Becoming a godparent for a small child is a very important position. While godparents began in the early days of the Christian church, nowadays people without religious connection are chosen to be godparents. Although the details of the roles change in many cases, the etiquette always remains the same. Here’s what to do:
Usually, a godparent has the same faith as a child’s parents, sharing similar spiritual beliefs. Along with the responsibility of becoming a godparent, this person will often agree to act as a spiritual mentor for the child. This means you should agree to support the child in their spiritual development, setting a positive example, and perhaps even praying for the child if you’re religious.
At the christening, you will usually stand with the parents during the ceremony. If you can’t make the christening, then somebody can stand in for you. However, it’s best if you can attend the ceremony to show your support. You’ll need to dress conservatively for a special event. In some cases, the godmother carries the child down the aisle and hands the child to the priest at the appropriate time.
If you don’t feel comfortable with supporting the child in such a way, you should politely decline. If your beliefs are very different to the child’s parents, then make sure they’re aware of this before you accept.
After the christening, the godparents usually give the child a special gift for them to keep and remember the event. There are all kinds of christening gifts for you to choose from, like spoons, mugs, plates, and more. You may also want to give the child money in a savings bond. Once you’re an official godparent, you need to develop a relationship with the child by remembering special events, like their birthday. Gifts may include engraved tableware, photo albums, and jewellery – although you should remember that gifts aren’t the most important thing.
Although you don’t have any responsibility or legal authority for a child, it’s best if you remain involved with the child throughout their childhood years. This bond can help to support the child emotionally, and you may even become a confidant and companion to guide the child through tough times.
You don’t want to end up being a ‘missing in action’ godparent, as this is awfully impolite and disrespectful. If you don’t live close enough to the child, make sure you call, write, or email them regularly.
You may also need to support the parents if they’re unsure of how to handle a situation in the home. Don’t undermine their parental authority, but give them advice and opinions where needed.
Becoming a great godparent can be a tough job, so make sure you’re up to it if you accept it. You’ll need to keep an active role in the child’s life, make an effort with them, and help them develop as a person. You may even need to support the parents through tough times. If you’re prepared for all that, then go ahead and accept!