December 11, 2017

PANKs and PUNKs (Professional Aunties and Uncles No Kids)

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The number of PANKs (Professional Aunties No Kids) and PUNKs (Professional Uncles No kids) is growing and their influence on children is in the news. The founder of the auntie movement is Melanie Notkin at She has an active blog and book that guides child-free aunties on all things kiddie. Notkin is the creator of the term PANK and she also owns the trademark.

From her website:

A few years ago, DINKs was the new segment marketers had their eye on – Dual Income No Kids. PANKs, while focusing specifically on women (married, partnered or single) who have no kids, is a pretty large market in the US. In fact, the 2010 US Census Report: Fertility of American Women states that 47.1  percent of women through age 44 do not have kids (check “All Races” report). And that number has been steadily growing over the last couple of decades. In 1976, only 35 percent were childless.

Notkin gives statistics on the spending potential of the emerging PANK market:

–  According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 50 percent of single women own their own homes. They’re also the fastest-growing segment of new home buyers, second home buyers, car purchasers, new investors, and travelers. (Who hasn’t dreamed of taking the nieces and nephews on their first trip to Disney World?)

–  Twenty-seven percent of American households are headed by women, a fourfold increase since 1950.

–  Of American women who draw annual incomes of $100,000 or more, nearly half don’t have children. In fact, the more a woman earns, the less likely she is to have kids.

That means that these PANKs and PUNKs have money to spend on their nieces and nephews since they don’t have kids of their own.

A November Forbes article Raising Children: The Role of Aunts and Uncles says that many adults in childrens’ lives today are not relatives but close friends that are considered stand in aunts, uncles and godparents.

Notkin says, “The more aunts and uncles the child has, the more influences a child has,” says Notkin. “If the uncle is a fantastic artist, the child may be inspired by that talent.”

For kids the diversity of influences could be beneficial. Parents who share their kids with aunties and uncles might benefit too. And it fits with the notion that “it takes a village” to raise a child.

Author’s Note:

I’m not really an aunt, but I’m a godmother three times over and consider most of my friends’ kids my nieces and nephews, so that makes me a PANK.  I just finished shopping, wrapping and mailing all their Christmas gifts. I take my role of Auntie Amy very seriously at Christmas time, and put A LOT of thought into finding the exact right gift for each child. (One gift was noisy and I’m sorry for that.) And I hope, hope, hope the kids love them! I find that books are the best gifts and still remember all the books my PANKs and PUNKs and real aunts and uncles gave to me as a child. Hope you will share your favorites.

Hey WNKers (and PANKs and PUNKs) what is your favorite book to give to kids?

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  1. I’m a PUNK! Of course, I’ve been hearing that for years, but only now do I finally understand that it wasn’t a derisive slur but recognition of my honorable status. Thanks, Aunt Amy. As a *real* uncle four times over and an honorary uncle many more times over, I’m fully in agreement about the pleasures of gifting and loving up my nieces and nephews. And I’m even on board with the books, books, books anthem. (My top three favorites for youngsters and oldsters alike are The Story of Ferdinand, Curious George and The Giving Tree. Velveteen Rabbit is a close contender too.) But… we diverge dramatically on one important point: “One gift was noisy and I’m sorry for that.” Here’s my punk side, I guess. I seek out the one man band gifts! I grew up in a family where my dad managed to surgically remove all noisemakers from gifts before they were wrapped. “I don’t know why your friends’ Big Wheels have sirens and yours doesn’t, son.” Historic retribution? 😉

  2. Maria Bareiss says:

    Funny timing, my face lit up like a Christmas tree when my friend reminded me that her kid was here (I’m at her house at the moment) this weekend. I buy her school uniforms, pajamas twice a year, and many meals, gifts, and trips to the local aquarium. I spend, honestly, more time and money with/on this child than my “real” nieces and nephews. I love spending time with her. I never wanted any of my own children. So I had surgical. sterilization. Nice article.

  3. Maria Bareiss says:

    Ah, books: all Shel Silverstein, all Beverly Cleary, Dr Suess, and some anatomy books. I have Netter’s Anatomy, and kids love seeing “inside” our bodies. Also, books about foreign lands and cultures. And Spanish, because it is important (especially in my area).

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