9.25.2010

On Choosing Godparents

Choosing godparents is just about the hardest decision ever for dh and I.  We are blessed with many faith filled folks in our lives, but many of them live a distance from us, none of them are family members, and many of them are relatively new friends rather than friends we have known a long time.

In determining godparents, we want ones that will be in our lives forever, and active in our childrens' lives.  We want amazing examples that live out their Catholic faith.  We would prefer folks we have known a long time, or family, but there really isn't that combination.  I feel guilt.  I feel judgmental.  I want the best for my child, but still.  I don't like to hurt feelings.  I don't like to leave people out.  If godparents had nothing to do with Catholicism and only to do with great people, we'd be good.  We are surrounded, family and friends that support us, love us, love our children, and will be in our lives forever.  My best friend, my sister, etc.  It would be hard to choose from all the great folks.  But it is more than that. 

I know that you can have one that isn't Catholic, but I struggle with that too.  I mean, aren't two Catholics better than one?  Is that horrible to say?  I mean, its not like we know an amazing Catholic married to an amazing non-Catholic.  That isn't it.  We could do that without an issue probably.  But really, if we did a non-Catholic, we'd pair together two folks that don't know each other.  We'd be splitting a married couple and only taking one Catholic and leaving their Catholic spouse behind.  Also, I feel like if we open the door to that, then people would less understand why they weren't chosen.  I mean, if they arent' Catholic and we only choose Catholics, I think that is a clear distinction that makes sense to people.  Not that people are likely staying up at night thinking about this, but still.  You know what I mean.  I think?

I have some great long distance friends and newer friends, but those that dh doesn't know well or neither of us know their spouse well, etc.  That isn't ideal, we feel.  Are we being too picky?

So we are left with the criteria of friends that dh and I both know well, as a couple, both practicing knowledgable Catholics, but also people that we think will be a permanent fixture in our lives-as best as we can determine at this time.  It is a small pool, but thankfully we know some of these even though in the scheme of things we haven't known them all that long! :(  

I wonder if the folks we picked for Charlie were surprised.  I mean, we hadn't been friends with them for crazy long at all, and they respected the importance of such a decision.  They themselves had caved to family pressure and chosen siblings that weren't practicing.  I am not judging.  As hard as the decision is, we have never once had family pressure.  We knew asking them was a big request.  They accepted graciously and are amazing.  We have become even closer, as a result, and they now live just down the street for us in their forever house.  We feel really blessed.  But I do imagine they were surprised, though honored, to be chosen. 

I imagine the next people will be just as surprised-if we can ever decide for sure.  Any thoughts on this topic?  Do you think I am being silly about this?  I can take it if you do!  :) Do any of you struggle with family that isn't really practicing?  My godparent that is living (my grandma that passed and my aunt is the other) isn't involved in my life hardly at all, let alone my faith life.  Dh's are pretty good (his aunt and uncle).  Dh isn't a godparent.  I am one, chosen prior to marriage,, but I am not even a good one-talk about hypocritical!  My god daughter is my niece, my sister JC's daughter (the sister with oh so many issues I don't know where to begin).  Perhaps I would feel less judgmental if I were the kind of godparent I want for my son?!  God knows she needs it.  She doesn't go to church, not enrolled in religious ed, hasn't received the sacraments except baptism.  It's overwhelming, really, the situation even though both her parents are Catholic....She does live in town now, so that makes it easier.  She moved back last year...Ugh.  Time to look in the mirror I guess and start focusing on being the kind of godparent I want for my son! 

20 comments:

lowly said...

Oh I completely agree with you. This is so so hard. So hard. Very very hard.
My dh's family is not Catholic, but pretty serious Christians. Still, they are not Catholic, and they openly disagree with Church teachings. I love them, and respect them, and share a lot spiritually speaking...but honestly they are not equipped to help us raise our children In The Faith. So we don't ask them.
I've got a faithful brother and sister in law...so we split them up for our kids. Ideally we'd have them be godparents together but I did want each of our kids to have family...so we split them. We asked dh's best friend (a priest) to be our daughter's godparents along with my sil. Then for our son we asked my best friend (who has since become a sister *tear*) to be godmother, and my brother to be godfather.

I have no clue what we are going to do for our third. I have another brother and sil...they practice, but aren't consistent...(miss holy days, contracept, that sort of thing)...I don't know what we're going to do...we're out of friends. :)

Amazing Life said...

My husband and I are really struggling with this decision too! We both want someone who is a practicing Catholic and now on my side of the family there is only one lady (my own godmother)! I have great friends who are catholic and we are their son's godparents, but it is a struggle to choose friends over family - but it seems necessary, know what I mean. It is just the hardest decision.
We have plans to go to adoration and just see where God directs our hearts. My husband suggested one particular family memeber that I do not get along with and I cannot agree to that, so we shall see. God will lead us and you two to the right godparents!!

