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Children Are a Waste

"Children are people too. Worthless, incomplete people."
Lindsay Naegle, The Simpsons

In Real Life and in fiction, the Straw Feminist and the Straw Bachelor are generally at each other's throats. However, it seems that there is one thing that both parties agree on: children are a waste. For the straw feminist, a child serves only to chain the woman at home when she could be aspiring to bigger and better things. To the straw bachelor, a child means being tied down to one woman, and having to pay hundred of thousands or even millions for maintenance and education, when that time and money could be invested into better use.

Other reasons people might believe this is thinking that children are stupid, parasites, spoiled brats, cruel, or just useless — surely all they do is run around playing, eating, and not contributing to society.

In works of Anti-Intellectualism, intellectuals and rich industrialists will usually be portrayed in this manner, as Social Darwinists who consider children as inherently worthless "animals" who can be aborted, except when they're invested in an expensive education to make them rich, professional, intelligent and therefore honourable "humans". This is maybe due to the low fertility rate (and legal abortions for rape, teen pregnancy and such unplanned forms of parenthood) in industrialized science-oriented countries, and how many said intellectuals know about the ideas of Thomas Malthus.

To rectify this, some morally dubious characters may decide to build something Powered by a Forsaken Child.

Contrast Babies Make Everything Better.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Butler has a prostitute going to a doctor to get an abortion with this as her excuse. That doctor had lost her ability to have children thanks to an accident that killed her husband and nearly her as well. This was the last straw before she snapped and became Jack the Ripper.

    Film - Animated 
  • In a deleted scene of The Incredibles, Helen/Elastigirl has to deal with a condescending woman at a neighborhood barbeque. Helen then lays down a verbal smackdown, prompting the other woman to gape in amazement and ask what Helen did before she had her child.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Something like this seems to be the prevailing mindset in the movie version of Logan's Run. Most people live carefree lives and don't bother with child rearing. Their "Utopia" has no family units, children are put in state homes by their "seed mother" and raised en masse. Francis notes that most men don't bother to hang out at the nursery to meet their children, and Logan (who is doing just that) declares that he's not so deviant that he's interested in meeting the mother. Is it any wonder a bunch of wild children went all Mad Max and took over an apartment tower?
  • The 1970s sci-fi movie ZPG (Zero Population Growth) has the human population striving to reach zero population growth. So, having a baby causes the parents and child to be put to death. Many people still want children, so vaguely lifelike dolls are sold to fill this need (they don't). Naturally, the protagonist does have a baby and must run from the authorities.
  • The movie Soylent Green plays with this trope, as the human population is very high and, in a classic plot twist, uses surplus people as Human Resources to make their newest food product.

    Literature 
  • Council Wars mentions this as a reason for the human population dwindling; with god-like technology available to everyone, most people have better things to do than look after kids. Note, this is not the only reason mentioned; that Society is still not over the overpopulation of the planet that occurred sometime in the past is also mentioned, thus making large families frowned upon.
  • In Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, a character points out the implication of strict utilitarianism: Newborns appear useless.
  • In A Brother's Price, one male baby is born for every nine girls; they tend to spontaneously miscarry, abort, or die as small children. Boys, therefore, are economically valuable. A family - several sisters married to one man - usually tries to have one male child to swap for a boy who will marry their daughters, and others to sell for "brother's price". With those ratios it's rare for a family to have multiple sons, but some keep trying, often becoming rather careless with their newborn daughters. Society views this as tremendously indulgent, and a family constantly producing children is seen as wasting its time and energy.
  • In Mervyn Peake's 'Ghormenghast'', the Countess of Groan side-steps the whole business neatly. Being formally presented with her infant heir (when they first met she would not have been in a position to fully appreciate him), she waves the proud nurse away with the imperious command
    I have seen it. Take it away and bring it back to me when it is older.
  • In one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Greg vows to spend his money on himself and not a bunch of ungrateful kids. Needless to say, this is Hypocritical Humor.

    Live Action TV 
  • Sex and the City drifts into this at times.
  • Married... with Children is based entirely on this trope; as Al Bundy's motto says, "A man's home is his coffin." Al was a high-school football legend being recruited by colleges, until his loser girlfriend, Peg, got pregnant... and he had to take a job selling shoes.
  • CSI: Miami had a guy who, while not opposed to monogamy, really disliked sharing his wife with another creature to the point of hiring three people to give his wife a Convenient Miscarriage via carjacking (one for surveillance, one to hit her rigged car and one to steal it); unfortunately he didn't count on one of them to beating her half to death and the baby survived anyway. This makes his apparently stable relationship with his son all the more perplexing until you realize that the boy *might* have set him up for the assault since he hated his stepmother and worked at a chop shop.

