April 12th, 2019 9:18 AM
Parenting really is wonderful. Helping children to blossom, discover their talents, and embrace the world is incredibly fulfilling. Of course, it is not as easy as it sounds. There are many decisions to be made and responsibilities to undertake along the way.
Mostly, those decisions and responsibilities are readily assumed by us (reading books, hosting birthday parties, attending graduations). But not always. It is our job as a parent to make the tough decisions and endure the heavy responsibilities (crying babies, enacting discipline, homework patrol).
I would like to think that my husband Mike and I have been responsible parents. We have tried to raise our kids to be hard working, kind and caring. However, since Mike's heart attack, I now realize we were incredibly irresponsible in one regard. We never named guardians for our kids.
CHOOSING A GUARDIAN IS RESPONSIBLE PARENTING
In our defense, choosing a guardian is not an easy decision. Parenting your own child is an all consuming, life changing endeavor. Suggesting someone else assume that role seems incomprehensible.
Would guardianship of our kids by our parents close the door on our parents' hard-won carefree retirement years? Guardianship by siblings or friends without children would effectively force them into a lifestyle that they had not chosen. Didn't our siblings and friends with children already have enough on their plates? Guardianship was a lot to ask of someone, even family, even in theory. So, we didn't. No will with guardianship designations, no powers of attorney, no estate plan. Mike and I just played the odds. Fingers crossed that our kids would make it to adulthood without needing a guardian.
CHOOSING A GUARDIAN CARES FOR ALL SURVIVING FAMILY MEMBERS
Now I realize that not naming a guardian for our kids effectively would force that decision on our family. Raising a child who is not your own could be a burden. Choosing the best parent substitute for a family member's child could be downright soul crushing. If our kids turned out great, no regrets. But what if one of our kids developed problems? Wouldn't our family constantly wonder if they made the right guardianship decision?
That forced guardianship decision could have deeply impacted our children's lives. It could also have affected the harmony in our extended family. Plus, would our kids always have wondered why their own parents, two attorneys, did not find the time and garner the courage to draft a will with a guardianship designation? Was our inaction not only irresponsible but also cowardly?
Fortunately, for Mike and me the odds were on our side. Post heart attack, we now have an estate plan with guardianship designations. Our kids are adults and teenagers, so it made our guardianship decision a lot easier. Still, the decision needed to be made.
CHOOSING A GUARDIAN SHOULD BE REVIEWED PERIODICALLY
So, what guardianship advice is there for parents with young kids or with a disabled adult child? Use your parenting skills to solve your guardianship problem. As a parent you solve the problem in front of you first. Put the tired baby to bed before you read books to the toddlers.
The same is true for guardianship decisions. Think in the short term for your guardianship designation (three to five years). If after that time, no change, then great, let it ride. However, if your life or your guardian's life have changed, change the guardianship designation.
Through drafting a will, you be able to designate a guardian for your child. This way you can decide the best person to be a parent substitute for your child. You will avoid the possibility of forcing your family to make that decision for you. A guardianship designation is still not one of the easiest parenting decisions you will make but it is one of the most necessary.
If I have persuaded you and made my case please contact me or another trustworthy attorney to draft your will/estate plan.
Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?
On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.
No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.
Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.
Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.
To be fair, risk of infection outdoors is low. And many people...
By Todd Bannor
Posted: June 6th, 2020 9:25 AM
On: 'We have to own this,' say...
Lovely man. Lovely tribute.
By Mary Kay O'Grady
Posted: June 6th, 2020 7:28 AM
On: Mr.E's bye to Beye
By Jennifer Malloy Quinlan
Posted: June 5th, 2020 7:10 PM
On: With pop-up restaurant shelved, 8th...
"Ford said that by the next legislative session in the fall...
By Neal Buer
Posted: June 5th, 2020 6:51 PM
On: 'We have to own this,' say...
Until we meet again my friend.
By Mark Sitzman
Posted: June 5th, 2020 6:20 PM
On: Frank Muriello, 92
Jason, well said. I think the police should have massive...
By Neal Buer
Posted: June 5th, 2020 3:16 PM
On: Oak Park mayor apologizes; receives...
View All Comments