Does your child have a PANK?

There’s a growing phenomenon: Kids are being spoilt rotten by “PANKs”. Before you fret that it’s yet another thing to worry about, it is mostly a good thing. A PANK is a professional aunt, no kids who loves to dote on her nephews and nieces, according to the Mail Online. The term for an uncle who does the same is a PUNK.

PANKs are making sure that their favourite nephews and nieces get the very best. They may buy them luxury items that their parents can’t afford such as branded clothing and shoes or electronic devices.  The theory is that these gifts will give the children more status among their peers or at least keep them on an even field socially.

Career or kids

More central to the issue is the age-old (and dated) kids-or-career argument. While many moms have managed to do both without performing poorly in the workplace or raising hooligans, some women choose to work rather than have babies, according to a sociologist. Of course, some women simply choose not to have kids. A British survey found that one in five women in the UK is child-free by the age of 45, a figure not seen since World War l.

A successful woman may then exercise her nurturing desires by focusing her attention on her brother or sister’s kids. Even child-free godparents may be included in this category.

For some parents it’s a welcome relief to have someone willing to lavish gifts on their children. Since parents often have to stick to conservative budgets in order to cope with school fees and other kid-related expenses, the luxury items are often just out of the question. PANKs are spending an average of R5000 a year.

For other parents the doting PANK may present a problem: If parents wish to raise their kids with certain priorities or values and the generosity of a PANK undermines these, families may end up arguing over the issue.

What to do with an over-bearing PANK

If the PANK-doting gets too much or interferes with your values, you can always lay down some ground rules for gifts such as placing a ceiling on the cost of presents or the frequency. Make it clear if there are certain items which are out of bounds. For example, if you don’t want your kid to have a mobile phone, then add this to the list.

Are YOU that cool aunt or uncle?

There’s even a website called Savvy Auntie geared towards assisting PANKs with making the right choices when it comes to treating their nephews and nieces. It recognises that aunts and uncles often play a major role in the lives of children and provides resources for those who may not want to visit parenting sites but need help in understanding how best they can get involved. As the site says, it was created to help aunts and uncles be the coolest relatives a kid could have. It has also been listed as one of the world’s top 100 websites for women three years in a row.

There are also parents who wish they had a PANK of their own…

What’s the coolest thing your child’s uncle or aunt has ever done?