‘We’re Dinks,’ a Weird Sign of Our Hyper-Consumerist Times

The “Dual Income, No Kids” trend and the risks of defining yourself by childlessness.
tiktok dinks trend
Screenshots via TikTok

Younger generations often feel like there’s nothing for them to aspire toward. The American dream of the white picket fence, two-and-a-half kids, and a golden retriever doesn’t seem attainable. Never mind whatever ethics that might cite about whether or not it’s reasonable to bring a child into the world right now—many believe they just can’t afford it. Instead, however, they can glamorize a different lifestyle, one that’s more achievable: becoming DINKs.


DINKs, an acronym for “Dual Income, No Kids,” is a slang-y economic term for couples who have no children but each partner works. When it originated in the 1980s, it referred mainly to middle-class and upward couples with healthy salaries and disposable income. Lately, on social media, DINKs have taken on a new meaning. In particular, younger DINK couples have utilized recent trends to highlight their lifestyle and, essentially, brag about what being DINKs affords them. They get to spend their weekends however they like, buy however many snacks they want at Costco (for only being a household of two, DINKs sure do love their bulk superstores) and eat them all themselves, or spoil their dogs as if they were human. Being a DINK, in other words, affords them more time and money to consume. 

I don’t have children yet myself, and I don’t blame the DINKs for enjoying their lifestyle or for considering leisure time and money to be significant factors in their decision not to have children. That’s only appropriate. But what’s overwhelmingly apparent in most of these DINK videos is that many consider them to be the only factors. 

Take the top three videos that come up when you search for “DINK” on TikTok. None mention having time to help their families or community, financial freedom to be generous to others, opportunities to pursue creative hobbies, or even finding fulfillment in work. Instead, all mention grocery shopping—two out of three at Costco, specifically—as if that is something people with children don’t do. 


The primary attitude displayed in these DINK videos is that being a DINK is somehow something that is both worthy of bragging about and requires defending. It’s discussed as if it’s something unusual when the reality is that not having children is increasingly common. Forty-three percent of all U.S. households are childless, an increase from 2012, and fertility rates are at an all-time low for most of the country, with no signs of slowing. Being a DINK is not some rarity. For many people in their 20s in particular, it’s the norm. 

Many of the couples creating DINK videos have made follow-ups saying that they may want children eventually and that they’re simply enjoying the DINK life now. Newlywed bliss is totally fine. But it’s not necessarily something that needs to be branded and delivered as an acronym for some sort of specific lifestyle. And in doing so, it becomes an identity—one that might become harder to transition away from if children become part of the plan. 

Obviously, I’m not here to encourage anyone to have kids before they’re ready or to push people who don’t want kids at all to have them. That would be bad for everyone involved, most of all the children. Again, many of these videos are being made by young couples who do have plenty of time to have kids in the future should they decide to do so. According to the Institute for Family Studies, around half of women who don’t have children by age 30 will eventually have them by age 35. Nevertheless, a 2020 report from the Institute says that childlessness at younger ages is “very” predictive of childlessness at older ages. The fact is, the majority of women who don’t have children by 35 will not ultimately have children when they’re older, either. 

All this is to say: a good portion of the DINK couples making this content may remain DINKs forever. And that is, I guess, fine. But what’s concerning is how this type of promotion of the DINK lifestyle only further pushes people who might be considering children away from having a family. No singular TikTok is to blame (hopefully, it’s a decision that isn’t informed by TikTok, at all) but rather an entire culture that prioritizes having money to spend on golf and lattes over human connection. It’s not even specific to children: The consumerist attitude put forth in these videos enforces isolation from community writ large. It’s a me-me-me ideology where life satisfaction is measured in how many plane tickets you book a year. 

Maybe pursuing the ideal of a family feels untenable. It’s easier to reframe this current environment where having children feels overwhelming as a choice, one filled with plenty of time for fun and sleep and frivolous purchases. I enjoy these things, too—who wouldn’t?—but to brag about it on social media feels like a thin, materialistic cope. I want children because I feel I’m personally meant to be a mother, because I want to experience the fulfillment of raising people into the world who will hopefully be there holding my hand when I die. Not everyone wants that. There are other forms of fulfillment to be found, ones that don’t involve having kids. But hopefully, they aren’t centered on having more money for Costco, either.