Godparents: Tradition or Trend?

September 12, 2011

I’m trying to get up to speed on the modern day version of Godparents. I can’t help but notice that many of my friends — some religious, some not — haven chosen Godparents for their children. The idea of people I trust keeping my kids in mind is wonderful. Of course, that happens every day with aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors. But there’s something interesting about making the relationship formal.

I’m so curious. What’s your experience with Godparents? Did you choose some for your children? Or do you plan to? Did you choose relatives or friends? Do they have specific duties? Have you heard of OMGmother? Did you grow up with Godparents yourself? Is/was the relationship what you hoped it would be?

P.S. — Only slightly related to this post, but I think Sofia Coppola is the coolest. Among other things, she interned at Chanel at age 15, directed Lost in Translation and married Thomas Mars of Phoenix. She’s rad. Image at Tout le Cine.

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{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marcia Francois September 12, 2011 at 7:50 am

What a great topic! I’m going to be checking in to see the responses

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2 Julia September 12, 2011 at 7:58 am

it really seems like a cultural or maybe a denomination thing. I grew up in southeast US and don’t remember it much. But in the midwest it seems much more important.

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3 creole wisdom September 12, 2011 at 8:10 am

That’s because, to my understanding, God parents are more prevalent in the Catholic or Lutheran faiths. I live and grew up in Minnesota, where we like to joke that there are two choices: Catholic or Lutheran and if one marries another it’s called a “mixed marriage” ;p So that’s probably why you recognized it more in the midwest.

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4 Julia September 12, 2011 at 9:08 am

definitely agree. there was a Catholic and Lutheran church for the entire county where I lived. In Minnesota almost everyone is Lutheran (or so it seems!)

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5 creole wisdom September 13, 2011 at 7:14 am

Yes :) In the twin cities there are more Lutherans, but outside more Catholics. People like to joke that Minneapolis is the Lutheran city and St. Paul is the Catholic one.

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6 {plum} September 12, 2011 at 7:59 am

I couldn’t agree more. Ms. Coppola is the epitome of cool.

You forgot to add shot at Versailles and has impeccable lineage. Though, you’re probably right, the obvious {lineage} need not be stated!

best – d.

post script: ooh, epitome’s going on my wordly word list.

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7 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 8:20 am

Shot at Versailles! Can you even imagine?

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8 {plum} September 12, 2011 at 10:20 am

I can’t! The history in those walls is just too much to even think believe. What a dream. And, Chanel at 15???? Insane.

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9 ajbc September 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

I’m kind of a godparent to my nephew…my husband and I are the folks designated to take care of him if anything happens to his parents. The term “godparent” came up frequently when discussing this arrangement.

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10 meesch September 12, 2011 at 8:02 am

I’m 25 and though I know I have godparents, I don’t really know who my parents chose as my god parents. I think that in my case, my parents chose to give me godparents only for their piece of mind if something were to happen to them…

-Meesch
http://ww.aperfectkindofday.com

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11 Shannon (8foot6) September 12, 2011 at 8:06 am

i never knew my godparents, really…apparently my uncle got called into work and couldn’t make the baptism, and the runner’s up were my parent’s friends at the time…

we never went with godparents for my son, in my mind, its a religious thing…I never even thought to separate the really lovely concept from the actual baptism ceremony!

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12 creole wisdom September 12, 2011 at 8:09 am

In my Catholic faith, God parents play a very important role. They are present at baptism, which is a person’s first sacrament in the church. Along with biological parents they stand as witness to help raise and bring up that child in the Church, provide them with spiritual support and be there for them as they grow.

Sometimes it’s perplexing for me to see people sort of poke fun at or disrespect this tradition by adapting it and making it their own but disregarding the religious aspect. It’s beautifully serious and quite spiritual tradition to me.

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13 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 8:27 am

I love your description of the role of Godparents in your faith! I can see how it might feel like people are poking fun at or disrespecting the tradition. That’s no fun.

Happily, that’s not at all how I’ve seen it played out in the lives of my friends. They take the idea of Godparents seriously — as both spiritual support (whatever that may mean to them), and general life experience support.

I think they’re borrowing the word because there isn’t a better one in our English vocabulary. Maybe we should come up with one.

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14 Calee September 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

I’m so glad this part of Godparenting is entering the discussion. We are Greek Orthodox and choosing Godparents for our children was excruciating because we believe it to be such an important and special relationship. We chose friends who are both active in the church and live out their faith. We also looked for people who were a little bit “cooler” than us so that as our kids grew- they will hopefully look to their godparents as people they can talk to about a whole host of issues. After children in our faith are baptized, the priest places them in the Godparent’s arms- signifying that this is the person who has vowed to raise the child in the faith. It is a huge responsibility, not to be taken lightly.
I love that people from other backgrounds want something similar for their children but I agree that there should be another word for those who would like the support but not necessarily the religious aspect of it.

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15 Catie September 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Thank you so much for this explanation Creole! I am Roman Catholic and my godparents played a wonderful role in my life and family celebrations growing up, especially religious milestones. When godparents are named during a child’s baptism, they pledge in the church to help the child’s parents raise their child as a Christian.

Often, godparents are seen a more significant relationship or close relationship with a child then say, other extended family or friends. That was certainly how I felt about mine growing up!

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16 Ginny September 12, 2011 at 8:53 am

Thank you so much for articulating this so well, your answer is just what I was thinking. There is a misconception about Godparents being the people who will take care of the child if the parents are gone, however, while this may be the case in some situations, it’s really about helping to bring the child up in the faith. There’s a beautiful, deeply spiritual relationship between the child and Godparents.

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17 Amber, theAmberShow September 12, 2011 at 9:54 am

This is cool! I had no idea Godparents had anything to do with children while the parents were alive. It’s sort of like, “It takes a village…”, where the parents pick their village.

Beautiful.

