The Role of The Modern Godparent
In the very earliest years of Christianity a godparent acted as a sponsor for the child or adult at his or her baptism and was meant to provided long-term spiritual guidance for the child. Traditionally, a child has three Godparents: a boy has two Godfathers and one Godmother, and a girl has two Godmothers and one Godfather.
In the modern world however, it can be confusing to know what exactly a Godparent’s obligations and expectations are. Most Godparents these days are neither spiritual nor parental, and in some cases, it is merely a title with little substance.
A well-known (mythical) example of a Godmother in popular culture is the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. After losing her Father and mistreated by her Stepmother, it is the Fairy Godmother that swoops in with her wand to save the day.
The notion that the Godparent would assume full parental responsibility if something should happen to the parents is a popular misconception. Legal guardianship is in fact something entirely different and we should not confuse the two. The responsibilities for Godparents have been blurred throughout the years, which is why for outsiders; the role of being a Godparent can often seem daunting.
However, is it a slightly outdated tradition if you’re not religious, never see the child or perhaps send the occasional card in the post? Regardless, so many children these days still have at least two godparents. Every family is different. In my family, however, the role of a Godparent is taken seriously, whether they are a family member or friend. My daughter, Olympia, has four and the boys between six and eight!
The modern Godparent is an additional parental figure, and an extended member of the family. They usually are the parent’s friends instead of family members; because an Aunt for example, already has a ‘special’ role. The Godparent can provide a fresh, loving perspective and bring new skills, experiences or even connections to the mix. Most importantly, if relationships with parents become strained, the Godparent is someone who will always be there for the child.
For the Godparent it’s not only a privilege, but it can also be a way for parents to keep in touch with their friends, often difficult when starting a family of their own. Moreover, in such a career driven generation, women and men are having babies much later on. So perhaps being a Godparent is a nice way to be connected to family life and gain invaluable experience before the real thing.
So, if you’re chosen to be a Godparent, here are some tips from my Good God-Parenting Guide:
TIME: Spending quality time plays an essential role in the good Godparenting mix and is the foundation of your relationship with your God Child. Don’t be a stranger who only sends cards in the post.
PLAY: Play is so important in a child’s development. Spend quality time with your God Child: play games, run around the garden or take them to their favorite park. This will secure your place as the fun Godparent and will also give their parents a much-needed break.
COMMUNICATION: When they’re old enough, try sending text messages or emails. This will encourage them to contact you independently from their parents. Speak to them as a grown-up, and remember, you can be their friend and mentor in life.
- a Godparent must never forget their birthday. This is one of the most important days for you God Child.
- If you can, take them out for a birthday lunch or dinner or a fun birthday activity. This allows for quality time with your God Child.
- Call them and remember timing is everything. Try to be one of the firsts, along with other important callers and try not to leave it until the evening.
- Send a card or a thoughtful gift (you don't have to spend a fortune for them to appreciate it) Remember they don't care about the cost, just as long as you make them feel important.
- Remember the key word for this occasion is generosity. Perhaps arrange a fun festive outing to the Christmas markets ahead of the big day. The trick is so to be as excited as they are about it, chances are their parents will have had enough of Christmas already.
A godchild is for life, not just for Christmas!
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