How to Be a Great Godparent
By Rhomylly Forbes, eHow Contributor
It's quite an honor when the parents of a newborn child ask you to be the godparent. In today's society, however, the role can also be quite nebulous and undefined. Historically, a godparent could take on any role from legal guardian if something happened to the child's parents, to spiritual advisor, to someone -- at least in fairy tales -- who looked out for the child's welfare in addition to instantly granting any wish the child might have.
Today, however, most parents don't even bother to name a godparent for their newborn babies. If you are so blessed as to be asked to assume this role, here are some tips on how to do the best possible job.
1 Talk to the parents. Ideally, before you even agree to be a godparent to a child, talk to the parent and find out what they envision your place in the kid's life will be: spiritual advisor, older sibling, "second" set of parents, special aunt or uncle, or all of the above. Make sure the parents have thoroughly thought their decision to appoint you, and given some thought to the relationship they want you to have with their child.
It's never too late to have this conversation. If you're already a godparent and you feel that your role is a bit vague, make the time to talk to the parents.
2 Engage the child spiritually. Within the guidelines set by the parents, establish and maintain a good relationship with the child. If you attend a different church than the parents, offer to take your child with you to your own church once in a while -- once she is old enough to participate and behave.
3 Give special gifts. Make sure to remember your godchild's birthdays and other special days, be there for the baptism/christening, and, with the parents' input and permission, give the child an age-appropriate and spiritually appropriate gift. If you can, give the child a "secular" gift to play with, too.
4 Be an ear. As your godchild grows into her tweens and teens, you may have the opportunity to be the adult she chooses to confide in, on the theory that a) you've got her best interests at heart and b) you may not be as judgmental as her parents. This is especially true if you've had regular, close contact with the child throughout her life so far.
This is a precious gift, and your golden opportunity to gently steer your godchild toward making good choices based upon her -- and your -- beliefs.
5 Pray. No matter what your faith is, praying for the health, long life, and welfare of a child you care for is always appropriate. The parents chose you for a reason -- whether you're a longtime family friend or a relative -- and that reason probably has a lot to do with the "God" part of the term godparent -- they admire and respect your relationship with God and want your help passing that kind of relationship on to their child. Use your connection with the divine to bring as much good into the life of the child as possible.
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