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How to make good friends the godparents of 9-year-old?

Feb 2005

I have a 9 year old son just days from 10. I am a single mother, and have been since day 1. A couple of years ago, I was blessed to have met a set of sisters who have been a god send to my son and myself. They are family to us.

I was raised in the catholic faith. Baptised at 3 months, schooling (12 years in catholic schools) god parents, confirmation, choir, church every Sunday and every first Thursday, weekly confessional, the works. Today, I don't practice catholicism, but I am in strong belief of 'do unto those as you would have those do unto you' just not organized religion. My church is nature and God is the breath (life).

The thing is, I want bring them on as Godparents to my son, but none of us are of organized religious beliefs. I know that the Godparent's role is to ensure that the child is raised in the faith according to the parents of the child. But does it only fall under an organized faith?? What if your faith is outside any organization?

I just want some kind of legal binding between my son and these two wonderful beings. I know it would mean the world to them and to my son. I want to have some kind of ceremony, and I know I can create this, but I want 'official' papers, that kind of thing.

Has anyone ever done this outside of a 'church' setting?? Am I being a hypocrite to want to have this tie without the organized faith? Confused x-catholic

I had a catholic upbringing very similar to your own (so did my husband), and like you, neither of us has regularly practiced any organized religion for most of our adult life. Neverthless, we feel very strongly about the importance of godparents in a child's life. What has worked well for us when getting the ''legal'' paperwork in order to serve as godparents is to use our own intact, catholic papers to our advantage: we have all our baptism, communion, and confirmation letters on hand -- ready to present as ''evidence'' that we take the role/position of godparent seriously. Despite not being practicing catholics, we don't have a problem with the ceremony taking place with a priest and in a church -- so that may be making things easier for us. We go through the required ''counselling'' session, do the ceremony, sign the papers -- then have a huge party! I don't feel hypocritical about using a religious ceremony to get ''legal'' recognition of a relationship because I know that the role of godparents is beyond any religoius doctrine. My own godparents are without a doubt the most important people in my life -- they helped to raise me, took care of me, were critical to my upbringing emotionally and financially (they are still helping me even as I turn 40!! In turn, I am crucial to their well-being and care as I assist them in their old age.) Anyway, I think you are right to want the paperwork. Like your child, I was raised by a single-parent, and it made me feel really great to have these other ''legal'' caretakers who were so close to me. To get ''real'' papers you need to have a letter from your parish priest. Since we don't belong to any church, in the past we have simply called the rectory at nearby Catholic churches and tried to find a priest sympathetic to our situation (i.e., non- practicing catholics who know the importance of godparents and want to continue the tradition.) This has worked 3 times for us, so don't be discouraged if it feels a little weird for an agnostic-type to ask favors of the church; I bet someone will write a letter for you or for the women you've chosen as godparents. Regarding doing the ceremony outside a church setting, I've never dealt with this problem, but what I would do is to contact a family friend who is a priest and ask him to do it (maybe you have such a person to call on? a liberal-minded priest who would perform the ceremony at your home or in a park? I have had friends use such priests for non-church weddings). Also you might look for a ''priest'' who has left the priesthood under favorable circumstances, or a ''brother''/non-ordained priest-type: both these groups usually can get special favors from the main church -- maybe even official forms for the paper work. Hope all this helps. Antoinette

My partner and I disagree about having godparents

Dec 2004

Hi, my partner and I have opposing views on the merits/demerits of children having godparents, and I was wondering what others think. I have several godparents and am a godparent myself to two children. Although I was baptised, both sets of relationships have been primarily secular. My godparents are people who my parents felt would be good mentors and friends to me, and I try to be the same to my godchildren (when I agreed to do it, I specified that as an atheist, I could not promise to provide for their religious education, and their parents accepted this). My relationship with my godparents has always been special to me, when I was a kid, having a relationship with an adult from outside the immediate family who took a particular interest in me made me feel special, and as especially a teenager, I valued their advice; I think my godchildren feel the same, and don't remember ever resenting my sister's relationship with her godparents . However, my partner feels that the whole idea of a 'special person' smacks too much of favouritism, and finds the idea that I would, for example, buy presents and write letters to my godson, but not necessarily to his two siblings, problematic. We are expecting our own child, and I would like him or her to have godparents, but my partner is obviously not keen. So I'm wondering - was I particularly lucky in my godparents? does anyone have experiences of the involvement of godparents or sponsors in a child's life causing problems between siblings, or making a child feel left out? Thanks for your advice. christina

Our 3 kids have the same Godfather: he is the best friend of my husband and this has been a way to include him in the family. The children call him their adopted uncle. There is no religious meaning to it. He is the one who is special to the kids. As far as he is concerned, he sends gifts to the kids rather randomly and the children do not expect it from him; he asked my son to be hie ring-barrier at his wedding, while the girls performed some other kind of ritual act. He and his wife would take care of our children if we were to disappear. It works very well because he has a special place in our life. happy with Godfather

Alternative term for godparents?

March 2002

I am planning a secular blessing ceremony for my baby who is due April 6. During the ceremony, I would like to make a special acknowledgement to two close friends of mine who have agreed to to make a special commitment to my child. In essence they have agreed to be ''godparents'', but I am trying to avoid using that term, or any specific Judeo-Christian terminology, in deference to their pagan philosophy. Can anyone make a suggestion of another title I can use rather than ''godparent'', that is perhaps from a different culture or a pagan tradition? Any other creative suggestions are welcome. - PJ

Comadre/compadre--Spanish ''coparent'' Deborah
How about calling them what they really are ''friends''--someone you trust,care about and confide in (it's a Quaker term I believe). How about ''treasures'' ''light bearers'' or ''gift bearers'' ''keeper'' --might be a little fluffy? Do you need to call them anything at all? Perhaps your special acknowledgement and actions at the ceremony will speak louder than any title you could come up with. And depending upon the guest list I suspect that even if you come up with something to call them,those in the audience who identify with the Judeo-Christian philosophy may very well compare their role with that of the ''godparent'' and say something like ''Oh, you're the godparents,'' or ''That's like a godparent.'' Hopefully that wouldn't offend them. Good luck to you! Anonymous
In addition to Godparents we also name guides for our children to assist them in various aspects of their lives. Perhaps the term ''guides'' could be used in your situation. Mich
We went through this when my children were small - I didn't want them baptised but did want them to have people who could be there and take an interest in them later on. We had three adults for each child, since I had three godparents myself, but only ended up with one after one died, and one disappeared mysteriously in India leaving behind one silver teaspoon. The remaining one is a chronic invalid. Perhaps because it didn't work too well for me, I really wanted the potential of godparenting for my kids. Anyway, we held a naming day, invited all the ''sponsors'', I wrote up a nicely decorated document for each person involved, a sort of charter of what was expected of them. It was a beautiful day, and a lovely ceremony under the apricot tree, but no-one has ever called the adults ''sponsors'' since. They and the kids and everyone involved calls them godparents. Even if you come up with a really great new name (which I didn't) you may still have to accept the heavy hand of history. f
PJ, I'm curious about this one. I'm rather a pagan individual myself. Pagans do not believe in one god, rather many. Why the reluctance to use the word ''god''? m
Another addition: I have a gosh-father and have been very happy with the designation. It also brings a laugh or two when I tell others about our relationship, However, we all take it seriously. F
I am a ''Fairy God-Mother'' to one of my best friend's child. We had a ceremony in the back yard where both parents and took vows to the child's future. Dawn