Author Interviews


Today, the mothers of the world are being celebrated. But being a mother isn't necessarily limited to the biological definition. Melanie Notkin calls herself a PANK, P-A-N-K. It stands for professional aunt no kids. Melanie Notkin runs the website Savvy Auntie, a resource for the aunts of the world. More about that later. She's also the author of a new book, "Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids." She's at our studio in New York. Welcome to the program.

Ms. MELANIE NOTKIN (Author, "Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great Aunts, Godmothers, And All Women Who Love Kids"): Oh, thank you so much for having me.

HANSEN: All right. You heard me stumbling over my Massachusetts accent: aunt, aunt. Savvy Auntie sounds great. I pronounce it aunt. How do you pronounce it?

Ms. NOTKIN: I myself am an auntie. My mother's side of the family was British, and so we've taken on the British version of aunt or aunt. However, most Americans do pronounce it aunt or auntie.

HANSEN: All right. First of all, how many nieces or nephews do you have?

Ms. NOTKIN: By relation I have six, but I have many more nieces and nephews by choice. Those are children that I choose to have in my life based on friendships that I have.

HANSEN: How many aunts do you have?

Ms. NOTKIN: I have one aunt by relation, and one aunt by choice.

HANSEN: Now, why do aunts needs a guidebook?

Ms. NOTKIN: Well, just like parents need a guidebook. You know, life doesn't come with rules. Life doesn't come with a guidebook. And yet as we spend more and more time with the children in our lives, we want to make sure that we can be the best support for the parent, and the best aunt for our nieces and nephews.

You know, when nearly 50 percent of American women are not mothers, it becomes very important for us to be able to be the savviest aunts we can be for the most important people in our lives: our nieces and nephews, our godchildren, our cousins' children, our friends' children - all the children in our lives. So we need a guidebook, too. And I thought, now is the time.

HANSEN: You're not just the go-to person to give permission to a kid to do or get something that perhaps the parents have not given permission to the child to do those things.

Ms. NOTKIN: Oh no, of course not. You know, our first rule is, you know, it's the parent's child; it's their rules. Now, of course parents break rules once in a while, and I'm sure an aunt is caught breaking a rule once in a while, too. We do have that reputation. But we want to make sure that we're doing what's right for the child, what's right for the parent. We're here for both of them.

HANSEN: Melanie Notkin is founder and editor-in-chief of, and the author of "Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids." She joined us from our studio in New York. Thank you very much.

Ms. NOTKIN: Thank you.

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