Choosing your Replacement

This post has been a very long time building up in my head, years in fact.  It’s all about choosing god-parents or guardians for your kids.  I can imagine no harder job than this one.

As Chris and I are not religious it is not about finding someone who will offer them spritual guidance and ensure their souls are led on to a higher plane.  For us it is all about the very practical task of choosing who will be best to look after your children if something were to happen to you.  It’s all about choosing your replacement.  Freaky decision and yet so very important.

Chris and I are the guardians of three kids:

  • One is Chris’ cousin (yes his aunt and uncle are not much older than we are) and he is now 11 years old, but he lives overseas and while we try to stay close, how close are you really to a child who doesn’t live in the same country.  But I often feel as though Chris and I are so close to being on the same page in terms of child rearing principles to his parents.
  • The other is my oldest (longest standing) friend’s daughter who is approaching her second birthday.  We have never met her and in fact she has four guardians, so I am not really clear on whether we would get custody of her if something were to happen to her parents or whether this is just a symbolic role offered to me in light of our long standing and deep friendship.   Surely it’s not at all cool that your child’ guardian is not clear on what the responsibility actually is?
  • The third is our niece, also approaching two now, who we see every week and who’s life we are very invovled in, yet in her two years we have only been allowed to baby-sit for a total of two hours on one single occassion, seems odd you would leave your child to someone who you don’t even allow to babysit?

And this is where we get into a sticky space.  You see what criteria do you use to choose guardians?   What is essential and what is just nice to have?  What is a deal breaker?

Chris feels very strongly that whoever it is should be very involved in your child’s life, should be someone your children spend lots of time with, so that should the dreaded happen and they have to become part of someone else’s family they are not also having to learn to get used to someone they don’t know very well.  And I don’t think he is wrong, but…

I think that almost as important as them knowing the person who they go to, is finding someone who will bring up your kids the way you would.  Someone who has the same principles in mind about how kids should be brought up and what is important.  I think it matters what kids are fed, how they are disciplined, whether they have routine in their lives.  I think it matters how your kids are taught responsibility and consequences and how to manage their lives as they grow older and independant.

I also believe that kids should grow up in (as far as possible) a stable, loving, unconflicted home with two parents who love each other as much as they love the kids.  Now I know life doesn’t always work out that way, I grew up with divorce (both my parents and my step-mom and Dad) but would you choose to give your kids into a home you know is not stable?

Chris and I have ideas on what morals kids should be brought up with, ideals on how and what they should be taught about religion (while we don’t 100% agree on this, we are on the same page).  Would you choose to hand your kids over to someone who has very drastically differing religious views from your own.

And does ANY of this actually matter more than simply ensuring that your kids are loved and cared for???  Please provide any feedback on this, I am going around and around in dramatic circles.

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About MommyAtLast

Finally a Mommy to our Medical Miracle IVF Boy / Girl Twins who were born in November 2011. We overcame azoospermia using hormone therapy for my hubby to conceive our precious Hope Babes on our 4th IVF.
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9 Responses to Choosing your Replacement

  1. Sweets says:

    So So So difficult!

    First the religious aspect you mentioned. I do not have strong religious views, and my husband, well even less so. Whil I would take religion into account, it would not be a deal breaker – but of course, having being brought up in a christian home (both of us), I would not stray to far away from this at all. For me there are other things that are more important, and in fact these are probably fundamental to christianity (and other religious beliefs) in any case…

    I think as long as they have the same values and principles. And it is improtant they have the same basic ideas of what is important in bringing up a child.

    But you know what – nobody will ever be good enough. I found that with while looking at day cares – and I know this is not close to being the same… But this is where I have already had to “leave” my child – and in the end you will not find anyone that will do absolutely EVERYTHING they way you want it.

    But back to the topic… I think they need to have same beliefs as you in terms of what you mentioned in your post. Good luck in making a decision.

    Our choice in the end – family. For me it was because my husband’s family is close – they all get together for birthdays and other “events”. And it is always a lot of fun, and so much “close-ness”. And I always want my boy to have this. (Not that my family is not close, but very different to my “other” family) So we opted for my brother-in-law and his wife.

  2. Sharon says:

    We had only one criteria…
    Whoever we chose as Ava’s guardian’s – love!
    They had to be someone who knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt would love Ava unconditionally.
    We’ve chosen my cousin and her husband and while I don’t necessarily always agree with their parenting style, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ava will be loved should the unthinkable happen. For me, the rest is all secondary.
    Mostly because my Mother and her brother were raised from small children, by their guardian’s who treated them cruelly and never loved them. Total deal breaker for me!