I might perplex you, though, and adopt the tradition for my family, even though I’m not religious myself. It’s just too good of an idea!

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18 Jules September 13, 2011 at 10:30 am

Creole wisdom is right. Godparents do more than take over in the event of death. Ideally, they should play an active role the raising of the child. I don’t get upset, though, when people express interest in Godparents or any other area of my [much maligned] faith, even when the religious aspect is missing. Catholicism is so frequently misunderstood and stereotyped that I take any opportunity I can to educate the curious on our traditions. Every moment is a teaching moment. We’re more than blood drinking Mary worshipers! ;)

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19 katlyn September 12, 2011 at 8:12 am

Love the topic.

Godparents were a huge decision for us. My godparents, I had two sets, played important roles growing up. My parents chose an aunt & uncle set from each side of the family – my moms sister and my dads brother and their spouses.

One set took it upon themselves to play the “lead role.” They were ALWAYS there at any event of mine growing up and my aunt always found very special gifts for me as her godchild. She’s my Fairy Godmother! And I will always appreciate their role they played – they weren’t just my Aunt and Uncle!

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20 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 8:22 am

The “lead role” you describe is similar to how I’ve heard my non-religious friends describe the relationship they’re intending between their child and the Godparents. It sounds like it was lovely for you.

I suppose if you’re looking for that sort of relationship, it would be wise to pick Godparents that live nearby.

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21 Mary September 12, 2011 at 8:16 am

Interesting question that I’m sure will solicit interesting and varied responses. I was born and baptized Catholic, so I did have Godparents. However, though, I can’t quite remember who they were! One of my aunts and uncles I believe. Obviously they didn’t play a large role in my own life. Because of my background, I’ve always viewed them as playing a largely religious role in the child’s life. I am not religiously involved now, so I did not choose Godparents for my own children.

I know other people define the role differently – in some cases, they are choosing who would care for the children if anything happened to the parents. (I have done this of course, but I don’t call them Godparents as a result.) In other cases, they are defining an extra special relationship – the Godparents may pay special attention to birthdays or try to develop a closer bond with the child. I honestly think that if they were good friends with the parents, that relationship would probably have developed without the “Godparent” title.

Interested to see how others respond…

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22 Nikki September 12, 2011 at 8:20 am

Although we didn’t give them the formal “godparents” title, we did choose friends to raise our kids in the event of our deaths. We chose them because they have the same Christian values as we do and we see them raising their own children in a way we respect. In my experience, the rituals involving naming of godparents occur more often in the Catholic church than in the Protestent church.

Oh and PS – I have a major girl crush on Sofia Coppola! What’s not to love?! ;)

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23 Anabel Manchester September 12, 2011 at 8:26 am

I love the idea of Godparents. I didn’t have one growing up and I was always jealous of my friends who did. As an adult, I’m the Godparent of two of my friends kids, and I have 11 nieces and nephews… with one on the way. I love the idea of giving friends that “official” title of more than friend… you’re part of our family now too.

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24 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 8:29 am

“giving friends that “official” title of more than friend”

Well said.

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25 Mary September 12, 2011 at 9:45 am

That is a beautiful way of thinking of it!

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26 Reading (and chickens) September 12, 2011 at 10:33 am

Ooh, yes, that’s exactly what I love about it, too. I hope that’s never a trend, always a tradition!

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27 Aliesha September 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

I grew up Catholic and was baptized as an infant, so I had Godparents. However, they were my dad’s hermit-like brother who has since passed and his other brother’s wife, so I barely saw the one uncle and after the other aunt and uncle divorced, I never saw her either. So, mine weren’t overly involved in my life. However, I still think they can be an important part of a child’s life.

My mom was Godmother to one of my cousins, and his mom always went out of her way to send special birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day gifts to my mom from her Godson. My mom is also still quite involved in my cousin’s life. So, it can certainly be a great relationship.

My husband’s aunt is his Godmother, and she still acts to this day like it gives her the most important status above all others in his life–which drives me completely crazy. At our wedding, we got corsages for our moms, grandmas, and of course, his Godmother! Couldn’t leave her out! :)

Our daughter was also recently baptized Catholic, and we chose a very close aunt and uncle to be her Godparents. I think they will share a special relationship regardless of whether they have a formal title, but they were very honored to be asked and I like that they have that additional tie to one another now.

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28 Angeerah September 12, 2011 at 8:51 am

I was brought up Catholic and had wonderful Godparents. They were very involved in my life. Sadly, I do not see them as much anymore because I do not live in the same town and their health is failing. Perhaps I should change that?

We have Godparents for our son. Because I grew away from the Catholic church some time ago, our little guy was baptized in the Episcopal church. Or son has a Jewish Godmother, a nonpracticing Catholic Godfather, and my sister, who is now part of a nondenominational Christian church. All three people are important in our son’s life as not people to only guide him spiritually but people who will always love him.

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29 Connie September 12, 2011 at 8:53 am

My Godparents were my aunt and uncle. They lived far away from us, and thus I’ve never been really close to them, physically or emotionally. I think my parents at the time chose them to be my Godparents, because they were also the couple who were to be my guardians in my parents’ will.
My understanding of a Godparent is someone who is an adult who is a spiritual mentor in a child’s life-someone who takes on the responsibility for keeping that child in his/her prayers, making sure that they are being raised in a way that is ministering to their hearts, and being another adult that this child can turn to in times of emotional/spiritual crisis when the child isn’t comfortable turning to his/her parents. As my husband and I are now trying for children, we’ve had these conversations, and we have some couples in mind of who we might ask to be our children’s Godparents: people whose faith we admire, who stand by many of the same moral statutes we do, who walk closely with God in their everyday. I love the seriousness of what great impact a good godparent/godchild relationship could be in the purest sense.

