All About Godparents: A Guide for New Parents

What are godparents? It’s a question that many new Christian parents have. A godparent is someone who has agreed to be the child’s spiritual guide, as well as caretaker in the event of their parent’s death or incapacitation. It is not uncommon for one person to act as both a legal guardian and spiritual guide/caretaker for the child; however, it is more common for two to serve in these roles to share responsibilities. The modern role of godparents includes helping with rites such as baptisms, christenings, or other special ceremonies like bar mitzvahs or confirmations.  

In the rest of our blog, we’ll go over what a godparent is and their duties and responsibilities in detail. So, let’s get into it!  

What Are Godparents?  

A godparent is someone who supports the faith of the person that they are godparent to. In turn, they help their godchild understand and live out the responsibility that comes with having faith. This can include providing guidance, spiritual or moral support, and even financial help if necessary. Depending on the type of church you belong to, the precise godparent definition can vary.  

How Many Godparents Can You Have?  

There is no limit to how many godparents you can have — however they must be people who will be involved in the children’s life when needed. This means that they should be people whom you know well and interact with regularly.  

We recommend godparents be a mixture of male and female close friends or family members that your child is familiar with. You can have as many as you like, but we suggest having at least two to spread out the responsibility if necessary.  

Who Can Be Godparents?  

There are no rules about godparent age, gender, marital status, or even religion. However, it is essential to discuss their commitment level with the godparent and how much time they will spend with your child if you pass on before them.  

Choosing Godparents  

Given that you may pick your baby’s godparents from among family or friends, the pool of potential individuals may be huge, and selecting a few people to choose from might be difficult. Nevertheless, selecting godparents is a serious matter. Consider: What is a godparent, and what significance does it hold for you?  

Godparents have a lot of work on their plates. Check in with the relevant family member or friend to ensure that they are personally ready for the challenge. Remember that this is for the rest of your kid’s life, so don’t be afraid to take your time and make sure it’s the right fit.  

How To Ask Someone to Be a Godparent  

If you want someone to be a godmother or godfather to your child, we recommend asking them in person. This could be at a family party or other event where you’ve already named godparents- so no one feels singled out! Another option is to ask someone privately and give them some time if they aren’t ready yet. However, godparents must be ready to make this commitment.  

If you want someone to be a godparent, but they haven’t been chosen as godfather or godmother yet- we recommend asking them at a time when they can think about it and discuss their availability with you without feeling rushed! It might be helpful if the person can bring up godparent responsibilities and how they feel about them.  

Godparents’ Roles and Responsibilities  

Traditionally, the role of godparents is to help the baptized person understand and live out their faith and religious responsibilities. This can include helping with guiding them to find, accept, and fulfill their personal vocation. However, the more modern role is up to the parents and those they choose.  

Godparents have a variety of religious, non-religious, legal, and financial duties towards the godchild. 

In general, godparents participate in all areas of a child’s life. Many people now consider themselves co-parents for this role. It can be challenging to raise children and support matters. A godparent may offer a significant degree of love and support to a family as part of their duties as an adult in the faith. 

Religious Responsibilities of Godparents 

The godparent has significant responsibilities to the godchild, including teaching your child about God and encouraging them in their faith. 

Catholic Godparents Responsibilities 

In the Catholic faith, the requirements are as follows: 

  • Each child may have a godfather and a godmother 
  • Only one godparent is necessary. 
  • The godparent must be a fully initiated Catholic (Baptized, Confirmed, received Eucharist
  • The godparents must be at least 16 years old and lead a sacramental life in harmony with the church.  
  • The godparent should be willing to accept the responsibility of assisting the parents in developing the child’s faith life.  

Although some cultures sometimes choose multiple godparents, only two names can be put in the Baptismal Register. Additionally, a Christian witness may be requested by the parents, but there must be a Catholic godparent. 

Greek Orthodox Godparent Responsibilities 

If the child’s parents are Greek Orthodox and want to do a Greek baptism, the godparents must pay for the necessary items.  

Other requirements include: 

  • The Sponsor must be an Orthodox Christian. If the Sponsor has a spouse, the marriage must have been anointed by an Orthodox priest. 
  • Since the Sponsor role is directly related to the baptism and confession of faith, the Sponsor assumes the responsibility of vouching for the child since they cannot do so themselves.  
  • The Sponsor must recite the Nicene Creed either in Greek or English. Finally, for three Sundays following the baptism, the Sponsor should walk behind the neophyte to receive Holy Communion at the Holy Altar. 
  • Additionally, one name from Orthodox Christian heritage should be given to the child at the time of baptism. 

This list is not comprehensive. For more resources about godparents in different religions, see the list below.  

