Whether you’re on the receiving end of an invitation to be a godparent or you need to find someone to take on this responsibility for your own child, it helps to learn the etiquette for this important position. By knowing the expectations and etiquette associated with being a godparent, you will know what to anticipate.
Generally, a godparent is a person of the same faith as the parents, sharing similar spiritual beliefs. With the responsibility of being a godparent, this person often agrees to act as an official sponsor and spiritual mentor for the child, states Marjabelle Young Stewart, author of “The New Etiquette: Real Manners for Real People in Real Situations.” A godparent also agrees to support a growing child in spiritual development, actively praying for the child and setting a positive example, advise Nancy Tuckerman and Nancy Dunnan, authors of “The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversary Edition.”
At the Baptism or Christening
At the baptismal or christening ceremony, a godparent may be the person holding the child during the ceremony or perhaps standing with the parents during the ceremony. Some churches may involve the godparents in the baptism or christening by exacting a commitment to contribute to the spiritual development and encouragement of the child, states John Morgan, author of “Debrett’s New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners: The Indispensable Handbook.” If a godparent cannot attend the baptism or christening, a proxy can stand in at the ceremony.
After the baptism or christening, the godparents should give the child a special gift to commemorate the event. A silver or silverplate item such as a spoon or mug would be a traditional gift, states Stewart. Money or a savings bond could also be suitable gifts. Once installed as a godparent, it’s important to develop a relationship with the child by remembering important holidays and special personal days like birthdays. Sending or giving the child memorable gifts throughout the year can help the child develop an association with the godparent.
Although a godparent does not have any legal authority or responsibility for a child, the godparent often remains involved with the child throughout childhood, bonding and developing a relationship. This bond might involve supporting the child emotionally during a difficult time and acting as a confidant and companion to help guide the child.