It seems unfortunate to me that some parents nowadays tend to shy away from appointing Godparents for their children. The title holds obvious spiritual connotations and is traditionally a role intended for those designated to bring children to the Christian faith. Seen in this light I can totally understand why those with more secular leanings would avoid this long standing tradition and why asking someone to be a Godparent might be a difficult thing.
Some might even say that within close knit family circles there is perhaps no need to designate a Godparent. However, although we have chosen family members for two of our daughter’s Godparents, for them and the other non-related adults named as Godparents, it seems to have had a strong bonding effect and in fact created another layer of the family for us, one with a deep and wonderful connection.
We were just visited on the Island over the Easter weekend by one of my daughter’s Godmothers and her husband. This was the third Godparent to visit (and two more yet to come). Once again we had such a lovely time; it was beautiful weather, there were gorgeous connections and some wonderful conversations. It was with delight that I witnessed these adults really taking an interest in our children and their lives. I celebrated the connection between them and my children, which I’m sure is made deeper and more meaningful by the very fact of being a Godmother.
We didn’t really define the role for our son and daughter’s Godparents; other than asking them to be a significant adult in their lives. My daughter had a more Christian based ceremony, in which the Godparents were named, and my son had something similar, but smaller and slightly more alternative. Though they were different, in both cases the honouring of the Godparents and their invitation into our family circle has given us immeasurable gifts. There is a strong sense that these special people really genuinely care for our children, in a parental way. True, we haven’t asked these people to bring our children to Christ, but having lived and brought our children up in a spiritual community, we still have a strong sense of the importance of spiritual life and its basis of love, kindness and generosity to oneself and one’s neighbours.
I think having Godparents around is a blessing. We have created an inner circle of support and it is like another layer of family who witness our children growing up and the joyful ways that we are doing that. Having people that are genuinely connected, interested and mindful of us and our journey has been so wonderful. I give thanks each year as those relationships grow and develop. I feel such gratitude when I see the children themselves start to forge connections and their own special relationship to these named adults who are their Godparents. It is rewarding to see them pulling away from us as the sole focus in the parental role and sharing this focus with their Godparents whom they listen to, know and love deeply.
I wish to close by celebrating Godparents and reiterating how joyful parents can support themselves and their children, and bring added joy to their lives by choosing to have Godparents. It would be a great shame to avoid this based on the divisive nature of the word ‘Godparent’ and if you are unsure, it is worthwhile finding another way of making this word work for you. Perhaps this could be done by redefining it, re-naming it if necessary and identifying your own version of the role that you would like your chosen people to fulfil for you and your children. It’s something that has been so very important for us and I encourage any other families to really consider it. If you don’t have some named people around you who are going to be there at the important occasions of your children’s lives (and visit you when you go and live on a remote Scottish island as they have in our case ;-)), then think about how you might do that for your children, to give them a connection to adults other than yourself in their lives.