Kids or No?

Marilyn here, with an informal survey: how do you feel about kids in your romance novels? Yea, nay, don’t care, as long as they’re important to the story? Do you have little tolerance for overly cutesy kids, or do they make you go “aww”? Do you wonder if they’re there just for the cute factor? And where the heck do they disappear to when the hero and heroine need a little private time?

I’ve written lots of kids — though lately I found that dogs work just as well for the cute factor, LOL. They can be just as annoying during the love scenes, too. I’m not big on kids just because they’re kids; I want them to be integral to the story. I want them to sound and act like kids. And sometimes I want them to please, God, GO AWAY and let me have a little grown-up time with the hero and heroine!

What’s your take on the little buggers?


22 thoughts on “Kids or No?

  1. I like dogs better. 😉

    Kids are not a cute factor to me when I’m reading. If their presence isn’t handled right, I’m outta there.

    BTW: Small rowdy kids–I have asked to switch tables in a restaurant. I didn’t let my kids get away with that, don’t want to be around it when I’m paying to be there. JMO

  2. Kids are part of life, but not everyone’s lives. There are times when I don’t mind or even enjoy having kids in the story, but there are a lot of times when I wish they weren’t there. A lot of book kids remind me of someone I used to know who trotted her kids out, all shiny and well-behaved (for at least a moment) when she wanted to be acknowledged as a mother, then shoved them back into their rooms and ignored them the rest of the time.

    Meg, I like dogs better, too — though right now I’m reading a book where the dog is just too cutesy-poo. I’ve never asked to be moved in a restaurant, but have always sworn that if I had my own place (a faint, distant dream of mine), I’d have a family dining room and a grown-up dining room. I don’t need someone rubbing spaghetti sauce in my hair while I’m eating!

  3. I don’t really care for kids in the story–esp. little uns. Just read a Christie Craig book and she conviently foisted the kid on her character’s ex during the whole story. There was mention of him, but you never saw him until the epilogue.

  4. Not crazy about kids in stories. If they are important to the story, I might tolerate them. But I read romance for romance. Kids usually interrupt the romance. I would rather see a dog in a story. 🙂

  5. Woot woot for dogs! I almost wrote about that — Jackie Kramer commented that she was loving the dogs in my latest book (who are my own Olivia and Chance; only the names were changed to protect the guilty). But I’m reading some books with kids; some are necessary to the story and okay, but the others appear to be there to appeal to the kid-liking market. Hence, the kid query.

  6. I can’t think of a romance I’ve read that the children added to the story without becoming a distraction. Usually they are just comic relief or a burden for the H/H to overcome in the journey to fall in love.

    Cutsie anything and I’m out. When there is a child involved in the story it does always smack of neglect, just a little, when the H/H want alone time (JMO). There always seems to be a babysitter or nanny that doesn’t mind having the kid over for most of the night and then when the crap hits the fan the kid ends up staying half a week with the dedicated babysitter who’s become like a member of the family during the trying ordeal. (UGH!)

    Kids tend to complicate the romance, but I’d love to read a book where children add to the story. Seen a couple of movies that I enjoyed where the kids had their own GMC, maybe that’s what the romances with kids are missing.


    • LOL, RD. I always think it was NEVER that easy for DH and me to find time alone when the kiddo was little. Thank God for locks on the doors! Though it takes some of the spark right out when a little voice is whining right outside the door, “What are you doing? Why can’t I come in? Please open the door.” 🙂

  7. Marilyn, I’m going to quote the world famous Marilyn Pappano when I say, “they are cliches for a reason”. There is a real reason that you see cute kids and puppies in commercials… they SELL.

    Women are actually hard wired to respond to children. That said, some of us menopausal women are past that… so we have less patience for other people’s kids, but a world of patience for our own grandbabies.

    I love kids in stories. I love animals in stories… as long as they have some character. Just got done with Harley Jane Kozak’s Dating Dead Men. Had a very Un-Cute kid throughout that really drove the relationship and the plot along. I don’t know how she could have done it without the kid. The kid was unattractive and silent for most of the book. Not plastic or false at all.

    I read a Jayne Ann Krentz book once that had a junkyard-type dog who went everywhere with his metal dog dish gripped in his teeth. Since I’ve had an OCD dog before, that animal appealed to me.

