There's a growing segment of the retirement population that's quietly settling into Leisureville. Can you tell me whether or not you're a RANK? Unless you are one, I'll bet you don't have the slightest idea what I'm talking about.

OK, strain your cranium for a minute and flashback to the 1980s and the height of the yuppie culture (young urban professional). A spin off was the term DINK (dual income, no kids), and DINKY (dual income, no kids yet). Are you starting to get a hint about the meaning of RANK?

The number of RANKs has steadily grown over the past decade. They've been spreading quietly into the population of retirees and settling into age / child restricted communities for over a decade, and are now starting to organize as a form of nationwide social club with localized groups. The interesting thing about them is what this bunch has is common, and that's what they don't have — kids. And they don't want them and never did.

In a society of so-called breeders, a RANK (retired and no kids) has been somewhat of an outsider and felt the need to band together for support and common discussion topics void of child and grandchild banter. You won't see a RANK whip out a photo album of their offspring because they don't exist. If you think they aren't an up-and-coming movement, think again.

In 1984 a group called No Kidding was formed and began establishing chapters in the largest cities around the country and eventually worldwide. With the explosion of the Internet came the opportunity to take their mindset global and that's exactly what happened.

Naturally, this is contrary to the way government works, so those without kids don't receive any tax perks, can't take a day off from work because one of their children is sick, aren't eligible for paid time off to attend a parent-teacher meeting, and aren't eligible for child-related flex time in the workplace. But there are several perks; the RANKs oftentimes get to pick up the office load when a co-worker is out for one of the aforementioned reasons, and they're assumed to be readily available for overtime, weekends, and on many holidays. This mindset spills onto the retirement compound as well via volunteerism — RANKs are assumed to be available anytime.

Another false assumption is that childless couples simply aren't a family. Statistically, those without children tend to remain married almost 10 times longer than those who've chosen to have them.

Throughout life those knowing they didn't want any kids and weren't going to have any have been hammered with guilt by friends who wed young and started families. Parents also nag RANKs about being denied the pleasure of grandparenting. Some people get downright rude about the fact that a segment of society has chosen to be child-free, calling them self-absorbed, insensitive, uncaring, and pretentious. RANKs are, in fact, penalized in many cases through what is being termed as unintentional discrimination, and scorned with comments about failing to contribute to the growth of Western Civilization.

I don't understand how they came to those erroneous conclusions since RANKs tend to pay their taxes, socialize with a variety of people over time, and tend to get along just fine with virtually all groups. They simply have a penchant for spending time with like-minded folks, those without kids. You'd think people would wake up to the notion that RANKs are actually adding to, not subtracting from, society as a whole through conscious, responsible decisions and actions.

Fortunately, for the moment there's no law requiring couples to procreate. Next time you're walking through the mall take a look around and you'll see why forced procreation would be a really dumb idea.

One of the most recent studies conducted on the subject of childlessness concluded that only one-third of American couples today are interested in having children; by 2010 more than 31 million married couples will have chosen to be childless. Those opting out cite a variety of reasons, including long-standing disinterest in raising a family, pursuing education and career, and a preference for not cluttering up society even further by adding to the stress on schools, medical facilities, and various other participant-laden programs. Nonetheless, RANKs also patronize local businesses, travel, maintain their homes and automobiles regardless of the age or original cost, and often help those less fortunate through volunteering.

The next time you see a couple walking along as a pair, there's a good chance they're a comfortable family of RANKs.

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