A married friend of mine sent me an about a new marketing demographic called PANKs - Professional Aunts, No Kids. PANKs are single women without kids who spend lots of time with and money on (more importantly) other people's kids. They shower love, attention, and gifts on the kids of their family and friends…and then send them home. The send-them-home part is mine. I added that because I'm not sure I entirely get it, so I'm trying to make it more palatable.
Oh, I get it intellectually. I have a few single friends who are PANKs. Part of me wishes I was more like them. Actually, I don't want to be more like them…I just wish I wanted to. They love other people's kids. And they don't just love them, they nurture them, groom them, hang out with them.
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I'll call these PANKs friends to get together for something fun and they can't because they're taking somebody's kids to the movies, out to lunch, having them over for the weekend...or some other questionable use of their time. It does seem to bring them a lot of joy.
And my Professional Auntie friends aren't alone. There are lots of actual and would-be PANKs out there. According to a 2010 study by the Pew Institute, one-in-five American women now ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s. So smart marketers have determined that these women are ripe for being enticed to buy products and services for their nieces and nephews, the real ones and the ones in their hearts.
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Please don't misunderstand me. I love my friends' kids, too. I'm always happy to see them and love chatting with them to hear what they've been up to, and learning some newfangled something from them that only kids understand...but that's pretty much where it ends. Read more: