When a child is born the last thing one wants to think about is death. However, in lieu of the birth thinking about a sudden or untimely death is perhaps most important. For many people having their first child produces those first realizations that you aren’t invincible. Since nobody can accurately predict the future or foresee unfortunate events that may happen; it is vital to thoroughly think through decisions about the care of your children. If you don’t and no family member is able to properly step to the plate of parental responsibility in your absence there is a good chance your child could end up in foster care, as a ward of the courts and that siblings may temporarily or permanently be separated.
How to choose? You are 28 and your parents are nearing 70. Are they the best people to care for your children? Only you can decide. However when you consider appointing someone to be a god parent you have to be realistic about their abilities physically, mentally and financially. You sister with 5 kids of her own may be willing and able but is it fair to ask so much of someone you love. Your parents too may be eager to raise your children but is their health going to hold out until your child is an adult. Choosing god parents is not easy and many people walk through the motions out of respect and admiration for someone else without really thinking about who will keep your child’s best interest in mind. Yes, it is best to choose someone your kids know and are comfortable with. It is best to choose God parents who will be able to ease the transition for your kids should they be forced to deal with death; but you also need to choose god parents that will raise your children into adults and not just indulge them because they love them so and feel guilty about their loss. And, many people do not have a loving, happy, well adjusted extended family to appoint God parents from. Then what, are friends an option? The answer is absolutely!
The role of a God parent is to take your place should you die. Horrific to think about it indeed. Ask yourself what is important to you in a parent. Dig deep and think about people in your life who share your values for religion, education and morality. Make lists that describe the opportunities you want your children to have in life and be specific and honest. Indicating that you want your child to have an education or be loved is obvious and sort of blasÃ©! Make an outline of all the things that you want your children to try in life and include your opinions on traveling, careers etc. If your children are older you no doubt have a good idea of what kind of person they are, what interests they have, where they struggle and where they thrive. It is vital to keep all of this in your consideration. If your children are just babies then find people close to you whose parenting efforts you respect and resonate with.
Choosing God parents today is more than just having someone to affirm a baptism tomorrow. For this reason it is implicit that you talk to your appointed God parents and have an open, honest dialogue about whether or not they want this responsibility. Your 22 year old cousin, with no kids and a wild life doesn’t want to wake up one day to hear that he has been chosen to raise your kids should you pass away. It is definitely an honor to be chosen as a God parent, but it should be something that is done for more reasons than tradition. The second thing to remember is that choosing God parents and legally appointing them are two very different things. Even if everyone in your life knows who you have chosen and what your wishes are for your children, without legal documents properly documented by an attorney and legally filed – your wishes mean squat. This can leave your children and those that you love caught in an endless, painful and often bitter battle over custody and it is your children who will pay the emotional price.
Remember that your responsibilities as a parent can long outdate your life span in many respects. What you give to your children today and what you dream for them in the future plays a large part in the life that they will have. Choosing God parents can be a great way to ensure that you have left your children with a legacy that will help them to continue to grow and succeed in life. While no one wants to plan for death, as a parent you have to. You can just assume that when the unthinkable happens that the world will react out of sympathy and respect and just do what needs to be done. Choose your god parents, and then have a talk with them that shares your outline for your child’s life. Make agreements about finances and include any of your special wishes. Then, hire an attorney and legally pay to have a will drawn up that includes custodianship of your children. You don’t have to explain your choice to others or even tell them about it for that matter. Every year or so, review your choice and make amendments if you need to. Choosing God parents is something that you should begin thinking about as soon as you find out you are having a child. With proper plans in place you can always hope that Murphy’s Law will apply and your preparedness will ensure that God parents are never needed for anything more than witnessing a baptism.