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Who gets your kids if you die?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

I hope this is the right place to put this. I couldn't think of another forum more fitting.

 

I hope someone here can give some input. We are not even TTC'ing yet due to lack of insurance. This is an issue that we have talked about for many years. If something happened to DH and I, I don't know who we would trust with raising our kids. 

 

Family background- When we were kids, my mom seemed uninterested in being a mom. We would get smacked/spanked/bitten etc. often without warning or even told why this happened. I realized early on this was frustration and sometimes revenge. Things are much better now. My youngest sibling is 21. I guess the pressure of being a parent is off. She is now the closer to sort of person I needed as a mom when I was growing up.  My father was great, he would actually listen to me and it was always very easy to talk to him when I was upset about something. I would like the kids to be able to see my family. Although I am concerned about constant exposure.

 

Option 1. My sister and her husband.  They just had their 1st, he is almost 18mos. Sis uses GD and set down strict rules with the family that no one will spank, bite or otherwise touch their DS in anger. The family respects this. My BIL, can be very mocking at times even towards children and can seem like a bully(calling out mistakes, rather obnoxiously. Seems to try to make others feel stupid) However, he is very loving and affectionate with his DS. They live only 5min away from my parents.

 

Option 2. Some good friends of ours. They are currently engaged. She is bipolar(I have to admit, I don't know a whole lot about bipolar disorder) They are both open minded, kind and generous people. They live 2000miles from my parents. 

 

My DH's family- 

 

His 2 step siblings are both still in high school.

 

His cousins seemed like really great loving parents.  But ever since DH left their church, we don't hear from them. We were cut out of the family news letter(written by his aunt). We haven't seen or heard from them for about 8 years. 8 years is a long time, we have no idea who these people are now. 

 

 

How are we supposed to make a decision like this? One of my biggest fears is having a baby and no one will seem like the right fit. This is a main reason we have put off having any kids, we haven't been able to pick anyone. Any input or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks

post #2 of 35

Well, it's unlikely, for one, so I wouldn't worry so much about it (and it wouldn't stop me from having children).  I think you pick your best option that is willing.  If a better fit comes along later, you can change your will.

 

In my case, my sister would take our children.  We agree on our parenting philosophies so it's a good fit.  They would also inhereit our life insurance, 401k, etc to help pay for taking on our children.

post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 

I know it's unlikely that even one of us would die. I am a worrier and a planner. I have been thinking of this as some *is going to happen* so I had better be ready for it.

 

I think my sister would be the best choice for now, but then I imagine my kids being mocked and made to feel stupid by BIL.

 

 

Then again since it's so unlikely, maybe I should relax and enjoy being a mom. I guess I just want the peace of mind, KWIM?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #4 of 35
I think having a will that establishes guardianship of your children is one of the "most grown-up things" one can do as a parent.

My kids have a family friend who loves them as their guardian. Our families were iffy and don't value books and college education the way we do. Do get this taken care of.

Oh, and to the bi-polar thing... usually they are fine unless they skip their meds... then things can get dicey. I 'm not positive that I would choose that for my kids unless her soon to be hubby was very committed to the idea of keeping her a fit guardian.
post #5 of 35
Thread Starter 

Ok, so I just had a conversation with my sister. I told her she and her DH were at the top of our list to get guardianship of our kids if the unthinkable should happen. As gently as I could, I explained that BIL can be mocking and insulting at times. And that I'm sure he doesn't intend it to be mean spirited, but it can still be hurtful. She understood and said her DH doesn't always think about things before he says them. I asked her if she ever talks with him about it. She says no, she doesn't notice because he talks that way to everyone. But he knows children are more sensitive. 

 

I'm sure this is a difference of perception, but I have seen him be snarky to kids.

 

Over the weekend DH and I went to our nephews birthday party. We were walking into the house, my mom in front helping Sis and BIL's son(almost 18mos.) climb the stairs into the house. The steps were kind of high for a little kid, about mid-thigh hight for him, so he was taking some time getting up the steps. So, BIL says to his DS in a mocking tone something to the effect of  "Let's go, we don't have all day!" I don't remember his exact words. To me this sounds disrespectful. I would not appreciate being talked to that way.

