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Most definitely an Always Female trope, as well as Truth in Television.

This one basically boils down to "how dare a woman be good at her career job and have a family, too!" Usually ends in the woman having to give up her job and be a Housewife to cater to the demands of her family. Some sort of Ill Relative or Door Step Baby may force the issue. If she hasn't already gone through Career Versus Man, she'll go through this one. If a husband is present, asking him to help around the house is out of the question since, you know, his work is more important and he deserves his rest.

Related tropes: Feminine Women Can Cook, Maternally Challenged, Mandatory Motherhood, Children Raise You, Doting Parent, My Biological Clock Is Ticking, Office, White Collar Worker.

Contrast Action Mom, who mostly points and laughs at this.


Examples:

  • The end of Baby Boom.
  • The end of Curly Sue.
  • The entire third season of Ugly Betty has been about this message. This is especially ironic since (a) Betty doesn't even have children or a husband, and (b) the family member screaming for the attention is her sister, who already is home with their ill father on a daily basis anyway.
  • Sarah in Brothers and Sisters constantly struggles with this. Originally she was a working mom with her husband staying at home to take care of the kids. After her divorce, she lost the job with the family business, her ex tried to take custody away from her because of how long she works, and she increased the hours she puts in because she started working for an internet start-up.
  • Helen of Daria deals with this too. She wants to be the perfect lawyer, mother, and wife, but tends to ignore the latter two in favour of work and her daughters' needs are often brushed off. To the show's credit, the general aesop seems to be that Helen is over working herself by choice as a means of generating self satisfaction due to the emotional neglect she received from her own mother and this behaviour is what is negative, not the fact that she's a working mom.
  • In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, VP candidate Sarah Palin was often criticized for "neglecting" the needs of her family, even though Barack Obama has two young daughters himself.
  • Cuddy on House seems to be falling victim to this trope via her adopted baby. In this case Cuddy is a single mom, and doesn't really have a husband to help her take care of the baby, so it's a little more justified.
  • Aaron Hotchner of Criminal Minds might be a rare male example. His wife all but demanded he give up his position at the BAU so he could be home more with her and their young son, Jack.
    • And JJ is an aversion; as of season four, she has a baby and a significant other (as far as I know, they never married--she doesn't wear a ring) who gave up his job to stay at home with their son.
  • Kimi wa Petto is a major deconstruction of this trope, with the main character eventually ending up with someone who tells her it's her decision whether she wants to keep her career or not (and means it!). She eventually ends up becoming a respected freelance journalist who travels around with her husband the internationally acclaimed dancer.
  • The United States during World War II. Just because you're working 12 hour shifts in a factory "to free a man to fight" doesn't mean you don't owe it to your family to provide a nutritious home-cooked breakfast and supper, plus pack a balanced lunch, plus keep the house spotless, plus take care of the Victory Garden ....
  • On the Truth in Television side, there may be more to that sarcastic remark about husbands helping around the house than you might think-studies show that women who choose career and leave the husband at home to do the jobs traditionally assigned to housewives tend to lose respect for said husbands and divorce them. Double Standard indeed.
    • This could be related to a Real Women Never Wear Dresses way of thinking- there are certainly many women out there who want to pursue careers out of personal fulfilment/enjoyment, but some choose to have a career solely because they believe that 'housewife' is an inferior role (rather than getting the true point of feminism- being able to choose your path rather than being automatically expected to be a housewife). If you avoid taking the housewife role because you think it's demeaning and don't respect it, why would you think differently about others who take that role?
  • Inverted, or something like that, in a two-episode arc in the second Sakura Wars OAV. The first episode centers around the other girls believing that Sakura is going to get married, which of course unquestionably means that she will quit her job. The second episode is Sakura, who is actually just attending a relative's wedding, moping over how she can never get married and have a family herself because she doesn't want to quit her job. The girls remark a few times on how glad they are that this is a "new era for women" where they can choose to have a career or a family (but not both).
    • Well, it is the 1920s...
  • In Airplane! II: The Sequel, an early indication that we're not supposed to like Elaine's current man (aside from him not being Ted Stryker, of course) is that he very seriously expects her to quit her rewarding job as a computer officer on board the first passenger shuttle and start making babies.
  • One of the (many) reasons fans hated the ending of For Better or For Worse was because Elizabeth gave up an exciting and meaningful job (namely, teaching) to go running back into the arms of her high school boyfriend Anthony.
  • Mocked in an episode of Family Guy, in which there is a spoof of the "busy businesswoman who's busy but who doesn't notice her life is missing a little special something because she's so busy with business!"
  • In issue 30 of the Silver Age Green Lantern comic, Katma Tui decides to resign from the Green Lantern Corps to be with fellow Korugarian Imi Kann. Hal Jordan stages a fake monster attack on Korugar to test her loyality as a Green Lantern. Katma ends up attempting to save Hal instead of her fiance, proving that her career was more important than family.
  • This was the central theme of an episode of Twice In A Lifetime. A man convinces his wife to give up her career to stay home and take care of their daughter while he climbs the corporate ladder. The result is that the marriage falls apart, the daughter grows up to be a delinquent and his career goes nowhere. When the guy is given the chance to go back in time and fix things, he realizes that his wife was great at her job and on the fast track for a major promotion. He convinces his past self that the right choice is for him to stay home and support her. In the new timeline their marriage is saved, the wife is a successful corporate executive, the daughter had a happy childhood and is now going to college and he found his own happiness as a stay-at-home dad.
  • This was addressed in an early episode of King of the Hill. When Bobby is diagnosed with ADD (though it's heavily implied that he was just having far too much sugar) Old-fashioned Hank suggests that Peggy quit her job as a substitute teacher and become a stay-at-home mom to give Bobby more attention. Peggy reluctantly agrees and stays home, but quickly grows bored. By the end of the episode, Hank realizes that Peggy isn't happy when she has so little to do and supports her decision to return to teaching.
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