    I think they can add to the story. It makes the story more real life to me. Few of the people I know don’t have baggage of some sort. spw

    • Argh, gotta watch what I say, don’t I?

      When I’m in the mood, I like a well-written romance with kids. I’ve done my share, and will in the future. But I want them to have a reason to be there, and I’d like them to resemble real children to a point. I don’t want cutesy-pie, wise-beyond-their-years . . . but I discovered when I read a book with a very realistic, sullen, obnoxious teenager. too ugly/real was no fun, either.

      I guess, what it really boils down to is, kid characters need to be realistic and have a reason to be there — like any other character.

      Dogs, on the other hand, are always welcome! (Just kidding.)

      • Heh, heh, heh.

        I really think that kids are a part of life. If you’re doing a romance with twenty somethings, then I think they can choke up the action. If you are doing stories with older twenties or thirty somethings, then you’ve got to figure that someone is going to have a previous relationship… and some of those will include children.

        It’s all about appropriateness. spw

      • There’s certainly a place for kids in romances, and they add a whole new dimension to relationships. I can remember my kid dating a single mother once, and his concern that he was getting attached to the kid, to the mother, not so much.

        I guess I’m being greedy — I want there to be a good reason for the kids and I want them really well done! Not so much to ask, eh?

  8. Loved the dogs in your latest book, Marilyn! They did add to the storyline. I haven’t actually put a dog in any of my stories. Yet. Had a cat in one…and have had kids in every single book I’ve written so far. Hmm Wonder what my problem is? LOL Maybe it’s my way of ‘becoming’ a mother. Who knows.

    I also can’t stand to sit in a restaurant next to a loud/rowdy child. Drives me nuts and I can’t wait to get out of there. Don’t think I’ve ever asked to be moved, though.

    • Thank you, Linda. All of the kids I’ve ever written have been based in one way or another on my own kiddo. Some of the dogs I’ve written have been based on my own, some on dogs I wish I had — ie, well-behaved ones. LOL. Every single thing Elizabeth and Bear did in the book, Olivia and Chance have done in real life. They’re stinkers.

      My family goes out every Saturday for lunch, and there’s at least two kids, usually four, sometimes six or seven. Last time, they put us in a private dining room — which both we and their other diners greatly appreciated! LOL.

      • No worries about that, Sandee. I’ve actually read entire books in a dog’s POV (it was a woman reincarnated as a pupper), but frankly, I think my dogs’ minds are scary, scary places. I don’t want to know what they’re really thinking when they’re lying curled up with their heads on their paws and staring so intently at me. 🙂

  9. I have to say that generally agree with the idea that if the kid or the dog adds to the story, then great. Personally I love kids and dogs, mine. But I get a little impatient with other people’s kids and dogs. In high school I wrote a paper about WC Fields. He had some of the funniest lines about kids and animals:

    Anyone who hates children and animals can’t be all bad.
    W. C. Fields

    I like children – fried.
    W. C. Fields

    • No offense, Lynn! I like the fried comment.

      At lunch today, we had two fussy little ones who weren’t above making a lot of noise. I thought, omg, we’ve become the people we used to stare at make rude comments about. 🙂

  10. You all know how I feel about kids. Love ’em! But it doesn’t mean I think kids always fit into a romance. Homey romances, yes. Second chance romances, probably. Mystery baby stories (one of my favorites!), definitely. Romantic suspense? Only if it’s a mother/child in danger. Paranormal? Think toddler vampire. Ewwww!
    Kids in a book should follow the same rule as any secondary character. They should only be in the book if they’re an intregal part of the story. Not as comic relief, not as the mentors.
    Now, let’s talk about rhinos in romances….!

  11. I love kids, but when I write them they come later in the story and are usually babies so they can’t talk and say overly sentimental, cutsie things that make me barf and say, “wow, REALLY? A four year old kid has that good a vocabulary and insight to adult matters?” It all depends. Dogs have been working better for me lately.

    • I always get annoyed with kids in books who are just miniature adults in disguise. I actually know one in real life, and I love her to death. She’s seven going on seventy, wears glasses, has an almost photographic memory and, like a typical kid, has no filtering system between her brain and her mouth. She’s a hoot, but she’s also pretty much a one of a kind.

      I just want my book kids to be more relatable. 🙂

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