Should We Become Named Guardians for Several Children?

A few days ago, Sarah and I went out to dinner with another couple that we’ve been friends with for a long time – we’ve actually known the female in the couple for almost two decades. They live several hours away from us and we don’t get to see them terribly often, but we make it a point to see them at least a few times a year.

At that dinner, the couple asked Sarah and I if they could name us as guardians for their children in their will. We told them that we would have to give the decision some serious thought and discussion, and unsurprisingly it’s been a significant topic of discussion between Sarah and myself over the past few days.

Because this is an issue that other families are sometimes faced with, I thought I’d share some of our thought process with you with regards to this decision. I should point out that we haven’t made a final decision yet.

As is usually the case, we’ve made a list of reasons why we should do this, along with a list of reasons why we shouldn’t do this.

Why We Should Do It
The biggest reason is that their children will really need us if they lose their parents. We may be the best option they have for a stable life that offers some degree of continuity with their life with their parents. To me, this is the biggest reason for us to do this.

There’s also the consideration that it would take a weight off of the minds of our friends right now. As their family has grown, their concerns about child guardianship has grown as well. The simple knowledge that their children would be in a stable home if they were to pass would take some stress off of their shoulders.

We also would not have significant financial concerns, as they have strong life insurance policies and would change them to have us as secondary beneficiaries. According to my math, the amount received would actually exceed the amount needed to continue raising their children in their stead. If we properly used the money received from the insurance, we would be able to provide for the new children fairly well.

Why We Shouldn’t Do It
The big reason against doing this is that we’re unsure of our capacity to raise that many children. This would suddenly add several children on top of the three we already have, and frankly Sarah and I are unsure that we would be able to do this and still give each of those children the love and support they would need.

This really breaks down into three main “sub-concerns.”

First, would we be able to continue to be great parents for our own children? Our time would be spread more thinly and we would have less time for one-on-one interaction with our own children if more were suddenly introduced.

Second, would we be able to also be great parents for the new children? This is similar to the above concern, of course, but it’s also an issue when we compare ourselves to other potential outcomes for these children. With that many children under one roof, are we really the best option for them?

Finally, would we be able to have a functional and satisfying marriage with that many children? There are times where three children puts our marriage under stress. What would we do with several more children?

Clearly, we would have to adjust some significant portions of our life if this occurred. Sarah may return to a stay-at-home mom status, for example, and I may have to find some assistance with maintaining The Simple Dollar.

This is one of those moments in life where there is no clear “right” choice. There are two choices, each with good and bad elements to them, and each with serious consequences. Such decisions should never be taken lightly.

I’ll let you know when we make up our mind.

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