It’s not the most pleasant thought. But it is one that we all need to face at some stage in our parenting journey.
What happens if we both die? What happens to our kids? And what can we do to ensure they are getting the care, the love and the attention they need and deserve if ever faced with this situation?
There’s a lot of worry involved in parenting. And there are a lot of ‘what if’s…’ Most of these ‘what if’s’ revolve around the kids, about their health, their happiness, their future. Some of these thoughts take your mind into the dark territory where you don’t like to go.
Who will love your kids if you die?
What happens to our kids at the end of a school day if we’re not there? Who will walk them home, feed them, bathe them, read to them, cuddle them, kiss them goodnight? Who will love them?
These thoughts can be too much to handle for most of us, especially if, like me (and 40 per cent of Australians), you suffer from anxiety. And, as anyone with anxiety knows, the first rule of controlling anxiety is to stop worrying about the things you cannot control.
But, here’s the thing. When it comes to what happens to the kids, in the event of your death, you do have control. And so you should. You’re the mum and dad, after all, even if the very worst happens and you are no longer there. While no one can compare to you as parents, you can choose who will come closest to this role, who will protect them, love them, support them in a way that they deserve.
And choosing guardians for your children is something you should decide sooner, rather than later.
Making a will and appointing a guardian or godparent for your child can be a very difficult and personal decision for parents. Here are a few key things to consider and questions to ask yourself when choosing the right person for the role:
Who does your child already have a bond with?
Choosing someone your children know, love and trust is so important, especially as those first few weeks, months, even years, can be so difficult without you there. Having another adult to bond with can prove to your children that they are not alone, even if sometimes it feels like they are.
Who shares a similar lifestyle to you?
You may want to choose someone who has the same values, religious beliefs and morals as you do. That way you can ensure your children are being raised in a way that is similar to how you would have loved to raise them.
What plans for the future does the intended guardians have?
Do they plan on having kids? Or do they have kids already? Do they plan on travelling, moving overseas? How will their life goals impact your kids?
What would be the easiest adjustment for your children?
In many instances, your children may need to leave their family home if you and your partner both pass. But some moves are easier than others. Will your children need to change schools? Cities? Time zones even?
Who can provide (financially, physically and emotionally) for your children?
Your children may have a strong bond with their grandparents. But can they afford to take this on without a steady income? Physically, can they walk them to school, pick them up from sport, drive them to work when they are older?
It’s so important to not only choose with your heart, but also your head. But, just because it’s important doesn’t make it easy!
No child deserves to lose his or her parents. But it does happen.
Thinking about what will happen to your kids in the event of your death is likely to send you into a state of panic, fear, stress and sadness, which is why many people avoid thinking about it or putting a plan into place.
But, please, push past the fear and consider creating a contingency plan for your kids, in the (very unlikely) event of your deaths. Choosing guardians for your children is something you can – and should – do.
State Trustees have an easy to use will kit that Mum Central readers can download and fill in at home, in your own time, on your own terms, for just $31.95. It includes a section where parents can nominate who should act as guardians for their children, should the worst happen.
Yes, it is impossible to control every aspect of your family’s future. But you can control this. And, once you do have a will in place, you may find that the stress, the sadness and the uncertainty actually goes away.
(This is a sponsored article for State Trustees).