Nonreligious Responsibilities of Godparents 

Today godparents have a variety of nonreligious responsibilities towards their godchild. Some are expected to offer financial support, while others might be asked to care for the child if something happens to both parents. Many godmothers and godfathers sign up as co-guardians of godchildren in their wills. 

Other typical nonreligious responsibilities include: 

  • Being a positive role model – godparents often help a godchild develop a sense of self, learn the value of challenging work and good decisions. In addition, being involved in their godchildren’s lives, godparents provide an example of kindness, generosity, and good character. 
  • Providing guidance – godparents can help children with their schoolwork or offer advice when godchildren need it. 
  • Providing moral support – godparents can help children cope with the stress and crises of adolescence by offering a listening ear. 
  • Being godchildren’s advocate – godparents can help children explore all their options, even if it means disagreeing with the child’s parents. 
  • Celebrate special occasions – godparents can help godchildren celebrate milestones, such as birthdays and academic achievements.  

Secular Godparents 

This type of godparent is a nonreligious role requiring the godchild’s godparents to follow any religion or belief system. 

Many godparents find this title more open-ended and less restrictive than other roles, allowing them to choose their own responsibilities without feeling as though they must be religious to fulfill certain expectations. Many people seek godparents because they want someone to share their child’s life with them, rather than simply acting as a godparent for religious reasons. 

The responsibilities vary and depend on the godparent-godchild relationship. For example, some may ask godchildren what support would be most helpful throughout their lives, while others create separate contracts that outline godparent responsibilities. 

Legal Responsibilities of Godparents  

Unless they have been designated as legal guardians, godparents do not have legal obligations. 

A godparent can be a legal guardian in the case of an emergency. Many take on this responsibility when godchildren are young. Still, they might choose to ‘relinquish’ godparental rights in favor of a legal or family member once the godchild is older. 

Financial Responsibilities of Godparents  

Some godmothers and godfathers choose to help provide for their godchildren’s financial security. However, it is not mandatory.  

It is the godparent’s choice whether to offer financial assistance for the child’s education. It is of great value and, in some cultures, even appropriate and expected. 

However, godparents should not offer financial support if their godchild’s family is financially stable and capable of supporting the child themselves. In addition, it would be inappropriate to take advantage of a loving relationship to seek money or other material benefits from godchildren or their parents. 

A godparent might want to help pay for college tuition, but they should avoid offering money to godchildren directly. 

To find out the financial expectations, ask your godchild’s parents what they expect from you as a godparent. You might also consider talking with other godparents who have had conversations about expectations with their own godchild’s family members. 

Godparenting Responsibilities Today 

Godparents have higher expectations to do more than show up on godchildren’s special days. To be an effective godparent, they must have a strong relationship with their godchild and their child’s family. 

This means being involved in your godchild’s life – attending school plays or sporting events, meeting teachers or coaches, 

The godparent should be available and able to communicate with you about your child. They may not always have the same opinion as you, but they need to know what’s going on for them to help if needed.  

Being a godparent can be a lot of work, but godparenting comes with extremely rewarding benefits- one being the godchild’s trust and love! We recommend celebrating godparenthood by going on an outing together, so you both feel special for this new connection.  

Godparent Etiquette  

If someone is godfather or godmother to your child, they are a significant person in their life! This means that godparents should always have your respect and kindness. Not only this, but godparents often receive personal gifts for occasions like Christmas, Easter, and birthdays.  

You can also treat godparents the same as you would any other significant person in your child’s life, including inviting them to parties and events that they might enjoy!  

Celebrate with Your God Family  

When you have godparents for your child, it is important to celebrate with them. This can be a Christening or other religious event they may want to attend, but they might also enjoy doing something together outside of these events!  

An excellent way to include godparents in family celebrations and holidays is by inviting them over the same way you would with other godparents or family members. Of course, there is no expectation that godparents attend these celebrations, but it can be a nice gesture to invite them and include them.   

Overall, choosing your god family can be a fun and rewarding experience!  

FAQs About Godparents  

Q: How many godparents should you have?  

A: There is no specific number of godparents to have, but godparents should be people who love and care for your children like family.  

Q: Can godparents take your godchild if you die?  

A: No. They are not legally family, so godchildren cannot be left with godparents should something happen to both parents or one parent dies. Therefore, godparents need to have a good relationship with the child and their parents too!  

Q: Who can be godparents?  

A: Any person can become a godparent. Your godchildren, friends or family members could all potentially be godparents to your child so long as they understand the responsibility involved and are willing to commit to it!  

Q: Can you have two godmothers/godfathers?  

A: Yes- there can be two godfathers, godmothers, or a combination of both. Rules depend on the denomination.  

Getting Ready for Your Child’s Christening 

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