You are getting so close to meeting your new baby!! Yah, I am so excited for your family :)

Chasing said...

This is tricky business. We asked my brother (who practices) and one of my best friends to be godparents for this little one. At one point in time, dh suggested his brother in the hopes that if his brother was a godparent he'd get his act together. I completely disagree. Asking someone to be a godparent isn't designed to be a kick in the pants for them, it is for the child. Anyway, I made it clear (and fast) that I would never be ok with a non-practicing family member. I don't really care if his brother's feelings get hurt (which I doubt they would...he is a raging phlegmatic). When it comes down to it, it is not about the adults, it is about the kid.

Ann - Building a Nest said...

I do understand and think it is best in this situation to stick with two practicing Catholics (you can also have just one) to (a) do what is best for your Catholic baby and his/her formation; and (b) (but less important) not hurt any family feelings.

I have actually put way more thought into this than I should have given that I have never been in the position to pick godparents. I have always been curious about godparents and how active they actually are in children’s lives beyond the first few years. My only Catholic parent passed away before my first communion. My godmother was a lovely young woman, but by that time had unexpectedly moved to another state many miles away. She came to visit me once or twice a year until I was probably 12 or 13 and I have nothing but fond memories of her, but she wasn’t really in a position to help with formation and sadly, I was a child that desperately needed it due to my circumstances. My godfather? Hmmm. I’ve seen a picture of him once. That’s about it.

I have asked so many people about their godparents and it seems the vast majority of people in my social circle do not remember their godparents being around after the first few years (3 to 5) *unless* they were family members. That saddened me a great deal and is also a reason why I put so much thought into hypothetical godparents for my own hypothetical children. Our families aren’t Catholic. Just us. We need people around to stick around and be there for the long haul!

As usual, I have no advice to offer other than to interject my own rambling mess of thoughts and ideas. I am curious if there are others here whose non-family member godparents were around beyond the first couple of years. Please, I hope someone has a story and says "yes."

Angela said...

I agree! I want to write a blog post on this, but I just can't b/c I know we'd get heck from all kinds of friends and relatives. But I want Godparents who are Catholic! And I mean real Catholics, not cafeteria Catholics!! I know this is going to sound crazy but I feel like I have a better selection of true Catholic godparents from my IF community (all you guys!!) than from anyone I know personally in real life!! How would I explain that to people?? ;) "Yes, we chose our Godparents off the internet!" LOL! But I'm sort of serious too!!

Karen said...

Oh Jamie! My DH and I were just having the same conversation. We are really struggling. I'm sort of expected to pick one of my sisters. The issue I have with that is neither one is Catholic. One goes to one of those big box non-denominational churches occasionally. Very occasionally. And they don't believe in Baptizing babies. The other is into Reiki and some other weird, scary stuff. Not exactly my idea of a godmother for my baby. But I know if I don't pick one of them there is going to be hurt feelings and family drama. My dh is expected to pick is brother who is Catholic but pretty fallen away. It's a tough situation.

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

This is something I've thought about for such a long time now! I, for one, don't think it's that important that the Godparent be present or family. As long as they are willing to pray for my child daily and send religious type gifts-Im good with that. (not that it's the gift that's important-but it would be a way for them to share the faith long distance). And I don't have a problem picking people I haven't known for that long-you can spot a good Catholic when you see one!

We hope to have my friend who was just ordained as the Godfather (he'll also baptize the baby!!) and my sister. She's not as into her faith as we are, but she is definitely Catholic, definitely prayerful, and doesn't go against any of the Church teachings (that I'm aware of at least). Our kid will be pretty blessed!

Now, Ted's two sisters are both not Catholic anymore. And I don't think they believe in infant baptism. I'm not worried about hurting their feelings-because if they don't even believe in what we're doing, why would they want to play such an active role??

WheelbarrowRider said...

Man, you guys never disappoint! I have been wanting to write this post for awhile, and am so glad I finally did! I love the outpouring of support, empathy, and validation (for example, that some things are non-negotiable, that it isn't crazy to choose someone you haven't known long as long as you think they will remain around-Angela, totally agree re online friends except dh doesn't know y'all), close in location is nice-if it's an option-and that it is ok to be selfish for the child). You guys came through and fast! Thank you for the idea too, keep them coming. For example, AL, duh-adoration makes perfect sense to help us decide for sure! And Ann, I respect that you have already thought about this and they weren't ramblings-it was helpful! I think that we all can draw from our own experiences which shape us and help us know how we want something to be, or not be! It is good you are thinking ahead. I was not!

Jasmine said...

This is such an interesting post. I have the dilemma too if we have another. We picked our best friends who are Catholic for godparents, and they are awesome! I have a brother who is devout again, but he isn't married, and at the time, he was married to an agnostic, so we didn't want that. Maybe someday it will work out with him, but he doesn't live close by either.

