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What is the DINK lifestyle?

You’ve decided not to have kids. Congratulations! Now what? We have answers to some commonly asked questions about what life is like for those who are childfree by choice.

What does DINK stand for?

DINK is an acronym in the zeitgeist that stands for “double income no kids” or “dual income no kids.” These couples are childfree by choice.

Is the DINK lifestyle right for me?

To break down the acronym literally, being a DINK means you have a partner and you both work. This setup isn’t for everyone, of course — some people don’t want a partner. Some couples only have one person who works. All of these variations are just fine! You may also be a DINKWAD, which stands for “double income no kids with a dog,” which is another great option.

How do I respond when people ask rude questions or say rude things about not wanting to have kids?

“Why aren’t you having kids?” “Don’t you think you’ll change your mind?” “Who will take care of you when you’re older?” These are just a few of the intrusive questions DINKS or anyone who is childfree by choice may have to deal with.

While we have an entire article dedicated to how to respond to prying questions about not having kids, here are some general rules of thumb that can be helpful:

  • Be direct and firm. You don’t have to be rude, but friends and family can be especially persistent. Being frank up front can help minimize future conversations on the subject.
  • Remember that it’s none of their business. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for this choice.
  • Boundaries are crucial. If someone you love (or someone you don’t) won’t drop the subject, you have the right to cut contact.

All my friends are having kids and making plans is nearly impossible. How can I stay connected with them as our lives change? Should I make new friends?

It’s no secret that having kids is a huge undertaking that has more than a small impact on schedules and the ability to socialize. Don’t quit on these friends! Here are some tips and tricks to keeping friendships with new parents:

  • Plan ahead: Parenting requires an outrageous amount of planning and scheduling. Spontaneous outings may not be in the cards for your friends with kids anymore, so the further out you can plan an event, the easier it will be for them to fit it into their schedule.
  • Try family-friendly fun: Go to a local park or for a walk together. Check out an interactive museum or botanical garden.
  • Become a task master: Free time is limited for parents, so consider multitasking. Get your nails done together. Go grocery shopping with them. Head over to their house to cook a meal together or do some light cleaning while you catch up.
  • Be patient: Being a parent is a round-the-clock job. Texts and calls may go unreturned, but don’t give up. Know that it’s not personal; it’s just a stressful time. Your friends will appreciate your interest in maintaining your friendship, even if it’s a little different now.

Of course, never rule out making more friends! While your child-having friends may not be able to stay on the kickball league or join you for wine tastings on Wednesdays, you can still do these things! Showing up to activities alone, while it may seem scary, can be a great way to meet new people with similar interests.

I’m often expected to work later/longer hours than my kid-having co-workers. How do I handle this?

This can be a tricky subject to discuss at work. Consider having a conversation with your manager or HR department that focuses on what you’re feeling and not on what others may or may not have, especially when you may not know the whole story.

For example, maybe you’ve noticed that a co-worker now gets to work from home three days a week and leaves early on Thursdays, and it seems to you that it’s because this person has a kid.

This situation would get on anyone’s nerves. But maybe your co-worker works on the weekends. Maybe they can’t afford childcare (recent data says childcare can cost from approximately $5,000 to ~$15,000 a year1) and need to be at home. Maybe they took a pay cut.

Without knowing all the variables, it’s best to keep the conversation objective. Try something like, “I’ve noticed varying benefits among co-workers. Can we discuss a flexible work schedule for my team?”

I’m confident in my choice, but is it possible I’ll regret not having kids?

One of the toughest parts of life is the unknown. There will always be paths unfollowed at the expense of the chosen path. Try answering your question with a question: Will you regret having kids? Make a pros and cons list, do some research and/or talk to a therapist about what you’re feeling.

If you’re truly on the fence or think you might regret your choice once your reproductive years have passed, you could consider freezing your eggs, adopting, fostering, or volunteering for any number of fantastic youth-based organizations that are always looking for volunteers.

In general, studies seem to point to the idea that as long as we’re in control of our choices, we’re ultimately satisfied with our decisions. A research article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled “Evaluative and hedonic wellbeing among those with and without children at home” states: “If parents choose to be parents, and nonparents choose to be nonparents, there is no reason to expect that one group will be better or worse off than the other once other circumstances are controlled.”2

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  1. Landivar C. U.S. Department of Labor Blog. New childcare data shows prices are untenable for families. Updated January 24, 2023. Accessed October 30, 2023. https://blog.dol.gov/2023/01/24/new-childcare-data-shows-prices-are-untenable-for-families
  2. Deaton A, Stone AA. Evaluative and hedonic wellbeing among those with and without children at home. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2014;111(4):1328-1333. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1311600111. Accessed October 30, 2023. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1311600111