October 5, 2017

PANKs and PUNKs (Professional Aunties and Uncles No Kids)

Image representing SavvyAuntie as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

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 www.savvyauntie.com. 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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Saving Birth Control for the 99%

1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"

Image via Wikipedia

From the Ms. Magazine blog Twitter feed:

“Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended–how would making birth control less available solve this problem?”

There are some interesting points to this discussion and WNK would love to hear from our readers. Why should we pay for contraception for those who can’t afford it? Why should contraception be available and inexpensive? Would you rather pay for children that people can’t afford? Do you think people should be more responsible in making family planning choices?

“Contraception obviously is a deeply held value by American women. But the fact that in the United States a startling half of all pregnancies are unintended makes clear that birth control is used only sporadically by some. There are a number of reasons why this is so, but a chief one is that so many women cannot afford contraception, especially the most expensive—and most effective–methods, such as birth control pills, and long lasting reversible contraception, for example, the newer (and far safer) models of IUDs (intrauterine devices). In short, the same economic disparities that pervade every other area of American life manifest here as well: poor women depend on publicly-funded programs for their contraceptive services, but, according to the Guttmacher Institute, only a little more than half of the 17 million women who need these services currently receive them.”

Check out the rest of the article here.

 

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Viagra 1 Birth Control 0

Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral contraceptive...

Image via Wikipedia

Conservative groups including religious colleges and hospitals continue to pressure the Obama White House to give them exemptions from providing hormonal contraceptives to their employees and students. But the interesting fact is:

“The Guttmacher Institute analyzed US Government data and found that 14% of adult women and one-third of teenagers who use oral contraception are on it for non-birth control reasons. Some use it to manage menstrual symptoms like cramps and heavy periods, others use it to help clear up their skin. About half of the teens who use the pill for non-contraceptive reasons have never even had sex— but all of them are sinners who are going straight to hell!” (Jezebel)

And insurance companies continue to pay for Viagra for medical reasons but not birth control. Where is the fairness in that? Bill O’Reilly famously said that birth control is not a medical condition. He’s kind of right, but that’s like saying Viagra is not a medical condition. It’s not. The very real medical conditions that birth control prevent include: acne, ovarian cysts, irregular menstruation, PMS, etc. I promised I wouldn’t get political on this blog but this is about fairness and if I have to keep watching stupid erectile dysfunction commercials on television I going to scream about inequality and sexism in 2011. Maybe if I had more affordable birth control I wouldn’t be so PMSy.

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My Favorite Teacher Didn’t Have Kids

My very first teacher was so pretty. She had long brown hair and blue eyes and sounded just like a Disney princess. Ms. N. never raised her voice and she made funny faces when she read stories. She tucked her straight hair behind her ears and after school I tried to perfect her look in my mom’s vanity mirror, but I could never get it just right. I was obsessed with being the teacher’s pet and eventually I  think I was. Ms. N. cast me as the sun in the school play because she loved my smile. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.

Ms. N. even had a wedding, right at school! All the girls and boys in the tiny Catholic preschool  were paired up and asked to be flower girls and attendants. I wore a cream dress and gloves to look just like the bride. It was the best day of my four-year old life, but I knew what was going to happen next. Miss N was going to replace us with a baby of her very own!

But it didn’t happen. Ms. N. never had kids and she was the best teacher ever. She recently retired after forty years of teaching. Is it possible that her role as teacher was enough to fill her life with joy? Or was she sick of dealing with kids at the end of the day? For some reason I don’t think she ever tired of being around her students and is still involved in their lives today. I always wondered if she chose not to have kids or if she was unable to have them. Ms. N. and I are still friends and maybe someday she will tell me, but I will never ask.

It is because of Ms. N. and other teachers that I decided to teach little ones. I never thought that not having kids of my own mattered, but I think it made me a better teacher. Ms. N. influenced me in so many ways, but I can’t honestly say if I am copying more than Ms. N.’s hair style by not having kids.

  • Mommy Tips for Being an Effective teacher (kidsandmoms1.wordpress.com)
  • http://whynokids.com/2011/03/22/dr-suess-didnt-have-kids/
  • http://lauracarroll.com/2010/12/the-childfree-teacher-experience/
  • http://www.thechildfreelife.com/index.php/viewpoints/180-why-do-i-need-a-child-when-i-already-have-100-kids

Video: Child-Free Zones in Restaurants?

