I Don’t Want To Have Kids But I Can’t Wait To Be An Aunt

I’ve always been on the doubtful side of “maybe one day” when it comes to the idea of having kids. But even though I don’t particularly want a brood of my own, I desperately hope to become an aunt in the near future. Here’s why:

  1. An aunt gets to be a confidante. A mom is an enforcer and a tough, take-no-crap disciplinarian. Every kid needs that, and kudos to all the great moms out there. Yet there are also times when a kid needs a slightly gentler (but still responsible) companion to confide in and confess to. I’d rock that role. Not only am I a calm and patient listener, I also know how to back up parental expectations without losing kids’ trust.
  2. My brothers and their girlfriends/ wives would make amazing parents. My siblings and I all have similar philosophies about child rearing. It would be impossible for my nieces and nephews to play me against their parents because I respect family dynamics too much for that kind of drama. What’s more, I know my brothers would have bright, curious, disciplined, independent kids. I want to play a small role in supporting my family’s next generation.
  3. I’m great with kids. I worked in schools for nearly a decade. From sweet, gooey kindergartners through too-cool high school seniors, I have practical experience. I don’t wear rose-colored glasses. I realize that children can be super difficult at times, but I pride myself on my ability to shut down a tantrum without ever raising my voice, discipline a rebellious teen without stripping his sense of dignity, and find the good in kids even when they’re giving me trouble. There’s so much reward in helping them to grow into the people they’re meant to be.
  4. I’m not settled enough to raise kids of my own. Some people know from a young age that children are part of their life’s direction. I’m more the type to switch careers at 27, fall in love with a man who lives hundreds of miles away, or simply take off on an overnight hike without much pre-planning. My life is flexible and I’m not about the change that.
  5. I need my space. It’s critical to my mental well-being that I occasionally pull the covers over my head and shut out the world. Hey, I can’t help being an introspective introvert who relishes privacy. If you hide out while raising kids, though, somebody’s bound to yell, “Ready or not, here I come!” As an aunt, I could welcome my nieces and nephews into my home when I felt rested and ready, then send them back when I craved my peace.
  6. Nieces and nephews would keep me on my toes. The flip side of being a solitude-seeker? It’s scarily easy to get stuck in your habits. Maintaining close contact with kids is the perfect remedy. The minute you think you’ve got your pattern all set, they come in and squiggle over it with smelly markers. Although I guard my space jealously, I also need the manic, magic goofiness of children in my life. Being an aunt would help me to strike the balance.
  7. I want to share memories of my brothers’ childhoods. It’ll be my happy duty as a younger sister to ensure that my big brothers stay honest with their kids. I have so many embarrassing stories to tell — and some good, heartwarming ones too.
  8. My aunt lived far away and I rarely got to see her. My aunt is a university professor with a Stanford doctorate and a wicked sense of humor. We have similar personalities and I identify with her more the older I get. However, because she was so busy and lived out of state, I didn’t get to bond with her much. Luckily for me, I live within 20 minutes of all of my brothers. I would get to be close to their kids both geographically and emotionally.
  9. I want to share knowledge. I’d be the literary aunt — I’d proofread school papers, advise on book reports, help with research, and all the other nerdy stuff that my siblings would be perfectly happy to delegate to me. I have zero illusion that the kids would actually ENJOY that work, but in the long run, they’d be thankful for my help. While I focused on sharpening their word wisdom, they could keep me up to date with their interests too.
  10. It would get me off the hook. My mom wants to be a grandma. She never lays any pressure on us or hints at it, but it would be amazing to see her wish fulfilled. If any of my brothers had a kid, they would really ease the self-imposed guilt I sometimes feel about my decision to be a childless mother of none.
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.