How to ask someone to be your child’s godparent

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How to ask someone to be your child's godparent

Asking someone to take can active role in raising your child is no laughing matter. However, a humorous approach to making this serious request can make the formidable task of godparenting more appealing if the potential godparents of your little one have just as much of a sense of humor as you do. Godparents share the joy and excitement of raising your child. Show them there’s more to it than responsibility during difficult times. Give them a laugh while making your official request.

Step 1

Purchase several items from your local discount dollar store or supercenter. Gather stereotypical items to represent milestones of a child’s life including a baby rattle, a pair of baby shoes, a diploma and car keys. Package each of the items separately in a small gift bag. Purchase an extra bag and a note card for the final reveal.

Step 2

Write reasons for the use of each item on separate cards and affix them to the outsides of the gift bags. Note how the rattle is “for keeping him quiet,” the shoes are “for you catching his first steps and us missing them” and the car keys are “for his driver’s license that you will help him get because we’ll be too terrified to do it ourselves.” Add as many milestones as you want, customizing them to your own common family traditions or baby’s special moments.

Step 3

Invite the potential godparents over for a meal. Enjoy the evening as usual, entertaining them. Wait until the end of the meal to present them with the bags. Set out each bag, from baby rattle to driver’s license, in chronological order of anticipated event. Ask the potential godparents to read the note on the first bag, and then pull out the item inside. Continue with reading and taking out items, in order.

Step 4

Take photos of their confused faces and don’t say anything to lead them on to what you’re doing. Give them the last bag, which reads, “No matter what happens, we’d rather you do it.” The note from you inside the bag reads, “With all the responsibilities we’ll have raising this little one, we’ll need some help. Will you be the godparents?”

Step 5

Ask them again to make clear that you want them as godparents to your child. Enjoy the rest of the evening chatting and making plans.

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How to ask someone to be your child's godparent

Asking someone to take can active role in raising your child is no laughing matter. However, a humorous approach to making this serious request can make the formidable task of godparenting more appealing if the potential godparents of your little one have just as much of a sense of humor as you do. Godparents share the joy and excitement of raising your child. Show them there’s more to it than responsibility during difficult times. Give them a laugh while making your official request.

Step 1

Purchase several items from your local discount dollar store or supercenter. Gather stereotypical items to represent milestones of a child’s life including a baby rattle, a pair of baby shoes, a diploma and car keys. Package each of the items separately in a small gift bag. Purchase an extra bag and a note card for the final reveal.

Step 2

Write reasons for the use of each item on separate cards and affix them to the outsides of the gift bags. Note how the rattle is “for keeping him quiet,” the shoes are “for you catching his first steps and us missing them” and the car keys are “for his driver’s license that you will help him get because we’ll be too terrified to do it ourselves.” Add as many milestones as you want, customizing them to your own common family traditions or baby’s special moments.

Step 3

Invite the potential godparents over for a meal. Enjoy the evening as usual, entertaining them. Wait until the end of the meal to present them with the bags. Set out each bag, from baby rattle to driver’s license, in chronological order of anticipated event. Ask the potential godparents to read the note on the first bag, and then pull out the item inside. Continue with reading and taking out items, in order.

Step 4

Take photos of their confused faces and don’t say anything to lead them on to what you’re doing. Give them the last bag, which reads, “No matter what happens, we’d rather you do it.” The note from you inside the bag reads, “With all the responsibilities we’ll have raising this little one, we’ll need some help. Will you be the godparents?”

Step 5

Ask them again to make clear that you want them as godparents to your child. Enjoy the rest of the evening chatting and making plans.

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The role of godparent is an important one in the Catholic church. There can be up to two godparents, a male and a female, for a single child. The role of godparent becomes official upon baptism of the child in question. There are many reasons why it might be necessary to change a child’s godparent, such as the chosen godparents moving away or even dying.

Step 1

Speak to the people you would like to be the godparent of your child and find out if they are willing to take on that responsibility. Also, confirm that the former godparents no longer are capable or interested in the role.

Step 2

Have your child baptized by the Catholic church with the new godparents present during the ceremony. This is only possible if you are changing the godparents before the baptism, because a child cannot be baptized twice. If your child has already been baptized there is no way to change the godparents in the church’s eyes, unless the child has not received the Sacrament of Confirmation. However, you can legally change the godparents.

Step 3

Explain to the church that the original godparents are no longer part of the child’s life and have the new godparents present during the confirmation. They will then be listed as the godparents. If the child has been baptized and confirmed there is no way to change the godparents in the eyes of the church.

Step 4

Legally, you can draft a will naming the new godparents as the caretakers of your child should you die. Let the potential godparents know about the will.

Step 5

File the will with a trust or lawyer. Should you pass away, your offspring will be the legal responsibility of the new godparents.