From 5min.com: http://www.5min.com/Video/Child-Free-Zones-in-Restaurants-517179290

“You can’t just ban people because they are annoying.”

Is that really the point?

Check out the video and tell us what you think?

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Open Letter to a Green Mama

A landfill in Poland

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Dear Green Mama,

I just bought diapers. They are for your new baby. As a childfree woman this is an exceptional and eye-opening day for me. Thank you for taking the time to research the environmental impact of having a child and choosing to use cloth diapers instead of disposables. And thank you for educating me on the new technology of the old standard cloth diapers. Gone are safety pins and saggy rubber pants. Cloth diapers are now made of wool, bamboo, unbleached hemp, and cotton with snug waterproof covers in every color in the Crayola box. You also told me about the burden of disposable diapers on our landfills:

“An average child will go through several thousand diapers in his/her life. Since disposable diapers are discarded after a single use, usage of disposable diapers increases the burden on landfill sites, and increased environmental awareness has led to a growth in campaigns for parents to use reusable alternatives such as cloth or hybrid diapers. An estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year.” (Source Wikipedia)

There has been much debate over landfill for disposable diapers vs. water usage for cloth diapers. Which is better for the environment? Bleached industrial cotton is terrible for the environment and so is using a washing machine and detergent. However, if you use a full load (pardon the pun) and green laundry products they are better both baby and the world.

Fact: The use of cloth diapers goes up in hard economic times. Parents will spend between $2,000 and $3,000 before potty training on each child vs. $300 for cloth, and the cloth diapers can be recycled and reused for additional children. (Or how about skipping that next child to save some money and the environment?)

But are the cloth diapers better for baby? Many experts believe that potty training is easier for kids with cloth diapers because they can actually feel when they are wet. The fabrics are also free of chemicals and are relatively easy to use.

Back to Green Mama. Thank you also for having a “green shower” free of wrapping paper, decorative paper bags, and plastic bows. Instead, presents will come in reusable baskets and “wrapping” will include cloth diapers with reusable bows. Just during the holidays alone wrapping paper makes up four million tons of waste. I love the idea of eliminating wrapping paper and using cloth instead of disposable. This is one idea that we can all make part of our routine. Just a suggestion, you may not want to wrap your gifts for the childfree in cloth diapers.

Dear WNKers, What do you buy your friend’s babies for gifts?

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When the Kids Ask, “Why No Kids?”

“When are you having babies?”

I’ve heard this question a million times from friends and family, but just the other day I heard it from a kid. As my friend’s six-year-old daughter sat on my lap and played with my hair, she inquired about my reproductive plans. I ignored the question. Then she suggested maybe I should get a new hairstyle. Phew. That was close. I really didn’t want to go there.

“Yes, when?” asked her twin four-year-old brothers as they wrestled on the floor. D’oh!

“Never!” I answered a bit too quickly.

“But why not?” they all pleaded. And I fell for it. I pulled out my high horse and saddled up.

“Because it’s my choice, not everyone has to have kids.”

They blinked back at me. Did I say too much?

“I don’t have to have kids.” I continued to explain.

The boys chimed in, “If you’re married you are supposed to have kids.”

Uh-oh. I tried to stop myself from saying too much, but it was impossible…

“That’s not true. You don’t have to have kids if you’re married.”

I didn’t say you could or maybe even should be married to have kids. And I definitely didn’t say, “Go ask your mom and dad!”

The twins started covering my arms with Halloween tattoos and the little girl tied my hair in a knot on top of my head.

“You’d look better with short hair,” she said.

“Are you having kids?” I asked her. I just couldn’t resist.

“I don’t know yet,” she said. That’s my girl! I thought as I let myself get a makeover by the three kids.

Minutes later my husband walked into the room. He took one look at us and shook his head.

He whispered in my ear, “Great birth control.”

“The kids?” I asked, expecting him to save me.

“No,” he replied. “Your hair!”

Hey WNKers: What would you say if a child asked you, “Why no kids?”

Share your “Why no kids?” stories in the comment section below.

Baby Makers and Biology

Just becasue you can reproduce doesn't mean you should.

