Godparents: Tradition or Trend?

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.

91 thoughts on “Godparents: Tradition or Trend?”

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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).

  8. 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:)

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. I chose my best friend as my child’s Godmother. When we were young she did so much for her. She thought of her for Xmas, birthdays, spent time with her. Now, she doesn’t even want to spend time with her. When I asked that she be more involved she actually told me to get her into more activities and to make more friends. I’m thoroughly disappointed in the choice I made. I’d take the job more seriously. I no longer believe in Godparents.

  17. When twin sister and I were born almost 25 years ago, my mom was a single mother, previous to us, she had three children and had been divorced already. So total of kids was 5 of us. She had been fresh in her sobriety (2yrs clean) and she asked my god mother whom was also my grandmothers bestfriend; she in turn was my moms sponsor) if she and her husband at the time would like to be our god parents. I was told by my momand my god parents that, my god mother couldnt have kids, she always wanted one, and she loved us, they loved us, and they wanted to help us in terms of being able to financially and personally give us what my mom addmitted she wasnt able to give us. And they officially became our god parents, it wasnt official on paper in the religious aspect of it but, to be honest… the title god mother and god father, means something a little different to me.. my sister and Is relationship with our god parents felt like…? Okay, it kinda was like a divorce situation where the kid (s) go every other weekend to mom or dads, in our case, it was going to our god parents house every other weekend. We did EVERYTHING with them. Until they got a divorce. They even sat us down at 9yrs old to break the bad news to us and it felt just like if they were our blood parents… it changed everything. My god father stepped away from the picture bcs later on I find out it was because he felt we loved and only really cared for our god mother. Which wasnt true but thats when it was left as we just had our god mother. She remarried and we would call him by his name and he is great guy. But our god mother used to say all the time, dont ever grow up because I dont do teenagers, seriously. And she meant it alright. Because I havent heard a word from her for three years and neither has my sister she has never even tried to meet her son my nephew at all, we were hurt by this. I called her and she had the tone of voice that is completely mean, cruel, just sad for me to hear, pretty much talking to me like a shrink and like I was crazy for calling her and lettinf her know she has really truely hurt me… and she laughed, literally laughed at me told me people go their seperate ways but then told me she didnt want her personal judgement towards my sister and I and how we were comming into our own, she didnt want her personal judgements to “affect” or “hinder”how we grow into adults as ourselves. So pretty much she beyond insulted me, and pretty much made me feel like she got her baby fix and she is truely that type of mean bitch excuse my french but she knows she is and isnt affraid to addmitt it. But I dont feel like she truely gets how much of a mean bitch shentruely is. God mother religious title or not, you dont just become a huge role and be a part of a childs life and decide when you are bored or you dont agree with how we are entering the adult world, you just say forget this. Forget them. And literally have no affect on you?! I was beyond hurt and ill say she hurt me more than it hurt growing up without my real father for 24 yrs but now he is trying to earn the title of my dad. I just cant believe it still. I kew she was a bitch, but how shes done my sister and I…. its beyond a bitch move…. you dont do that. It isnt right. Its not normal. Under all my anger towards her now, (in my heart I nonlonger have a gm) I feel very sorry for her because she obviously is fucked up in whatever department you wanna call all this…. but im glad so glad to read all these posts, makes me feel like im not alone

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