Godparents Guidelines: What are the Responsibilities of a Godparent?

by epi on July 31, 2014

Q: I have been asked to be a godparent and have accepted. I would like to do it right. I have the added task of surmounting a great deal of geographical distance between myself and the child. What are the responsibilities of the godparent as well as the etiquette involved in performing this function?

A: Godparents have no financial responsibilities for the baptism, other than to give a gift to the baby. They also have no obligations to give financial assistance or to adopt children who lose their parents – this responsibility is the guardian’s, not the godparent’s. Their actual obligation is spiritual only. The baby’s christening dress is provided by the parents, not the godparents. However, you may offer to assist in any way you like – knowing that you have no obligation to do so. The ceremony itself varies slightly from denomination to denomination – you might want to find a worship book for the religion into which the baby will be baptized and familiarize yourself with your responses – generally, the minister or priest provides you with your response during the ceremony and your replies are along the lines of  “I will,” although you may need to recite part of a creed, along with the minister.

It is a wonderful honor to be asked to be a godparent – the geographical distance is not a deterrent at all – you might want to make note of special occasions so you can send a card, in the future, especially when the child is young, for birthdays and other important events in his or her life.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Noah August 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm

It seems to me that the letter writer should ask the parents what they expect the godparent’s responsibilities to be. In particular, as to this point: “They also have no obligations … to adopt children who lose their parents.” In many communities in the U.S., this is the precise and only thing the parents mean when they ask you to be a godparent. If the LW assumes this isn’t what the parents mean, the child may end up left in the lurch if the parents die.

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