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10 Ways Aunts Make Great Dates

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As the founder of SavvyAuntie.com®, the lifestyle destination for aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids – primarily the growing segment of women I’ve dubbed PANKs (Professional Aunts No Kids), I connect with women from all corners of the world who don’t (yet) have kids. These children may be nieces and nephews by relation, our BFF’s kids we love by choice or any of those precious little kids in our worlds we just can’t get enough of.  In the U.S., 45.1% of women through age 44 (based on the 2006 US Census Report on Fertility) do not have children. And in the Jewish community, that number is actually greater.

As a Jewish woman in this segment of the population (I’m tipping toward 41, single and not a mom), I am particularly interested in how being an aunt influences our dating lives and relationships. While the data around the general U.S. population of fertility rates among American women is astonishing to some – after all it seems most media, marketers and even politicians are speaking only to mothers – the data is even more surprising among our tribe.

Jewish women are more likely to have a bachelor’s or graduate degree than non-Jewish women, which is a factor in our later-aged marital rates. We are also more likely than non-Jewish women to have no children (or fewer children). In fact, the National Jewish Population Survey (2000-2001) reports that 52% of Jewish women ages 30-34 are childless compared to 27% of all American women. And when we do have kids, we are more likely to have had them over age 40 than our non-Jewish peers. Which means we spend much of our lives as aunts before becoming moms, if ever.

The same Jewish tradition that encourages our education and worldliness is also central to our sense of family. Many Jewish women struggle with wanting to have it all. While we are just as likely as our brothers to work in management, business and professional/technical positions (59% vs. 60%), we are also responsible for American Jewish continuity since we’re the ones who birth baby Jews. We’re not doing a great job at that, by the way. We have on average 1.8 kids while the replacement level requires 2.1 children per mother. Of course, the fact that we are less-likely to intermarry than Jewish men means we’re left with fewer choices in mates.

There’s no denying that our Jewish holidays are often so much more fulfilling when celebrated with children. We can’t wait to hear our nieces and nephews recite the four questions at the Passover Seder.  Truly, what’s the point of Chanukah if we can’t over indulge with a few gifts for those adorable children in our lives? And the Jewish New Year is so much sweeter with a child with whom to share an apple dipped in honey.

So, girls we have a lot of pressure to live up to; the expectations of our family, our community, our friends, ourselves, our bosses, let alone a guy we met here on JDate. Well fret not my PANK sisters! Being an auntie can help endear you to the right Jewish man (if it doesn’t, then he may not be the right man). 

Here are ten ways to be a Savvy Single Jewish Auntie!

1)    Date divorced dads! Divorced dads are often pretty mature because they are fathers and if they are serious about being in a relationship, they are more likely to be looking for a woman of any relative age who will be kind and generous of heart with their children. Savvy Aunties make great stepmoms!

2)    A man who is looking for a relationship that leads to marriage and children will be looking for signs to see if you’re potentially the mother of his future children. Talk about your nieces and nephews and how you go out of your way to bring them joy. That will show him you like children and do wonderful things for those you love very much. Of course, know your social cues; don’t risk over-talking about them. Keep it to one sweet story per date, or one iPhone photo album. He’ll pick up on your love for children pretty intuitively.

3)    Be an auntie everywhere. Smile at children who walk by you on your way to brunch. Coo over cute babies while waiting in line on your ice cream date. Pick up a runaway ball and return it to its tiny owner. And don’t roll your eyes at children making a little too much noise at the restaurant. He may not say anything, but he’s taking it all in.

4)    If you’re involved in a children’s charity, share that with your date. We have the ability to care and show compassion for children all over the world.

5)    Don’t let him see you sweat. It’s normal to want children (if that’s what you want), but sharing your pain of not having children with your date may put undue pressure on him and make him back away. Men don’t want to think you are interested in them only for their sperm! So talk about motherhood (if that’s what you want) in a glass half-full kind of way: “Aunthood sure is preparing me to be a better mom one day!”

6)    After a few dates, invite your date for a day in town with your nieces and nephews. Let’s see if he’s a Savvy Uncle!

7)    Offer to go out with his nieces and nephews on a special adventure. It will be a great way for you both to silently role-play parenthood together. And surely the way you take care of his beloved nieces and nephews will endear you to him. Be sure to stuff your bag with kid essentials, like juice boxes, wipes, and tissues. Remember to ask the parents about any allergies or other special needs. He’ll be impressed at your savvy. And do your best to help make him look like a super star uncle. He’ll adore you for that.

8)    Many Jewish women are hard working and stay at the office late or travel for business. Show your guy how you think of your nieces and nephews when you’re not with them by bringing home fun souvenirs from that trip to Paris. Also you can use video calling to read the kids a good night story while you are burning the candle at both ends to get that report done.

9)    Ask your date about the children in his life. Even if he doesn’t have a sibling with children, his buddies probably have a kid or two. He may not have many chances to talk about his uncle-hood to many others and may enjoy ‘schepping a little nachus’ over the kids in his life or how he got them the most awesome birthday gift.