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30 Hilary September 12, 2011 at 9:10 am

We chose not to have Godparents for our son. In my family, my brother is the only one who had a Godmother who was my Aunt. Not sure why that is, perhaps just to make someone else in the family happy?

Choosing someone over another just felt like another bridal-like drama when you’re picking bridesmaids and maid of honor, so we opted not to.

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31 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:16 am

I can definitely see that, Hilary. I can easily imagine stressing out over who to pick and who might be offended by our choice.

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32 Christa The BabbyMama September 12, 2011 at 9:11 am

We didn’t choose Godparents for our daughter – no one felt quite right. When it comes to who would care for my child (and any future children) there’s no question it would be my mother. I would love a mentor, a spiritual mentor, for my daughter, but again, no one feels quite right. I’m actually not sure what to do about it all!

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33 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:17 am

No doubt, someone will turn up. : )

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34 Heather September 12, 2011 at 9:24 am

J’adore Sofia Coppola! As someone else commented, I have a huge girl crush on her.
We chose one of my husband’s sisters and her husband to be Godparents to our first-born son. It was an easy choice, and I am so happy with our decision. They have been involved in our son’s life, concerned for his well-being and growth, and I know they will be involved in his life – spiritually and otherwise. They are good, positive role models that will be excellent mentors to him.
We have delayed the baptism of our second-born because of the whole Godparents issue! My husband feels like we should be “fair” and choose Godparents from my family. I think this is a ridiculous rationale. I am having the hardest time choosing these Godparents, from either family!
This is a great topic. I am enjoying the comments! Thanks, Gabrielle.

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35 Janine September 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

I am a godparent to my oldest nephew. My sister-in-law is more religious than I am so I felt strange accepting the title. It really seemed more of a formality than an important role. I am a very active aunt but would be terrible passing along my religious knowledge. I also think that if something did happen where my nephew needed care, I would be low on the totem pole of people to chip in. I had a very awkward relationship with my godfather because he was my father’s friend I saw once a year. At the time I was born they were close but years later it seemed more of an obligation. In summary, I have mixed feelings about it and if I had children I would change the role so that it wasn’t religion based.

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36 Jenn S September 12, 2011 at 9:41 am

we chose godparents for our son (who was due two days ago, but still hasn’t decided to make his entrance into the world yet!) who we chose for totally non-religious reasons. they are people who we love and respect who we wanted to be a part of our son’s life in a special way…making sure to help us raise him as a moral, happy, well-rounded person. they’re people we hope our son will, in the future, feel comfortable going to for advice or just to talk about things. for us, it was really the opportunity to have two more special people in his life that would help to guide him along his journey.

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37 annie September 12, 2011 at 9:47 am

In my family, godparents have always played a special role in my siblings/cousins/my life. There is a special bond that is nurtured throughout our lives. It was a big decision for my husband and me as to who would be the godparents of our four children. Although they are still young, I have noticed a similar bond between them and the people we chose (our siblings–one from each side of the family).

Maybe it is because we are both Catholic, but for us it was an important decision, as they are guides not only in our faith, but also in life. The people we chose are not necessarily the ones they will live with in the event of our passing.

I would hope that our kids see their godparents as people they can trust and go to for help/questions if they feel like they can’t come to me and my husband. Their godparents have spent special time with them, they’ve played special roles in their weddings, and they have received special gifts from them.

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38 hairyshoefairy September 12, 2011 at 9:50 am

I’m LDS but have always liked the idea of having Godparents. My brother in law and his wife have some very dear friends whom they’ve designated as Godparents for their children. I really liked what Creole Wisdom wrote above: “Along with biological parents they stand as witness to help raise and bring up that child in the Church, provide them with spiritual support and be there for them as they grow.” That is the way my BIL and his wife view the friends they’ve chosen as their children’s Godparents but in our case it is for the LDS church rather than the Catholic faith.

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39 Anna Kitchens-Culp September 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I’m LDS, too. But my mother is Finnish, and followed the Lutheran tradition of godparents. I chose my best friend (who I knew would be a doting and involved “aunt” despite not sharing my faith) to be my daughter’s godmother. She flew across the country to attend the naming and blessing and reception, since that’s what I would call the counter to a Christening (culturally). Incidentally, she’s not first-in-line to care for our (my husband’s and my) daughter in the event of our deaths, but I know she will be a good mentor through her life to help her be confident, educated, peace-building, and work against harmful stereotypes.

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40 Yicke September 12, 2011 at 9:52 am

I’m west-european, so our culture is very, very catholic-influenced. Almost everyone, even the non-believers, have godparents for their children around here.

Mine are my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather, who passed away to soon and too young unfortunatly. My godmother is still alive and I have a wonderfull bond with her, though I can not say I don’t with my other grandmother.

I myself am godmother to my best friends daughter. It’s a wonderfull relationship and I do feel it’s special, more special than other friends of theirs. We are there at every thing, big or small in her life and I make sure to spoil her rotten ;) To me she will always be a tad more special than her little brother and I make sure to do stuff with her alone at least every month. She sleeps over at our house very often, and when she was little I babysat several days a week, since I was still in college and had a lot of free time. I guess it’s the time spent together that creates the bond, but being her godmother gave me a certain drive to be with her at first.

She has been baptised and I stood up with her parents in church. Her mother was witness at my wedding, and my goddaughter was the flower girl. She’s like a niece to me and should anything happen to her parents, I will make sure to care for her and raise her the way her mom and dad want to. I guess that’s the point: be there in case of… And for the rest make sure they have that special person that will always be there and that they know they can always go to, without judgment, just to help.

