DINK: Compliment or Criticism?


This post is by TheNotMom team writer Laura LaVoie:

I admit, I was a little shocked the first time I was called a DINK.

I hadn’t heard the term before, and when it was said it me, it was definitely with a little bit of malice.

I was working for a staffing company and we had just hired a new sales person. She had never met me before, but as my boss was introducing us, she asked all the requisite questions about my life. She made some assumptions based on photos on my desk and asked the obvious next question (right?), “Do you have any kids?”

When I answered “No,” she smirked and said, “Oh, so you’re a DINK.”

I had no idea what that meant and she was more than happy to explain that it means “Dual Income, No Kids”. (Apparently, there is a sub-category, DINKY, which adds the qualifier, “Yet,” to the equation.)

All I could do was laugh this off, but I admit I was a little surprised and a little offended.

I never said anything because she was often quick to label me as being “too sensitive”, which is something I learned over the time she worked with us. (I frequently would tell her not to make hurtful comments about other individuals).

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?

Sure, DINK can be reclaimed just like many other words. Talk to the LGBT community and find out how they feel about certain phrases and how they can be both hurtful and empowering depending on their context.

I suggest a different descriptor for couples that don’t have children.  How about “family”?

What do you think about terms like DINK? 

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15 Responses to “DINK: Compliment or Criticism?”

  1. *grin* I’ve heard of both this and an alternative: Two Healthy Incomes, No Kids. Do I like it? I THINK!

  2. Chelsea says:

    I love your comment, ” All it does is create more of the Us vs. Them mentality.” Isn’t that really the basis of what our problems are with labels? And yet, I think, if we’re really honest, we all use them as a brief way of understanding someone before we really know them because, really, that’s all we have at the time.

    I’m officially a DINK (didn’t even know it), and when I first read your article, I was a little offended. However, the truth about the Us vs. Them mentality is that it takes two to tango. We all have the option to re-react when something hurtful like that is said. You can’t change the way someone else views a label, but you can choose how you do. If someone wants to look down on me because I don’t have kids and might not ever, that’s their prerogative. But how I allow that to define me is my problem. I say, bring it on. I have a lot more about me than this one thing, and if you choose to go deeper with me and see those things, I’ll forgive the initial summary, probably like you’ll have to forgive me of mine.

    Isn’t that what growing up is all about anyway? Is learning to see people for who they are and getting over the first impression? To say I’m not guilty of the same thing in different situations would be a lie. But on the surface, I AM a DINK, and upon further valuation, I’m rather glad that such is true.

    • Karen Malone Wright says:

      I first heard the DINK label in the 80s when there were yuppies and lots of income-based labeling going on. I think people added a tinge of meanness to it as the years went on. Thanks for sharing, especially “You can’t change the way someone else views a label, but you can choose how you do.”

  3. Lori Kidwell says:

    I have referred to my husband and I as DINKs before but due to schooling and employment disruptions, we’ve only been DINKs for about 20 months of our entire 7.5 year marriage.

    Besides, who doesn’t want an awesome family decal like this for their vehicle?


  4. loribeth says:

    I remember the DINK label from 30 years ago, when dh & I got married I(“yuppies” was another one from that era). I disliked it then, even though I fully expected to have kids at some point, and I dislike it now. I remember when we were kids, “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 used as a synonym for a certain male body part (!).

    And you’re right, it was & is usually used in a not-entirely-nice way meant to imply a divide. It reinforces the stereotype that if we don’t have kids and both work, we must be rolling in dough. Aren’t most couples these days “double income,” whether they have kids or not?

    • Karen Malone Wright says:

      Yes, most couples are “double income”, but the majority of households include children. DINK isn’t always meant to be a pejorative term; perhaps it all depends on how it’s received by the person it refers to. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Jen says:

    I personally don’t mind DINK. I’ve called myself that…didn’t realize it had derogatory connotations, but if it does, I’ll stop using it. It sounds like your colleague might be a bit clueless…and probably sticks her foot in her mouth a lot. I’m thinking DINK may have originated as a marketing term as describing the demographic of couples without children. Then of course there are the folks who call themselves DILDOS (Dual Income Large Dog Owners)..That, I think, is fantastic! :-)

  6. Katie says:

    The only people who have called me DINK are friends who I met in college but now have their own kids. It always struck me as jealousy on their part, so I didn’t take it too personally. But I love the term because it is right on. Heck yes we are Dual Income No Kids and loving it!

  7. SallyAnne says:

    My husband and I refer to ourselves as DINKs with glee. We’re very proud of and thrilled with the choice we’ve, and I think that may make a difference. We love the label because we chose it, while others have wanted children and have been unable to have them, in which case I can see it being quite hurtful. Ultimately, on the kid front anyway, I don’t care what people think about us, so even if someone were to call me a DINK maliciously, I would still take it as a compliment. On this flip side, I never refer to parents as “breeders,” because I agree that many labels can be divisive and foster more of the “us vs. them” dynamic that you mentioned.

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