friendship

"It was a decision I never wanted to make, but I had to."

For the sake of my kids.

It’s something no parent wants to think about.

The idea of someone else raising my children, it rips me apart.

But the sad reality is that tragedies do happen and it’s best to be prepared.

I’m currently going through the process of choosing a guardian for my kids. In the event that well… you know…  I want to know that my children would be looked after by the right people. I

It’s heart breaking even thinking about it but I needed to know that if I wasn’t here my kids would be cared for, loved and raised using the same parenting values I try and abide by.

"I needed to know that they would be loved and cared for." Image via iStock.

It's not easy though. There are so many things to consider when making such a huge decision.

It's not  just about who loves the children the most or who spends the most time with them. You need to think about things like relationship breakdown, finances, ageing and longevity of the arrangement.  It's a task that I had been putting off for ages simply because it was so damn tricky to navigate.

What you don't realise until you get into it, is that naming a guardian for your children is also a task fraught with family politics and one where peoples feelings can potentially get hurt.

At one point I mentioned to my father that we were considering my aunt and uncle as potential guardians. The look on his face said everything: "Why wouldn't you choose someone in our family?" Suddenly people feel hurt if you don't choose them as your preferred option even though your reasons may be perfectly valid.

While I was in the thick of confusion I came across an article on MouthsOfMums which spoke about the common mistakes people make when choosing guardians. It mentioned things like basing your decision on finances alone, choosing a couple (i.e. you choose your best friend and her husband but then something happens to your friend. Do you want her husband raising your children without her?) and thinking that family is the only option when it comes to care. It made me think about my own situation and I became aware that I too was trapped in the common errors.

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"Initially I thought of my in-laws but I wondered if that was fair at their stage of life." Image via iStock

Initially,I assumed we would name my parents-in-law as guardians but then you start thinking about how things would really be. Both of them are now in their 60's and getting on in life. Combine their ageing and significant health issues and I began to second guess myself.

Were they really capable of handling two growing boys at this stage of life?

My husband is lucky enough to have two fabulous sisters but they are young and just starting their own lives. Forging careers and relationships and spending time enjoying the journey. Is it really fair for me to be asking them to take on the care of two small children? Naturally, this would direct their lives in perhaps a very different way. Did I have the right to do that?

One of the things that I connected with in my reading was the idea that you don't necessarily need to name one person as sole guardian of your child. It's a huge responsibility to undertake and perhaps it's a role that could be shared.  Maybe it's not ideal but neither is someone apart from their parents raising them. I don't want my sisters-in-law to put their lives on hold and change plans and likewise, I don't want ageing grandparents to bear the burden of raising small children all on their own. I also liked that this meant members of my extended family could play a significant role in my children's life.

Drafting a will is crucial when you're a parent. It's not an easy or a fun process by any means but it's necessary. Now that our decision is all but made I feel like a weight has been lifted. It's done, it's there in writing and hopefully it will never ever be needed.

How did you make the tough decision on guardianship?

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