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41 The New Diplomats Wife September 12, 2011 at 10:06 am

We have godparents for our daughter that we chose for a mix of reasons. Since they stood up with us for her baptism, we chose two people who were comfortable in their faith. It doesn’t mean they have to know any and every religious answer, but given that the role traditionally is supposed to help you grow in your faith community, we wanted two people who were at least comfortable with their own place in our denomination since it’s a time when there is so much doubt in the world. And second, we chose two people who embodied a role model for us to the kind of parents we want to be. They have a bit more experience than us but are like minded in the way that we approach life and parenting. And finally, our daughter was born in Vienna and we had to move away, so we chose two people from there so that she would always have a connection. I think having godparents is a wonderful, thoughtful way to reach out for help and support when it comes to raising a child.

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42 Sara @ What About Sara September 12, 2011 at 10:20 am

I have godparents, one set on each side of my family. I grew up Lutheran in the Midwest, and for all of you who said that godparents seem more common in the Midwest, you’re totally correct, from what I’ve experienced!

If we are fortunate enough to have a child someday, I’m torn as to whether or not to have godparents for my child. My own godparents were totally not involved in my life, and the whole “will you care for my child if I pass away?” thing can be handled outside of godparents, to me. However, we each have siblings and extremely close friends that would be honored by the opportunity…hmm!

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43 Ana September 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

I have grandparents but my daughter doesnt. I dont find it necessary but it is quiet nice.

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44 Dee September 12, 2011 at 10:35 am

I grew up Catholic and my Godparents were not really a part of my life. My children all have Godparents. With my eldest, we had a beautiful naming ceremony in a Unitarian church in which we all pledged to help guide him through life. We felt it was a good compromise in a family that includes people of many different faiths and some with none. (Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish and Agnostic) My kids’ godparents have varying degrees of involvement in their lives from occasional holiday gift givers to weekly emailers, but the kids all think it’s cool.

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45 Jodi September 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

I think those who do it for a religious reason, it is tradition. Perhaps an important tradition, or perhaps just to do it because that’s what you do. I do however think it is becoming more of a trend. It seems like the “hipster” thing to do. But I think that is silly. I completely respect those who do it for a religious purpose. But those who are following a trend? I think it is silly. Just for the sake of being able to say “my children have Godparents”. The idea of having people who will make an effort to grow close to your children and take on a guardian role early on, so that in the event they do have to take them life will be sweeter, seems nice…but it does put pressure on to the godparents (especially if they have their own family to take care of). I don’t know. Maybe I’m just full of fluff. I just want my children to be near and dear to all of our family members and closest friends, no extra pressure on anyone.

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46 Jenn S September 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm

i think it’s a misconception that godparents would become the legal guardians of children if anything should happen to the parents. the godparents we chose for our son are not the same people that we named in our wills to take him if anything should happen to us. godparents have no legal obligation to take on children if something happens to their parents.

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47 Jodi September 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I guess that is true. I’m sure I don’t really know what I’m talking about:) For me personally, I’m just imagining how stressful it would be to focus on my own family AND feel some responsibility for someone else’s child as well. Good thing I’m not a godparent then, huh! I’m glad that people out there are able to enjoy it.

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48 salley September 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

I’m so happy to see this topic being discussed! I was raised Episcopalian in Virginia, and have godparents- my godfather is my father’s oldest friend, and my godmother is my father’s favorite cousin (so, my godparents aren’t married to one another). I do not have an especially large or close-knit extended family, and my godparents mean the absolute world to me. Though they live far away, they were very much present in my life as I grew up, and served as advice-givers, fans, role models, and confidants. As a child, having a close relationship with an adult that was not one of my parents was extremely important. As a 33 year old married woman, their presence in my life is still just as important.
I am no longer a practicing Episcopalian, but am really searching for a way to give my future children the same godparent experience. I do not in any way mean it to be disrepectful of the church. I’m really looking forward to reading the comments to see if there is a way that this can be accomplished, perhaps under a different title? To me, it is too important of a role to not have some sort of formal sealing of that relationship (like there is in a church), but outside of the bounds of religion.

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49 Jennifer September 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

I am Catholic and from the Midwest (since someone brought up the fact it seems very important in my region). I have Godparents that were always part of my life and special celebrations. For instance, when I got married, my Godparents did the readings at mass. I now have several Godchildren. I always try to be present for important times. They are all still young, but I hope to be part of their lives for years to come. For my children, I chose all family members except one. My son’s Godfather is the only non-family member and not really involved. It makes me a little sad but I guess he doesn’t put the same value on it as I do.

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50 Sara September 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

My parents aren’t religious, but did designate a Godmother for me, a close friend of my grandmother’s who had been extremely supportive to my mother growing up. We have a special connection and she has informally ‘adopted’ my sister as her god-daughter as well (my sister’s godparents are officially my aunt and uncle). Since we’re not religious she wasn’t responsible for helping our religious upbringing, but it was nice to have a ‘title’ or a way to formally recognize the relationsip and she has definitely been there for me through thick and thin. As she’s getting older now I’m able to repay her years of kindness and love spending time with her.

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51 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:18 am

That’s beautiful, Sara!

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52 Sarah September 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

I also grew up Catholic and both of my parents are from Louisiana, so growing up, we called godparents by their french names: parrain (godfather) and nannan (godmother). My girls have godparents (although I have a 10-week old who we’re still figuring out who they will be). Their godparents are not necessarily the people who will take them should something happen to us – but I do consider them spiritual guides (not necessarily Catholic or religious, even) and also hope that they develop special relationships with them.