 

 

Am I overreacting about this? Should this be a reason to name someone else the guardians if everything else is good? 

post #6 of 35
It doesn't sound like you have many other options. But yes, I don't think having your kids parented by him is the best choice.
post #7 of 35

It's a tough choice, and you have to keep in mind that no one will ever be as good as you, period. We wound up choosing one of DH's sisters. They have different religious views and do things rather different, but they're stable, like kids, live close to their family (lots of help plus all good people) and are generally good people.

post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abvnx View Post

Ok, so I just had a conversation with my sister. I told her she and her DH were at the top of our list to get guardianship of our kids if the unthinkable should happen. As gently as I could, I explained that BIL can be mocking and insulting at times. And that I'm sure he doesn't intend it to be mean spirited, but it can still be hurtful. She understood and said her DH doesn't always think about things before he says them. I asked her if she ever talks with him about it. She says no, she doesn't notice because he talks that way to everyone. But he knows children are more sensitive. 

 

I'm sure this is a difference of perception, but I have seen him be snarky to kids.

 

Over the weekend DH and I went to our nephews birthday party. We were walking into the house, my mom in front helping Sis and BIL's son(almost 18mos.) climb the stairs into the house. The steps were kind of high for a little kid, about mid-thigh hight for him, so he was taking some time getting up the steps. So, BIL says to his DS in a mocking tone something to the effect of  "Let's go, we don't have all day!" I don't remember his exact words. To me this sounds disrespectful. I would not appreciate being talked to that way.

 

 

Am I overreacting about this? Should this be a reason to name someone else the guardians if everything else is good? 


Here is the thing, you're never going to find exact replicas of yourselves.  It's a very hard decision, but ultimately, an important one, IMO.  

 

We wrote a list of the people we wanted and then narrowed it from there.  It wasn't easy and I'm still not in love with the idea of both of us passing away (naturally, hah!), but I'm at peace with our decision.  I think that's the best you can hope for, you know?  

post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 

I guess we might have to sit down and openly discuss our concerns with him. Thank you for all the advice!

post #10 of 35

Honestly, I'd hold off on the decision until you are at least pregnant.  Stuff could happen that would change who you would choose.  Originally, when we were TTC with DD1 we were going to use my partner's sister.  She's way different in terms of parenting style, but likes kids, is a nice person, and she seemed mature and responsible, and we thought she could probably handle the whole thing. 

 

However, she's now a single mom of infant twins, we added twins to our family, she was diagnosed with a serious chronic illness, and she's made some really, really questionable choices now that she's a parent.  I can't see it working for her to be a parent to 5 kids (4 of whom are still infants currently) while dealing with her illness, working and juggling her social life.  And from the choices we've seen, I don't think it would be her social life or her work life that would pay the price.  Plus she is 3000 miles away from my family, and her support system where she is is rather questionable.  And if something happened to HER after she got our kids (which is far more likely because of her health issues) her mom would get the kids, which is a terrifying thought.

 

When we were first thinking about this about 3 years ago we discounted my parents because they were enjoying their recently emptied nest and my brother because his work and lifestyle were totally not kid-compatible.  However both have settled down a lot, my parents have said they would be fine with un-emptying the nest, my brother has changed jobs and has dated several women with children now, and demonstrated that he can step up to the plate when he needs to.  Plus they both have family support nearby and my parents have already done this once (and did a good job of it). 

 

Long story short, I feel completely, 100% different about who should get the kids than I did even 1.5-2 years ago.  A lot can happen, even in just a few months - you could meet people, people's life circumstances change, people show you sides of themselves you didn't know about, etc.  I'm totally a planner, but this is one of those things where it might make sense to wait a bit...

post #11 of 35

+1 to TheGirls. I would have chosen my sister at your stage in the decision making process (i.e preTTC) but then she got married, had kids and moved really really far away. She'd still do a good job if we asked her to, but she has very different parenting and religious views, plus i'm not relocating my kids to another continent in the event of my death! Then there's both my parents and Dh's parents. Neither are a perfect match, but again, they would work out if they had to. My parents have my disabled sibling still living at home, plus the religious/parenting differences, so they were actually off the table when we first started discussing it. Now though, my sibling is getting increasingly independent and is in great health, plus I'm loving the relationship that my parents have with my DD. So where before I would have not wanted to pick them, they're now looking like a reasonable option.

