When I grew up in the Adirondacks, a “dink” was a pejorative term for a dullard or a goof ball. “Don’t be such a dink!”
But the acronym, DINK, is something else altogether. It stands for double income, no kids. In other words, a DINK is a two-career childless family. Whether or not the couple is married is beside the point. It’s the absence of children that sets DINKs apart from most “normal” families.
Today a two-career family is common. In fact, it may even represent the norm in the United States. But the decision not to have children? Not the norm. It’s this idea of normalcy that seems to transcend the two dink definitions, the slang from my childhood and the acronym from my adulthood.
“Don’t be such a dink!”
As an educated, hard-working, married adult in my late 30’s I hear it all the time. Maybe not those words, maybe less hostile, maybe couched in patronizing tones, but the underlying idea is still there. If you and your spouse opt not to have children, you’re not normal. Not necessarily a dullard. But perhaps a goof ball. Or maybe my wife and I haven’t quite discovered where babies come from yet? Late bloomers? Fertility woes? Misanthropes? Hedonists?
Actually, I love children. As an uncle to two magnificent nieces who spent the Christmas holiday with us; as an uncle to two dynamo nephews with whom I enjoyed dinner last night and nine energetic days in Costa Rica a week ago; and as a teacher, coach and adviser to middle and high school students at Santa Fe Preparatory School (1996-9) and the American School of Paris (1999-2002) children occupy a central, essential and rewarding place in my life. So why have my wife and I chosen not to have children? The answers are multiple (lifestyle, environmental, financial, etc.) and evolving. I’ll endeavor to answer this question in my future blog posts, and in the process, I hope to better understand and verbalize my choice.