oh Elyse Keaton…how could I have forgotten about you! A pretty good mixture of parenting styles!

  4. Good Golly Miss Holly!

    I’d like to think of myself as a Mrs Cunningham, but I’m probably more of a mix of Peggy Bundy and Roseanne! Hahahaha

    1. Martine

      Nothing wrong with Peggy Bundy and Roseanne!

  5. Kate

    Great post!

    I was raised by Marion Cunningham, who with the emptying of her (fairly full) nest turned into Claire

    At the moment I’m pretty much Mrs Cunningham myself and loving it, but looking forward to the day I can Huxtabalise a little more too 😉

    1. Martine

      Thanks Kate, they seem to be the 2 who are able to give us the greatest balance, and certainly timing does play a big part!

  6. Marthese

    I enjoyed reading this post…you have put in a lot of research in to it… Thank you.

    I personally cannot compare myself to any of the TV Mums as I grew up without a TV… my mum was over protective and very strict..but also the best mum in the world. When I had my kids .. I was very protective of them as well but I was very aware of what I felt growing up so. .. I chose to bring them up very independent and have to take decisions for themselves.., one of my other phobias that my mum had was that every time we were sick..we used to be dragged to the doctor….and I am so over doctors..that unless it is very serious I do not visit one….
    One of my rules that I stuck to all along is that whatever I say for example in regards to discipline….if they got into mischief and I said that for example you cannot do this or you are not allowed to do that…I never went back o my word….so they learnt I meant what I said..and they used to think twice before they got into trouble….
    Now my 2 have left the nest and I am so very proud of them of what they have acheived.


    1. Martine

      Thanks for your comment, and congratulations on doing a wonderful job raising your kids. It goes to show that there isnt a one rule that fits everyone, and often a great idea to take the best of our own parents and adapt the rest to suit our differences.

  7. Shelly at Tropical Mum

    My mom and I had a very close relationship and I could talk to her about anything.I guess you could compare her to Lorelai on Gilmore Girls without the quirkiness. Often my friends would say how lucky I was to have such a great mother. Unfortunately I don’t feel like I am emulating her very much in my parenting. I feel more like Lynette Scavo on one of her hairy days without the cleverness.

    I enjoyed reading this post. It really highlights the fact that there are just so many different mothering styles!

    1. Martine

      You were very lucky to have such a great mother, and regardless of how it must seem sometimes, I am sure that plenty of her wonderful qualities are rubbing off on you and your parenting!

  8. Annika

    Not sure if I fit any of those mother’s closely, but must say I aspire to eventually have my children around me like Nora in Brother’s and Sisters!! That show actually makes me want have more children so as to have those gorgeous big family dinners further down the track !! She must have done a pretty good job!

    1. Martine

      Oh I love Nora too… and also love the idea of the family all coming together when they are older. Maybe I should stop watching TV so I stop having all these children!

  9. Glowless

    Martine I loved reading this, though I refuse to give up hope that Tricky will be ironing all his own things by age 6. I think I was raised by a combination of Roseanne and Marge Simpson.
    I’m completely jealous of Troppo Mum’s Lorelei mama!
    If I had to pick a TV mum that most resembled me it would be Sue Brockman (played by Claire Skinner) in the BBC series Outnumbered!

    1. Martine

      Yes Lorelei’s mum seems to be popular. Dont know Sue Brockman so will keep an eye out. And best of luck with Tricky’s ironing skills…let me know how you go so I can at least start working on the 20 month old!

  10. corine


    I just made a comment on one of your other posts which had a section in it that would have worked here; it said,

    “I think it is a natural tendency that some of us have, to look at the ABSOLUTE BEST traits in everyone we meet… and then combine all of these fabulous traits together in our minds, and IMAGINE that these strengths and wonderful qualities are all bundled up into one person; who then becomes the person we compare ourselves to. But that person doesn’t exist. And we need to stop comparing ourselves with other people, and instead compare ourselves with the person we were a year ago. Are we improving, and doing the best we can to be a good mom, sister, daughter, friend, spouse? Then we can feel good about ourselves. We don’t have to do something as well as another person to be OK. 😉 But as Martine pointed out… the very fact that we do feel guilty sometimes, points out that we really do care about being good (mom’s, people etc), and caring is what propels us to do and be good!”

    Can you tell I used to be a perfectionist… and am still fighting the tendency? :O

    These reminders that we can’t all be EVERYTHING, and that it is A-OK… are great!
    We really don’t have to be it ALL to be what OUR kids need. We just need to be ourselves. 😀

    PS. I LOVE your blog, and will be coming back for more. Thanks for writing. 🙂
    Corine 😀

    1. Martine

      Thanks again Corine, Yes we really do just need to be ourselves without having to be everything. Glad you like the blog and looking forward to more insightful comments.

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