  3. Mash says:

    I agree with Sharon. I’m not even worried about religious beliefs, I wouldn’t care if my children had to convert to Islam or something radically different from my belief system! As long as they were loved dearly, and given a firm structure within which they grew up to be powerful and happy adults. The guardians need to love your children the same way you do, and from there – they will make decisions in your children’s best interests, even if those decisions are different to what yours would have been.

  4. Kitty8218 says:

    Yup this is a tough one and yet I’m so surprised at how some people make their decision! My DH and I seem to be very popular when it comes to being chosen as gaurdians/godparents! We are officially gaurdians to our 2 nephews – it’s in writing in a will….. and then one un-official goddaughter that was just born – and another unofficial godson in the USA.

    When friends of my DH said they want us to be godparents/guardians I found it difficult to accept not only because I don’t have kids etc but because we’re just friends and not even that close to start off with. Anyways to cut a long story short I told them that if they want to choose us there are a couple of conditions – 1. they must put it in writing – in a will – because if something were to happen we’d have no say and their wishes would fall away as family would come first. 2. We must know the child. the child will have to see us regularly and even spend one weekend a month with us so that she will know us. Because it’s unfair on the child to go to complete strangers! they seemed to agree but haven’t put anything in writing as yet, so I’m not pushing the issue! But I feel that a guardian is so important. It must be someone your child knows and loves and would be closest to their own parents.

    For example our nephews. We are the closest things to their parents. They also know and love us – although we don’t see them often they love us and we love them. I couldn’t picture them going anywhere else. I made sure that a will was signed up and that they have sufficient life cover and education provisions in place that should something happen we will be able to financially offer them what their parents can. But most importantly a loving and stable home.

    As for religion etc… it shouldn’t be a deciding factor…. I feel that the gaurdians should be actively involved, preferably family – because blood is thicker than water – and as close to you as possible.

    I hope this helps – and good luck. It is a very necessary and important decision to make. I would also suggest asking the selected guardians and give them a choice and make sure you have a will set up as well as proper financial policies in place to take care of them should something happen. (That’s me wearing my Financial Advisor cap 🙂

  5. Interesting post ! I am also thinking about it already at this stage of our adoption process. The mere thought of having our baby orphaned a second time, is just heartbreaking.
    I agree with the above that LOVE is the most important factor but as we know, Love can stretch and shrink, so as parents I think we have the responsibility to cultivate a close/good relationship with the guardians we chose. …. I believe that the child will feel that his/her parents really appreciated the guardians and will therefore have an easier time adopting them as replacement should, G-d forbid, the worse happen.
    As a future mum of a brown child (Ethiopia), I also decided that cultural heritage is important. DH and myself chose an Ethiopian friend as the Godmother. In fact we do not know her sooo well, but she and her mother have been actively involved in our adoption process. We somehow know we like her. She is very loving and gentle and something clicked with her the first time we met her. She accepted our proposal !
    As for the Godfather, we are thinking either a member of my DH’s family either my brother, for the family ties.
    Then, last but not least, we are considering the financial aspect.
    So to summarize, these are our criteria: Love, closeness, cultural heritage/family ties, finance.

  6. michelle says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this too since I’m 39 and pregnant with twins and my DH is 45. Neither of us have siblings who are physically close to us nor do any of them have children who will be within 15 years of the age of ours, or they don’t have children at all. I enjoyed reading about your thought process and it is fueling mine. Thanks!

  7. Yvonne says:

    Hi there Juanita! It is such a difficult decision, but I agree with all the ladies above. As long as who ever you choose will love your child unconditionally. No one will ever be good enough to raise your children. We’ve made my sister and her husband guardians of our kids, they are completely different to us in every way – my hubby and I are these type A perfectionists, they are the opposite. But I know that they will love our children unconditionally should anything happen to us, and as my sister knows me so well I am sure she will also “try to do what we would do when it comes to making decisions”. But love is definitely the most important thing…..
    So glad to hear pregnancy going so well.
    All the best
    Yvonne xxx

  8. Missy says:

    I agree that someone who will unconditionally love your child is most important, along with someone who will be a part of the child’s life now. I don’t see these as a trade-off, but the two should go together. If you love someone then you will want to be a part of their lives now. I think it would be horrible to first lose your parents and then go live with near strangers. I would say someone who shares your values next, but not necessarily parenting style. I care more about the values my child is taught than whether the guardian would buy all organic food as I would. And while religion is part of values, in some ways it is different and I would not be concerned with it. I would however request that my child be brought up according to our religious beliefs if they are different than the guardians. So I would expect the guardian to do things to expose the child to our religion.

  9. Lesley says:

    It is SO bad but we don’t have anyone / any couple in mind for Alex. Thanks for posting this and thansk to the rest for their comments. Like Sharon and the rest said, I want someone who would love Alex like their own. I know 2 couples who I believe would do that in fact probably already do, the only problem is that they are not family relations.

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