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53 Erin September 12, 2011 at 11:15 am

Several years ago my husband was asked by friends to be the Godfather to their son. They are Catholic, and we are not, so we were quite surprised by the request. With our limited understanding of this important spiritual role in the Catholic faith, we were uncertain as to whether my husband could even fulfill the role, or if he should even accept it. He explained his concerns and was told that they were looking for a strong, spiritual man who could provide moral guidance to their son throughout his life, and that their son would be surrounded by family members who could teach him specific doctrines of his faith. (They have other arrangements with relatives in the case of their deaths- so this was a completely separate role.) After these clarifications, my husband decided to accept this responsibility and was allowed a limited participation in the baptism (the Godmother is Catholic). While I’m certain our more devout Catholic friends would not make the same choice, my husband and I both felt honored that these friends viewed him in this way. We have a big loving family, and plenty of non-family friends who fulfill the same role in our children’s lives, but we just refer to them as ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’. In some ways I feel adopting another religion’s term for a sacred role, although completely well-intentioned, is somehow is disrespectful, or shows ignorance of another’s deeply-rooted spiritual beliefs. I can’t really explain it, but I’m glad to have friends of different faiths with whom my family can share loving, spiritual experiences!

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54 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:19 am

What an honor for your husband and family.

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55 Kristin September 12, 2011 at 11:23 am

What a wonderful post!!

We aren’t religious, but we are very tradition-bound, and each of our kids has the same set of godparents. One is my sister and her husband who we hope someday will teach our kids what their faith means to them, and the other is a second cousin of mine who is one of the most important members of our extended family. “Second cousin” never seemed worthy enough for the role he has played in all of our lives, but godfather does. I’m still extremely close to my godmother (who was my mother’s first friend). Though her role has never been “spiritual advisor”, I’ve always known how important my sister and I were to her, and her to us. She and her husband are both uber-librarians, so I’ve always thought of her as my own private book curator, who also happens to know tons of great authors. What a treat!

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56 DENISE. September 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

What a great topic to post, loving this discussion! I just got married and am hoping to start a family soon so I’ve definitely thought about who in my life I want for this very special role. I’m godmother to a friend’s first born daughter. And when she was young, she called me her Fairy Godmother! Isn’t that just the best? I go out of my way to create a special relationship with her and her know that I’m hers — not just if her parents die but in all of life’s moments.

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57 Beth September 12, 2011 at 11:45 am

We’re Episcopalian and my kids have godparents, though my husband and I do not.

My son’s godfather is extremely involved in his life. We see him frequently and his daughter and my son adore each other (to the point that J was sobbing when B wasn’t paying enough attention to her at a recent bday party). His godmother is more absent. She missed the ceremony and has generally been lax in participating in his life.

My daughter’s godparents are my son’s godfather and his wife. They are both super-involved in my daughter’s life. When she had her surgery, her godfather came and sat through then entire ten hours with us. He absolutely would not leave us alone, which we appreciated.

They come to parties, performances, games. And when the time comes, they plan to come to confirmation if the kids decide they want to be confirmed.

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58 Kristen E September 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm

My husband is Godfather to his nephew, but to their family it’s just a title with no responsibilities if the parents are still alive. I don’t have godparents, but I definitely plan to choose them for my children. I think godparents can be important figures is children’s lives – not only there to help guide them spiritually and teach them about God, but about life as well. As a teenager, I wished I had an adult other than my parents that I trusted and could talk with, and I imagine that being a perfect role for a godparent!

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59 leslie September 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm

My husband and I have had many long conversations about this.

If something was to happen to my husband and myself,
we have parents, and siblings lined up to take care of them.

But more importantly, we chose Godparents,
to walkalong with our kids wether we are around or not.

We waited to pick until this year, our kids are two and four.
This allowed us to pick people who already showed our children amazing love.
We chose a boy and a girl for both of our children.
Someone who would help guide them spiritually, offer advice, encouragement, help hold us accountable as parents, and support our family as a whole,
as we do our best to bring our kids up to fall in love with God,
and live a life of service and love.

We asked our children’s Godparents not to be people who give
giftcards or flashy toys.
Or annually take our kids to theme parks.
Just to love them the way they have thus far in their lives.
To continue to live the lives that they do.
and most importantly to start praying for our children daily.

Our Godparents, whom we call “the heroes”, are the most wonderful people.
They live the most incredible lives that are filled with selflessness, joy, wisdom, patience, service, and downright fun.
We are so blessed, as are our children, to have them.

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60 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:40 am

I love reading some of the details of your arrangement.

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61 Alea September 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

All our kids have godparents, part of our Catholic faith. Since there’s lots of aunts, uncles and friends, this allows our kids to have some extra special adults in the mix. We hope they will be examples to our kids and someone they can confide in if they feel like they can’t to us.

We also have named guardians for our kids seperately should something happen to my husband and I, since we of course don’t want our 4 kids going to 4 different places. Some people call this godparents too I guess.

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62 Katharina September 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Almost everyone I know has godparents here in Austria, it’s a (catholic) tradition. We chose relatives for our kids (my two sisters). For confirmation (about at the age of 15) there is a similar tradition: children have “another godparent” – and normally they are included when it comes to choose who it should be.

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63 Fiona September 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I agree it is perplexing to see people adopt the “title”, while ignoring the religious aspect, I don’t see the point, although if it helps a child develop a sense of community greater than their family unit then that can be good.
I am episcopalian and my husband catholic (although, only I am church-going), we also live far away from our close friends and family, so when choosing godparents for our children I wanted to choose people who not only had stayed close and supportive to us despite the distance but also were spiritual, if not church-going. The way I understand it , the purpose is not legal guardianship, but rather a role in the spiritual guidance and care for the child. Being a member of the church is after all about taking on a congregation as your community, you can’t worship without fellowship.
I remember my sister and I used to worry a lot, when we were little that if something happened to our parents we would be split up to live with each of our godparents, which of course was never the intention (gratefully never tested)
Now that I am an adult, and living far from home, I am really grateful for the relationship I have with my godparents with whom I email and talk to often, they have become another source of advice and comfort as I face my own parenthood.

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64 Kati September 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

My godparents are my aunt and uncle (married). My family is catholic and my brothers have their separate sets as well….even though traditionally the godparent(s) is “supossed” to take over the role of a parent in the event of a death (in the catholic church at least) I feel like it is more tradition rather than the actual case. Can you imagine having your kids split up right after their parent’s death just to satisfy their the traditions of your faith? How terrible!

