Jun 9 2011 2:00pm

Daddy’s Girls: Children in Romance

Brad and Emily in ABC’s The BachelorHave you noticed all the kids in romances lately? It seems like (and please excuse me for sounding terribly crass) children are the new accessory du jour to pull at the heartstrings.

It’s either a kid in need of some nurturing or a scruffy pooch on the cover of a book to make that sale. And honestly it’s not just the kids in publishing thing that had me first opening my eyes to this phenomenon; though goodness knows Harlequin, with its billionaire-baby-mama drama, has been doing it with huge success for quite a while, what really opened my eyes was watching this season of The Bachelor.

Yeah, I said it, The Bachelor; you spend your Monday night your way I’ll spend mine, my way thank you (hmm, defensive much?)

Well, this season on The Bachelor there was one Bachelorette with “a secret” (nod to Harlequin there) that the Bachelor didn’t know about. Come to find out a few episodes in that she had had a fiancé and he died in a plane crash and of course she was devastated and the only thing that got her through was finding out after he died that she was pregnant with his child (double gasp and sob).

Hence the secret baby. Well, now, here she was sweet as pie and just about never been touched (at least not in a very long time if you’ll believe the whole spin re-virginization of it) and looking for love and a possible new daddy for new daddy for her daughter.

The Bachelor’s Emily MaynardWe all watched as it got down to the final two Bachelorettes: Chantal the single singleton, and Emily the single mom wrestling with her memories of her first love, the responsibilities to her daughter and the new love for The Bachelor Brad. We (I know it wasn’t just me) couldn’t wait to see the first awkward meeting between Brad and Emily’s daughter—would Brad be worthy of our now practically saintly Emily?

Now I’m not saying it was scripted, but it couldn’t have been written any better. And Iin the end Brad chose Emily and Little Ricky (seriously, that what they call the cute tyke) and singleton Chantal went on to find love on her own (although since then there’s been huge speculation that Brad and Emily are on the outs—but that’s another type of post, isn’t it?)

And all this kid stuff isn’t confined to reality TV.

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa KleypasLisa Kleypas’s Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor’s Mark Nolan is a confirmed bachelor hero who’s given custody of his six-year old niece—and he has trouble getting through to her. But eventually he finds love and a perfect mother figure in top shop owner Maggie Collins who is dealing with the tragic loss of her own husband to cancer.

Just asking; should women looking for love and ready-made family be working at toy shops?

Sarah Mayberry had a lovely book called Home for the Holidays that also pulled at just about every heartstring. Single dad Joe Lawson uprooted his two children after tragically losing his wife in an accident. He moves next door to the seemingly tough, motorcycle revving Hannah Napier, but of course Hannah has a soft spot for these two children and their hunky dad who won’t get her too close. And, well, you know.

Finally, to seal the deal on kids the romantic wingmen I recently saw this Just For Men (hair color) ad with two very cute little girls and their first line to their father is, “Dad, it’s time.”

They hand their father the box of hair color and send him out of his comfy La-Z-Boy into the cruel dating world. Next thing you see is the Dad now with lovely dark hair texting them a pic of him and some way too eager brunette.

Watch out girls, she could be Cruella De Vil.


Kwana Jackson is a writer of Women’s fiction and Young Adult, a former fashion designer, a wife, and a mother of teen twins who has a love of knitting and a strange obsession with “reality” TV.

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Shannon Jay
1. Shannon Jay
LOL I have kids in my books. I've actually used them as romance barriers! Instead of the widower or uncle angle, I populate my stories with co-parents who hate-hate-hate that my couple is spending so much time together :) Good post, good trend-spotting. Heroes&heartbreakers has been bookmarked!
K.M. Jackson
2. kwanawrites
Thanks so much for your comment @Shannon Jay. I'm glad you liked the post and I like the idea of using kids a romance barriers because you know that what they are. I'm a mom and know that's true. LOL.
Donna Cummings
3. Donna Cummings
I have a small child in one of my current WIPs, and I didn't intend to pull any heartstrings -- but it is a great way to show my hero's growth, and I love the interaction they have. Since I don't have children in real life, this is also a great way to enjoy them and then put them away each night when I close the lid of the laptop. :)
K.M. Jackson
4. kwanawrites
@DonnaCummings Lucky you being able to put them away at night. Ouch that was mean of me. LOL. But you are right they are a good way to show growth.
Shannon Jay
5. Weezwrites
Great post! I wonder if it's also a result of the fact that many more women today are single moms who can relate to a heroine who has to find love with a child as part of the package. We also have a growing number of romance readers who were part of a single-parent family while they were growing up. So maybe they, as readers, can also relate to the emotional struggle of having a parent trying to find new love. Before I was a mom, I avoided romances that had children in them. Now, I LOVE them. Go figure. :)
6. EvangelineHolland
I like children in romances, but sparingly. Even though I know parenting is a big part of a relationship, I grow annoyed by the romance novels where the heroine or hero's interaction with the other protagonist is mostly with the kids in tow. I'm already wondering if they'll ever get some alone time after the marriage!
Rakisha Kearns-White
7. BrooklynShoeBabe
I HATE CHILDREN IN MY ROMANCE NOVELS, which is closely followed by pregnancies. I have to adorable little girls who put a signficant dent in my "get down time" with my hubby, and I have no desire to have children in my romance novels dampening my romantic escapism. I know it is unAmerican or unmotherly to admit it, but it is how I feel. The only time I'm okay with a child being in the book is when a hero or heroine sees the other helping an anonymous unrelated child and it suddenly occurs to them that this person could be a wonderful parent.

I don't mind dogs. I think animals as matchmakers in books are cute and funny (thank you Ms. Crusie).

I hope I didn't come off to bitchy. I'm sorry.
K.M. Jackson
13. kwanawrites
Seeing these very late for some reason but I love the comments of no get down time and no @BrookylnShoeBade you are not coming off a bitchy it's all cool.

And I agree @EvangelineHolland sparingly is best esp where romance is concerned. I have twins I should know. LOL

@Weexwrites good point on the single moms. Now I wonder. Thanks.
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