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The Role of a Godparent and Choosing the Right One for Your Child

Updated on January 24, 2017

What is a Godparent?

In many denominations of Christianity, a Godparent is a person who assists in ensuring that a child's spiritual well-being is carried out. A male Godparent is referred to as a "Godfather" and a female Godparent is referred to as a "Godmother". Traditionally, Christian parents will select one Godmother and one Godfather to sponsor a child's baptism and continue to guide the child spiritually throughout their lives. They are also often designated as guardians for a child should they be orphaned, although this is not always the case.

Responsibilities of a Godparent

Here are some typical responsibilities of a Godparent. These are general responsibilities since the roles will vary somewhat depending on the parents and the child's religion.

  • Build a spiritual relationship with the child
  • Be responsible for the child's spiritual learning
  • Sponsor the child's baptism
  • Step in as the primary care giver if the child is orphaned (only if also legally designated)
  • Provide a trustworthy source for the child should they be in need of guidance or solace
  • Be a constant provider of advise for the child
  • Pray consistently for the child and the child's spiritual path

If you plan to have your child baptized or christened, the Godparent is typically involved in the ceremony. Speak to your pastor, priest, minister, or spiritual leader about specific roles for your faith.

Selecting the Right Godparent

In order to make sure that you are making the correct choice when choosing a Godmother or Godfather, you might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the person's views on religion, spirituality and morality similar to that of your own? If not, would they respect the spirit of your views and values?

  • Is the person ready to assist you in your duty as faithful parents?

  • Will they have the desire and time to build a relationship with your child and see them often?

  • Do they have an interest in your child's well-being?

Is a Godparent also a Guardian?

A guardian is a person who has the legal authority and duty to care for the personal and property interests of another person, such as your child. It is important to note that Godparents are not necessarily the guardians of your children should anything happen to you. A guardian must be legally appointed to your child via a will or legal document of some form. While you may desire for your Godparent to also be the legal guardian of your child in the event of your death, you will need to make sure to document that desire through the appropriate legal channels.

When to Select a Godparent

Depending on your faith, you may or may not desire for your child's Godparents to participate in your child's baptism. If so, then you will need to select your child's Godparents prior to the baptism, which could be very early on depending on your faith. If time allows, it might be a good idea to wait and see who steps in and seems truly interested in playing a large role in your child's life. You may be surprised by people who display a real dedication to your child and their well-being.

Godparents Today

It seems that the role of Godparents is becoming less and less frequent in today's society. Being a Godparent is a large responsibility and also a great honor. The importance of the role for the Godparent and your child will depend on the significance that you apply. If you emphasize how special the role is to the selected Godparent and the child, you will help provide an added source of love and support for the duration of your child's life.

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