Along with this, when I have kids I will still designate “godparents” to them…mostly for the tradition. I feel like they are good cheerleaders for your little nugget(s). I also would only have family be designated to that role. My feelings go along with that saying, “friends come and go…”, I would hate to designate a friend as a godparent and then not have them present in my child’s life.

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65 justaub September 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I am catholic and grew up in the northeast- I think it’s more of a religious than regional thing. My aunt is my godmother and always took that role very extremely seriously. I know it was a special honor for her. My dad’s friend from the Navy is my godfather and I don’t remember ever having any correspondence from him.
I do remember throughout my life and mostly during other catholic sacraments, reflecting on my godparents and what that role means. When a catholic is confirmed, they choose their own sponsor which is also very special. I chose my older brother.
I have several godchildren and always feel an extra bond with my babies.
I took the decision seriously when i had my two girls and chose within the family-keeping in mind that i always felt a bit let down that my godfather didn’t keep in touch…poor guy was probably 25 and didn’t know what he was standing up at an alter holding a baby for ;)

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66 Diana September 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Love my godparents, my 2 best girl friends and a good close guy friend are who I chose! I think that they are there to support and encourage my child and I look up to them so I am sure they will be good to her! I love this tradition! I am also a god mother and i take my job seriously, especially now my niece/god child is just 18! I hope to be a mentor/inspiration/support etc to her!

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67 LH September 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I’m a Catholic in the Midwest so we definitely did choose Godparents for our son!

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68 MeCal September 12, 2011 at 5:40 pm

My Godparents were my paternal aunt and uncle, who were the people designated to care for my brother and I in the event something tragic happened to both of my parents. Although we were related, I always felt an extra closeness to them because my parents chose them to care for me. We have chosen Godparents for our 4 year old daughter, as well. We chose a close couple who have the same faith, family and disciplinary ideals as we do, who have agreed to take in and raise my daughter in the event my husband and I meet an untimely end. She also has two honorary Godparents who have been friends to us for years and who she’ll always be able to “go to”. Those people, although not related, get “honorary” family names…”Auntie” and “Tio”.

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69 Elizabeth T. September 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I am godmother to my 3-year-old niece. I feel it is an important responsibility — I pray for her and as she gets older I will do what I can to make sure she is being brought up to know and love God (for instance, if my sister doesn’t enroll her in Sunday School in a few years I may have to have a talk with her!). One tradition a friend told me about that I am introducing is to celebrate the anniversary of her baptism each year with a card and gift – like a special second birthday that is just for me and her to share.

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70 Robin @ Our Semi Organic Life September 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I grew up Catholic and had 2 god parents who are my aunt & uncle. This was very typical of our family and culture. Except… they did nothing. From what I understand nobody else’s godparents in my family did anything for them either! No special bond, or extra gifts or special blessings or life lessons. They weren’t event he ones designated to care for us in an emergency or if my parents died. It’s a nice gesture to the aunts/uncles but for us it was simply symbolic.

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71 Ann-Marie September 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I have godparents who I only got to know when I was 13-15 (they lived in a different country than us before and after that). I liked the idea of having them but they were not a big influence in my life growing up, mostly because of the distance. My mother and godmother are still friends, however.

My husband and I were recently asked to be godparents to my friend’s now 2 month old, and neither set of us is religious (spiritual—yes, religious—no). As others are saying, it’s a more important, involved role than just a friend, and we’re taking it seriously (and loving it as we don’t have kids yet!). I do wish there was a different term that excluded the religious aspect… we should start one! Like… subparent? Anyway, I’m relishing it and hope to have a special bond with the little one when she gets older. As my friend explained, she chose us because we are different from her and her husband, and we’ll each give her daughter different traits/teachings. I liked that idea. :)

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72 Caasandra September 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm

it’s funny that you bring this topic up, I was just having this discussion with my grandparents. I was discussing this because I know some friends where it seems like they only want the title, to be called a godparent. I guess I feel like this title shouldn’t be taken lightly or for vanity purposes. I was baptized Catholic and have a godmother. My aunt is my godmother and we are very close to this day. I see her as my other mother. I am not particularly religious or a devoted Catholic so I felt it was not appropriate to baptize my children in the church. I guess it felt hypocritical in a Catholic sense because we don’t attend church nor participate in church activities or belong to a parish.

Now, my husband is not religious at all. His godmother is a very close family friend. In my husband’s family, they see a godparent as someone to look after the kids if something was to happen to the parents. This was also the reason we did not baptize our kids, he would like our kids to decide on their own when they are older.

Together, we decided to choose the latter and our children’s godparent would be their uncle, my brother. We came to that conclusion because he shares our same values and we know he would love our kids as though they were his own if something were to happen to my husband and I.

Thank you for the great topic! It is so interesting to read the different responses and other views on what a godparent is. It’s a fascinating subject.

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73 Sandra Gonzales September 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I thought I was the only one that secretly wanted to be Sonia’s bff. Her choice of music is impeccable.

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74 Sandra Gonzales September 12, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Ahhh I meant Sofia!!! I’m trying to type and pay attention to my hubby at the same time. So much for multi-tasking…..

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75 Natasha September 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I recently joined the Catholic Church and one of the traditions I was most excited about inheriting was the the tradition of godparents. In my mind, godparents main responsibility is to take their godchild to church and to pray for them often. If their parents were to fall ill or to fall away from their strong morals, it would be your responsibility to step in and make sure the child is on the right path. I was beyond honored when asked to be a godmother for my nephew. At this point he is still quite little, but I still spoil him even more than I would if he were just my nephew. I have started a tradition of writing him notes after our visits or when I’m thinking of him even though he is way too young to read. Sending a million cards a year will certainly be my godparent trademark! Perhaps his mother will save them for him when he is older, but in the meantime it’s my conscious way of taking time out to think of him and to show my support to his parents. Projected out… I could see the role being most important during adolescence and think you might have to help mediate if parent-child relationship run amok. One thing I’ve wondered about is whether it’s better to have godparents from within the family (as family is most likely whom you would choose to care for your child if something were to happen to you) or to choose a friend because giving them a more formal role might give them a more special role in your child’s life. By the way, it doesn’t bother me at all that non-religious people are interested in this very lovely tradition… but I do think it would be nice if they kept the “moral leader” role in mind.

