It may be a cliché, but the old adage about it taking a village to raise a child is absolutely true. No parent should feel like they have to go it alone, especially in a modern age where grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends can all play a formative role in a baby’s upbringing. One way you can add extra adult support in your child’s life is through a godparent, whose role is essentially to act as another guide to help your little one navigate the twists and turns of growing up.
Traditionally, the role of the godparent is grounded in Christianity, with the practice most often being associated with Catholicism. Within the Catholic church, a godparent must be chosen from the congregation and commit to guiding their godchild’s spiritual life, beginning with their baptism. However, you don’t have to be a Christian or even spiritual to give your kids godparents.
Over the years, the responsibilities of a godparent have evolved. Now, the role is still associated with guidance, but that guidance doesn’t have to be spiritual in nature. Instead, you may choose a friend whose love of arts could enrich your little one’s future, or an aunt who you hope will act as a co-parent of sorts.
These days, the godparents’ role in their godchild’s life varies from family to family. Ultimately, that means it’s up to you and the godparents you choose for your child to decide what level of involvement they’ll have in the baby’s life. Still, no matter how hands-on a godparent is, asking someone to take on such a special role is both an honor and a huge deal, so it’s a choice that should be made with careful consideration. Most importantly, you should choose someone you want to always be a part of not only your child’s life but also your own.
What role should a godparent play in a child’s life?
If you’re not religious, a godparent can simply be an adult presence in a child’s life who they feel comfortable going to with issues they may not want to broach with their parents. The person or people you choose should be willing to be there for your baby through every stage of their life. Essentially, you want someone who will be equally adept at taking your little one out for ice cream when they’re in kindergarten and giving them a shoulder to cry on when they’re experiencing their first heartache as a teen.
The role of the godparent isn’t a legal one unless you decide to make your child’s godparents their legal guardians in the event of your death. But that’s certainly not a requirement. In many cases, a child’s godparents are a bit like extra aunts and uncles — supportive adults who happily spoil your kids rotten.
If you are religious, you may decide to adhere to the traditional definition of a godparent. In that case, the person or people you choose will play a key role in guiding your child’s spiritual journey. Even if you’re appointing a secular godparent, you may want them to be a positive influence on your child in a moral sense — this could range from teaching your child the value of volunteering to simply act as a sounding board when your teen or young adult finds themselves facing a moral dilemma.
Who should be your child’s godparent?
Anyone can be a godparent, and that’s all the more reason to choose your child’s godparents wisely. Ideally, you want to pick an adult who will always be a part of the baby’s life. That means if you decide to ask a friend to step into the role, you want to make sure you really are friends for life.
Because the definition of a godparent is so flexible in modern times, who you pick is entirely up to you. For members of the Catholic church, the person they pick needs to be a member of the church too, but for everyone else, a godparent can be a friend or a relative. Additionally, there’s no set number for how many godparents a single child can have. Traditionally, it was customary to choose two people — a man and a woman — but that’s definitely not the case anymore.
You can now ask as few or as many people as you like. What’s most important is picking people who will form a supportive team for you and your child. In many ways, godparents are the modern equivalent of your child’s village, and if you choose wisely, you’ll be building a special support system for your baby that will last a lifetime.
After your child’s godmother has accepted the role, some parents choose to send thank you gifts. So if you’re struggling to come up with the perfect present we’ve found several that show graciousness and style.
- Give her a simple bracelet that’s “from the baby.” Avoid buying a holiday level tennis bracelet, but something that says, “You are appreciated.”
- Make it personal and gift her with a picture frame of her and the godchild. Instead of emailing her the photos from the christening or whichever event she met the baby, put it in a beautiful frame for her.
- Give her prints of the child’s hands or feet. It’s a nice trinket to have for their own memories (and scrapbooks).
Can you be a godparent to more than one child?
Based on Christian tradition, children usually have no more than three godparents. Girls would get two godmothers and one godfather, while boys get two godfathers and one godmother. However, you can assign your child as many godparents as you want. Picking the right person to be a godparent to your child is important, so add as many loving individuals to that bunch, whether that be one or four.
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