How to ask someone to be your child's godparent

Choosing your child’s godparents might be easy or seem impossible. If you’re considering asking one or more people to be godparents for your child, check out some advice and tips on making this important decision. At the end of the day, it’s about what you as the parents value for your child that makes the decision.

People to Consider as Godparents

In the traditional, religious sense godparents are typically adults from your church who lead a faith-filled life and participate in the child’s baptism. Today, parents choose godparents for all different reasons. Typically, all parents stick with one godmother and one godfather. When choosing godparents for your child, ask yourselves questions like these to find the best fit for you and your child. You may be able to rule out one or more groups of people before you even get to the other factors to consider in godparents.

Family Members as Godparents

Family members can be godparents too and take on roles bigger than their typical extended family roles. When choosing family members, you’ll need to consider the godparent candidates and how the rest of the family will be impacted by your decision.

  • Will your selection cause more harm than good?
  • Is there one family member who has an extra special relationship with your child?
  • How will a family member participate as a godparent that’s different from their family role?

Close Friends as Godparents

Friends of one or both parents are also in the running for godparents. Look for friends who set a great example for your child and have been in your life for a long time.

  • Are you confident this friendship will remain strong over time?
  • Will you ask just your friend or their spouse too?
  • Are you both comfortable with this person as a godparent?

Faith Leaders as Godparents

Whether you’re looking for a strictly spiritual godparent or not, members of your faith community can be considered for the role of godparent. These people often exemplify values such as kindness, generosity, and community.

  • Will they support your child’s beliefs or try to force them?
  • What does their life outside the church look like?
  • Are you confident you won’t change your own belief systems during your child’s life?

Couples as Godparents

Many of the people you’ll consider as godparents will be married or in a committed relationship. You’ll need to decide if you’re asking just one person from the couple or both people.

  • Do you know both people equally well?
  • Do both people know your family well?
  • Will it cause problems for the couple if you ask only one of them?

Factors to Consider When Choosing Godparents

Now that you have some ideas about who you might and who you definitely won’t consider as a godparent, you can look more closely at each person’s traits and abilities. Both parents should engage in honest discussions about what you expect from a godparent and how specific people fit this ideal. A great exercise during these talks is to create a numbered priority list that includes the following factors. You can use that list to narrow down your options.

How to ask someone to be your child's godparent

Role of Religion or Faith

The traditional godparent role is a faith-based one. Consider what role religion or faith should play in the godparenting relationship, if at all.

  • Is this person knowledgeable in your religion?
  • Can this person support and encourage your child’s faith in positive ways?
  • Is this person capable of participating in religious ceremonies and holidays with your child?

Godparent Roles and Responsibilities

Before you choose godparents, make a specific list of expected duties using a printable checklist to make it clear what you are asking of a godparent. These can be dictated by your religion or your own values as a family.

  • Are the responsibilities of a godmother and godfather the same or different?
  • Is your potential godparent capable of fulfilling all the responsibilities you’ve listed?
  • How would it affect your life and your child’s life if this person didn’t fulfill their role?

Godparent Lifestyle

The main point of a godparent is for them to act as a living example of the kind of person you’d like your child to become. Godparents are like bonus role models who play an important role in their godchild’s life and development.

  • Do you feel comfortable with all aspects of this person’s lifestyle?
  • Does this person embody your idea of a great role model most of the time?
  • Are there any parts of this person’s lifestyle that might be detrimental to your child’s well-being?

Location of Godparents

Some godparents simply send cards or make phone calls from afar on special occasions. Other godparents are physically present in their godchild’s life as much as family members typically are. You’ll need to decide what type of godparent you’re looking for and how important location is for that relationship.

  • If they live far away, are they generally great at communication with you or others you know?
  • If they live nearby, are they generally great at respecting boundaries with you or others you know?
  • Is their current location most likely permanent or are they known to move a lot?

Godparent Finances

If you expect your child’s godparents to make some financial contributions to your child’s life, you’ll need to think about their finances and financial security.

  • How important are financial contributions from godparents?
  • Are they typically stingy or generous with money?
  • Are they able to afford the financial roles you expect?

Godparent Family

Depending on how involved you want godparents to be, it’s important to consider their own family obligations. You want to choose godparents who can retain a stable relationship with your child over time.

  • Does this person already have children or plan to have children and how could that impact their ability to participate in your child’s life?
  • Is this person close to their own family members?
  • Are you comfortable with this person’s spouse or partner who may have contact with your child too?

Choose for Your Child

Your baby won’t get a say in who their godparents are, so it’s your job to act in their best interest. Keep in mind who you ask to be a godparent isn’t about who you like the most right now, it’s about who will be the best role model and friend to your child throughout his or her entire life. The right person for each godparent role will be someone who most closely matches your idea of what a godparent should be.

