Choosing godparents is just one of the tricky things that some parents are faced with after the birth of their child. Luckily, it’s one of those things you can put off for a bit. The tradition of selecting godparents is a Christian one; however, in modern society it can sometimes transcend that. For example, a question posed in an international forum about Islam asked if it was okay for a Muslim to be a godparent to a Christian boy. The response read said that while the potential godfather should not accept any religious responsibility, if “he is expected to maintain the child or provide him if he is in need, then it’s not objectionable.”
For many faithful Christians and Catholics, the godparents are just that—responsible for ensuring that the child receives religious education and that she lives by the tenets of her faith. Still, whether it’s religious or simply societal, choosing godparents can be tricky, and many new parents are worried about that decision.
First, what parents must understand is whether or not there is a religious aspect to it. My own daughter’s mother and I were different faiths—Baptist for her, lapsed Catholic for me—so she suggested early on that we each choose godparents for our daughter. While her choices had a religious aspect to them, mine did not. In fact, I can only remember whom I selected as her godfather. I think her godmother from my side of the family was a coworker I lost touch with before Madison was a year old.
Which brings me to my second point: Don’t just choose someone because you think you have to. My choice for godfather was my closest male friend, one who was nearly part of my family already, so it was a natural choice. Essentially, it was an affirmation between us that I trusted him to be an integral part of my daughter’s life, a trust that came with some real-world responsibility. Your choice for godparent should involve a discussion of that responsibility between you and the people you name.
One thing parents rarely consider is if the person they have in mind refuses their request. This hearkens back to the responsibility thing. Some folks—people who love you, your child, and maybe even God—simply don’t want the responsibility that comes along with the title. Whether that person is a different faith or simply not ready to be anything other than “Mommy/Daddy’s friend” to a child, it’s not a slight, and it might actually be that person’s way of doing you a favor.
My own godparents were my mother’s sister and my great-uncle, whose wife eventually came to live with us when he died. These family members were always the ones I considered my closest, the ones I always knew I could count on. That is what these people will be in your child’s life. Choose wisely.