An honest and candid post from Nyx (@Nyxks on Twitter) called “Women Are More Then Baby Makers” warrants sharing:

I 100% disagree with the statement “its embedded in every womans biological makeup to be a mother, to carry and give birth to this beautiful baby.” … I know that there are several of us who… have chosen NOT to have children we have chosen to be Childfree by choice… many women out there in the general population who have no ticking of the biological clock… Having a child… is a choice that one makes, it does not come down to the simple deal of it being a biological necessity… Being childfree or childless makes you no less a woman or man then being a parent makes you “all grown up”… I am no less a woman because nature took my ability to have children away or because I chose to be childfree… (Nyxks Musings)

Tick, tick, tick. My biological clock is ticking. But when the alarm sounds I hear, “Windsurf before you’re too old to enjoy it!” Or “Wander the globe while you’re still young and energetic.” Or, “Less wine tomorrow night, you don’t bounce back like you used to…” Nobody’s immune from the biological clock. But its alarms are diverse. And, for some of us, they don’t include, “Make a baby. Make a baby. Make a baby!”

When DINKs Become Ding Chongs

Griffin is keeping an eye on us

Griffin, by virtualDavis via Flickr

Laura Carroll joined the childfree acronym parade yesterday on her blog La Vie Childfree. She was responding to “In China, having children is no longer a given”, an article in the Los Angeles Times about China’s demographic time bomb. Although the one-child rule is considered the primary cause, problems are being accelerated by young Chinese couples who choose to remain childfree.

In addition to today’s trends of the Chinese seeing parenthood as a choice… “Dogs are the new bundles of joy for some childless families, giving rise to a new phenomenon known as ding chong, or ‘double income with pet.’” … So if ding chong includes childfree families, that makes me one too. But if it means my pet is my “bundle of joy,” I remain a DINK and a GINK, not a ding chong ~ (La Vie Childfree)

I often joke with Susan that Griffin, our three year old Labrador Retriever, isn’t our child.

“But he’s my baby,” she counters.

“He’s our dog,” I remind her.

I’ll let her know that she’s on a slippery slope along with Laura Carroll. DINK today, ding chong tomorrow!

You’ll change your mind

Mind Games (song)

Mind Games (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In case you missed it, Nullipara Life (@NulliparaLife) has been posting “Bingo Breeder Responses” which is to say, sometimes-funny-sometimes-flip-almost-always-thoughful answers to the questions and assertions childfree folks encounter. Each post includes several Q&A style exchanges, and the seventh post tackles the all-too-familiar, “You’ll change your mind.”

Ugh! This has to be the most common and most ignorant bingo out there. Being that ‘you’ll’ is the conjunction of ‘you will’, I think we can all assume you’re telling me that I am definitely going to change my mind. Right. Because clearly you must know me better than I know myself… Telling a childfree person they will change their mind one day only makes them want to prove you wrong even more. What if I were to tell you, “you’ll change your mind” about being a parent? Because admittedly, a lot of parents do change their mind. Oh but no one ever thinks of it that way. No one ever bothers to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and think about how they’d feel if they were being antagonized by a bunch of mombies… Next time someone says to you, “you’ll change your mind” just tell them, “you’ll change your mind.” Or if they ask you, “why don’t you have kids?” ask them, “why did you have kids?” They’ll probably start stuttering and end up lost for words, which is always a good thing… (Nullipara Life)

I’m a bit torn here. I like the questions. It would be nice if we all contributed to a more open Q&A cultured world. It would reward curiosity. It would encourage dialogue and possibly even understanding and respect. But “You’ll change your mind” isn’t a question. It’s an assumption. An assertion. And it’s frankly out of line. It’s amazing how different the same idea becomes when voiced as a question: “Do you think you’ll change your mind one day?” This question conveys genuine interest and respect. And it is unlikely to make the childfree answerer defensive or dismissive. A constructive conversation will likely follow.

Nyx (@Nyxks) reflected on the “You’ll change your mind” assertion:

I do think that even if I had meet him early on that I would still have kept my childfree status and wish. In part because I’ve never had that maternal side when it comes to children, I can get along with them for short periods of time, but at the end of the day I do have to give them back because I just can’t do the 24/7 deal with them. (Nyxks Musings)

Childfree couples come to their choice for many different reasons, and discussing these reasons can be useful. Defending one’s childfree choices against breeders who insist that we’ll regret our choices one day or that we’ll change our minds is less useful. And less inviting. Consider a childfree friend asking a parent about the choice to have children and then asserting, “You’ll regret your choice to have a child!”