10) Remember that being an aunt is a very important role in the Jewish Family Village. We are there to offer love, play, quality time and magical experiences to our nieces and nephews. We also offer their parents the support they need when they are pulled in so many directions. Aunts are often selfless women who share their time and income with the children in their lives and children around the world. Whether or not you have children at some point (and if that’s what you want, I truly hope that for you) remember that you are an aunt. You bring joy to children. And there is no child who couldn’t use more love and affection. Your confidence in all that you are (not dwelling on what you’re not – a wife and mother) is very attractive.  And the right guy will agree.

Melanie Notkin is America’s premier Savvy Auntie, empowering the nearly 50% of American women who are not moms to celebrate all they do for the children in their lives, while living their own lives to the fullest. As child lifestyle expert and tastemaker, Auntie Melanie has been featured numerous times on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX and CW showcasing the coolest kid trends of the season. SavvyAuntie.com is a 2009 Webby Award-nominee for the Best Family/Parenting site. Melanie and Savvy Auntie can be found at Twitter.com/SavvyAuntie and Facebook.com/SavvyAuntie.

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21 Comments »

  • Auntie Marcia – you’re so welcome. Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge the piece! XO

  • Marcia says:

    Hi Melanie,

    I’ve been an aunt for 35 years (!) and now I’m a great-aunt. I love being an aunt to my four nieces and feel so blessed.

    Your article is the first I’ve read in all these years that acknowledges what a special role we play, and validates our being.

    Thank-you So much!

    Auntie Marcia

  • Rita says:

    Its clean but its still rubbish

  • DanielC227 says:

    Having dated my fair share of women, and actually having enjoyed many of those relationships, in my life that past has led me to a point were I DON’T SEE A POINT IN DATING that wouldn’t lead to marriage! And I can certainly vouch for the other half of men who CAN be loyal and want nothing more than a loyal spouse! Shame some guys are more interested in stroking ego than in the blessings of marriage…Not that i was ready in my 20′s, certainly not, but I am now at 44…

  • Hi, “Savvy Auntie” here. I want you all to know that I read all the comments and appreciate your participation in the conversation.

    Ali – You can tell your friends and family that Auntie’s Day -sponsored by SavvyAuntie.com- is Sunday, July 25th. That might be a good time for them to show their appreciation for all that you for your nieces, nephews and friends’ children. Learn more at http://AuntiesDay.com.

    Thanks again, everyone!

    XOXO,
    Auntie Melanie
    Twitter.com/SavvyAuntie

  • Ali says:

    The Auntie roll is not that simple. Where do you draw the line between just having fun with the kids and disciplining them? As a 40something single woman I often get to see reality much clearer than parents. Parents may claim they are the parents yet I am family too ..

    I’ve come accross parents complaining about always caught buying presents; birthday, anniversaries, etc. Here I am buying presents for my siblings, their spouses and each kid’s bris, naming, birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, school graduation, even their weddings, etc … which I am very happy to celebrate, (do the math) but when MY birthday comes ….. HELLO, anybody home?? !!!

  • 1AspiringMensch says:

    I’m sorry to read about the experiences of women that have only found men with no paternal instinct… but I don’t agree that’s an innately male characteristic. As a (hopefully) Savvy Uncle, it’s not at all uncommon for me to find the situation reversed. The fact is that it’s hard to find the right person — and with the stakes so much higher for finding an actual mate, it’s also hard not to be a perfectionist.

    I think the advice offered is great. It would definitely work on me.

    (In fact… Melanie, were you still thinking of actually having a kid?) ;-)

  • Denise says:

    Dear Savvy Auntie,

    I am 44, a grandmother, happily divorced for 10 years, and sadly widowed for 5 years. I could not disagree with you more. Most men do not care whatsoever how much you like children, quite the opposite. Men do not want anyone who reminds them of anything maternal unless they need someone to take care of theirs. They already have mothers. I do sincerely hope that most me are not complete pigs as indicated by the response of one poster, but having been around the block more than once, I have found that men will attatch whatever positive attributes they want to a woman who is appealing enough. Divoced men over 40 in particular have a sense of entitlement to play and not make any committment because they have absolutely no concern that a woman their age is going off the market any time soon. My ex husband was 15 years older than I, and couldn’t marry me fast enough. I have most of the same qualities as before, and do genuinely love children ( a nice attribute in a teacher). I have had plenty of would be suitors, but being upfront about the fact that marriage is important to me,even after happily dating for a long time, makes men run for the hills.

  • Janis says:

    I have to say that I am 41 and an aunt of 5. While I do think it is important to be honest with the men that we single women date about our desire to have children, I absolutely do not think that women NEED to make sure that the man sees that soooo much. If he is into you, he will be asking about that and looking for that in you.

    I agree with David, guys,unless they are really looking for a wife and the mother of their children, will run for the hills if there is too much emphasis on children.

  • Simcha says:

    If women are looking so hard for a man to marry, why am I having such a hard time finding a woman on this site?
    By the way, a common mistake women make when dating that I’ve noticed is dating men their age or younger. This tends to not work out well for them, since these men are almost never serious. It is just biology, and biological clocks are working against women.

