According to an article in the Feb. 19th edition of the Seattle Times (via The Minneapolis Star Tribune), I’ve been given a new name/label/title. I am a PANK, Professional Aunt, No Kids. Living | Many women see the role of aunt as a special calling | Seattle Times Newspaper.
Although I don’t much care for that acronym, I have long been extolling the benefits of being an Aunt without kids of my own. In my opinion, it’s even better than being a grandparent. I get to spend time with my nephews and nieces pretty much on my own terms and the expectations are much less. I’m not really expected to babysit (although I sometimes do) and I’m not expected to spoil the kids (although I reserve that right) and I’m not first in line to raise the kids if their parents turn out to be screw-ups (no chance of that in my case).
And I am of the opinion that it’s really a bonus for kids to have an aunt or uncle in their life who likes children, but doesn’t have or want any of their own. I wouldn’t necessarily put myself up as a role model, but I do give my nieces and nephews another responsible adult to observe and question. I provide an alternate paradigm for them to consider and examine. (In my case, I am both single and childless.) They may very well choose to follow the more usual path of marriage and family when they grow up, but at least they will have witnessed a healthy, viable alternative. Of course, many people don’t believe that an adult can be truly happy unless s/he marries and has children. But let’s not open up that can of worms. (On the other hand, if you DO want to explore that idea further, I recommend the book Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever Afterby Bella DePaulo, Ph.D.)
What about you? Are you a PANK or a PUNK? Or did you have one in your life when you were growing up? I’d love to hear your point of view.