Childfree Aunties: We’re PANKs!


Goddaughter Kekoa

Anna Carey wrote a great piece in the Irish Independent about “PANKs” – Professional Aunts No Kids.  No more is the image of  childless aunties as “fussy ol ladies” — we’re a happening bunch that play an important role in children’s lives. Technically, I am not an aunt by blood but am an “auntie” to a few of my close friends’ kids. Some call me auntie, to others, I am their godmother. I’ll take either one. While I don’t want kids of my own,

I am one of many childfree who love being part of the lives of my loved ones’ children. I truly believe I was born not to be a mom but an auntie.

Childfree aunties out there, Elizabeth Gilbert calls us the “Auntie Brigade”….

Here is an excerpt from Committed that speaks to how important aunties can be in children’s lives.

“..there are stories on both sides of truly magnificent aunties who stepped in and saved the day during emergencies. Often able to accrue education and resources precisely because they were childless, these women had enough spare income and compassion to pay for lifesaving operations, or to rescue the family farm, or to take in a child whose mother had fallen gravely ill. I have a friend who calls these sorts of child-rescuing aunties “sparents”— “spare parents” — and the world is filled with them.”

More…“..Tolstoy and Truman Capote and all the Brontë sisters were raised by their childless aunts after their real mothers had either died or abandoned them. Tolstoy claimed that his Aunt Toinette was the greatest influence of his life, as she taught him ‘the moral joy of love.’  John Lennon was raised by his Aunt Mimi, who convinced the boy that he would be an important artist someday. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s loyal Aunt Annabel offered to pay for his college education. Frank Lloyd Wright’s first building was commissioned by his Aunts Jane and Nell — two lovely old maids who ran a boarding school in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Coco Chanel, orphaned as a child, was raised by her Aunt Gabrielle, who taught her how to sew — a useful skill for the girl, I think we would all agree. Virginia Woolf was deeply influenced by her Aunt Caroline, a Quaker spinster who devoted her life to charitable works, who heard voices and spoke to spirits, and who seemed, as Woolf recalled years later, “a kind of modern prophetess.”

I’m sure there just as many stories today as these folks from the past. Share your PANK stories with us!  Uncles, too….do you play an important role in young person’s life? What is your experience?

Childfree aunties out there, if you don’t know about it already, check out savvyauntie. It’s all about aunties, childfree and not. Great articles, tips on gifts for kids, and more.  Love the name…here’s to savvy and awesome PANKs !

5 thoughts on “Childfree Aunties: We’re PANKs!

  1. My two aunts who have remained childfree and single their entire lives, contentedly so, with much meaning, and a great love of mentoring children. They run a preschool (both are teachers) and play a positive part in every kid’s life there. My sister and I, when our mom didn’t know how to handle angsty teens so well, found great solace in their nonjudgmental perspective (I think the fact that they weren’t mommies meant they were able to give a non-biased point of view). I also plan one day to be a PANK. 🙂

    1. Amy–Your aunts sound great–I would have loved to have had aunts to go to when I was a teen! Lots of childfree women say that having someone like an aunt or a female mentor who did not have children by choice helped them see they had more choices in life and were role models for womanhood without motherhood. Lucky you–you had this! So many childfree are involved with kids big time and debunk the myth that all of us don’t like kids…~L

  2. I have one child by choice, and while I love spending time with my brother’s boy and girl and having them play with my daughter, it’s also nice to have them go home with their own parents afterwards. Then I can go home to my own quiet family of three. Of course if anything happened to any of my brother and his wife I would take my niece and nephew in right away – but having three small kids together at one time reinforces my feeling that one is enough for me!

    1. Emilia-thanks for all of the thoughts! Re only children, when reading Maybe One by McKibben I learned a lot about how the negatives usually associated with the”only ” child are lots of myths and not backed up by research…More of this truth needs to get out there! It is unfair that you get flack for having just one. How can people feel it is their right to tell you how many children you should have–? Who wrote the rules for two, or…? Although childfree, we share the same experience of unfairly being by judged others on such a personal decision. On population, I do have concerns that if we keep going the way we are going, the earth will not be able to sustain the people on it. While birth rates are down in some countries, there are still Plenty of people on the planet and counting for sure. In general I think “replacement” is a good thing to think about when it comes to reproduction–Just replace yourself and not more than that. But more education on this I need and hope to get opinions of experts on upcoming posts–say tuned!~L

  3. Usually if people talk about the “selfishness” of having only one child I let it go over my head – and I’ll wonder whether they’re so insecure in their own choices that they feel they have to criticize mine. But then that’s their own problem, not mine. I sometimes wonder how my brother and his wife handle having two children so close in age (2.5 years apart). Even though their kids generally get along, they do their fair share of fighting! Maybe I get kind smug (not that I ever say anything openly) when I hear them fighting on the phone, etcetera, and think, “Well, at least I’m spared that!” But I’m sure having two or more kids has its benefits – just benefits that I don’t think are worth the costs for me personally. In other words, to each their own.

    I suspect we’ll probably get to replacement levels in terms of population, and we already are in the industrialized world. Sure, having ten kids might have been a boon in an agricultural society where they meant for more hands for the farm, but in an urban setting even a very child-centered type like my sister-in-law doesn’t feel like having any more than the two she already has and the third she’s expecting now. (She and my brother say after this baby is born they’re going to take steps to limit their family size permanently; I’ve recommended the IUD to her.)

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