Having your first child is one of the most exhilarating, yet scary, experiences a person can have. There is no greater joy than looking into your new baby’s eyes, but the responsibility can be overwhelming. Suddenly, you find yourself worrying about not just your baby’s health and safety, but also that of your own. If something were to happen to you both, who would take care of baby?
These are not nice thoughts, so naturally, we all push them to the backs of our minds. But being the best parent you can possibly be includes thinking ahead and taking care of all of your baby’s needs, even the disastrous ones you hope never occur.
Why do you need to name guardians? If you think your mother or sister will automatically have the right to take care of your children, you are wrong. Unless you name a guardian in your will, anyone can ask for custody and a judge will decide. (That’s right, crazy Aunt Bea may come forward!)
Who should you name? This one question is often so tough that it can paralyze people for years. Many parents get stuck because no one is good enough for their baby! It’s true – no one will love him and care for him the way you would; but that’s just it. You’re not picking the best person, you are picking the next best person. Or, as I like to call it, the least bad person. And then, you’ll need to pick a second least bad person (back-ups).
Some things to consider: Who shares your parenting values? Consider morals and spirituality as well. Who does your child feel comfortable with already? Who is best prepared physically, emotionally and financially (if your own assets aren’t enough)? Does that person already have children and how would your child fit into that family? But perhaps above all, who will really love your child? Responsibility could turn to resentment, but love conquers all.
What if you want to name your sister, who has a heart of gold, but you’re afraid she won’t be able to handle managing your money as well? Many people name a different person as the property manager of their assets (a trustee) who will work with the guardian.
Do you need to tell the people you picked? That’s a personal decision. Some prefer not to, while others feel compelled to ask permission. Some wish to explain their decision, especially if not asking someone, say choosing one sibling over another, may lead to hurt feelings.
Although not the favorite subject of parents, choosing a guardian and legally stating it will give you enormous peace of mind for your precious baby. And now, on to other important tasks like sleep training!
Photo Credit: Gabi Menashe