    Video Games 
  • In one of BioShock's loading screens, a scientist, Dr. Suchong, is quoted saying that children are a waste, because they mature slowly and consume resources while contributing nothing. He then remarks that "There must be something to be done to speed the process." Ultimately, he succeeded in discovering a way to rapidly mature a child to adulthood. His success? You.
  • Meta example: much of the Dwarf Fortress fandom absolutely detests dwarf children for this. And while it's easy to modify the settings to prevent a baby boom, most of them prefer other treatments.
    • Zig-Zagged In-Universe. Since Dwarves will go to battle armed with the first thing they lay hands on, the Dwarven Baby Flail is a common fate of battle-born Dwarf children, but there's stories of the mothers who do this starving to death trying to find them back.
  • Rosa from Umineko no Naku Koro ni shows some shades from this mostly because her boyfriend left her when she was pregnant and left her with a huge loan she co-signed with him. She sometimes hits her daughter and have been commenting on having trouble getting married because of Maria. She also feels conflicted in that while she loves Maria she is having problems liking her due to her interest in magic and her Verbal Tic.
    • Another, very dark example can be found with Kyrie, who in Episode 7 is shown not to care one bit about her daughter Ange and only considering children to be something to tie a man down with. She is also willing to take the gold and leave her daughter behind while she flees out of the country. And while she is a piece controlled by Bernkastel it was established long before that a piece can only do what the real person would be able to do.
  • Episode 4 of The Walking Dead brings a very dark example. The community of Crawford in Savannah, Georgia is a group of Social Darwinists who feel anyone within the community must be able to "earn their keep." This means that no children are allowed as they waste resources, and a pregnant woman is seen given the ultimatum of abortion or exile.

    Web Comics 
  • This is what many characters in Questionable Content seem to agree on implicitly. In several cases justified since they came from families where something went wrong, and most of them are in their 20s and nowhere near ready to consider having families. But apparently not even Marten Reed seems to think that the world needs another Marten Reed. The author has expressed the same opinion in the footnotes that accompanied one comic where this was expressed, so it's apparently an opinion he shares. Later on averted where Faye says she might consider having kids later in her life, indicating her view on the subject may have evolved.

    Web Original 
  • Jiz is anti-life on the abortion issue.

    Western Animation 
  • On The Simpsons, there was a group of single people who were tired of dealing with other people's children and led a campaign for more restrictions on kids ("The children are our future: today belongs to me!"). They succeeded, and Marge led a counter-campaign to get everything back to normal.
  • In one episode of Phineas and Ferb we see a Bad Future where Doofensmirtz is in charge. It turns out to be the Moral Guardians who really pushed the world into dystopia, though; they decided that all imagination was dangerous and irresponsible, and since children naturally were imaginative, so were they. For everyone's protection they locked them away in cryogenic sleep until they grew up. The real implication is that it was entirely Linda's doing since it was a reaction to one of the boys' projects and we've seen that she's pretty much the only adult in town that doesn't know about them.

    Real Life 
  • Countries that have industrialized and acquired high scientific standards, and therefore also have rising per capita incomes and standards in education, have also seen their fertility rates fall dramatically (in the cases of Japan and several European countries, below the population replacement rate of 2.1 children/female). Especially when the manual unskilled labour is done/automated by robots, and where the value of scientific education is of utmost importance to the point that being an unemployed idiot is considered most dishonourable (as in the prevalent failed entrance exam suicide rates in both South Korea and Japan). This is also the reason why First-world countries (especially places where everything is expensive, e.g. again, Japan) detest unplanned parenthood (e.g. rape and teen pregnancy) and abortion is legal for rape, maternal life, health, mental health, socioeconomic factors, and/or fetal defects; in these places, you and your family will literally be unable to buy anything and starve if you make babies with impunity.
  • If there's an intellectual Child Hater, expect them to bring up Thomas Malthus. To summarize his philosophy, human population is exponential and may surpass industrial production which is linear. To demonstrate this, try feeding a dozen children who keep multiplying exponentially on nothing more than minimum wage.
  • On a more humorous slant, in economics the concept of "inferior goods" refers to goods whose demand rises when the income of those buying them falls - usual examples include things such as spaghetti and meatballs in a can. so children are often jokingly called an inferior good considering the collapse of fertility in industrialized countries.
  • Shock Jock Tom Leykis refers to having children as an "ego-trip", by which women are "dream killers" who use children to trap men into 18 years of child payments. His favorite line is, "Just because you have a human Xerox machine, is no reason to push the print button."
  • Some members of the Childfree Community take this position, for one reason or another.
  • Anti-natalism. Although the argument is that it's bad for the child, rather than the adults. Look up the book Better Never to Have Been.
  • The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement takes the view that people are a waste and since having children is how we make more people, well... The site points out the resource disparity in raising children in a developed country versus a third-world country - "stopping at two" in North America will consume resources equivalent to "stopping at 97" in Bangladesh, for example. At the least, not having any more of your own lessens the resource burden on everyone else.


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