Many of the women in Dragon Ball's sprawling lore end up becoming moms, but few are as iconic as Bulma and Chi-Chi. These two raised the children of the shonen epic's most powerful Saiyans. Chi-Chi raises Gohan and Goten, while Bulma raises Trunks and Bra. Both are memorable moms with terrific moments throughout the franchise, but Bulma and Chi-Chi are vastly different parents with different styles.
When comparing the two, it's important to look at which one's methods proved more efficient in preparing their children for the world. Was it Chi-Chi's intense helicopter parenting, or was it Bulma's more level-headed approach? Let's take a look.
Chi-Chi: Helicopter Mom or Laid-Back Trainer?
Chi-Chi took very different approaches when raising her two kids. Early on she establishes that Gohan must become a scholar, relentlessly putting him in situations where he must learn, study, and get into the best schools. Sometimes this is regardless of what Gohan wants -- during the Namek Saga he desires to collect the Namekian Dragon Balls and wish his friends back to life, but Chi-Chi wants him to stay home and study. This exerts a ton of stress on a young boy who had already lost his father to the Saiyans.
However, Chi-Chi's parenting style relaxes substantially when Goten is born. She's no longer the helicopter parent who tries to exert complete control over her son. She just lets Goten grow as a person, allowing him to live a more carefree life -- something all children should have a chance at. That said, Goten is also more dependent, often relying on Trunks to form his own identity.
The problem with how Chi-Chi raises Gohan is that it prevents him from developing his personality on his own. He becomes what Chi-Chi tells him to be: a scholar. Goku, on the other hand, allows Gohan to just be himself with no expectations. Gohan is absolutely happy as a teen and adult, furthering his education and marrying Videl. However, it's impossible to ignore how nearly his entire personality was influenced by his mother. He's successful, but he might have been molded into this picture of happiness.
Bulma, Loving Parent (with a Careless Streak)
Bulma is by no means a flawless parent, but she is a lot more hands-off than Chi-Chi. As a result, Trunks and Bra developed into their own, independent people. So where does Bulma falter as a mom? Unfortunately, she sometimes takes a cavalier approach to her children's safety.
While Bra seems relatively sheltered, Bulma didn't hesitate to bring baby Trunks with her when the Androids arrived. On one hand, her anxieties are justified by her rationale that if the Androids are as powerful as everyone claims them to be, it wouldn't matter where she is on the planet. They'd be doomed anyway. However, that doesn't change the fact she brings an infant with her to what is essentially an active war zone.
That said, she allows Trunks to blossom into his own man. Even in the alternate futures of the Dragon Ball universe, Bulma's empathetic and nurturing spirit shows she believes her son can accomplish whatever he puts his mind to. There's less of an overbearing streak to Bulma and more raw support. Tellingly, Future Trunks is very much driven by Gohan's example, but Bulma in that future timeline doesn't pressure him to be like Gohan.
Bulma or Chi-Chi, Who Is the Better Mom?
Parenting is a complicated science with no definitive answers on the best way to raise a child. Chi-Chi and Bulma both produced some wonderful children who went on to be heroes in their own right. However, which parenting style was better in the end?
Chi-Chi sort of drilled Gohan's ambitions into him from a young age. While she clearly wanted what was best for her son, it could be a little overwhelming at times. She arguably put Gohan through more stress than he needed. In this sense, Bulma is the more effective mother. She's less interested in forcing her children down any singular track, preferring to help them become their own people. That's not to say Chi-Chi is a bad mom. Rather, Bulma is the kind of mother someone would want to have.