The obligation and expectations of godparents vary from culture to culture and family to family. Ultimately, the parents and godparent decide what the responsibilities are, but it is helpful to view godparents as an extension of family. Modern godparents act in service of their godchild, whether in a long-established religious mentor capacity or, in more secular ways.
Traditionally, godparents in the Christian faith are part of the Christening or Baptism service and commit to playing an integral role in ensuring the child’s religious or spiritual development throughout their life. Each branch of religion has different requirements for the role of godparent. Godparents are considered to have a special connection to the child’s life and they are usually close friends or family members.
These days, some parents will still appoint godparents even if there is no religious ceremony. Godparents can still act as role models to help and guide children emotionally, practically, and spiritually. From offering career advice or providing financial assistance, the role of a godparent has evolved to match the needs of modern families. In lieu of religious support, kids can lean on their godparent for other vital aspects of life.
There is no singular accepted set of rules for modern godparents. So it is important that parents and potential candidates can come to a consensus on the expectations and determine what responsibilities they are comfortable with, and capable of agreeing to, before being named godparents.
Godparents are often seen as the person who would raise the child should their parents die. However, even if this is the intention, they are not the legal guardian unless the parents have completed the legal procedures that would name them as such, in the event that neither parent could care for the child.
Even secular godparents can appreciate the meaning behind their role. The main non-religious duties involve being a positive and present support for their godchild. The more time they spend together the more influence the godparent can have. Celebrating major milestones, birthdays, and Christmas with cards is an important part of letting a child know you’re tracking their progress throughout their childhood, and if your budget allows, gifts from godparents are always appreciated. Some ways to financially contribute to a child include starting or adding to an education fund, sending money or presents for special occasions, and purchasing required items or gifts for religious ceremonies.
Being asked to be a child’s godparent to help shepherd a child through life or faith is a huge honour. By providing your godchild with love and support whilst you mentor them, they too will develop into a charming young adult bringing new perspectives to yours, and consequently, be a friend for life.