It’s just Me, My Husband and Our Dog.
“First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes paying off debts and working and maybe having a little extra cash on hand.”
The acronym, DINK (Dual Income, No Kids)— widely used in the personal financial industry, is becoming more and more mainstream when describing a couples’ lifestyle. This comical term, while accurate is a word that is highly offensive to many.
From a historic standpoint, I can see why this lifestyle would be offensive. Traditionally, having kids was not considered optional — in some cases, having kids was even viewed as civic duty. The idea of a couple choosing not to have children was inconceivable (ha, get it?).
Today, having kids has shifted from a necessity to being a commodity. Here’s where social norms get fuzzy…If children are now a commodity why are couples still being criticized for choosing not to have children or waiting to have them?
According to The Washington Post:
“married couples with children now occupy fewer than one in every four households — a share that has been slashed in half since 1960 and is the lowest ever recorded by the census.”
The age of the childless family is on the rise:
There are underlying factors to becoming a DINK — Financial, societal and personal reasonings with a plethera of variations of the term DINK. For the sake of time and personal knowledge, this article will focus on three types:
DINK: (Dual Income, No Kids) — Most flexible with spending but could also be extremely vulnerable to over drafting.
DINKY: (Dual Income, No Kids, Yet) — Working out overhanging financial obligations and debts before bringing more debt and responsibility into your life.
DINKWAD: (Dual Income, No Kids, With a Dog) — Want responsibility in their lives without the hassle of finding a baby sitter or dealing with teenage angst.
For couples with debt, the added cost of children can be a financial nightmare. Waiting on children, or having no children allows couples to focus on finances first. Paying off those student loans or consumer debt you’ve acquired over the years.
Waiting on or having no children can also afford you to think long term and focus on your future savings at a greater rate. With retirement plans fading with each generation, the emergence of midlife, short-term retirements are springing up. Waiting on children can afford the opportunity to think about taking on a mini-retirement in your 30s and 40s to focus on personal life goals, career moves and rebuilding relationships. This is definitely a decision that is less mainstream but if optional the DINK is going to have the best opportunity to partake.
DINKism is not a path taken to avoid responsibility. It’s a path allowing responsibility to grow at a larger scale. Instead of putting efforts toward changing diapers, wiping boogers and teaching life lessons; couples can choose to support their community, giving back to society through developing careers and contributing philanthropically.
Leaving a child to carry on your legacy is the tradition but for those who choose not to have children, their legacy is their work. Striving to leave behind something that will remind future generations what you did. Small or large. A book, scholarship fund, etc. Your focus as a DINK is to give back something that will benefit future generations.
Side Note: The average DINK (above a certain income level) tends to spend more time at the gym, cook healthier meals and afford to put more effort into their personal appearance. Society has grown to expect this from those who choose not to have children.
The decision to choose a childless life is still widely considered selfish. I beg to differ:
By acknowledging the fact that you feel a lack of parental skills needed to raise a self-sustaining and productive human being you are doing society a favor:
Maybe, — you had a rocky childhood and you don’t want to feel responsible for doing the same thing your parents did.
Maybe, — you feel the pressure of financial obligations.
Maybe, — you’re at a place in your life where you lack the patience and time to teach and grow with a child.
Whatever the reason; if you were being selfish, you would have a hard time admitting to your short-comings. Therefore, being a DINK should not be viewed as selfish but as a selfless act.
Let’s face it: Trying to get on television, relying on a baby to save your marriage and pleasing the family are far more selfish reasons to have a child than admitting you’re not ready for it.
Bottom Line: Don’t fuck around with kids. Look at the financial, societal and personal reasonings behind your decision first. To put it lightly, once you have a kid, it’s not about you anymore. Being a successful parent starts with 100% commitment or bust. You make a hasty decision to have a child and either one spouse is begrudging or worst case scenario, your kid suffers.
Game plan: I’m a total DINKWAD. I want some responsibility in my life to hold me accountable but I also need to spend time on my career and personal growth. I’m completely fine with my husband and my dog. These two are enough responsibility to keep me in check right now. If the need to have a child should come up later in life, I’ll cross that bridge then. Not now. Definitely, not now.