How to ask someone to be your child's godparent

When it comes time to baptize a child, it is also time to select the godparents. This is a major decision. It is a spiritual matter, and the choice should be based upon spiritual criteria.

There are a number of common reasons that miss the mark when some godparents are chosen.

Sometimes the choice is an effort to honor a special family member, relative or friend, with the thinking, “Since you have been so good to us, we would like to be good to you and honor you in return.”

Some use social criteria: “Who would we like to be present with us for major events in our child’s future, occasions like birthdays and graduations?”

Although parents usually are unwilling to admit this openly, another underlying question sometimes is: “Who is thoughtful enough to remember special occasions in my child’s life and would be generous enough to give nice gifts every year for their birthday or for Christmas?”

Or, “Who would we like to raise our child if something catastrophic would happen to us?”

Able and ready to help

It is the duty of Christian parents to pass on the most precious gift of all, the gift of faith, to “bring the child up in the practice of the faith, [and to] see that the divine life which God gives them is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in their hearts” (Rite of Baptism for Children).

It is the duty of Christian godparents to assist the parents with this all-important task. The godparent is “able and ready to help the newly baptized . . . on the road of the Christian life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1255).Godparents cannot give or support what they do not have. Without the gift of faith themselves, they cannot support the faith in someone else.

Therefore, at least one godparent must be a fully initiated baptized Catholic. “Fully initiated” means someone who is baptized, has received their first holy Communion and is confirmed. This is the “letter of the law” and the minimum.

The catechism states that the godfather and godmother must be “firm believers” (No. 1255). The true intent is that the godparent be an active, practicing Catholic, someone who treasures the Catholic faith, provides good example and would joyfully and eagerly be a partner with the parents in raising the child in the faith. The godparent’s faith need not be perfect or mature, but it must be valued and active.

Other criteria

The church gives a number of other specific criteria for the selection of godparents. “There is to be only one male or one female sponsor or one of each” (Canon 873). In addition, the godparent or sponsor is to be chosen by the person to be baptized if the candidate is an adult, or chosen by the parents if the one to be baptized is an infant or child.

The godparent must have completed the 16th year of age, unless an exception is granted for just cause. Examples of “just cause” would be a person who will be turning 16 in a matter of days or weeks, or a young person who is known to demonstrate an extraordinary piety or level of maturity (Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Clergy Newsletter, Vol. 33, No. 7).

The godparent should also be someone who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on; not be bound by any canonical penalties; and not be the father or mother of the child (see Canon 874).

Finally, “a baptized person who belongs to a non-Catholic ecclesial community is not to participate except together with a Catholic sponsor and then only as a witness of the baptism” (Canon 874.5.2). A non-Catholic may serve as a witness to the baptism, but is not officially the godparent, a role that is reserved to Catholics alone.

Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor of St. Stephen in Anoka.

It seems that not a week goes by that we at Catholic Answers do not hear from parents who are having second thoughts about the appropriateness of a godparent of one of their children. See if you can pick out a common thread in these tales of woe:

My wife and I have best friends that recently separated. One has lost contact for over two years with our children and he was a godparent. As we have not had any contact, birthday cards, or even a phone call, I am in no position to trust him with any godparent responsibilities expected of him. The official day they became godparents was at the baptism of both our children. Is there any specific way I need to make it clear I want him removed from any duty expected of him?

My sister and a family friend acted as godmothers for my second son seven years ago. Now they say they are involved in a homosexual relationship (with each other). When I asked my sister how we were going to handle this, she replied that she wished she could undo the baptism thing, meaning not be a godmother anymore and not be responsible for my children. I do not want people who actively live a homosexual lifestyle as an example for my children. Help!

To be admitted to undertake the office of [baptismal] sponsor, a person must: . . . be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the Blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken (canon 874, Code of Canon Law).

Because the godparent is an official witness to the baptism of the child, it is not an office for which a “replacement” can be made. It is not possible to go back and “redo” the sacrament of baptism, substituting in new and improved godparents. Once a choice is made, parents are stuck with that choice. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do you part.

That is why parents must take more care in choosing godparents. If your favorite relative or your Best Friend Forever or the person your family says “deserves” the job happens to be a mature Catholic committed to his faith and to the Church, then that person is a fine choice for your child’s godparent. But if that person is a risky choice, either because of how he lives his life or how he practices his faith, then he is not a good choice. It is far better to stand up to pressure from family and friends now and refuse to make a risky selection for godparent than to wonder what you’re going to do about a flaky godparent later.

Is there anything you can do about a godparent you trusted who turns out to not be all you hoped for in a godparent? It depends on the circumstances.

If it is a personality clash or a strained relationship, the best solution would be to do your best to mend fences for the sake of the child. Unfortunately, we live in a society in which no-fault divorce is applied not just to the sacred bonds of marriage but also to other sacred bonds, and people seem to have no problem declaring others “toxic” and distancing themselves rather than go to the hard work of repairing relationships. If you do your best on your end to fix a relationship, you are not responsible for someone else’s refusal to uphold his or her end of the relationship.

