Your best friend is pregnant, her due date is right around the corner, and you couldn’t be happier for her. You’ve purchased her a baby shower gift, and you just can’t wait to hold that little one in your arms when she arrives. You’ve already volunteered to bring meals for your friend and her husband in those first days after the baby is born, and you’ve told them how much you look forward to babysitting (free of charge, of course.)
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, just when you thought you had your role in the little one’s life all figured out, your best friend asks you to be the child’s godparent. Her what? Do people still do that? You said yes. You said you were thrilled! But…
What exactly does a godparent do? How is it different from a family friend, a role you felt more than comfortable in? How much emphasis goes into that “parent” part of the word? The “god” part too, now that you think of it?PLEASE PIN THIS IMAGE. THANK YOU!
Let us assure you these questions are perfectly natural, and we’re happy to answer them here. So, read on, and we’ll fill you in on the joys and responsibilities of being a godparent.
First, a godparent traditionally fills the role of a trusted mentor and, yes, a parental stand-in should the parent of the same sex pass away. This means that, as a woman, you would take on some of the motherly responsibilities in the tragic event that the birth mother should die. No, the child would not move in with you, and no, you’re not signing a creepy contract to marry your dear friend’s husband should his wife die. Rather, you involve yourself in the child’s life, attending some of the events that the mother would have attended with the child, offering motherly advice and wisdom as the child grows up, and letting the child feel that he or she deserves a motherly figure to turn to in life. It’s an important responsibility, but one that offers a tremendous opportunity to help a child who has gone through an unspeakable trauma in losing a parent.
Second, when both birth parents are alive (this is typically the case), you get to be something like a cherished aunt. Fun outings, movies, junk food, make up, boy talk and maybe a little serious mentoring thrown in there to boot. It can be a wonderful time. You get to surprise the child with fun treats like cookie bouquets for even the smallest of holidays or spoil her with magnificent gifts that will leave the parents’ eyes rolling (all this within your own budget constraints, of course). You’ll be something like a rock star in the child’s eyes.
Third, the God part of godparent usually does matter. Those parents who want godparents for their children are typically religious themselves. The expectation is that, as a godparent, you are someone the child can rely upon for some parental guidance and religious support. This means praying for the child on a regular basis, attending important religious milestones in the child’s life, and generally being available to talk about faith when the child needs it. If that’s not something you’re feel comfortable with, speak with the parents about their expectations. These days, there are parents who like the idea of godparents just without the ‘god’ part. But if that’s not what they’re thinking on the matter, they’ll likely have to ask someone more willing to take on the role of religious mentor.
While the above thoughts reflect the traditional role of a godparent, as it has come to express itself today, you should ask the parents about not just their religious expectations but also their expectations in general. They might have a wildly different vision of what being a godparent means, and you’ll want to know exactly where they stand on the matter before you commit to the job.
What do you think of when you hear the term “godparent”?