Why Don’t More Parents Choose Guardians for their Kids?

Last week, Jacoba Urist, a writer on personal finance for families and author of the Happiest Parents, wrote a piece in the Huffington Post about mistakes parents make when choosing a guardian for their children.  It’s not a scenario any parent wants to imagine, but it’s one they should all plan for nonetheless. There is no perfect choice in these scenarios but parents must still make a decision.  She identified “4 mistakes”:

1)  Parents wait too long to choose someone.

2)  Parents assume that someone will step up- a risky assumption to make as not many people are prepared to take on that kind of responsibility.

3)  Parents express their choice of a guardian verbally or in an email, but do not write it in their will.  This is a mistake because judges who decide guardian cases do so on the basis of wills.

4)  Parents feel uncomfortable asking someone to be their child’s guardian.

It was interesting to see how she encourages parents to put aside these fears or assumptions and make a decision now, knowing that they can change their minds if someone more suitable comes along later on. In a society in which we change jobs all the time, relocate, add and subtract friends at the click of a mouse, why lock in guardians when our children are still in diapers? When you think about it, a person of your choice will always be a better fit than a person a judge or grieving family decides upon.

I’m not a parent… so I guess I never had to think about “guardians for my children” and “what would happen if my partner and I passed away”.  One thing I know and understand though, is the importance of creating a circle of trust around a child. Whether it is your niece, nephew, godchild, grandchild, best friend’s kid, they deserve to have someone they can count on. So needless to say that the question of “nominating guardians” resonates deeply as I try to communicate to people on a regular basis that it really does “take a village to raise a child”. And it is OUR responsibility as friends and relatives to be there for the children that matter the most in our lives. It is our duty as adults to protect & guide children, and transmit our wisdom.

Parents or not- what if OMGparents (friends and relatives that care about a child) could step in and become unofficial guardians? What do you think?

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