We have many devout friends nearby, but not sure that we have any that we are close enough to ask or feel they would be the right godparents. I guess we are super picky! We like that our best friends have different gifts and can model a different spirituality while still believing the same things and having a similar level of devotion. We are kind of intellectual, they are exceptional servant types... always modeling charity for everyone. And we want our daughter to see the great variety of expressions of love of Christ and love of the Church.

We are also godparents to a toddler who lives very far away. We have only visited the parents twice in the last ten years, but I make an effort to send my goddaughter a baptismal anniversary gift every year and to pray for her daily. Hopefully someday we'll be able to visit in person again. Hopefully we are being good to her. This gets me thinking that when she is old enough, we should try to be penpals, as that would help with the relationship.

Anyway just wanted to add.

Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble said...

I don't think I am a good godparent. I told the various parents that before I committed, and they all seemed to be okay with a godparent who commits to praying but isn't so good about remembering to send things, visit, etc. I feel bad, but they were warned! I feel like I can do more for them when they get to be teens and older.

Weirdest thing is that all our kids (except the last) have my sister and her husband as their godparents (they are practicing Catholics). We started that when none of the four of us were great Catholics (dh not even Christian), and then kept continuing the tradition over the years (I am godparents to my three nephews, too). For the last baby, my two oldest kids are godparents... they were finally old enough. I like that.

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Leila-that is just one more awesome reason to strive for a large Cathlic family!!

Grace in my Heart said...

I can't remember what document I was reading, but it clearly states that the role of godparents is not to send gifts, but rather prayers. So Leila, you are definitely off the hook!
Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't have a problem with one Catholic and one Christian godparent. My sister will be E's godmother and she is a practicing Christian. She loves E so much and I know she already prays for him. It seemed like a natural choice. I think if you pick the two people you think will pray for child, then what better people are there?

Sew said...

Grace-I like that comment....I was instrumental in playing a part in getting my 6 year old god daughter baptized....Her mother and I were fast friends and then the friendship died. I would love to have relationship with her. I miss her.

I do forget to pray for her daily but there is not a lot of time that goes by that I do not have the feeling to pray for her....If that makes sense...She will just pop into my head....

My pick for Godparents were the PEFERCT choice for Hannah! Perfect! I actually could not settle until I asked them! I was maybe 7-8 weeks when I spilled the beans. As soon as I asked it was over. The battle inside was calmed! hahahahahaha

I don't think sending things and stuff is a necessary...I think prayer is great! ;)

Percolating Petals said...

I'm glad you posted on this topic, because we went through a similar struggle as well. We definitely wanted Catholic godparents who would support (not defy or disagree) with our decision to follow the teachings of the Church in our family. That left only a couple people in our families to choose from. Unfortunately, the only two people that fit this criteria do a very poor job of keeping in touch in family, leading us to believe they would do the same with our child's life.

In the end, we asked a married couple whose family has prayed for us all through infertility and now the pregnancy. We avoid hurt feelings of other family members ("you chose my brother but not me!") and potential cafeteria Catholics. From what we can tell, these friends are in it for the long haul. Should God bless us with another child, we'll re-evaluate the circumstances again.

Second Chances said...

Man, I feel much better about having debated this in my head for the past 9 months! Seems we're all in the same boat! I could go on and on but have to go feed Dominic. Be back later for more.

Jill said...

Jamie, I think it's wonderful that you are putting so much thought into it! Catholicism is very important to you and Craig so I would thing this is somethig you would struggle to make sure you got it right. I know God will lead you in the right direction :)

Brit said...

Thanks for this post! My hubs and I have been having this exact conversation recently.. but it's a very difficult decision. This gives me a little bit more to go off though in our decision making :)

Tridentine Wife said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you, we had this issue when we chose Godparents for the twins and went with friends we hadn't known for that long, but we know them to be very orthodox Roman Catholics, but it also meant we didn't choose my husband's best friend whom he has known since 6th grade, in each other's weddings etc. All I can say is you have to do what's best for your child's religious formation and picking the right Godparents is helpful.

Danya @ He Adopted Me First said...

This is so tricky and as baby #7 approaches we have officially run out of good options! I never thought of asking someone twice though. I really wanted devout Catholics for all of my kids but conversion is a process and sometimes people can even slip backwards. What's challenging now is that some Godparents are more involved than others so my kids get confused as to why so-n-so got X and they didn't. I have no easy solution for you...we're struggling ourselves. I think the worst decision would be a friend that you loose touch with eventually, so we've always leaned more toward family...

Mrs. Mike said...

Unfortunately, I think most people think the term "godparent" is a cultural term for a "good friend" of the expecting couple rather than the eternal responsibility that it is. Being a godparent is indeed an honor but it also carries with it a huge responsibility.

But yes, canon law states that only one godparent is necessary but he/she needs to be Catholic--a second godparent can be a non-Catholic "Christian Witness".

I am in the small majority of people who actually have far too many good choices when it comes to godparents. We both come from really good, solid and LARGE Catholic families so opportunities for godparents abound.