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Children’s Day: Tips on How to Pick the Right Guardian for Your Child

By Odunayo Williams

One of the most important decisions you may have to make as a parent is to appoint a guardian or someone who should take care of your minor children if anything happened to you or your spouse while they're still minors. In legal terms, this is called a guardian or conservator of the Minor.

A Minor according to most State Laws is a child under the age of 18. A Guardian may also be appointed for incapacitated adults or elderly people.

Most people in this situation are at a loss when trying to choose among family members and friends since each person will have pros and cons.

Here are some tips that you should consider when deciding who to name as the guardian of your young children.

1. Where is the Guardian’s Permanent Address?

Many parents naively think that the guardian for their children will move into the property left to their children and act as a nanny to their young children. Unfortunately, and in reality, this is the direct opposite. Surviving children usually have to re-adjust their lives to suit that of the Guardian.

Often, the re-adjustment starts with the children moving in with the guardian if they have room to spare, change their schools, and begin to learn new routines set by the Guardian.

It is advisable you select a Guardian resident within the location you desire to have your children raised. This affords the children some stability when it comes to their usual routines. For example, if you do not want your kids raised in a Lagos suburb, do NOT appoint a relative resident in a Lagos suburb as Guardian.

2. What Is the Potential Guardian’s Family Situation?

Most experts recommend picking a Guardian with close resemblance and similar structure to your family. You must ask the questions such as Is the potential guardian married with minor children, married with adult children, a single parent, married without children, or single without children? If married, then how stable is the marriage? If single, then is there a potential spouse or partner on the scene? If the potential guardian doesn't have any children, then is there the possibility of children in the future?

If the potential guardian already has children, then how many do they have and what are their ages in comparison to your children? Considering the potential guardian's family situation is the key to understanding how this can and will influence the upbringing of your children. Do you know the potential guardian's views on child discipline, education, sports, and other school activities?

3. What Are the Potential Guardian’s Religious, Political, and Moral Beliefs?

First, evaluate your own religious, political and moral beliefs and then think about what you know about the potential guardian's religious, political and moral beliefs. You may need to hold discussions on some major beliefs with the potential guardian If you don't know much about the potential guardian's beliefs, because this is the person who you'll be ​trusting to shape your children's views if you're not around. And while it will be impossible to find a guardian who follows 100% of your personal beliefs, someone who follows 80%-90% is certainly a better choice than someone who only follows 20%-30%.

4. What Is the Potential Guardian’s Financial Situation?

Do you know if the potential guardian is good with managing money, has a stable job, has a spouse or partner with a stable job, or where the potential guardian gets their money to pay the bills and put food on the table? Do you think that the potential guardian’s financial situation is too flaky hence increasing the risk of misallocation of any funds allocated to the upkeep of your children?

Much like considering the potential guardian's family situation, considering the potential guardian's financial situation is the key to understanding how this can and will influence the upbringing of your children.

5. How Old Is the Potential Guardian?

The age of a potential guardian can cut both ways. On the one hand, an older guardian may be in a better position financially and have more time to be hands-on with raising your children, but on the other, an older guardian may be out of touch with current trends in education and parenting and what kids today want and like says Morenike, a kids and parenting expert in Lagos. There's always the possibility that an older guardian may become ill or die before the children become adults.

With a younger guardian, they may be too involved in getting their own career and family in order to worry about raising your children.

6. Ask Permission First

After deciding on the perfect guardian for your child, don't break out the champagne just yet. The people you name have the right to refuse, so you'll want to discuss the matter with them. How to ask? Be respectful and complimentary. A guardian must be someone you trust so don’t be afraid to speak openly about your finances – how much you may leave behind for the upkeep of your children, how much insurance you have, whether there will be a fund for education, and so on. "The most common question that many potential guardians have is 'Will there be enough money so this isn't a financial burden for me?'"

Offer your guardian-elect ample time to think it over. They need time to settle into the enormity of what they are really committing to. They also need time to discuss it with their spouse or partner. According to Titilayo, a married mother of two, who consented to be the guardian for the kids of her late older brother, she said. "It's a decision that should be given as much thought as agreeing to adopt a child. It would fundamentally change your life."

Although most people say yes if asked, it is not rare for some to say No. Some people fear that their own kids or careers leave them too little time to take on such a responsibility. Others just don't feel cut out for surrogate parenthood.

If your choice does refuse, you need to act carefully to prevent rifts in your relationship. "Don't stop calling this person, even though that may be what you feel like doing," says a parenting expert based in the U.S It is important to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their reasons.

At all times, you must act in the best interest of your children and not sentiments. If a friend seems best qualified to raise your children in the way you desire, do NOT pick a relative because you think they may be disappointed with the choice of a friend over them.

Odunayo Williams is a Will Writing Expert and Trust Advisor at Carrot Technologies Limited. The information above is general in nature and is not legal advice specific to your situation. If you have questions about planning your estate, or creating a Trust or protecting your business or personal assets, you should speak with your Lawyer or you can reach Odunayo Via email at Odunayo.williams@carrot.ng or info@carrot.ng. Call us on 09011CARROT or +2348161366540