 

My best option so far though wasn't even a possibility 3 years ago in the beginning of the process. She's my bestie from school, but was unpartnered, no kids, lots of travel and unstable job situation. In the last 3 years though, she's met a great guy, settled down in a town close to my dd's extended family, and is now engaged and getting ready to start her own TTC journey. So now she is probably our number 1 choice. Things just change so quickly, I'd hesitate to make a decision before you're even pregnant, but be prepared re-evaluate that decision throughout your kid's life... my parents had different guardians picked for us at different times in our lives. 

post #12 of 35
I agree that you might change your mind down the line. If I were you, I would just write up your will with your first choice (your sister) and then move on. You can re-evaluate this once you actually have a child, and update it then... I just think having it in writing & formalized might help you move past this. I don't think you need to talk to your BIL at this point (and honestly, I don't see how talking about it once would change his attitude), but if you think you can do that without creating family drama, go for it. Or you could just include a letter in your will that explains your choice & any concerns you have.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm trivializing any of this, and it's awesome that you are planning ahead!
post #13 of 35

Picking guardians is a very difficult task. Hubby and I didn't make a final decision on it until we were pregnant with our second child. Hubby has no siblings and is not particular close to his cousins (also none of them really know me or even much about me ). His mom is not in good enough health (in my opinion) to care for two children. As a result of me feeling his mom was unsuitable, my hubby implied my parents are unsuitable despite them being younger with fewer health issues. But as my parents are divorced and remarried to other people, I decided to eliminate them so one parent wouldn't feel slighted that the other one was asked. I have two brothers. One is definitely not the type of person I'd want raising my children. We chose my other brother despite him not being a perfect fit. He's not a dad yet so I don't know exactly how his parenting style will shape up. He is going to be getting married this winter with plans to start a family shortly thereafter. 

 

But really no one will parent my kids in the way I hope to.

 

Our back ups are my hubby's college roommate and his wife. I am very unsure about that. I don't know them very well. I don't know how they parent their daughter. I know they metioned wanting four kids of their own and if they follow that plan and then need to take our two kids (or more) than that is a very full house. They are DS1's godparents yet they didn't acknowledge his first or second birthdays in any way. That makes me feel uneasy.

 

We also somewhat considered my stepsister but she's a bit younger than me and still has some maturing to do: 2-5 years down the road she might be the best option but I'm unsure of changing our minds on it. Typing it all out like this, I might consider approaching my hubby and suggesting she become our back up once she's a bit more mature and settled.

 

Good luck with the decision. It is not easy.

 

 

post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 

In a way, I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling with this issue. Something else that kind of bothers me(this also irritates my DH to no end) BIL seems almost like the 1950's type husband(think Archie Bunker). We were at their house one day and Sis was saying she had to make him lunch before she left. It was just canned soup with crackers. He can't do that himself? No, he can't cook. Then again, this was just a snapshot of their life together.

 

He also has HIS spot on the couch If anyone else sits there, he demands they move so he can sit there.

 

The more I think about this, the less comfortable I am with BIL parenting my kids. I guess it's we'll just have to wait and see. Thanks again, mamas!

post #15 of 35

We have 2 kids and are very much struggling with this, and keep putting off the discussion and the will.  It is not an easy thing, and nobody is the perfect choice.  In my case, my sister would be the perfect choice (according to me, anyway), and almost is, except for some similar hesitations with her husband.  Is there anybody who thinks their choice is actually perfect? 

post #16 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by reezley View Post

;Is there anybody who thinks their choice is actually perfect? 

If you wait for perfect you'll never get it done. And I couldn't take that first "both kids at summer camp" cool vacation with my spouse before having this sort of thing tidied up.


I forget who, but one of our MDC moms had to go to foster care because her parents didn't have a will when they were killed suddenly. She's quite bitter.

