Can you consider yourself a parent without having or adopting children of your own?

“Sex and the City” star Kim Cattrall thinks so. “I am not a biological parent, but I am a parent,” she said during on BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour this week.

“I have young actors and actresses that I mentor, I have nieces and nephews that I am very close to,” she added. “There is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn’t include your name on the child’s birth certificate. You can express that maternal side, very clearly, very strongly. … It feels very satisfying.”

I asked Melanie Notkin what she thought of Cattrall’s parenting comments. Notkin, an aunt to six nieces and nephews, is the creator of Savvy Auntie, an online community for PANKS (that’s professional aunts no kids). Cattrall “might have gone a bit out of scope” of motherhood, Notkin says. Notkin wouldn’t equate aunthood with parenthood, but she does think aunts serve a powerful role.

One in five women is a PANK. “No matter how much a child’s mother and father loves them, they’re only two people,” Notkin says. “Childless aunts can provide children with experiences they may never have had. I’m an author; my brother and sister-in-law aren’t. I do things that their parents don’t do … the parents know I add value.”

Sixty-eight percent of PANKs, according to a study Notkin commissioned, say the children in their lives view them as a role model. And about 64 percent of them enjoy spending times with kids but are glad they are not parents themselves. Cattrall seems to fit in that category.

“Timing-wise, it was never right,” Cattrall, 59, says of her no-kids lifestyle. “I have been married, and I enjoyed very much being married, my two marriages. But we never really got to the point where it seemed a natural progression in our relationship that we would become parents.”

Would Samantha, Cattrall’s “Sex and the City” character, consider herself a PANK? Notkin says no. Carrie was a savvy auntie to Charlotte’s daughter, but not so much Samantha.

True to that character, the most durable of Cattrall’s relationships appear to be her female friendships.

“You’re born into a family unit, which you don’t choose,” she says. “And then you make your family. And men, for a lot of women of my generation, they come and they go. But that family that you’ve created, they stay. Those are the people that I want around my bedside, you know, when I croak. Those are the people who I know that I can really rely on — because they’ve actually been there all along.”

Now that sounds a lot like Samantha.

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