Monday, April 18, 2011

Thinky Dink


Ever heard of the term D.I.N.K.?  It's a cutesy acronymn describing childfree people which stands for, "Double Income, No Kids".  There's a related label T.H.I.N.K.E.R. which stands for "Two Healthy Incomes, No Kids, Early Retirement".  Catchy, but I don't care for either of them.  Here's why:

1.  DINK reminds me of DORK.  It has an insulting ring to it.
2.  THINKER sounds better - after all, we pride ourselves on the amount of thought we put into the parenthood decision - and it makes us sound intellectual and all, but...
3.  Both these acronyms promote the tired stereotype of childfree folks as selfish, materialistic hedonists.

Think about it.  When you hear, "Double Income, No Kids", what do you picture?  Two career-hungry jetsetters, clinking their wine glasses together while they pack their suitcases for Bora Bora?  Growing investment accounts? Closets full of designer clothing? A Beamer in the driveway and a gardener in the yard?

When you hear "Two Healthy Incomes, No Kids, Early Retirement" what do you picture? Two shallow, miserly yuppies squirelling away all their money and kicking their feet up at age 35?

I realize there's a bit of truth in this stereotype.  After all, all other things being equal, the childfree DO have more disposible income than their child-encumbered peers.  Parents are faced with a $250,000 price tag to raise each kid to age 18 and that doesn't even include college or weddings!  That's a heck a lot of money that we do not  have to expend.  Our vacations CAN be more exotic and we can travel whatever time of the year we like.  And because we are free of the financial burden of raising children, we CAN sock more of our money away for retirement if we choose to.  Some of the more fortunate (and smart planners) among us can even retire early.

My problem with the labels D.I.N.K. and T.H.I.N.K.E.R. is that they shout, "I'm childfree and money defines me!"  And "I'm richer than you - na na na na na!" And "I don't have kids because I'd rather have money!".  For most childfree people having more money is an important and substantial benefit of our lifestyle - but it's not the central motivating factor behind our decision not to have kids.

Ask 100 childfree people why they chose not to have children and most likely, these are the reasons you will hear most frequently:

1.  I like my life the way it is and believe having children would spoil it.
2.  I enjoy my freedom.
3.  The role of parent holds no appeal to me.
4.  I don't like children or I like them, but in small doses.
5.  I have a happy marriage/relationship and I want to keep it that way.
6.  I prefer a calm lifestyle.

While many childfree people will also point out that they are happy not to incur all the expenses of having kids, I doubt many of them would reply, "I decided not to have kids because I'd rather keep my money all to myself!" or "It's more important that I sock all my money away so I can retire early."

Now, are there people for whom money and retirement are central motivating factors in their decision not to reproduce?  Most certainly.  But D.I.N.K. and T.H.I.N.K.E.R. ignore the many other salient reasons we have opted for our awesome lifestyle and lump the entire childfree point of view into one heaping pile of materialism and greed.

As for hubby and I, not a day goes by that we don't look at our friends and family with kids and breathe a collective sigh of relief that we did not opt for that lifestyle.  Among many other things, we see what they spend on groceries, child care, college funds, clothing, medical expenses, utilities, Christmas, and kids' activities and entertainment.  We see how strapped they are - how they no longer get to go on nice vacations or even out to dinner very often.  While hubby and I certainly have our share of expenses and bills, and we're not exactly rolling in dough, our obligations pale in comparison to our child-burdened peers.  We are so grateful that we opted for our childfree lifestyle.  Having said this, money was not thee motivating factor.  Had we wanted kids, I am sure we would have done what everyone else does and found a way to make it work. We would have sacrified our savings, our retirement funds and hard-earned cash at the altar of parenthood, just as everyone else does.  We would have shelled out megabucks to give our children the best, convicing ourselves it's so worth it while we slaved away and worried ourselves sick over whether we would ever be able to afford to retire.