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76 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:20 am

Sounds like you are already doing a wonderful job as Godmother.

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77 Julia September 13, 2011 at 12:45 am

Mhhh…living in a typical “catholic” area in Europe (you know what Europeans are like with their religion ; )), I did have godparents. Unfortunately, my godmother died when I was very young (she was my father’s sister). My godfather (my mother’s brother) was like an uncle to me; there was nothing more betweeen us. Our daughter doesn’t have godparents; for me, this is a traditional religious thing; as she isn’t baptized, it would feel weird to us. Nevertheless, I am godmother to a young boy (his mother isn’t in church and he wasn’t baptized); confusing, right? Frankly, I have been thinking about this godparents approach a lot. I don’t know what I should do as a godmother, as the main part (bringing him up religiously) is out of the question. I try to be a good “aunt” to him.

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78 rochelle September 13, 2011 at 4:04 am

so funny you should ask — I was just asked to be a ‘god parent’ over the weekend. Not being very religious myself (but having named ‘god parents’ for my own children and for my own non-religous reasons) I accepted and have decided to call my self a ‘fairy godmother’ as that is the closest resemblance of duties I am to fulfill. Generally spoiling, being available, giving special attention, and being an adult figure in her life that is a close and dear friend to her parents but who is different and who can provide a different type of adult resource than a parent can. I think that children who have a special relationships with other adults in a ‘godparent’, fairy godmother, or whatever you want to call it type of role is tremendously powerful and something that I know I thought a lot about and got alot of comfort from when I was a kid.

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79 Alexandra Gjurasic September 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm

We created the New Agey role of the “Starparent” for our star child. A Starparent is the brightly burning spiritual guide for a child (less religon, more loven’). Having a Starparent is much more lively and modern, besides who wouldn’t want one?

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80 findingmagnolia September 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm

We are Orthodox Christians, and a godparent is chosen at the time of baptism. The role of the godparent is to provide encouragement and spiritual direction and to pray for the godchild throughout their lives. My daughter and I have the same godmother, and it has been a really special relationship. I grew up in the Protestant Christian church, and we didn’t have anything like this. I find that I really love being able to ask questions of someone wiser than me and to know that she is praying for both my daughter and me, whether times are good or bad.

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81 leslie w. September 13, 2011 at 7:54 pm

As a Catholic, I truly believe that the role of Godparents is significant — two people to help you guide your child along their spiritual journey. That being said, although I know who my Godparents are (an aunt and an uncle — not married to each other), they never meant much to me as Godparents. The same was true for my husband, also Catholic.

So, when my husband and I chose Godparents for our children, we were very intentional that we didn’t want to have relatives be Godparents, because we felt that the aunt or uncle relationship would always “trump” the Godparent relationship, and plus, having more adults in your life to help guide you and pray for you is great. Not to mention, I think it means more to someone you aren’t related to, when you ask them to be a Godparent.

When we asked our friends to be the Godparents of our children (each child has their own godparents), we let them know what we hoped that relationship would look like. Basically, to be present at every sacrament (baptism, first communion, confirmation, wedding/holy orders, etc.), to regularly keep the child in their prayers, to remember them each year on their “Church Birthday” — the day they were baptized (with a card or small token or phone call), and to be there to talk to our kids if they ever needed to discuss life, faith, etc with someone other than us. And that’s what we do for each of our three godchildren (who, incidentally, are all nieces and nephews of ours).

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82 leslie September 14, 2011 at 3:23 am

i’m catholic, so godparents are a great part of my {religious} life.
godparents {in my understanding} are important for the religious impact in your owns/your children’s life. so when choosing them i would always look for that. godparents {in germany} have really nothing to do with “legal guardian” {state law before canon law- after all we do live in a secularistic world}.

my godparents were part of my immediate family {and were chosen for that reason} and we had special dates and such when i was growing up! they were part of the sacraments, went to church with me and so on…

when we chose the godparents for our children we chose 2 for each {so they would be surrounded by two different characters/lifestyles/denominations}. we found the perfect match for both of them and their godparents have a huge role in their lifes. they both have outings with them, teach them about life/religion/god and do {religious} gifts on their saint’s day {which is quite huge when you’re catholic}.

for me a godparent is what its name stands for: a parent before god. the godparent should be involved in the child’s life, but primarely a role model in the religious aspects of life.
actually that’s how i became a godmother myself:)

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83 Jane September 14, 2011 at 3:34 am

I didn’t have godparents, not having been raised religious. But I think having a very close adult other than their parents as a committed presence in their lives is a great thing for children.
I was intrigued when I learned from my (Chilean) Spanish teacher that the relationship with one’s children’s godparents is taken so seriously that when their friends become godparents the child’s parents cease to address them by the familiar form of the word for ‘you’ and go back to the formal, respectful form.

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84 Nicole K September 14, 2011 at 9:08 am

Both of our children have both family and non-family godparents. Besides picking close friends that we thought could offer something to our children, we also picked one parent on the East Coast and one in Europe. I grew up on the West Coast and went to school in Europe & it was hard not having any family nearby. I wanted to have some special friends that the children could have a connections with that are not nearby, in case they end up in other cities in their lives.

Although I have grown apart from my godparents, I adored my godmother as a little girl. Her presents for birthdays were always the best and most thoughtful. She really always made me feel special.

