“It never used to be this way in our times…” Here is a phrase that every new generation, tires of hearing from the elders, vows not to use on the next generation and ends up using it just the same. Now this happens, invariably and despite protestations, because something remains constant throughout the years. Change.
It is change that drives us to innovate, invent and reinvent our lives. This change can be for the better or worse depending on who you are and whom you are talking to at that point of time. Such changes have especially been rapid and more far-reaching in the past few decades. This has been facilitated by globalization, improvement in communication media, dispersion of knowledge and ideas through the internet and great advances in technology.
While most of the change is desirable, there are some repercussions on the society and the mindsets of people. In countries like India, China and the U.S one such change is the evolving lifestyles of newly married couples and their changing priorities about starting a family. Otherwise known as the DINK or Dual Income, No kids (yet) syndrome, is a common phenomenon among the working urban couple.
The logic behind DINK is multifaceted. A couple may be called DINK(Y) if it is a same sex-couple and hence perceived as childless. Another meaning is for the heterosexual couples who are either unwilling to have children because of their busy lifestyles and demanding careers or because they feel no need for kids at any point of time.
Traditionally couples in India were expected to have children as early as possible. The only criterion for having children was marriage. The capability of bringing up children properly, providing for each family member after the birth of children, the health of mother and child were not considered to be of very great importance.
Today’s couples are better educated, more aware of effects of improper family planning and have more long-term plans. This is partly because of the breakup of the joint family system, which ensured that some person was always there to manage the children. With both spouses working in a nuclear family, the subject of expansion of family is approached with great caution and reluctance n many cases.
While the many elders are blaming the young couples for being selfish and not giving importance to the propagation of the family-line, the couples are also arguing the right to express their choices. The situation may take a turn for the worse when the empowerment of women is blamed for DINK syndrome. Meanwhile the decision for having kids or not often brings strife between couples as it might involve career sacrifices from one of the partners.
DINK syndrome is most observed when the couple wants to enjoy their independence and careers before shifting priorities to their children. They should not be blamed for choosing to wait until they decide they are ready for the life-long responsibilities of bearing and bringing up a child. Instead of blaming them, we should understand that no couple could be forced into becoming parents. Although family is important, it should not be at the cost of the happiness of the members.
There can be a compromise made between the elders and the young couples where the elders understand the ambition of their children and the desire to build financial security for the next generation before it is brought into the world. The young couples should also realize that having children in time is important to the health of their child and to their growth as a couple as well s individuals. Once the children are born, the responsibility should be divided equally between the partners.
While it is said that in India marriage takes place between families and not just individuals, often the individuals or parents have to fend for them and their children. While DINK can be a lifestyle choice, either temporary or permanent, it is important that everyone recognize the couple’s right to decide what is best for them.