What Does It Mean To Be A Godparent

Godparents have nothing to do with Mafia dons or kindly fairies who can wave a wand and upgrade your wardrobe. A godparent takes on a specific role in the raising of a child. Being asked to be a godparent is an honor, but you need to understand the role fully before you accept.

What is a godparent supposed to do?
A godparent is a sponsor of a child who is being baptized. However, a godparent is not just an empty role taken on for the day of the ceremony. The duties of a godparent are lasting, and the idea is that the godparent will have a role throughout the life of a child, particularly in the child's religious upbringing.

Becoming a godparent does not mean that you are automatically a guardian to the child if the parents die. The only way you would be in that position is if the parents named you to care for the child in their will. That said, any godparent should take an active interest in the child and should be close to the family.

Depending on the religion and the family, some godparents might have more responsibilities than others. Godparents are often expected to set a good example in terms of religion and to pray for the child.

Do I need to be of the same religion as the parents to be a godparent?
This depends on the religion. For example, if the parents are Catholic, then the godparents must be Catholic. Some parents might prefer to ask close friends who are not of the same religion to be godparents. If you want to become a godparent to a good friend's child, but you follow a different religion or no religion, don't be afraid to ask for details regarding the ceremony and what you are expected to do. The parents are probably busy with the new baby, but they will gladly answer your questions.

What if I'm not sure I should be a godparent?
Being a godparent is a serious obligation. While you are not obliged to spend lots of time with the child, you might not be well suited to the role if you don't like children. You may also not agree with the principles of the parents' religion or the specific church. Say your feelings sooner rather than later, and make clear that you are not trying to hurt the parents' feelings, but you are doing what is best for the child.

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