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Valentine’s day is approaching and love comes in lots of different ways in people’s lives. The love for your partner, for your parents, for nature, for your children and that love, I feel is extra special.

 From my many conversations with parents I find one of the most difficult topics to talk on is figuring out who to appoint as Guardians to our children.

I am going to share with you some of the strategies I found helpful when trying to find the best Guardians for David.

First of all, I feel it must be someone who is actually interested in him, who likes being around him, who is interested in his day to day life, has lots of patience and wants the best for David.

Then you as a parent must nurture that bond. A suggestion would be to ask that person would he/she like to take your child out once a month. Make them a part in your child’s life, without putting them under pressure. And do tell them about the not-so-good days as well, they need to know as they need to understand what you know works best in that situation. The key is open communication. This way the potential Guardian understands the role and what it entails.

Meeting with potential Guardians should never be nerve racking, your just giving that person an opportunity in life to share the love and life of your child. No I’m not being pathetic, because I want that Guardian to feel some of what I feel for my child. Remember that person may have other commitments, other influences in his/her life and may have to say no. As hurtful as that may be its important to accept that answer and don’t take it personally, the most important thing here is to continue that bond with that person, and keep looking for someone else.

I found sharing my Letter of Wishes with my Guardians gave the meeting great structure and re assured my Guardians there were lots in place for David already. I also gave them plenty of time to ask questions and think about the role in more detail, before making a commitment. It’s important to also talk about areas such as personal care, health, hobbies, living arrangement, etc.

I find parents often come stuck as they are trying to figure out who the best Guardians will be in 20/30-years’ time. That is not what you need to figure out now.

What parents need to figure out is if the worst case scenario happened in the next 5-years who would be there, you can always change that at a later date so for now it could be grandparents, uncles, aunts other family members of just fantastic friends. If you are hoping that your child’s other sibling can step in to the role of Guardians then I would suggest not asking them until they have settled down. Asking a young 18 or 20-year old can have the opposite affect and worry them greatly.

In some cases it might work out best a sharing of responsibility among a number of family members. The care needs of the child may be so demanding that alternative arrangements have to be assessed. Not discussing it won’t make the issue go away.

No matter what your situation is, always appoint Guardians to take care of your child and look out for their wellbeing. Never leave it to the courts or families to solve. It’s your responsibility.

I’ve met lots of wonderful, positive parents who have children with additional needs and who work with us to achieve the best plan for their child.

As I said at the beginning love comes in different ways to our lives and I believe in life and love. It is my hope you will find more support than you ever realised.

If you feel you need more information, give me a ring to discuss it or even better, why not attend Financial Wellbeing Special Needs Trust Planning Workshop™.  We discuss Guardians, Trustee, Trust Funds, Wills & Entitlement and much more. Check out www.financialwellbeing.ie for more information or call Dolores 086 023 6995 (dolores@financialwellbeing.ie) to find out your nearest workshop.

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