Acting as the guardian of a child is a noble and extremely important role. When a child’s parents aren’t part of their life, whether it’s due to death, illness (both physical and mental), or distance, a guardian can step up and ensure that the child’s life maintains structure, order, and harmony.
Because this role is so important in helping the child grow up to be happy and healthy, many guardians understandably experience anxiety over their roles and whether they’re living up to expectations.
If you’re thinking of becoming a guardian of a child in California, keeping these tips in mind can ensure that you make the most of the responsibilities and the life you’re now in charge of:
Be an active participant in their medical care.
Although children typically don’t need as much medical care as adults, almost all children will get sick—some quite seriously—at least a few times during childhood. One of the most important things a guardian can do is ensure that the child under their care gets appropriate medical attention and treatment when they need it.
In addition to taking the child to the doctor or hospital when necessary, it’s also important to pay close attention to any instructions the healthcare provider gives you and follow up on them as closely as possible at home. That means administering the right doses of medication when needed, monitoring the child for worsening symptoms, and ensuring they get plenty of rest and fluids.
Support and reinforce their educational achievement.
Next to their health, the most important aspect of a kid’s life is their education. Kids without strong and consistent adult involvement in their education often fall behind or develop poor study and homework habits. As a guardian, it’s important for you to keep a close eye on the child’s school attendance, grades, and whether they’re improving or regressing in certain subjects.
You should also do your best to help with homework, special projects, and creating a consistent study and homework schedule. If certain subjects or projects are beyond your capacity, consider reaching out for help from your child’s school or tutors, either in-person or online-based.
Provide a balanced and healthy diet.
One in six children in America lives in a food-insecure household, which means that they may not always have enough to eat. But simply having stocked a pantry, cupboard, or refrigerator isn’t always enough. Many kids eat too much of the wrong food, putting them at an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and even cancer.
As a guardian, part of your responsibilities involves ensuring the child in your care has access to enough food to support their growth. But because of the obesity crisis America faces today, it’s equally important to ensure the child has access to fresh, high-quality food that meets their nutritional needs. That means ensuring they always have access to vegetables, fruits, and proteins, and avoiding fast food and heavily processed foods whenever possible.
Make good decisions on their behalf.
Guardians aren’t just entrusted with making sure the children in their care have everything they need to thrive, but they’re also entrusted with making decisions on their behalf. Those decisions involve things like medical care and education and can involve judgments such as where they’ll attend school, whether they should be participate in after-school and extracurricular activities, and whether they should take certain medications or have certain procedures performed.
These choices may come up many times during the course of your guardianship over a child, and it’s important to take them seriously and to do as much research and due diligence as possible before committing to a path for the child. Asking for the child’s input and the input of close family and friends can help you if you’re unsure if the decision you’re making is right.
Prepare them for adulthood.
Some child in guardianships live with their guardians until the guardianships end at age 18. For these children, it’s especially important for their guardians to provide them not just the best possible care while they’re still minors, but to also prepare them for life on their own. This is also one of the most important jobs biological parents have when raising kids, but it can be more difficult for guardians, especially if they can’t or won’t be providing financial assistance or shelter after age 18.
Ensuring that the child in your care has a solid life plan in place after they graduate high school is a good starting point for helping them transition into adulthood. This may involve going to college, beginning an apprenticeship or job training program, joining the military, or going straight into the workforce. If they haven’t made a decision, do your best to provide them with resources, information, and connections that can help them plan their future.
We Help People Make a Difference in Children’s Lives
At the Law Office of André J. Ausseresses, APC, we help many Californians who are experiencing family law issues. We’re passionate about helping our clients get the best possible outcome, especially when it involves helping a child thrive in a safe, stable, and secure environment. And as Orange County family law attorneys, that’s exactly what we do when we assist adults throughout the state who want to become guardians of children.
If you’re interested in becoming a guardian, or you’ve already started the process but have hit a roadblock, we want to help. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. You can tell us your story and learn how we can help you without facing any legal fees or obligations.
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