  • Sharon, Israel says:

    Hey Doreen, you go girl! :-)

    And to you sababa: I can only hope that you stick with women who are either done with or not into the serious thing altogether. Don’t act all hypocrite like the celebrities you have mentioned & don’t go around sending the wrong message to decent women.

  • Doreen Feldman says:

    Ummm, Sababa, I think you just proved Sharon’s point.
    There is nothing wrong with not wanting marriage or kids, but when you don’t, and from your comments it seems you plan never to want those things, you will run from women who do. And you can’t spend your entire life in “good relationships” with women when your goals are completely different. Every time they want to settle down, you split? You have just wasted how much of this woman’s time? I hope you are at least honest about your thoughts on the matter with these women before it is too deep into the relationship. I am sure there are women who want a non-legal commitment, palimony kind of relationship and you may be lucky enough to find one. However, it seems your main objection to marriage is the actual commitment part while you browse through your “variety”. I don’t think any women on this sight wants to simply be your flavor of the week, day, or hour. So thanks for giving us the advance warning. And yes, we have all been watching Tiger, Jesse, John, Bill, etc. They are spoiled rich boys who can’t keep it zipped and are now embarrassments to themselves, their families ans their careers. If these are your role models, I hope you never do have a son to pass your “wisdom” on to, we could all do with one less guy who only walks the course to see how many balls he can get into the holes.

  • Sababa! says:

    ” spend your intire life bouncing from one fling to another.”….

    Can you spend your entire life in good relationships without adhering to the dated institution called marriage?

    I say yes!

    C’mon…. get married at 21 years old? It is ludicrous to expect a man to stay loyal to one woman for 50-60 years…

    Were MEN… we like some variety!

    Sorry ladies, but that’s the reality….

    If you don’t believe me, look at Tiger, Jesse James, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, and the rest… They don’t have to be pretty, just different!

  • Sharon, Israel says:

    Hey david. I wouldn’t even consider taking a guy to a play date, since I don’t find it fits the early stages of a relationship, where I’m not even sure if I like him. There’s a time & a place for everything, yes, but I have to tell you: I honestly can’t understand the fear that a lot of you men have, even well into your 40′s, of women who want the dating to lead to forming a home & a family.

    Marriage is a blessed part of life. It makes me sad, that men often ridicule or avoid women who will admit that this is what they want from relationship.

    You can’t go on first dates forever, or spend your intire life bouncing from one fling to another.

  • david says:

    6) After a few dates, invite your date for a day in town with your nieces and nephews. Let’s see if he’s a Savvy Uncle!

    This is very naive advice.

    Why would a guy go out with your nieces/nephews if he hasnt yet met your parents? Too much (kid) pressure too soon — all you are telegraphing to the guy is that all you need a sperm donor and since your clock is ticking.

    Nieces/nephews should not be an analogue for wanting kids.

    As a guy, I would run for the hills with this vibe.

  • David says:

    Contigo111, I definitely want to have children and get married. I am finding that the women don’t want to commit, often saying they are not ready for a relationship!

  • Sharon, Israel says:

    Contigo111, I’ll drink to that. Mind you, I always thought what you say applied only to Jewish Israeli men. Here’s to you & all Jewish singles, finding their besherts soon!

  • EstherK says:

    Melanie’s a smart woman and a savvy auntie. :)

  • Contigo111 says:

    I am an aunt and a devoted mom of one adorable young child. The problem is that the Jewish men of today have no interest in getting married or having children or in women who adore kids (as your essay implies). That’s a large part of the reason why Jewish women are not having families. Maybe you should consider writing your next creative piece about where are the Jewish men who want to get married and have children.

  • Hi Niki!
    First of all, please call me Melanie. And if it’s ok, I’ll call you an “Auntie By Choice” since you choose to share your love, time and hard earned income with your friends’ children.

    I am sorry that you don’t see your generosity reciprocated. It’s not an unusual feeling; I’ve heard the same issues from many Savvy Aunties.

    My advice is to talk to your friends about this, and tell them how you love being included in their family village, but that – just as you put it – relationships go both ways. If it helps, show them this article from one of our Savvy Auntie Experts who shares with her sister something very similar to what you are feeling: http://bit.ly/9txJxS

    In the meantime, keep lovin’ those kids. I am sure they will always appreciate if no one else ;)

    XOXO,
    Melanie

  • Niki, Israel says:

    Hi Miss Notkin,

    I loved your article, especially ’cause I believe that the Almighty has put us on this earth not just for the sole purpose of marrying & having offsprings.
    I’m sort of a savvy auntie for some of my friends kids myself, but I have to tell you: showing an Israeli guy this side of you, would probably make him run for the hills, rather than to the nearest Jewlery store :-).

    I find that most married couple enjoy the perks of single friends, but don’t tend to give anything back, always claiming they are too busy in terms of fixing them up, or even as far as remembering their birthdays.
    Relationships are a two way street & having a family isn’t an excuse for ignoring a someone who’s always been there for you.

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