Christina Pessemier is a writer, blogger, and mom of two. She was raised in the Orthodox Church and ended up leaving the church as a teenager, only to come back to it as a young adult. She enjoys learning about the faith that was handed down to her from her ancestors. Christina enjoys writing about relationships, health and wellness, and pop-culture.
What does a godparent do? Does god-parenting require a lot of money to be buying godchildren special things and presents all the time? Or is the spiritual aspect more important?
My brother and sister had rock-star godparents. They sent gifts every holiday–sometimes with homemade koulourakia and kourambiedes. My godfather was not as attentive, though I know he loved and cared about me. He was a bachelor and didn’t really know how to be a good godparent. Growing up, I felt left out. Now, it doesn’t bother me as much, but I do think it’s important for godparents to know how much of an impact they can have on their godchildren. It’s crucial to have a relationship with them.
From the moment you accept the duty and role of a godparent, you are a special person in that adult or child’s life. You are family.
1. Acknowledge them each time you see them. Go out of your way to show them affection and be involved in their life. This will not only mean something to their parents, but they will grow up seeing you as a spiritual example and somebody who looks out for them and cares about them.
2. Pray for them. As a godparent, you are interceding on their behalf and asking God to look out for them in their journey through life. Don’t take this lightly. Remember them daily in your prayers.
3. Remember them on holidays, their birthday and their nameday. My oldest daughter’s godmother sends cards and calls and checks in regularly. My youngest daughter’s godparents send emails and they regularly give thoughtful gifts. Both my daughters’ godparents always have a big hug and kiss for their goddaughters when they see them. Rather than material gifts, my daughters are often given spiritual books and things that help them be closer to God, like prayer rope bracelets. If you are short on money, that’s okay. The main thing is that you take the time to reach out to them – whether it’s a card, a phone call, or a small inexpensive gift that says you care. What matters is that you took the time.
4. Don’t take on too many godchildren. This is a tough one. My husband and I have a lot of godchildren, and have sponsored a lot of marriages and new converts to Orthodoxy. I don’t regret saying yes to any of them. However, if you are not sure you have the time to spend with a potential godchild, you might want to think twice about accepting an invitation to be a godparent. It’s hard to say no, but it’s also not fair to sponsor someone if you cannot be involved in their life.
5. Be an inspiration and good example. Go to church. Regularly! Take your godchildren to communion, talk to them every Sunday. Invite them (and their family) over. Be there for them when they need you.
6. Don’t disappear. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of people who are hurt that the person who baptized their child does not keep in touch with them or their godchild. Don’t do this! It’s hurtful and makes people think you don’t care. If you’re busy, do what you can. It’s better than not doing anything.
Being a godparent is a huge blessing. It’s one of the many awesome things about being Orthodox. Not only do you have your immediate family, but you get this huge extended family, which is godfamily. Knowing how to be a rock-star godparent makes life happier and more spiritually fulfilling for you and your godchildren.
Did I forget anything? Have any other ideas for how to be a good godparent? Please share them in the comments. I would love to hear them!