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Girl Talk: Choosing a Guardian

Q. My husband and I are trying to pick guardians for our first baby. I want my best friend and her husband, but he's insisting on his brother and his wife. I don't think they're the best choice. How do I convince him?


A. As crazy as it seems, it doesn't matter what you think of your brother-in-law and his wife. They could be as certifiable as some of the rejects from American Idol and they would still make the cut. Why? Because they are family. To paraphrase Erma Bombeck, it's the family ties that bind (and gag!). This doesn't mean they must win the competition by default. You simply need to know that no amount of payola will turn your husband against his own brother. It just ain't gonna happen.

As my father says, "Blood runs thick." I can't tell you how many times I've complained about some of my family's inexplicable foibles. But if my husband were to say the same thing, I wouldn't be relieved that he agreed with me  -- I'd be angry that he was trashing my kin. I know. It's as illogical as a moth flying into a flame, but it's also just as natural. Your husband won't agree that his brother is a poor choice (even if he knows in his heart that it's true).

Therefore, what you need to do is to avoid emotional issues (how much you love your friends or how much you don't love his brother) and appeal to his practical side. Choosing guardians for your child is a supremely practical issue, after all. These people are proxy parents, and it's more important that they share your values than your surname.

After you bring up that point, highlight the ways in which your friends are equipped to handle those responsibilities. You might bring up issues such as location (would your child have to move?), finances (do they have the means to care for your kid?), marital stability (are they happy?), religion (would your child have to convert?), or age (would they have the energy?).

If your friend has no real practical advantage over his brother, how-ever, forget the list. Instead, sit your husband down and take aim with just one bullet point: Tell him that a decision of this gravity has to be unanimous, and because you are uncomfortable with choosing his brother as a potential parent for your child, you both need to figure out another choice. Period. It's a bold statement, and it may make you as popular as Simon Cowell, but being honest will give your baby guardians who deserve that honor.

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