Does Godmother = Religion? Guardianship?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2010
Does Godmother = Religion? Guardianship?
7
Mon, 03-15-2010 - 11:27pm

I also posted this message on the August EC board, but I thought some of the non-traditional (and traditional) thinkers around here could also help give me some insight on the following matter:

Is it appropriate to have a "Godparent" for your baby if you do not belong to a religion? My good friend and I decided she would be the baby's Godmother, without me really thinking through what exactly that role means. It's clear what it means in the Catholic church, and even some other Christian churches, but for me I was thinking more of her almost as an "honorary aunt," having a bigger stake in the baby's well-being than the casual observer.

Also, I'm not necessarily planning a formal ceremony to dedicate my child to a religion, although I might consider another form of ceremony, such as a welcoming ceremony or a baby naming ceremony. And then, some think the Godparent(s) would be the child's legal guardian should something happen to you, but I definitely haven't decided on that issue yet either. And from what I understand, that title alone has no legal standing in this country. If something happens to the parent(s), the Godparent would only become guardian if they are designated as such in a legal document.

I really have no idea if my friend expects something I'm not ready to do. She's more traditionally religious than I am, so she may expect me to take the same approach as she would. Also, at one point she asked me whether my sisters knew she was the Godmother, almost like she thought they might be upset by it, so if she's thinking it means legal guardianship, I'm not prepared to designate that to her at this point. I've already affectionately referred to her as "the Godmama," and I wouldn't want to take that back, but now I'm thinking I should talk to her about the specifics of what this might mean, and especially what she might think it means.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-01-2003
Tue, 03-16-2010 - 12:28am

I think unless it is being done 'formally' within a church that holds meaning to the title or with some sort of a 'contract' stating what it means... then the meaning is up to the 'giver'.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2008
Tue, 03-16-2010 - 9:19am

I think "Godmother" means many different things to many different people. I, personally, am NOT a religious person so although the term typically conjures up some religious connotation for me, I don't ask anyone to be my children's godparents with any religious intention or hope. To me, the term means exactly what it means to you: kind of an honorary aunt/uncle and one who is more involved with them and concerned about them than our other friends and relatives. But I think the term could mean something very different to someone who believes in a religion or has faith in god, etc. Maybe come right out and ask your friend what it means to her just so the two of you are on the same page.

With regard to godparenting equating to guardianship in the event something happens to you (hoping that is never the case, of course), again, I think this is something the two of you need to discuss. It seems to me that there might need to be something more legally binding if this is what you want, but then again, this is just my opinion and I'm anything but a legal expert, LOL! We baptised our girls in a non-denominational christian setting (actually, Eva was just baptised this past November at a quaint little antique farm house by the same non-denominational minister who baptised Lilah. We served lunch to about 20 of our closest family members and friends (I made everything, including desserts), then ended the celebration with a horse-drawn snow ride around the farm. Although the ceremony had absolutely no religious significance to me, I presume it did for the many folks attending who believe in some higher being, so I felt like it appeased everyone without offending anyone. Also,(and I realize I'm potentially opening a can of worms here...), our girls go to Catholic school but NOT because of the religious education they receive, only because the Catholic elementary school here was just ranked in the top 1% of schools throughout ALL of Ontario for academic excellence and consistency. And they need a baptism certificate to attend the school. Oh well. When they're old enough, I'll explain to them that although I personally don't subscribe to the views and beliefs of any religion, it's good for them to have a foundation on which they can explore and form their own beliefs. At least that's my hope, anyway...

Good luck and best wishes to you. This can be a very sticky subject. Religion and politics always are..... : )

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-01-2009
Tue, 03-16-2010 - 1:21pm

Hey there, just another perspective:

I always was under the (obviously incorrect) assumption that 'godparent' meant the person who would take care of a child if anything ever happens to the parents. I can see now from reading these responses that that's NOT the universally accepted definition of the term, but it would probably be a good idea to discuss this with your friend just to make sure she isn't making the same incorrect assumptions as I was!

Pregnancy%20ticker
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2010
Tue, 03-16-2010 - 2:59pm

Apparently that's more common in Europe (Italy, Spain, even France) than the U.S. I'm not sure about Canada. In this country, Godparents don't have much legal standing unless so designated in a will or other legal document. If not specified, members of the blood family are asked first. If family members do not agree or are not capable to assume that responsibility, the child may become a ward of the state before guardianship would be designated to a Godparent who has not already been specified by the parent.

Judging from my friend's comment, though, she just may have the same idea you do, and I'm not ready to have that conversation with my family or make that decision. The issue is not at all clear for me. My parents are way too old, my friend is already guardian of her daughter's two young boys and her health isn't the best, and my sisters haven't completely supported my decision to continue the pregnancy and may resent such a request. As I've said before, whether the dad or his family will want any interaction with the child once paternity is established remains to be seen. In any case, I just don't feel it would be appropriate to designate her as legal guardian at this point, but it's probably a conversation I should have with her before and definitely once the baby's born.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-20-2009
Tue, 03-16-2010 - 4:29pm

As far as I know (I am a lawyer but not a family law lawyer) there is no legal standing for a "G-dparent" in the U.S.A.

Susan L.



Robert Edward Xavier Lin - Born July 31, 2010 at 5:56AM, 6 pounds 4 ounces and 19 inches long. He spent 2 weeks in the NICU but he's doing great now!
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2010
Tue, 03-16-2010 - 5:34pm

My concern also has to do with whether she views her religious role as being further than I would go. I was not baptized and don't plan to baptize my baby- as I said, though, I may hold some other kind of welcoming ceremony. I don't belong to any formal religion, and while I plan to expose my child to a variety of religious views, I have no plans to join a church or suddenly become something I'm not.

I know, all this means I need to talk to my friend about it to make sure we're on the same page. I greatly appreciate all the support she's given me during pregnancy, and hope she'll be an important presence in my child's life, and that's all I was thinking about when we talked about her being the Godmother.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-08-2007
Sun, 03-21-2010 - 9:38pm

Earlier this year, my best friend asked dh and I to be Godparents to their daughter. She and I are both members of the same church but we still asked them to define their vision of a Godparent before we answered. I think it is very important to know what everyone's expectations are in the matter.

Where I live, Godparents are have no legal guardianship of a child unless they are the designated guardian in a Will. Our daughter's Godparents and guardians are two different couples.

I'm sure we could come up with many different ideas of what it means to be a Godparent but it is really only important what it means to you and that your friend understands your position. I would talk to her sooner rather than later.

Good luck and congratulations on your pregnancy.
Lisa