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 targeted character may have actually announced her intention of never having children, or she may simply not be visibly eager to start a family. This trope does not apply to those who want children but can't have them for some reason.
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 the target'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.
Applies specifically to in-universe statements and attitudes of characters. If the author seems to share the critic's opinion, it overlaps with Writer on Board
or Author Filibuster
. If the author makes sure that the targeted character 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
. The opposite situation, where a woman is criticized for wanting children, is Real Women Never Wear Dresses
- At one point in Happy Go Lucky, Poppy goes to visit her married and pregnant sister, who berates her for not yet settling down.
- 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 flips out when she refuses to marry him and says that one day she will 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).
- 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.
- Referenced in 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 (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).
- House of Cards (US): The fact that the ruthlessly pragmatic Underwoods have consciously decided not to have children get in their way of climbing the path to power leads into a major plot point of season 2. The topic is brought up in a CNN interview with Claire in an effort to paint their marriage as cold and calculated. She reveals to the public that she had an abortion (she actually had three) because she was raped by a military officer in college. Frank is a Child Hater.
- A rare male-on-male example: in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wesley Crusher thinks the reason Captain Picard doesn't have kids is because he's a Child Hater.
- Thérèse 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 Thérèse was for having a job and not wanting a baby.
- In one episode of Susan Calman is Convicted, Susan goes into a rant about how no-one seems to believe she doesn't want kids; they assume she means she can't, and ask if she's considered adopting, or a sperm-donor.
- 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?
- Cartoonist Nina Paley had a cartoon where she's criticized as being "immature" for not wanting kids. She mentally compares these people to a caveman saying "Look what Og make!"
- Famous Israeli writer A. B. Yehoshu'a was recently the target of fierce criticism when he claimed that women who don't want kids are "sick."
- Israeli comedian Adi Ashkenazi once joked about the Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, saying that a young woman can have two children before turning 20 and still have people ask her if she doesn't want kids.