First of all, for the uninitiated, here’s what PANK stands for: Professional Aunt, No Kids. It’s a kind of wonderful, symbiotic relationship between siblings when one has started a family while the other hasn’t. Your children are very lucky if they have a PANK – or PUNK – in their lives!
My own brother and sister are married with children, as are my husband’s siblings, so my son doesn’t really have a PANK (although he does have terrific aunts and uncles). But my best friend may have been the world’s greatest PANK. Her sister’s three children became the object of her deep love and attention from the day they were born. In fact, she’d always tell the oldest how special he was because “you made me an aunt.” She carried photos of all of them, and talked about them to anyone who’d listen. She was as proud as any mom.
“My sister was there for me and my kids right from the beginning,” remembers her sister Lisa. “Five weeks after my oldest son was born, we took him to Colorado for a wedding. My sister came, too. She took the adjacent room in the hotel, and when I got up in the middle of the night to nurse, she’d get up and keep me company. And then she’d change the baby’s diaper and let me rest.”
Lisa remembers her son’s first birthday party, too. “I invited lots of people over,” she says, laughing. “But then I was really busy and overwhelmed. I couldn’t get my act together to get ready for company. But my sister showed up with the cake, food, decorations, presents. She made the whole party!”
As Lisa’s children grew, they simply referred to my friend as “Aunt.” And so did their friends. Sometimes for fun they called her “Aunty Bag of Plenty,” because she’d always carry a big bag full of gifts, games, toys, paper and crayons, candy and anything else a kid needed to have fun.
This sort of special bond between aunts and children exists everywhere, and it’s certainly a unique one that both sides cherish. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a cool aunt, after all?
Beth Weinhouse is an award-winning journalist who specializes in writing about parenting issues and women's health. She's been an editor at Ladies' Home Journal and Parenting magazines, and her work has appeared in dozens of consumer magazines and websites.
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