‘DINK’ on cultural shift toward child-free lifestyle, says older generation ‘narrow-minded’ for criticisms

A personal finance TikToker dismissed claims that not having kids leads to a meaningless life, and explains why more young couples are choosing a child-free life.

‘DINK’ on cultural shift toward child-free lifestyle, says older generation ‘narrow-minded’ for criticisms

After his video sharing the perks of not having kids went viral, a personal finance TikToker dismissed his "narrow-minded" critics and said younger generations are trending away from "status-quo" family norms and toward childless marriages. 

"I just think that the older generation isn't warmed up to the fact that you don't have to have kids to live a meaningful life," John Eringman told Fox News Digital. "It's just really important to make sure you find meaning in community and family and all that. But kids are not the end-all, be-all." 

Eringman earned his massive following of 1.3 million followers on TikTok, in part, by giving financial advice to fellow "DINKS," or, couples with dual-incomes and no kids. The 27-year-old lives in Cincinnati with his fiancé Paige. The pair is one of many DINK couples recently posting about the joys of child-free life on the social media platform TikTok.

"We’re DINKs, we get into snobby hobbies like skiing and golfing," Eringman said in a viral TikTok posted last week. His fiancé says, "We can go to Florida on a whim… We get a full eight hours of sleep, and sometimes more."

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They also joke they don't need kids as an excuse to leave a party, "we just leave!"

Eringman said Gen-Z and millennial couples are attracted to the no-kids lifestyle because of the "time freedom" and "money freedom" it affords them.

"I see a lot of our friends partaking in the same activities as us," he told Fox News Digital. "They're going on vacations, they're going to Europe, they're starting side hustles, and none of that would be possible with kids at a young age."

While he and his fiancé love the flexibility of their kid-free lives, Eringman said starting a family is not completely off the table. 

"I would put us in the DINKY category – so double income, no kids – yet," he told Fox News Digital. "We're still deciding."

"It's a big decision that most people don't really think about long-term," Eringman added. "We just want to make sure that we're prepared and that we actually want to have kids, because it’s a permanent decision." 

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He believes there is a "generational shift" occurring, dividing Gen-Z and Millennial lifestyles from those of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. 

Younger adults are "challenging those norms that are rooted into society right now" like attending college, getting married and starting a family, and are being "more intentional" with big life decisions, Eringman said. 

"I think that some of the older generations haven't come around to that shift, but it is a very popular lifestyle," he said. 

As of 2022, 43% of households were childless, a 7% increase from 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

A 2021 Pew Research study found 44% of non-parents ages 18 to 49 said it's not too likely or not likely at all they’ll ever have kids. Of those unlikely to have kids, 56% said the reason was "they just don’t want to," 17% cited financial reasons and 15% said it was due to not having a partner.

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Eringman attributed the recent virality of DINKS to an influx of couples posting about their choice to stay childless, removing some of the associated stigma.

However, like most who post on the video-sharing app touting DINK life, Eringman has received criticism online.

"I didn't expect DINK to be so controversial when I first started posting about it, but obviously people have very strong views on whether or not to have kids," he said. 

His most famous critic is X owner Elon Musk, who commented on the couple’s viral video, "There is an awful morality to those who deliberately have no kids: they are effectively demanding that other people's kids take care of them in their old age.That's messed up."

Eringman said he was shocked at the amount of attention and controversy his video caused. 

"Having Elon comment on the video was pretty surreal. It just shows you the power, reach, and scalability of social media," he told Fox News Digital. "While we did not necessarily agree with Elon's opinion, we thought it was incredible to have one of the world's most well-known entrepreneurs share his thoughts on it."

Eringman pushed back on claims that others will have to fill the void and care for childless couples in their old age, saying "DINKs are some of the wealthiest and healthiest people in society right now" and "they take care of themselves." 

He added that the people saying couples who opt out of parenthood are missing out on the meaning of life are "narrow-minded."

"It's not a guaranteed, purposeful life just to have kids," Eringman said. "You can find meaning and purpose in so many other aspects of life." 

"And I think the DINK community is stepping up to challenge that, too," he added. "We're banding together, and we're like, ‘Hey, we're going to do these fun things. We're going to make a difference in the world, and we don't have to have your guys' approval to do so.’"

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