I'm not a big fan of acronyms, but we definitely need a better one than D.I.N.K. and T.H.I.N.K.E.R. - something more all-emcompassing that captures the substance of who the childfree are:

Unencumbered
Free
Life-embracing
Thoughtful
Content
Unconventional
Centered
Calm
Complete

And if you want to throw a word in there that says we're in better financial straights than parents, that's okay too. 

Any ideas?

17 comments:

The Real (Married) Girl-Revised said...

I also hate acronyms...but I thought of one. Silly,but simple.

C.L.O.A.K- Couples Living Out Adventures Kidfree

Charmed2482 said...

I also don't like that it means "Double Income" and "Two healthy incomes", what about the single childfree people? Some people chose to stay single, or they just haven't met the right person yet.

Melissa (A Gracious Calm) said...

CLOAK is cool!

If I had to choose an acronym that already existed, I'd go with GINK. Green inclinations, no kids.

Christy said...

You summed up my top reasons so well! I would say financial would be next---it's definitely important, but some things can't be bought. Maybe people dwell on the financial because most have forgotten what peace and quiet and lack of stress is like.

I do like c.l.o.a.k!

I.am.free said...

What you said about money really rings true for me. Finances and retirement were not even on my radar when I realized as a teen that I didn't want to have children. Instead, my husband and I have used our childfree status as a reason to make less money and spend more time in non-job-related activities that we enjoy (volunteering, home-cooking, art, etc.). We are neither DINKs nor THINKERs (retirement? I'd like to work until I die!).

Dave said...

Charmed and I.am.free covered my two points.

The first is that single people like myself also want to be CF. I guess we are OINKERs? ONE Income, No Kids, Early Retirement. I guess that acronym sounds kinda gross LOL!

I knew when I was 20 years old that I never wanted kids. That was 15 years before the idea of retiring early hit my radar screen. But once it did, I was able to parlay my early lifestyle choice into an early retirement in 2008 at age 45. This came after 7 years of early SEMI-retirement, using some of my added free time to do volunteer work in several area schools, a task which is now much easier to do since I stopped working.

Temujin said...

That list of six reasons is perfect! Any one of those is enough for me, but I feel all six of them.

I'm not much of an environmentalist, and I know materialism is soulless and everything, but what would be so wrong with having a big retirement account or spending money to have a comfortable life? I don't see what's so wrong about flying to the South Pacific for a vacation. Is flying to a tropical island selfish but flying down to Disney World with kids NOT selfish?

I wonder if there's a double standard out there in pronatalist land -- buying a house in the suburbs with a big yard is materialistic and selfish when you don't have kids, but it's unselfish and nurturing when you do have kids. From the land's point of view it's the same result.

I wish I had a massive "chidfree dividend" that I could spend on a BMW. (They're good cars, and shouldn't I be rewarding companies that use well-paid unionized labor?)

Retired parents and grandparents do all kinds of wonderful leisurely activities all the time. Why do they deserve it but young childfree people don't?

Cassie said...

How about CAN-DO: Conscientious Adults Not Desiring Offspring

Or TANDEM: Thoughtful Adults with No Desire to be Encumbered by Munchkins (or Minors)

Violet said...

dink... really? it's a dorky twink. [twink is- for those of you out of the gay rainbow-lop, a term used for petite young hairless gay boys.]
dink and think imply, if i may project here- pompous rich white b.s.
no thanks.
i'm kid-free.
and i don't have an audi 9000 or a ceo husband.
i'd rather hang out with a twink.
and does anyone here remember the days of gays and lesbians being kid-free as the majority rather than a minority?
the macy's of baby-purchasing is brought to you by the newest elite group: rich white homosexual couples.
soo sorry folks, i enjoy a woman lover because i am absolutely sure we won't accidentally procreate.
what the heck is this rediculous world coming to?
blehh

Cassie said...

