9 Helpful Considerations for Choosing Amazing Godparents
One of the most annoying unsolicited comments that expectant parents receive is “I’M A GODPARENT, RIGHT?!” or any variation of that assumption. It seems that everyone wants to be a godparent when a new baby is coming… but what the hell does that even mean and how do you pick them?
Godparents Are Not Guardians
A LOT of people do not understand that there is a legal and critical difference between a godparent and a legal guardian for your children. There are no legal protections that are inherently offered to godparents merely because you decided to have a ceremony at a church, local park, or your backyard. Your kids will not be given to godparents if you die just because you’d like them to be. For your child's godparents to become guardians, you will need to follow the proper channels to make it legally binding.
Belief Systems & Cultural Influences
Some religions have specific qualifying guidelines for who can be a godparent, how many godparents a person can have, and what responsibilities those mentors (or sponsors) have. These guidelines are particularly prominent in various sectors of Christianity. If actively practicing a certain faith is an important part of your family or how you want your children raised, it would be a good idea to discuss these decisions with your religious leaders.
Religion doesn’t have to be a factor in this process if you’d rather it not be. You could omit its influence altogether- or even shake it up a bit and choose godparents of different faiths to create a coexisting group of adults who can teach your child about a variety of beliefs.
Influencing Future Adults
The people you pick will be significant role models for your child and will help shape their view of the universe and how to move through it. Your baby may be small and defenseless right now but they will eventually grow into members of society and you’ll want them to have functional and happy lives of their own.
Look at the people in your life and find the various characteristics, morals, strengths, and beauties in them that you appreciate and would like for your children to emulate.
Who Even Are You?
Considering this person will be a role model and an important person in your child’s life… you may want to consider the permanency of this person. Is this someone who will be around in your child’s life for a considerable amount of time? Or are they probably going to be temporary in the big picture of things?
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t pick your Great Aunt, whom you adore, because she will die before your kid is in college… but I am saying that it may not be wise to pick your high school bestie Stephanie, who you’re barely social with, just because you pinky swore that one time.
Level of Involvement
Do you want them around as often as possible? Babysitting on weekends or date nights, coming by to visit, taking your child on special playdates and bonding excursions? Or would an occasional birthday card and holiday present suffice?
Communicating Expectations & Consent
Once you’ve envisioned what you want the godparents to do and represent and who you’d like to elect to that position… you need to talk to them about these things. If you can't fully express what you need from them and what this duty will require, you can’t reasonably assume they’ll be on the same page and meet your expectations.
Make sure the people you pick are not only able to perform the tasks you’re asking them to but that they want to do this. While it’s a big honor to be asked to be a godparent to someone’s child, others may not feel comfortable stepping into this role or have enough emotional labor, time, or resources to do what you are asking.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to have godparents for your kids is a personal choice and who you pick is entirely up to you. Just like most other aspects of parenthood- there is no right or wrong way to do it.
You Don’t Need to Rush
There are enough stresses and details to worry about when welcoming a new member to your family and this is not an urgent one. You can always decide later on in your child’s life who you want to fill this role.
...Or Do It At All
You don’t have to pick godparents for your kids at all- there is no rule or law saying this is necessary! If this is a tradition that you feel is best left in the past, that’s okay!