October 8, 2017

No Kids Alliance

Today’s guest post is from Kimberly Rielly , director of communications for Lake Placid CVB / Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

Singletracking Frontier Town, North Hudson, New York

Singletracking Frontier Town, North Hudson, New York

I personally made the choice to live kid-free before I was old enough to know from whence they came. I said it out loud at the ripe old age of 3. I was sure that if I had a child, it would be just like me – and who needs another sarcastic drain on my attention and wallet who has no respect for their elders?

I’ve never wavered from this decision, and when I met the guy who would be my husband, it was a mandate that he agree wholeheartedly; which we did, and do, about almost everything.

We have fielded reproductive questions from the audience ever since our first date.  I know that my parents genuinely wished to have grandchildren, but I suspect that our friends, who found themselves chasing two or three toddlers around, just wanted us to share in their misery.

During the first ten years of our relationship, we diagnosed ourselves as being selfish. Why no kids? We would save money, and be free to live the lifestyle to which we would become accustomed. Take off for the week and go rock climbing? Sure. No babysitter required.  Tear the house apart for reconstruction while living in it? No problem. We weren’t endangering the health of anyone but ourselves.

We chose to live in the Adirondacks, where we grew up, in order to enjoy the healthy quality of life here. But living in the Adirondacks requires an economic balancing act. Though we are DINKs, we also live up to the level of our double income without much to spare. Adding kids to the equation is beyond my math abilities.

And then there’s the worry factor. Having had the pleasure of being owned by a dog for over 15 years, and living with the associated anxiety about his safety, I can only assume that a kid would increase that level of anxiety by a sizable multiplier. More math.

As I understand from reading the news, our contribution is unnecessary for the survival of the species; there are plenty of other people keeping the planet’s population growing.  And good for them – we actually LIKE kids.  We especially like to be the doting, fun, favorite aunt and uncle.

Luckily, we’re not alone. We’re oddly surrounded by (or maybe attracted to?) a number of workaholic friends who have made the same “no kids” decision.

Perhaps as a result of the this no kids alliance, but more likely a result of maturity, I no longer think that we made a selfish decision. Rather, we have the freedom (though not necessarily the money) to make a greater contribution to society. Instead of driving kids to piano lessons and coaching basketball, we are able to donate our time and perceived skill sets to organizations and individuals that enhance our lives and our communities.

And at this point, we’ve successfully dodged family and friends who repeatedly insisted we’d change our minds – 18 years of dodging. Still no kids. Now that I’m 40-something, I think they FINALLY believe us.

Kim Reilly (@krielly) is an Adirondack adventurer, destination communicator, friend of all dogs and most people. Find out more at her Lake Placid tourism blog or her personal blog.

Are you a DINK?

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.

What’s your choice? Are you a DINK? (Share your thoughts in the Facebook DINK discussion.)