Being A Guardian/Parent Dilemma

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    Apr 08, 2008 6:01 AM GMT
    I'm twenty years old, and I'm the Godfather of a five year old boy. His mother was recently diagnosed with Kidney and Cervical cancer with a grim prognosis. This being the case, the boy's fate is being questioned...

    The father is a dead beat with no current custody and the family would rather the boy not go end up with him. To my dismay, eyes began to turn to me. I don't believe my extended family would allow me or expect me to care for him all on my own, but I would have custody of him and he would be my responsibility.

    Obviously, there would be a bit of legal issues and if the father cared at all, it would go to court. My family isn't verbally pressuring me, but they make me feel like I'm expected to claim him.


    What would you do?
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    Apr 09, 2008 1:42 AM GMT
    I don't know the procedures at custody hearings -- but I would assume you'd have to prove you have the ability to care for him; just as the family would have to provide proof the father would NOT be a good parent for this boy.

    What have they done to make you feel like they expect you to claim him?
  • Timbales

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    Apr 09, 2008 1:51 AM GMT
    As godfather, I'd say you really should step up and talk with the mom one on one. Let her know that you are there for her and your godson, try to ease her mind and let her focus on getting better. I'd also say you should talk with her and your extended family and suggest you guys talk about the worst case scenario. Knowing her son will be safe and cared for will be important to her recovery.

    If she does want to you take custody, she'll need to take some legal actions now.
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    Apr 09, 2008 1:53 AM GMT
    Even if you were able to jump all the hurdles of custody as mentioned, that's a LOT of responsibility for a 20 yr old. A child (especially starting at 5 yrs old) is a lot of work for a two parent family, but for a single guy with no parenting experience and who had not really prepared for parenting...not good. You may be the best person in the world, but I'm telling you, this isn't just something that 8 months from now you say, sorry, not working. This is a life time commitment with all the issues that go with raising a child, schooling, maturing, caring when you're going out (which will be hardly ever), feeding properly, reading to every night, helping with homework, running here and there, monitoring friends, there is SOOOOOO much.

    Don't jump in lightly and DON'T let anyone push you into it. As a Godfather, your commitment is to ensure that he has been provided with a knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith, not to become a parent.
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    Apr 09, 2008 1:55 AM GMT
    I would jump at the chance to have a kid....but do take eb's advice
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    Apr 09, 2008 1:56 AM GMT
    You sound like you're reluctant to take on the responsibility. Did you understand this was part of being his godfather?

    At age 20 and being in college this is a big responsibility and a lot to ponder. But if at all possible, if I were in your shoes, I would take that responsibility and raise him. You said you have the support of your family and they would help. Though it wouldn't be easy, this makes it feasible.

    I think he would be better off with you if his dad is the dead beat you say he is and the family doesn't want him living with his father.

    You have a lot to think about. I think it could be a beneficial experience for both you and the boy.
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    Apr 09, 2008 1:57 AM GMT
    I got married at 24 solely to have children. It was worth everything...the nights with no sleep, bankrupting myself to send them to good universities, embarrassing them in front of their dates (oh wait, that was the fun part)....
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    Apr 09, 2008 2:03 AM GMT
    jprichva saidI got married at 24 solely to have children. It was worth everything...the nights with no sleep, bankrupting myself to send them to good universities, embarrassing them in front of their dates (oh wait, that was the fun part)....


    I think there's a big difference in being prepared and having a game plan vs "inheriting" a 5 yr old child. That will pretty much change your college plans and unless you're a stay at home guy, your life will change big time. There are definitely rewards when raising children (of which one IS embarrassing your children in front of their dates! LOL) but you REALLY have to understand the longevity of being a parent...FOREVER!!
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    Apr 09, 2008 2:05 AM GMT
    i'm with eb on this one. it's ALOT to drop on you. in fact most people try to deter people around your age from having kids befroe they are able to support them. i think you need to go talk to the mom and see what her family has to say.

    i think as long as you a major influence in the kids life that would be a major step towards his benefit. the mom obviously wanted you to be a big part of his life, but she didn't expect to have to make him such a big part of yours this early on. maybe he could live with grandparents until you're ready to take him on yourself. if the family is so deadset against the bio-dad then keep him away from him. there has to be a happy medium for everyone while keeping the kid in mind.
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    Apr 09, 2008 2:11 AM GMT
    jms84 saidi think as long as you a major influence in the kids life that would be a major step towards his benefit. the mom obviously wanted you to be a big part of his life, but she didn't expect to have to make him such a big part of yours this early on. maybe he could live with grandparents until you're ready to take him on yourself. if the family is so deadset against the bio-dad then keep him away from him. there has to be a happy medium for everyone while keeping the kid in mind.