No offense to MDC moms who foster but I didn't want that for my kids.
post #17 of 35

This is a hard issue, but it is also great that so many people do take it seriously and get it into their wills, rather than ignore it hoping it will never be a problem.  So, kudos to all of you! 

 

We were lucky that we have close friends with one child of their own, who parent in a way we would approve of for our own children.  Of course they aren't us and would not make the same decisions we would on everything.  But we have to trust in their innate goodness and know that, being faced with losing both parents, our children would have a loving, supportive home to grow up in.  Will they be safe?  Will they be cared for?  Will they be loved?  I think those are the most important questions to start with.  I have also considered writing up a few letters to leave with my will for my children, should the unthinkable happen.  That way, they have the voice of mom and dad, reinforcing how loved they are and offering a little of what we would have liked to have passed down to them, like our values (and what little wisdom we might have gained...)

 

Good luck to you.  And, like other posters have mentioned, you can always change your will later if a better options seems to come along.

post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by reezley View Post

We have 2 kids and are very much struggling with this, and keep putting off the discussion and the will.  It is not an easy thing, and nobody is the perfect choice.  In my case, my sister would be the perfect choice (according to me, anyway), and almost is, except for some similar hesitations with her husband.  Is there anybody who thinks their choice is actually perfect? 


I doubt it, but I do think some people have a much easier time with it & more clear-cut, logical guardians!

The thing that finally kicked me into gear & got me to sit down with the lawyer to write the will (which we are just now finalizing) is the thought that there are some very BAD choices in our situation... I would not want DS to wind up in foster care as philomom pointed out, or with either set of grandparents, or my brother, or DH's siblings, etc. And for most of those options it really scared me to even think about DS ending up with any of them. So we picked our "less than ideal but better than all the rest" choice and put it in writing, so at least we know he won't end up in the worst of the options! I'd rather have him in a less-than-ideal family than in a really toxic one!
post #19 of 35

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I doubt it, but I do think some people have a much easier time with it & more clear-cut, logical guardians!

The thing that finally kicked me into gear & got me to sit down with the lawyer to write the will (which we are just now finalizing) is the thought that there are some very BAD choices in our situation... I would not want DS to wind up in foster care as philomom pointed out, or with either set of grandparents, or my brother, or DH's siblings, etc. And for most of those options it really scared me to even think about DS ending up with any of them. So we picked our "less than ideal but better than all the rest" choice and put it in writing, so at least we know he won't end up in the worst of the options! I'd rather have him in a less-than-ideal family than in a really toxic one!
 


I have to say, this was a big factor for us as well.  

post #20 of 35
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post



I doubt it, but I do think some people have a much easier time with it & more clear-cut, logical guardians!

The thing that finally kicked me into gear & got me to sit down with the lawyer to write the will (which we are just now finalizing) is the thought that there are some very BAD choices in our situation... I would not want DS to wind up in foster care as philomom pointed out, or with either set of grandparents, or my brother, or DH's siblings, etc. And for most of those options it really scared me to even think about DS ending up with any of them. So we picked our "less than ideal but better than all the rest" choice and put it in writing, so at least we know he won't end up in the worst of the options! I'd rather have him in a less-than-ideal family than in a really toxic one!
 


 

This is where we are too. I feel kinda stuck. My middle sister lives with her MIL who clearly has some undiagnosed mental illness, and still wants to stay out partying until 2am(even when she agreed to be back at 10eyesroll.gif.) She also spanks and is sometimes just mean to her kids. 

Youngest sister is very responsible and level headed, but lives at home and is just starting college(In a few years, she might be the best choice)

Youngest, my brother, now 21 dropped out of school at 15 and hasn't had a steady job. 

 

Option 2. Good friends of ours. I'm not sure how much of a support system they would have. Her parents live nearby, but her father made/makes comments about her weight, as in "Do you REALLY think you should be eating that?" irked.gif

 

DH and I were recently discussing option 3. My aunt and uncle. They wouldn't spank, mock or belittle a child. Their kids seemed kind or spoiled when we were kids but they all grew up to be decent people. They live about 8hrs away from my family. My DH is hesitant because he wants to get to know them better. So far they seem like the best choice, at least for now. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited for typo


Edited by Abvnx - 8/19/11 at 9:53am
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