I was sucked in to a particularly ….oh, I can’t think of the right adjective. That one word that will hang, shining and bright, symbolic of the emotions I want to portray. So let’s keep it simple. Let’s just say I was involved in a conversation yesterday.
The main players were myself, Mil, Bil/Sil, and HippyFamily…even though only Mil and I were actually there. I’ll leave out the main jist of the judgemental craziness for another post and focus on this point: who are you trusting to raise your children should you and your partner both die?
Not a pleasant thing to think about, but necessary. TMD and I were particularly worried about the safety and safeguarding of our own unique family configuration, and therefore had an explicit and detailed will – one for each of us – drawn up when I was pregnant.
Bil and Sil have chosen to leave their children in the care of HippyFamily. As far as I know, that has not changed. HippyFamily were selected because of ‘how we parent very similarly to them.’ Meaning, when our first niece was a newborn, they wore her in a sling….and HippyFamily introduced them to slings. Obviously it’s a bit more complex than that, but we can safely say the two families, in addition to being good friends, were united in their love of attachment parenting.
Roll on four years and their parenting philosophies really could not be more different. We are very similar to HippyFamily. In a nutshell, they are still attachment parenting, and they are unschooling. Just like us. Whereas Bil and Sil put their kids in nursery/had a nanny from the start, are often out of the country and away from the kids, and are pushing a very competitive, academic based lifestyle. Fine. To each their own.
But the conversation was Mil saying, ‘Yes, but if Bil and Sil died, HippyFamily would have to raise the children as Bil and Sil have been doing, wouldn’t they? I know we are too old, but if you left Snort and Coconut to us, we would do our best to make sure we raised them to the letter the exact same way you were raising them.’
All obvious comments about how it would be impossible to raise a child exactly the same as another person, I don’t know that I agreed with her.
I throw my hands up and wholeheartedly admit I am in the same camp of thought as HippyFamily – we choose to raise our kids similarly, which is very different from Bil/Sil. And perhaps that clouds my opinion and influences me more than I realise. I don’t know.
But I sort of think if you want your child to be happy, if you want them to be raised as one of the family, then there is a lot of give and take required. The lifestyle my nieces have and will continue to have is dramatically incompatible with HippyFamily. I don’t even know if they could mesh.
I believe that a parent has a responsibility to pick someone you trust to raise the children. Not someone that has to follow an exact script you leave behind (and I don’t know about Sil and Bil’s beliefs on this, so from here on out it’s all me), but someone you know will do the best they can. For us, that meant choosing someone with a similar outlook on life, that we KNOW will do her best even if she may not make the same choices as us.
Would I like Snort and Coconut to remain out of the school system? Obviously, yes. But more than that, I would want them to be with their aunt, who is fun, passionate, smart, and loving. She would offer them a different life than the one they would have with us, but let’s face it – if Snort and Coco had a life without us, it would always be different than it would have been.
So who has to adapt? Does the new family and caregivers have to change their way of life to incorporate a new child or two (though of course you can always choose a guardian who IS very similar to you, and have discussions about these things just in case)? Does the child have to ‘fit in’ with the new family? In the best of all possible worlds, all people involved would live and love together and make the situation work. Because, quite frankly, they have to.
And I stand firm by the choice we have made, by the beliefs that led us to make the choice. While we are here with our children, we make the decisions we make because we believe they are best for our family. And one of those decisions is who we trust with the monumental task of raising our children should the worst happen. We have to trust that once our children are in someone else’s care, that person will make decisions they believe are best for our children as well.
I hope all these thoughts stay hypothetical for all of us with children.