No Respect for Not Wanting Kids
A character is openly critical of another's lack of desire to have children.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-07-24 17:38:40 sponsor: jayoungr (last reply: 2013-08-27 14:10:46)

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Alice doesn't seem interested in having kids. She may have actually announced her intention never to have children, or she may simply not be visibly eager to start a family. Either way, this brings her under the critical eye of other characters, who don't hesitate to express their negative opinion of her choice, either to her face or behind her back.

This trope occurs when one character criticizes, pities, or disapproves of another (almost Always Female, though there are exceptions) for not wanting to have children. The critic typically believes that there's something unwholesome, selfish, or at best tragically misguided about not wanting kids. Besides, everyone knows Babies Make Everything Better—unless you're some kind of Child Hater, that is. May take the form of an I Want Grandkids speech if the critic is Alice's parent or parent-in-law.

Not to be confused with Mandatory Motherhood, which is about fate or the law forcing pregnancy even onto unwilling women. This trope is about characters exerting social pressure that may be uncomfortable but can be resisted.

This trope applies specifically to in-universe statements and attitudes of characters. If the author seems to share the critics' opinion, it overlaps with Writer on Board. If the author makes sure that Alice learns An Aesop about how wonderful it is to have children, it overlaps with Author Tract.

See also Career Versus Family, Good Girls Avoid Abortion, and Law of Inverse Fertility.

Examples

Comics

  • Therese from For Better or for Worse was criticized by both other characters and the creator for not wanting children. It is one of the main reasons many fans found her Unintentionally Sympathetic. Much of the story of her marriage to Anthony was communicated to readers via a week of New Year’s party bathroom gossip, with a group of young women clucking over how awful Therese was for having a job and not wanting a baby.

Literature

  • In Graceling Katsa has no desire to marry or have children, simply believing the role is not for her. Other characters criticize her opinions, most notably Giddon, who flipped out when she refused to marry him and said that one day she would grow to want children, despite her denial.
  • The nonfiction book I Can Barely Take Care Of Myself by Jen Kirkman is all about this. In fact, the intro starts out with arguments people give her when she mentions she doesn't want kids (and gives her counter-arguments).

Live-Action TV

  • This becomes a plot point in an episode of Seinfeld, in which Elaine is looked down on by her female friends, all of whom are mothers, who feel she needs to "move to Long Island and have a baby already."
  • On The Big Bang Theory Bernadette's fiance Howard almost breaks up with her because she is (initially) against the idea of children. Her soon-to-be-mother-in-law is also not shy about wanting grandchildren.
  • Community: When calling out his friend's cruel and distant father, Jeff tells him that there's an emptiness in him that can only be filled by having a kid (implicitly implying that wanting to have and raise kids is the natural course).
  • Robin in How I Met Your Mother openly doesn't want to have kids and doesn't like them. This causes friction with the child-happy Ted, who at one point during an argument on the matter tells her that it's good that she doesn't want kids, because they'd get brainfreeze from nursing on her (since she's such an ice queen).

Theater

  • In Table Manners (part of The Norman Conquests by Alan Ayckbourn), Housewife Sarah criticizes her sister-in-law, career woman Ruth, for not wanting children:
    Sarah: It's no business of mine if you choose to deny yourself one of the greatest satisfactions in a woman's—
    Ruth: There you go again! Deny myself? What's the matter with you all?
    Sarah: I might well ask, what's the matter with you?
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