    I agree JM, if a grand parent or someone who has other kids and already prepared could take custody and you could help it might be a win-win. You can play a major role in this child's life as a role model. He'll need that and you may find that if the relationship blossoms that you might end up with him in the future, but you would also not be tied down from living your own life. It may sound selfish but you do have to consider that when you're 40 or 50 will you have any resentment for having altered your plans especially if there is any problem between you and the boy. You never know how things will turn out, no matter how hard you try, sometimes kids take a wrong turn and you just scratch your head wondering what went wrong.
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    Apr 09, 2008 2:17 AM GMT
    I'm a father of two !!! There is no more prescious part of life (even in light of the teen years, and the struggles that go with it) than what those two kids have given me. they are now 30, and 27, my son (the older) has 3 children, he and his wife pay my way out to Seattle to spend 2 or 3 weeks with them twice a year. When I get off that plane and am "attacked" (lol !!) by the grandkids, and all the, we missed you grandpa, and a phone call from the older one, who will talk 20 minutes about comeing to my island camp to fish with me. Put all that together and being a "PARENT FOREVER" is SPECTACULAR, From my daughter things are just as positive in a different way since she is single. What is added by giving a good life to children is returned many many times over, so in the long run your not giving up that much, its more in the "PLUS COLUMN". All that said, you do have a college effort for your career to attend to. Can you trust your family to give the support you would need to take on the child and College, the finances of both? Often family will dissapoint in commitments of this nature, but if you can trust them to come through, you may very well be OK. This is a huge responsibility, and I wish you wisdom and good fortune in making the best decision for you and the child. The best to you buddy !!!
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    Apr 09, 2008 3:01 AM GMT
    Kids are husband magnets.
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    Apr 09, 2008 7:52 AM GMT
    Take him!

    And I'm very sorry to hear about his mom. icon_sad.gif
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    Apr 09, 2008 8:05 AM GMT
    I can say I would take responsibility because I love children, but for you yes there could be legal issues. Above all I will tell you what the court is going to look at: what is best for the child. You would be expected to show that you could take care of him if it comes down to that.
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    Apr 09, 2008 1:50 PM GMT
    Atlazeia saidI don't know the procedures at custody hearings -- but I would assume you'd have to prove you have the ability to care for him; just as the family would have to provide proof the father would NOT be a good parent for this boy.

    What have they done to make you feel like they expect you to claim him?




    It's the comments about him not being able to live with the biological father, and everyone knows I am the only other alternative.
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    Apr 09, 2008 1:58 PM GMT
    I think I would love to have a kid. Granted, I believe I prefer having my own biological offspring, but I wouldn't even want that until 15 or 20 years down the road. I'm not ignorant to the fact that no matter how capable I think I am, I am a 20 year old pre med student in college, and I wouldn't have the time, or ability to raise a child at the moment.

    Whenever someone is named a Godparent, the parent or Godparent neither anticipate such situations. Yes, I gladly accepted the responsibility of being a Godfather, and I have been a great one thus far. But when I was 15 all I knew was that I was gay and would love to have a personal impact on a child's life in case I couldn't have any children of my own, so I eagerly accepted the offer.
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    Apr 09, 2008 2:08 PM GMT
    There's another important issue to consider !!!! Your going to be an old man in the future !!!!! If you stay in the boys life in an important way, even if you don't totally raise him yourself, he will never forget you. His children will more than likely be in your llfe too, and so on. This will go a long ways to insure that you won't be a lonely old gay man with no-one who cares enough to visit you !!!! You'll never regret what you do for a child !!! LOVING ONE IS FOREVER, AND IT GOES BOTH WAYS !!!!!
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    Apr 09, 2008 2:15 PM GMT
    Tempo, "Godfather" doesn't place any LEGAL burden on you to accept custody of the child, in addition to which courts (whose guidlines refer to the "best insterests" of the child) generally try to do whatever they can to place the kid with some family member...sometimes to the detriment of the child.

    Now, having said all that, how KICK ASS would it be for you to have a little 5 year old dude following you around and wanting to hang out with you and copy the little things you do? It totally rocks! And the first time they say "I love you" unprompted? jeez!

    The problem is, there's a lot of crying and arguing and staying home on friday nights and sitting up with him when he's sick or scared, and playing with power rangers on the floor when you have work to do, and cooking meals, and doing laundry after he's wet the bed at 3 in the morning, and boogers and poop and puke..all that you have to go through to get that "I love you."

    It is AWESOME that you are even considering this. It says a lot about you as a man, but are you sure, as a premed student, you have the time for all that? I'm outing myself as a dad here on RJ right now, but I have a 5 year old. He is the best thing ever, but he's also a lot of responsibility. Luckily I work for myself so I take as much time as I want off to do things with him and take him places. You can't put off med school until he can take care of himself. You'd probably be a great dad...but maybe you'd also just be a great "Uncle."

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    Apr 09, 2008 2:24 PM GMT
    As a God Father of several of my friends children, it is an honor as well as a responsibility to the family and the children. Although you at the tender age of 20 have this honor I believe it may be too much for you take on solely, you're just a young one yourself! You have some GREAT advice that's been shared with you on here, especially from eb925guy. You should step up and take a role and play a part in what happens to the child and no matter what DOES happen, NEVER leave that child, NEVER! Hang in there Tempo, the child will need you over the years!
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    Apr 09, 2008 2:41 PM GMT
    Here is a snap-shot of what the courts would look at. This is not automatic unless you have a legal document stating that you are to become this child parent then this arugument is mute.

    If a blood relative does not step up, then the kid will be in foster care.

    The law of the land would is the surviving biological parent will be given first right of refusal and then he would have sign over all parental rights to you.

    Children Services will look at are you financially fit to care for this child, They often time require the child to have there own room. Child care when you are either at work or in school.

    I know because I lived it when my mom suddenly died and there was five of us.

    While this is all being sorted out your god-son may be in foster care.

    You may want to consult an attorney that practice law in the area.

    There are legal issues here that could really stress you out more than the responsibilty of raising a child.

    You and your friend needs to talk and whatever you both decide consult an attorney.
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    Apr 10, 2008 4:56 AM GMT
    Thanks guys. We'll see if I become a DILF or not.