3 Reasons Why People Like Kids in Romance and 3 More Why I Don't

I’ve been a romance reader for many years, and a romance writer for almost as many years (I came to writing early and reading romance late), so like all of you I’ve developed my own opinions about what I like in romance novels. Everyone does it. I know some of you hate cheating heroes, some like them. Some like arranged marriage, some hate them. It goes on and on. But the thing that really makes my teeth hurt when I read a romance is… kids.

It’s not that I don’t understand why children are in romance novels. In fact, I get it entirely.

Why are kids in romance?

1. The show empathy in both characters. Here’s our bristling, alpha hero, all pissed off at the world in general and suddenly there’s a four-year-old in the room and he can’t help but be sweet. It endears him to the heroine, it endears him to the reader and it reminds the hero that he can be a little more human than perhaps he wanted to believe he would be.

Or, conversely, the heroine swoops up the hero’s cute little ward, cuddles him to her breast and makes him stop crying with a sweet little song. He’s all melty. The reader sees the girl as a maternal sort that they can like. Yay for everyone.

2. They lead to “cute” moments. Speaking of what I wrote about above, aside from empathy, children in romance can create awfully cute moments for our characters and between them. Each one can bond with the child, they can bond with the child together, and working together in the best interest of the child can bring them together. All very excellent, I’m sure.

3. They serve as a Greek chorus. Like all secondary characters, children can serve as a very effective Greek chorus. An innocent child will be honest (occasionally brutally so). While a character fights his or her feelings, a child will point them out and that is a bit hard to ignore.

Why don’t I like them?

All that is fine and good, but here’s why I don’t really like kids in romance.

1. They aren’t sexy and it’s weird when the h/H are sexy around them. I write erotic romance. And when I don’t write erotic romance, I write extremely sexy romance. My characters develop partly through their sexual attraction and experiences with each other.

Children are not sexy. At all. Because if they were, it would be terribly gross. I also find it gross when the hero and heroine are sexy around each other in front of them. I don’t want to read a love scene with the baby in the room (or ew, in a character’s arms). I don’t want the reality of a child bursting in when h/H are about to get things going. It’s just… icky. So icky.

2. They can be used in place of real characterization or plot drive. Remember when I said a child/children in romance could be used as a Greek chorus? Well, the Greek chorus great, but it can be a very lazy form of writing. Instead of character development or plot movement, an author can use the secondary characters to just throttle the audience and the characters with information and emotion. I’ve seen children used as that bludgeon way too many times.

3. I don’t read romance for reality. I love the children in my life, I truly do. My nephews are two of my greatest treasures. But they are loud. They are contrary. They have snot and talk about poop (they are boys of a certain age). I don’t think I’d want that sort of sweet, strange reality in the midst of my fantasy. I can’t imagine most parents would.

So for me, when I get to a point with a small, cute, perfectly behaved child in the middle of my sexy romance I’m currently reading, I might not throw it against the wall, but I will groan a bit. And you probably won’t find many of them in my books.

How about you? Do kids make you tense up when you stumble upon them in a romance? Or is there some other theme or thing in romance that makes you clench your teeth?