Sunday, June 9, 2013

What I think about DINKs

I've written before about labels, and their inadequacy when it comes to describing the life situation that dh & I and others like us find ourselves in.

Are we childLESS? -- sounds like our lives are "less than" or lacking. (Well, there IS something lacking, something that we -- like so many others -- once assumed would be there... but do we have to dwell on it?) 

Are we childFREE? -- sounds like children are a burden that we are happy to be "free" of. I know some people who have deliberately chosen not to have children prefer this label.  I know some of us who didn't necessarily come to this life as a first choice prefer this label because it sounds more positive than childLESS -- but it still doesn't seem to adequately reflect the journey we've made to reach this point in our lives. 

Barren? -- ugh, so forlorn & desolate sounding. :p

The Not Mom has just blogged about another label that sometimes gets tossed at us.  I first remember hearing in the early 1980s, around the time dh & I got married:  DINK, i.e., an acronym for the descriptor Dual Income, No Kids. It was a term closely associated with "yuppies" -- Young Urban Professionals. Dh & I did used to joke about being "yuppies" sometimes, but I disliked the term DINK then, & I dislike it still. Perhaps it's because, as a kid (at least in the time & place(s) where I grew up), "dink" was a nasty name we called other kids who were acting like jerks -- and in at least one place where I lived, it was also used as a synonym for a certain male body part (!).  (Look it up!)

Even as an acronym, there was a certain nasty connotation attached to the term. As The Not Mom observes:
Maybe I am a little too sensitive, but I feel that DINK, when used in the wrong context, can be deeply hurtful and more than a little misguided. All it does is create more of the Us vs. Them mentality.  
When this person said it to me, it was with the knowing wink and contempt that somehow my life choices were not as important as hers. There is a lot of weight when we use words, as I have mentioned before, so why are women often looking to label each other and call out our differences?

Not Mom, you're right, it was & is usually used in a not-entirely-nice and divisive way. It reinforces the stereotype that if we don't have kids but do have two incomes, we must be rolling in money. (But really now -- aren't most couples these days "double income" -- and usually out of necessity -- whether they have kids or not?)

Again, I ask -- why do we feel the need to slap a label on everything & everyone,  anyway?


  1. I don't know why we do it, but I wanted to chime in that DINK rubs me the wrong way because it's money focused -- dual income. As if pointing out that you must have oodles of money at your disposal due to the second part of the acronym.

  2. I think your last sentence is an important one. I think the draw towards labels is a way for people to quickly assess where an individual "belongs." I've meet people who identify as "bikers," "runners," "hipsters," "mom/dad," and even "homeowner vs. renter" and "insert job title here." The point is that for many, it's a way of quickly assessing a person's values, outlook on life, etc. Problem is, this assessment is often very superficial and inaccurate.

    I don't like the term DINK either. It gives the false impression that something is wrong with the person. There are plenty of couples who live as a family of two, either by actively choosing to never pursue the path to parenthood or because they have chosen this path as a way to resolve infertility/loss. To assume that their lives are somehow lacking or less is so shortsighted and assumes that parenthood is the only route to leading a full life. So sad that the only way the woman Not Mom encountered could feel good about herself was by using such a discriminatory term.

  3. Actually I've only just heard about DINK lately. Maybe 'coz I come from a country where we didn't use terms like these at all. Infertility isn't talked about a lot - I know a cousin much older than me who has no kids (she's married). When we found out we were IFers, I was wondering how on earth it felt for her back then - back in the days when it was more expected to have kids right away after marriage. Actually, the pressure is still on (people in Indo still ask if newlyweds are preggy within the first year of their marriage already), though more and more younger couples these days prefer to wait for a while before having a child.

    I actually kinda like using CNBC term myself he he he...though I don't talk to people using that term 'coz they may now know it. So I mostly just use "infertile" when I talk about my journey with my friends, 'coz at least people understand what it means.

  4. Just earlier, I read a blog by an infertile woman who just had a successful IVF after many years. But last night I've been crying again because I can't stop thinking about this baby in my dreams. I'm still thinking if I should hold on to this dream or stop now. I'm just tired, but I know I won't be contented without a child of my own. I can now master pretending to be happy when I know to myself there's this emptiness inside me that only my baby can fill. I'm just so lonely now, I wish it would go away soon. Most of the time I'm fine, there's just moments like this and I wish it will go now...