I attempted to come up with a clever title for this post, but thought that cleverness would just obscure the point – if you are a parent, you need to buy this book. And forget a micro-blog today – this is too important to hold back.
The first time that my husband and I travelled and left our toddler daughter with my parents for a weekend, we made a binder – yes, a binder – with instructions on her likes and dislikes, bedtime routines, and favorite games. There was contact information, health care facts, and even photographs. While we played around with some online tools for creating a will “just in case,” we never got around to signing it in front of witnesses – and we have not updated it since prior to the birth of our son two and a half years ago.
Fast forward to today when I am often away from one or both children, my family a four hour drive away in a different state, and my husband often unable to be reached at his job, which is over an hour away. While there is emergency contact information at my children’s school in the event that an emergency would prevent me from picking them up, there is no paperwork to say what happens next. What if my husband is out of town on business? Who legally has the right to care for my children until he can be reached or return home?
Author Alexis Martin Neely, an attorney, an author, and most importantly to me, a mother, has written this book not only to answer these questions and the like, but also to lead all parents to prepare for the worst – to move beyond just being sure to always Wear Clean Underwear. Despite the fact that Neely is a Personal Family Lawyer who graduated from Georgetown Law at the top of her class, this book is incredibly readable. Regardless of the amount of legal information of the utmost importance found throughout this work, Neely does not use “legaleese.” In fact, she cleverly chose to write this work in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure tales, a favorite from my childhood. If you suddenly succumb to a brain aneurysm while your husband is out of the country for work, who will your babysitter call? The police? The next door neighbors? The decision that she makes will change everything for your children – the way they are treated in the hours after they learn of your death, the people who will surround them as they grieve, how quickly they can return to the comfort of their own home.
While this book is incredibly unsettling, it is also necessary. And while Neely certainly frightens her readers, that is clearly not her intent. She educates while providing resources – many of them free through her website – as well as choices about how to move forward with preparing for your children’s well-being using proper legal resources.
This holiday season while you are purchasing gifts for loved ones, get them the most important gift of all. Buy yourself this book, and prepare for their happiness for the rest of their lives.