Also -- off topic -- but with spring coming around, is anyone else bothered to no end by large groups of neighborhood kids shrieking (not just yelling) and stomping all throughout their public spaces/buildings? It's almost as though the parents shoo them out as soon as the weather's nice... odd. ;) There are about 20 kids, so there are a lot of parents ready to get their kids out of their hair! I picture the parents shutting the door and letting out an exasperated sigh, as their kids are the world's problem now. I know it's good that they're exercising and kids will be kids, but I wish our apartment didn't overlook the only open field in the whole apartment complex. My husband gets equally ticked when the kids stomp and play tag on the wooden stairs that connect to our apartment floor, causing a ruckus and the floor to shake (I can't yell at them because I know I have anger problems and would probably scar them for life). I am a writer/editor/painter and he is a math grad student, so it's really disruptive to us. I can't wait to move somewhere not so crammed with people!

Childfree Travel said...

I never thought of any of those acronyms as bad per se, but I do see your point. My boyfriend would never allow himself to be called a "DINK" because it does sounds kinda dorky. LOL
If anything I'm just a CALI girl ("Childfree and Lovin It" - as also living in California. LOL)

Eun Young said...

This is directed to Cassie:
I TOTALLY feel you on the kids around apartment thing!! I don't now but used to live in a building where kids were definitely the dominating force! I think it really IS important for kids to be out and playing like we used to back in the day. Childhood obesity is horribly sad and frightening... but yeah, I would get so annoyed when kids would be SCREEEEECHING for hoouuuurs and when I'd come out with toys blocking the stairwell and littering all over the common area. One time, one of the kids broke the glass door leading to the building office. I mean, I seriously felt like kids had the run of the land, no doubt. I'd lived in places with kids before, of course, but I'd never experienced anything like that, where the kids' "needs" (need to scream and litter all hours of the evening) outweighed everyone else's.
Our solution? We moved downtown to a condo. Much quieter and no screeching! =)

Cassie said...

Thanks, Eun!! I'm glad I'm not the only curmudgeon around! :P

D said...

For those born in the mid-to late '80s and grew up in the '90s, DINK reminds us of the Dinks, Doug Funnie's next door neighbors on the NickToon show Doug. The Dinks were named such because they were a married couple with no kids. The husband was a quirky guy and the wife would look on in loving and amused exasperation at her husband's weird inventions and hijinks. Both were sources of advice for Doug during the show's run.

So DINK conjures images of many adults' first encounter with a childfree couple and a positive one at that.

CFVixen said...

Great article.

I never gave it much thought before, but I don't see "DINK" in a negative light. To me, "dual incomes, no kids" sounds like a neutral expression. And from a marketing perspective, it's a very favorable demographic to target for certain products (sometimes it means more expensive, but a lot of times it just means that it doesn't have to accommodate children...for instance, a smaller car). I don't really even see it in a materialistic or monetary way, even though the word income is part of it. It's just a demographic term to me.

THINKER actually sounds very positive to me. Of course, it's assuming that both individuals in the couple DO have healthy incomes (not always the case). It's not assuming the individuals are actually childfree. They could be childless. Though the word "thinker" would imply that some planning had went into it.

As you have stated, the financial benefits are not the only reason that we decided not to have children. Though I'd be lying if I said that it didn't play a part in the decision for us. I very much appreciate our financial freedom. Being that we have more free time and opportunities to do things, I definitely want the financial means to afford that. We've both worked very hard and spent wisely for years so that we could enjoy the fuits of our labors. I don't feel the least bit guilty about it.

If people want to call us DINKS in a disparaging way, that's their problem. If they are trying to insult us, then it's pretty clear that it's all sour grapes. Who WOULDN'T want a healthier bank account? And I'm a big believer that if a person has disdain for those that have more, they are actually repelling money and affluence from coming into their own lives.

Childfreeeee said...

I think it's interesting that there's no comparable title for parents like "two incomes, with kids". Why is it that the childfree are slapped a label that is oriented around how many incomes we have? Why is this the most relevant and defining thing about our demographic?

Temujin said...

A.C.T.Y.

Already Complete, Thank You

Shoe on the other foot time: how about for working couples with 2 children:

Dual Income, Coupla Kids

Not so flattering, methinks