(Warning, this is a long one!)
Seems like the issue of guardianship is a big focus in our lives right now for two reasons. The first is not even about our child, but it's the one I'm finding most difficult to know what to do about.
The back-story is that I have a friend, we'll call her T, who I've known since 10th grade and who is now essentially a sister to me (we're both 32). We were for many years extremely close, best friends, but we've kind of grown apart over the years but we still care a lot about each other. She has two kids, 5 and 3, and has a VERY different parenting philosophy than me and DH, which of course creates tension between us. We have lived in different states since around 1993, so we see each other maybe once a year. As a result, I don't know her kids *at all* and the limited amount of time I have spent with them has been really uncomfortable, as both of her kids are extremely badly behaved to the point that I have no desire to try to have a relationship with them. Not to mention that she tells me about all of their very obvious emotional issues that she never attempts to address, other than to say that it's a "phase."
Anyway, she has two sisters younger than us, both of whom are pretty jacked up themselves, and parents who are both emotionally and physically VERY unhealthy. She had previously decided to appoint her youngest sister as godparent/guardian for her two kids, but that sister recently got a DUI so T had to face the fact that her sister is still VERY immature and unreliable. Her other sister is married to an abusive substance abuser, so she's definitely out of the question.
T asked me about 2 weeks ago if DH and I would agree to be the appointed guardians for her kids should something happen to her and her DH. She said she doesn't feel that she can count on her sisters or parents, and that doesn't leave her with anyone else. She said she knows that if DH and I are guardians, her children will have the opportunities and support for the things she thinks are important, like a good education.
At the time I said that I understand that she doesn't feel comfortable with anyone in her family taking custody of her kids, and that I would talk to DH about it. She assured me that she had ample life insurance to take care of all of their needs, including college. When I asked her for specifics on that, she got a little pissy, but basically told me that she would have $300k total for the kids in trust, and then around $2000 per month from social security.
OK, now I don't know a lot about finances, admittedly, but to me $300k does not seem like enough!! We may be over-doing it, but DH and I already have $600k in life insurance and we're planning to get more before Miss Baby is born just because should something happen to us, money is the last thing we'd want people to have to worry about.
Added to this is the huge and looming fact that neither DH nor I feel entirely comfortable with the responsibility of guardianship of her children. We don't know them, we live all the way across the country (we're in Ohio, they are in California) and what I DO know of them makes me feel like it would be a really tremendous emotional burden for our family. It just doesn't feel right.
On the other hand, I feel like if we decline her request, she really will be in a position where she doesn't have anyone reliable to name as godparents. I keep going back and forth - is it my duty as her friend, am I being selfish by thinking it would be too much of a hardhsip for us and for the life we want to provide to OUR OWN child? DH also pointed out that if something did happen to T and her husband, we may be the only people who could truly help her children get through the emotional trauma of that in as healthy a way as possible. But is it our responsibility, just because we're the only ones?
To complicate matters even further, I'm sure that if I told T how I felt honestly, she would take it really personally and be angry with me for not just agreeing without reservation. I'm sure it's something that would be between us forever, and she would somehow feel that she couldn't trust me or that we weren't as close as she had thought (or things along those lines).
But coming from HER point of view, I can understand how hard it is because DH and I are currently trying to decide on the godparents for Brynn; we are having a hard time choosing between my best friend and her husband, and DH's best friend and his wife as the primary guardians. I will say though that we have talked to both couples and they are both comfortable with this responsibility, but I would *definitely* want their complete honesty if they felt they weren't up for it for any reason!! I would never feel angry or hold some kind of grudge if they weren't able to do it.
So I guess I'm just trying to figure out how to handle the situation with T, more than anything. Should I tell her that we're not quite comfortable with it and just expect a negative response and live with it, or should I first try telling her that I don't think $300k is enough and see what happens (which would probably be "Fine. Forget it!")?
I realize that a friendship that doesn't allow room for total honesty, *especially* about a topic this important, has its problems (believe me!) but I also do have a lot of love, and sense of loyalty, for T. And even though the chances of something happening to her and her DH are slim to none, I take this responsibility VERY seriously and I don't want to commit to something I'm not 100% comfortable with, or that I think wouldn't be best for all involved.
Sooooo.....what to do?
Ever-evolving mama to my beautiful Brynn, and my little dimple-face Noah .