Watterson has never given Calvin's parents names "because as far as the strip is concerned, they are important only as Calvin's mom and dad."  However, Watterson sometimes uses them to explore situations adults can relate to, such as the desire to enjoy leisure time as opposed to the need to work, or bad customer service and frustrations when grocery shopping. Also, occasionally Watterson takes the time to flesh out the two parental characters. One example is a storyline in which the family returns from a wedding to find their house has been broken into and ransacked. For several strips, Calvin and Hobbes fade into the background as Mom and Dad reflect on the impact of the event.
Early on in the strip, Watterson says, they were criticized by readers for being overly sarcastic and insufficiently patient, especially Calvin's father, who has several times reminded his wife that he at first, wanted a dog instead of a son. Calvin's mother has been hinted to have possibly wanted a girl, and at one point, Calvin's antics frustrated them so much that they acted like they were sorry to have had him. Later strips would depict Calvin's parents being more demonstrative of their love for their son, while still being driven crazy by his trouble; for example, When Calvin wanders off at the zoo, his father says, as he goes to look for him, "Being a parent means wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time." In another strip Calvin wakes his mother up at 12:00 AM to ask if love is nothing but "a biochemical reaction to make sure our genes get passed on". Due to him waking her up in the middle of the night, she responds with: "Whatever love is, it's what's keeping me from strangling you right now".