Most family cartoons on the market today presents a normal and pretty traditional home life. This is not the case in Watterson's family. Here we find parents that often re-evaluate the entire creation of their little son...
Many times they discuss why on earth they brought this little troublemaker into this world, when the alternative could have been everything from a gold fish to a cute little puppy...
In their defense it must be said that these discussions only occur right after Calvin has been especially bad. The fact that a six year old attacks a dripping tap with a circular saw and a hack saw, with the inevitable result that the water floods the whole kitchen, can be hard to deal with, even for the most loving parents...
"You learn by your mistakes", is anyhow a philosophy that Calvin's parents partly uses in their bringing up of children. As far as possible they let Calvin figure out for himself what is good for him and what is not. (Within certain limits of course) This especially shows in a strip where Calvin has found some cigarettes that his grandfather has left behind. When he asks his mom if he can have a smoke she tells him that he may smoke as much as he wants to. A bit suspicious and very surprised by the positive answer, he lights up and inhales the best he can! While his face cramps in pain and his color turns green, he coughs and feels the smoke choking his lungs. When his mom gives him a sarcastic grin and asks if he has learnt a lesson, Calvin holds his hands on his hurting stomach and nods; he has learnt for sure: "Trusting your mother can be hazardous to your health!"
Calvin's father is the most "sarcastic" parent, and often fills his son with direct false teaching. This is often because he feels inadequate, like fathers often do when the questions they're confronted with exceed their knowledge. Calvin's mother, on the other hand, is a bit more down to earth, and tries the best she can to correct whatever the father is trying to make the kid believe.
Calvin's father is a simple person. He prefers a quite life and experiencing the beauty of nature, instead of making a career and living a life in luxury. As often as he can he tries to get away from every day routines and out into the silent nature, where he is reminded of his childhood.
Calvin's mother though, is definitely not an outdoor person. She depends upon the fixed routines at home, which her husband desperately wants to get away from.
At home we see traditional mom & dad figures, where Calvin's mother is working in the kitchen while his father reads the paper and waits for dinner to be served. Calvin's mother is a full-time housewife, and we never see her express any wish about changing this situation. Her job is to look after the house and child, while her husband is at the office, taking care of the family's income.
Little Calvin has a clear opinion on the existing pattern of sex roles. He is definitely not in favor of equality of status at home. This shows itself when his mother threatens him with making his dad cook dinner. He is terrified and can't believe what his hearing, dads can't cook!!! His fathers responsibilities when it comes to house work are few, and cooking is definitely not one of them...
Like most parents, both mom and dad want Calvin to perform well at school. It is a fixed rule that all homework must be finished before he is allowed to go out and play. This is a rule that Calvin neither accepts or obeys. This is just one of the situations where the wishes of his parents are not in accordance with his own.
In modern USA the number of available TV-channels are almost unlimited. Sitting around switching channels is something Calvin loves. Sitting in front of a TV with a remote control, and tons of different channels is definitely a challenge for an inquisitive six year old. His parents, who are afraid of the TV's negative influence on the boy, would rather see him outside playing. And playing is something Calvin knows how to do! It often ends with him being covered with mud after a sledge ride or mud wrestling with Hobbes.
This results in strict orders to take a bath, a thing that Calvin truly hates! He gets soap in his eyes, and being clean and smelling good is just for girls. At the same time he doesn't get the point of bathing, after all, he just gets dirty again and that stupid bath was all for nothing!
One of the things, besides school, that Calvin doesn't master, is table manners. His parents constantly try to teach him, while he just can't understand his mothers irritation when he delivers the burp of the century, at the breakfast table. His punishment varies, but often he is sent to his room, at the worst without supper. No one can accuse his parents of being patient with him, but thinking of what he puts them through, you can hardly blame them.
Calvin's parents believes that even six year olds should have certain duties at home. A result of this is that Calvin is responsible for cleaning his own room. He considers this an impossible job. Not so strange really, thinking of how he sometimes demolishes his room.
Because of this, and other things that he is not happy with, he regularly exposes his father to miscellaneous polls. These are meant to show him how close to the bottom he has fallen as a worthy father. The fact that his dad is never considered for re-election when Calvin is preparing the election for a new dad, is because the little kid doesn't get what he wants. His father take this polls pretty calmly, while trying to explain to his son, that he is appointed dad for life.