Laughter, life lessons and love: 12 TV parents to *actually* take parenting advice from

Inspiration can be found anywhere you look - even from your favourite characters.

Jack Rebecca Pearson

by Jade Moscrop |
Updated on

TV parents are quite often the supporting characters to our favourite fictional personalities, but occasionally, they're the main event, and we long for more screen time. They make us laugh, cry, and sometimes, even re-evaluate our own parenting strategies.

While their lives are dramatised for our viewing pleasure, there's a lot we can learn from their unique styles and the situations they're faced with. From the life lessons sprinkled amidst the drama and laughs to ways of coping with a crisis, parenting inspiration can be found everywhere you look - especially while binge-watching your favourite shows (when you're able to turn off toddler TV, that is).

From Lorelai Gilmore's deep and meaningful chats over coffee to Phil Banks' firm but fair demeanour, let's dive into the wisdom (and chaos) brought to us by some of the most iconic TV parents.

Lorelai Gilmore - Gilmore Girls

Lorelai Gilmore
©Warner Bros

The queen of coffee, pop culture references, and mother-daughter bonding, Lorelai’s parenting style is less traditional and more best-friendy, which has its pros and cons, but she's deserving of the top spot on our list of the best TV parents. She shows us that being open and communicative with your child can build a strong, unbreakable bond.

Sandy and Kirsten Cohen - The O.C.

Sandy Kirsten Cohen
©Warner Bros

The Cohens taught us that taking in a troubled teenager can turn your world upside down - in the best way possible. Sandy, with his lawyerly wisdom and surfer chill vibes, and Kirsten, with her poised grace and occasional meltdowns, show us the power of love, patience, and a good bagel. Plus, never underestimate the healing power of Chrismukkah.

Jim Hopper - Stranger Things

Jim Hopper

Jim Hopper's parenting approach is a mix of tough love, relentless protection, and deep vulnerability. As the sheriff of a town plagued by supernatural events, his overprotectiveness is understandable. His journey with Eleven reminds us that parenting is about adapting and growing with your child, no matter how strange (or Demogorgon-filled) the circumstances. One of the best TV parents to survive The Upside Down.

Jack and Rebecca Pearson - This Is Us

Jack Rebecca Pearson

Jack and Rebecca Pearson set the gold standard for parental dedication and emotional resilience. They tackle everything from raising triplets to overcoming personal traumas with grace and a lot of heart-to-hearts. Jack's unwavering optimism and Rebecca's strength show us that even when life throws curveballs, family love remains a steadying force.

Charles Boyle and Genevieve Mirren-Carter - Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Charles Boyle Genevieve

Charles Boyle is the epitome of earnest enthusiasm, and his relationship with Genevieve is endearingly quirky. They prove that blending families with unique quirks can be a joyful adventure. Charles’s endless positivity and quirky traditions remind us that there’s no one right way to be a happy family.

Lisa Landry and Ray Campbell - Sister, Sister

Lisa Ray Sister Sister
©The WB

Co-parenting might not come with a guidebook, but Lisa and Ray from Sister, Sister make it look like an art. Balancing single parenthood with blending their families, they handle teenage twin girls with humour and heart. Lisa’s sass and Ray’s practicality show us that different parenting styles can complement each other beautifully.

Burt Hummel - Glee

Burt Hummel

Burt Hummel is the dad everyone wishes they had. Open-minded, fiercely loving, and never afraid to learn, Burt’s journey with his son Kurt, who is navigating his identity and sexuality, is truly inspiring. Burt shows us that acceptance and unconditional love are the cornerstones of great parenting, no matter the challenges.

Kitty and Red Forman - That '70s Show

Kitty Red Forman

Kitty and Red Forman, the dynamic duo of stern love and infectious giggles. Red’s tough exterior is balanced by Kitty’s nurturing warmth and a laugh that could heal a thousand teenage uh-ohs. They remind us that structure and support go hand in hand, and sometimes, a little tough love is just what’s needed.

Phil and Vivian Banks - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Phil Vivian Banks

Phil and Vivian Banks demonstrate that sometimes, a strong foundation of discipline and opportunity is the best way to foster growth. With Uncle Phil’s firm but fair stance and Aunt Viv’s blend of elegance and sass, they guide their kids (and, of course, their nephew from West Philly) through life’s ups and downs with grace and wisdom. Plus, getting on the dancefloor at family parties is a must.

Hilda and Zelda Spellman - Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Hilda Zelda Spellman

Raising a teenager is hard enough without adding witchcraft into the mix, but Hilda and Zelda manage to be both guardians and guides, blending magic with mundane lessons about integrity and independence. Their magical mishaps are a gentle reminder that it’s OK to make mistakes - and to laugh about them later.

Jack McFarland - Will & Grace

Jack McFarland

Jack's over-the-top personality and unwavering loyalty make him a fabulous godfather to his friends' kids, and to his own son, Elliot, who Jack meets when Elliot is 13. He shows that family extends beyond bloodlines, and sometimes, the best parental advice comes with a side of glitter and show tunes.

Lily and Marshall Eriksen - How I Met Your Mother

Lily Marshall Eriksen

The ultimate couple goals, Lily and Marshall navigate the ups and downs of marriage and parenthood with plenty of laughs. They prove that being best friends with your partner is key to a happy home and that it’s OK to lean on each other to get through the tough times.

What we've learned from our favourite TV parents:

Communication is key: Whether it’s Hilda and Zelda's wacky teaching styles or the Pearsons’ deep emotional talks, open communication builds strong relationships.

Adaptability wins: From Jim Hopper’s evolving parenting style to the Cohens' welcoming of Ryan, being adaptable helps navigate life’s unpredictability.

Unconditional love: Burt Hummel’s unconditional support for Kurt or the Formans’ tough but caring approach shows that love underpins successful parenting.

Balance is everything: Blending different parenting styles, like Lisa and Ray or Charles and Genevieve, proves that balance and respect for each other's methods make for a happy family.

Celebrate uniqueness: Whether it’s Charles Boyle’s quirky traditions or the Banks’ glamorous flair, embracing what makes your family unique brings joy and unity.

Jade Moscrop is one of the Commercial Content Editors at Bauer Media, specialising in lifestyle titles. When she isn't writing about beauty products, gym leggings and chic homeware items, she can usually be found on a hot girl walk, buying houseplants or listening to female-fronted rock bands. She's currently expecting her first child, and has been testing out plenty of parenting products in preparation.

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