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Godparents at a BaptismEven though more Americans are becoming non-religious, many parents still want their children to have godparents. Traditionally, this person was a spiritual mentor, but modern godparents take many different roles. They can be significant, providing love, professional and educational guidance, financial support and an unbiased voice of reason. If you’re thinking about choosing godparents, here are some questions to ask.

What Does the Godparent Relationship Mean to You?

If you have a big pool of candidates, it can be difficult to narrow it down to one or two people. You can’t just swap out godparents. Consider why you think they are important to you and your child. What characteristics do you want them to pass on to your child? There may religious considerations as well. For example, the Catholic Church requires the godparents to be active members of the faith. Know your expectations as you decide. When you do ask someone to be a godparent, you can explain what that means to you.

Asking Someone To Be a Godparent

It’s always a good idea to ask the people you’ve chosen as godparents if they really want the job. Make the moment special. A small token, such as a necklace or keychain, is a nice way to commemorate the occasion. Talk about being a godparent. Don’t be a parent-zilla and dictate your demands; just explain the role you hope the person will play in your child’s life, whether that’s to provide religious, educational, financial or moral support. The potential godparent may have their own ideas about how to provide support to the child, so be open. And remember that saying no to being a godparent doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t want to be involved in the child’s life.

Holding a Godparent Ceremony

If you are baptizing or christening your child in a religious ceremony, you probably already have the framework to celebrate godparents as part of the child’s life. If you want a secular ceremony, you may have to do a little planning to make the ceremony your own. Every culture has its own rituals surrounding the birth of a child. With a little creativity, your ceremony can be meaningful to you and your family. Many ministers who are ordained through the ULC perform baptisms or other birth rituals. Here are a few ideas:

  • Plant a tree with the family and godparents.
  • Host a small ceremony in your backyard with friends and family.
  • Make a time capsule with the godparents that can be opened on the child’s 18th birthday.
  • Write letters to the child that can be opened later.

Godparents have no legal authority, although it was once assumed that they would be there to raise the child if anything happened to the parents. As part of the rituals of birth, update your will to reflect your wishes about your child. Before you name anyone as a guardian, make sure the person will accept the responsibility.

It Takes a Village To Raise a Child

Hillary Clinton took a lot of flak when her book “It Takes a Village” was published, but a diverse community gives a child a greater sense of their own role in society. Whether you choose formal godparents or not, let your child make connections with other adults who can mentor and advise the child. By introducing your child to things outside of your purview, these adults can help your child grow into a well-rounded individual with many interests and ideas. Naming godparents can give your child more role models who want what’s best for them as they grow up. Even with the most loving parents, a child needs adults who are cheerleaders and mentors.

Category: Baptism


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