PANK Pride: The 5 Best Things About Having 0 Kids

Not that it’s anyone’s business what you use your womb for, but even if it’s not to carry a baby, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re child-less.

By Abby Gardner


Just to be clear...

When you’re over forty and don’t have kids, you get very used to the looks you might get from people. They range from a brief look of surprise and a pursed lip of pity to the “Oh my god I’m so jealous” face that is usually followed some version of, “You have so much freedom” or “So that’s how you have so much time to watch, read, and listen to everything.” (Well, maybe that last one is just for me, a pop culture consumer to the nth degree.) 

It’s true that I am not the parent of any children, but I’m not totally childless. You see, I’m a PANK to five adorable little boys.

So, what is a PANK exactly?

A PANK is defined as a Professional Aunt, No Kids. (Fun fact: The term was first coined by Melanie Notkin of Savvy Auntie.) I’m a proud member of this community of aunties who love to shower their nieces and nephews with love—and gifts. The first time my oldest nephew said the words “Aunt Abby,” I truly thought my heart might burst open and the feeling never goes away. It’s my most treasured title. 

Let’s break down why being a PANK is the absolute best, aside from the fact that you rarely have to change diapers, the floor of your car is Cheerio-free and your version of carpooling involves a rideshare app.

1. You can use your disposable income to spoil your nieces and nephews. 

It’s a fact that kids are incredibly expensive—from their daily needs to sports and music lessons and saving for college. When you don’t have them, you end up with some extra cash to spend as you choose. I love the financial freedom that I have in my childless 40s and it’s incredibly fun to use some of said cash to buy clothes and toys for my five nephews that, were they my own children, I’d probably categorize as too expensive. I’ve already started daydreaming about a special Aunt Abby trip I want to take each one of them on when they get a little older, maybe for their 13th birthdays. 

2. You’re not their mom. 

Now, this is obvious, natch. What I mean is that as an aunt, you’re able to carve out a very special bond as a trusted adult/authority figure who loves them an insane amount and wants to protect them from the world but doesn’t hold the dreaded “parent” label. Your advice might just be listened to a little differently than mom’s — which is not to say that mom’s is not invaluable. My nephews are all age seven and younger at the moment, but I’m very much looking forward to the day when they come to me about something they might otherwise have kept bottled up inside. 

3. You can be the cool aunt.

This is basically a corollary to the above. Because you are not the main authority figure in these children’s lives, you are free to be wild and fun and silly and lenient. Now, you still have to the occasional mild disciplining, but you’ll always be the one who let them have an extra dessert, gave them extra screen time, and totally covered for them when they missed curfew. I’ll never be above such tactics to curry favor. 

4. Sleepovers are novel and not at all annoying.

Since you are not the human tasked with wrestling these children into bed every night, when you do it’s actually pretty fun. The endless bedtime negotiations for snacks and extra time watching a movie on Netflix are charming and even if you don’t get a ton of sleep, they’re off to their homes (or you to yours) the next day. You can quickly resume your regular schedule and Mindhunter binge in peace. 

5. The unconditional love. 

Obviously, this is the best part of all. Hopefully, my little BFFs remember this when I’m old and need someone to take care of me. 

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