If the godparent has fallen away from the Faith or fallen away from living a moral life, it may not be in the child’s best interests to have that person involved in the child’s religious training. You cannot replace the godparent, but you could ask another Catholic whose spiritual maturity and moral character you trust to act as a religious mentor to your child. Although canon law states that the godparent is the desired person to be the child’s confirmation sponsor (canon 893), another person can be asked to be confirmation sponsor if the godparent no longer meets the requirements for the role.

The godparent relationship is not a one-way street, in which godparents are expected to provide emotional support, spiritual mentorship, and tangible goodies (such as money and gifts) while the children are but receptacles of bounty. Negligent godparents who fail to fork over the goods cannot be stripped of their godparenthood and replaced. Godparents do have responsibilities to their godchildren, and deliberate negligence and absenteeism cannot be excused, but godchildren are expected to participate in the relationship by offering their love, prayers, and sacrifices for the sake of their godparents.

In cases where godparents seem not to be living up to the responsibilities they agreed to undertake, perhaps their godchildren ought to be encouraged to offer their prayers and spiritual sacrifices for their godparent. Who knows? Maybe God can use the merits of a godchild’s spiritual offerings to help a negligent or wayward godparent get his or her life back in order.

LONDON (Reuters) – With the arrival of Britain’s Prince George of Cambridge, our attentions have been turned towards the etiquette of new babies.

After the initial flurry of visitors, presents and cards, many parents are faced with the important, and long-term, decision of choosing godparents. Here is some guidance for both parents and potential godparents:

Careful thought should go into choosing godparents.

It is a huge honor so, before asking, you must think about whether the individual will be prepared and able to fulfill the role. A godparent must be in regular contact with the family. Don’t ask someone who you know will be one of those godparents who no one has seen for years.

Being a godparent is both an honor and a responsibility.

There are no hard and fast rules nowadays but, in practice, there is a world of difference between just being a godparent and being a good godparent – both in the eyes of the child and its parents.

It is very flattering to be asked to be a godparent but, before committing to the role, try and understand what the parents expect from you.

Parents usually select godparents who will bring something to the mix – for example, adventure, glamour, sporting prowess, culture, humor or sociability.

Think about what might be expected of you and what makes you different to the other godparents.

If you think that you are not up to the role or that the parents’ expectations may be too much, then it is best to decline politely.

Some adults collect godchildren like stamps; they end up with an impressive collection but never do anything with them – if you haven’t got the time or interest, then be honest and decline the role.

Never forget a birthday, Christmas or other significant date – give generously and thoughtfully. Try and be there for big occasions such as special family days, school plays and birthday parties.

Find ways of keeping in touch.

Send them little presents in the post. When they are old enough, send regular emails and text messages and encourage them to contact you independently from their parents.

Spend time with your godchild alone.

You can build up your own rapport together away from the parents. Speak to them as your equal – you have a unique opportunity to be one of their first grown-up friends.

Choosing your child’s godparents is a decision that can be both difficult and momentous. Godparents are usually given the task of supporting a child’s religious upbringing, as well as providing support through the growing-up years. Many parents choose their child’s godparents to also be the people to raise their child in the event that both the mother and the father die. Once you’ve decided who you want your child’s godparents to be, take the steps necessary to make it official.

Write down a list of responsible adults in your life who already love your child and are a regular part of your lives, suggests Paul Turner, author of “Your Child’s Baptism.” Siblings, cousins and close friends are among the most common choices for godparents 2.

Talk to your partner about each adult or couple you’ve included in the list. Make a list of pros and cons for each person or couple to help you make your final choice. Consider asking someone who shares your faith, Kristin Limberg recommends in her book “Wonderfully Made: A Keepsake Book of Faith Moments.” 1

Ask the person or couple you’ve chosen to meet with you. Perhaps you could meet over a meal or schedule a time to have a cup of coffee together. Formally ask the person or couple to take on this role and discuss what characteristics helped you make the decision. You might also discuss what part you want the godparents to have in your child’s life.

Check with your church to see what it requires of the godparents. Many churches simply ask that the godparents be present at the baptism while other churches, such as the Catholic church, have additional requirements, such as holding the baby while being baptized, lighting the baptismal candle and taking an oath to encourage the child’s life in faith 2. These practices vary by place of worship.

Invite the godparents to be part of your child’s baptism service 2. A formal invitation is a common practice that makes the godparents feel special and important. You might also announce the names of the godparents in church or in the worship service folder.

Warnings

Don’t take the choice of godparents lightly. Select the person or persons that you and your partner feel are the best choice because, much like the witnesses of a marriage certificate, the names of your final selection will be forever connected to your child’s baptism, Turner notes.