For my goddaughter, I think I am a bit of a language link. Both of her parents are non-native English speakers and their girls have been raised all over, but the common household language is English. I’ve tried to share lots of books that I have loved growing up, to try to support and nurture a love of literature where her parents don’t have that common bond. She is amazing and I can’t wait until she is big enough to come visit on her own.

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85 Margaret September 15, 2011 at 8:53 am

I am a member of a very Catholic family. Some different sects of Catholicism are in my family too. I grew up with Godparents (Nanny and Parrain) and my parents each have a few Godchildren of their own (some together some my mom is the Nanny and my dad isn’t the Parrain and vice versa). I don’t have children of my own nor do I ever plan on having any but I have 3 Godchildren myself. My brother’s daughter is my first Goddaughter and I’m a HUGE part of her life (made a 1/2 cross country move to be closer) and I have 2 Godchildren in another state (my best friend’s children). I got to be the Nanny to my best friend’s children because she’s not Catholic but her husband is. She actually picked a few sets of Godparents for each child, I’m the “legal” Godmother to her daughter but a “stand in” for her son. I still consider both my Godchildren and am happy to have that honor. My brother very recently (8 days ago) had a son and they chose the maid of honor and best man from their wedding as his Godparents. Both are Catholic and both are wonderful role models for their son. As far as I know the only other people in our family to chose outside of the family for their children are my cousin and her husband who have chosen their maid of honor and best man as the Godparents for all their children (they’re baking #4 now).

To answer the question about the relationship being what I’d hoped. Not for me, I watched all my friends have great relationships with their Godparents and I never really knew mine due to a falling out between my parents and them (they’re family too). After watching my friends have these wonderful relationships with their Godparents I got close to my mom’s younger sister and “adopted” her as my Godmother. I have a fantastic relationship with her and regularly call just to chit chat, get advice, vent about my parents, talk about the weather. I truly believe she was meant to be my Godmother and I don’t consider my “real” Godmother anything more than an aunt. She did not live up to her end of the deal and I can’t change that. But I’m lucky that I have found a stand in and hope that if something ever happens between me and my brother or best friend that I don’t choose that same path for my Godchildren.

It is huge cultural thing down here in Louisiana, everyone has Godparents. Most are extremely close to them and have relationships with them as if they were another set of parents.

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86 Alyssa September 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I love this topic!
I just became a godmother (or OMGmother) about 10 months ago. I’m not religious, nor is my best friend, but she wanted someone who was similar in age (ready to parent), and would always be around for her son. I’m listed on their family will as the first person outside the family who would take over parental rights in the case that her and her husband passed away, or some other tragic event. Although it’s not through a church or anything, I take my role very seriously. I care about my godson like he’s my own and I would do absolutely anything for him. I promised from day one to always be there for him and if he ever needs me, I will answer that call.
:)

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87 Cathy September 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I have a “god family”…my god parents are married and are also the god parents to my sister. In turn, my parents are the god parents to my god parents 2 sons. We all grew up in the Episcopal Church.

We grew up like cousins basically….and even with a divorce, the “god family” stayed in tact (my god-brothers refer to my step father as “uncle”).

I am not as close to my god parents as I should be, but my oldest god-brother is one of my favorite people, and we become closer the older we get. It is great when we are together and people ask us how we know eachother. The response “oh this is my god-brother” gets some great reactions! We honestly didn’t know until we were in our mid-20′s that everyone didn’t have a “god family.” I thought it was normal to talk about my god-brother’s and “god family”….the innocence and security of that I just love to think about.

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88 Kim December 13, 2011 at 6:38 am

I didn’t have god parents growing up. My household wasn’t and still isn’t a religious one. Some of my nephews and nieces have godparents because their parents are Catholic.

When one of my best friends had her first child she was unmarried and the father wasn’t going to play much of a role. I was there with her during her pregnancy and there the day she had her daughter. She and the father, who is Catholic, both felt that because of my involvement and my husband’s that they would name us godparents.

As our situation is not religious based my husband and I aren’t responsible for our goddaughter’s religious upbringing. We with my friend have loosely defined our roles as the extended family to our goddaughter who will act as role models and help her as she grows up to learn right and wrong and such things.

Basically we are like back up parents to our goddaughter. She knows and will always know we are there for her. We’ve made our own traditions like one day a week just spending the day together. After my friend married and had more children I spent time with them too, but am not their godmother. So to make sure that my goddaughter still knows she is special and important to me I spend time with just her.

Now that my husband and I have had our son we chose an nontraditional view on godparents too. My best friend who acted as my maid of honor at our wedding was named godmother and our goddaughter’s stepfather who we have grown close to became his godfather. Now we all live in different states, so their interaction with my son is by phone, Skype and the occasional visit. But they send him things just because like cards and such to make sure even at his young age he knows his godparents are there and love him.

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89 Julie January 13, 2012 at 2:23 am

My Grandmother was my godmother, I don’t know why she was picked for me except that she was my grandmother. I grew up in a catholic family and my 4 siblings had mixture of one godmother or a godfather and a godmother together – usually a couple. The idea was that they would be a spiritual guide but I never saw or felt any evidence of this especially but I did feel closer to grandmother when as a teenager I found out it was unusual to have a grandmother as a godmother. I have seen in my travels too many times “situational godparents” when we’ve all been itinerant teachers in far off communities and once we’ve moved on the godparents and godchildren never see each other again. I chose 3 godparents for my daughter and they reflect 2 people who I think have good wisdom and would be able to counsel my daughter if needed ( when mum’s not “cool enough” or being a “fuddy duddy”and 1 who is a link to my family back in the UK ( (i’m in Australia) and who is actually my own goddaughter who I take a great interest in. I don’t believe godparents should be chosen because they are your friends or family or are conveniently located.

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