Choosing your child’s Godparents is an important decision, and one that should not be taken lightly. Traditionally, the role of Godparent is a religious one and so the meaning of it is bound up in religious duty.
However, a lot of people adjust the role to suit the needs of their family, and their own personal beliefs.
Traditionally, a Godparent is someone who you choose to help provide support and guidance to your child as they are growing up. As the saying goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ and the role of Godparent is the embodiment of that. It provides your child with another trusted adult to look to for support and guidance.
Traditionally the role of Godparent was to support the faith of the person being baptized. They would help the person being baptized to understand their faith, and the responsibilities that come with it. Exactly how this looks depends on the church which the parents belong to. In some churches the responsibility of a Godparent extends to looking after the child in case something happens to the parent, but this is not the case in all churches.
Some people prefer to use the term ‘Guide Parent’ and take the religion out of the role altogether. In this case, the Guide Parent would act as an additional role model for the child, but they would not necessarily provide any religious guidance.
If you are having a religious baptism, then the Godparent is named as part of the baptism ceremony. The priest will ask them if they formally accept the responsibility of being a godparent, and they will accept.
If you do not intend to have a religious ceremony, you can still commemorate the naming of Godparents in a more secular celebration. Every culture in the world has some kind of ‘welcome to the world’ event for when babies are born, and naming Godparents can be made a part of all of them.
A good way to welcome Godparents is to name them out loud, and then thank them for their commitment to you and your family through the giving of Godparent gifts to show your appreciation. Some Godparents might like to give a speech, similar to a wedding vow, where they formally state their intention to act as a guide for your child. You could include some kind of symbolic act, too, like the planting of a tree or burying of a time capsule.
When you are choosing your Godparent, there are a few things to bear in mind:
- Are they likely to be in your life for a long time?
- Are they a positive influence for a child?
- Do not let it get political!
For example, do not choose someone purely because they are someone else’s partner. Be sure that you are choosing them because you believe they will be a good influence on your child.
Finally, ensure that you are clear with your prospective Godparent about what you are expecting of them. The term means a lot of different things to different people, so it is important that you are clear about what you mean, and that they are happy with it.