How To: Be A Godfather

Since its inception many centuries ago, the tradition of godparenting has taken on a broader meaning. Sometimes called a “sponsor”, a godparent would represent an infant during its baptism, and oversee the child’s spiritual growth. In modern times, the role of a godfather is not always religious, but it remains a tradition among many families. Only a man who is deeply trusted and respected by a child’s parents will be considered for such a role.

Before accepting such a request, it should be clear what your duties as godfather will be. If a religious aspect is involved, make sure it doesn’t conflict with your own principles. If you are to foster the child in the event both parents pass away, you must be certain about it, and legally you will still have to be a designated guardian in their will. It may be a tough decision, but there are some helpful guidelines to follow if your answer is affirmative.
If there is a ceremony, such as a christening or briss, make sure you have an understanding of the event beforehand. Be certain about what you will say and do during the service, and wear appropriate clothing. It may be just a simple welcoming ceremony for the newborn, but a neat appearance will demonstrate your respect for the event. Give a short speech congratulating the parents on their new baby, and show your appreciation for being named the child’s godfather. You may also openly express your support for the child, and affirm your role as a mentor.
As a godfather, you will have important dates to remember, such as your godchild’s birthday, and holidays involving gift exchanges. Many godfathers traditionally give a card and money on these occasions, and gifts do not need to be lavish. A card or phone call is highly suggested whenever your godchild accomplishes significant achievements, whether academically or competitively.
Mentoring a godchild is still the primary duty for most godfathers, and your performance in that role has certain expectations. If religious aspects are present, then you will also be serving as a spiritual guide, encouraging the child’s faith and moral development. Mentoring also involves being a superb role model, someone your godchild can look up to. This means avoiding detrimental behavior, such as smoking, swearing, and drug use. Keep in mind that as a godfather, you play an additional part in the child’s development. By displaying good manners and self-esteem, you help pass those traits onto your godchild.
Supporting your godchild’s parents is another important duty; this is especially true if they are first-time parents who need advice, or simply another perspective. Listen closely to any parenting issues they might have, and help them out by babysitting, or briefly taking the child somewhere to give them some time alone. This can help increase the odds that your godchild’s home is a healthy, stable environment. If you live far away, communicate periodically with your godchild by phone or email to keep up with current events.
As a confidant, a godfather may also step in whenever the child needs to talk about something uncomfortable. Subjects may include school issues, sex, or anger towards someone. Make sure you offer sound advice, but never hesitate to involve the parents on a critical issue, such as criminal activity or drug use. Children often need help seeing both sides of an issue, and a good godfather acts as a balancing force.
Lastly, a godfather can help develop important skills in a child. Encourage reading, and send your godchild some of your favorite books; being well-read can have a very positive effect on a young person. Anything you happen to do particularly well may be taught, such as music, carpentry, mechanical work, or a sport. All these things will serve to help make your godchild a better person, even long after he or she has reached adulthood, and make any godfather proud.