While the tradition of choosing godparents for a new baby is typically affiliated with the Roman Catholic faith, there are some parents who are of different religions or no religion at all that are eager to confer the honor upon someone close to them. Choosing godparents for your child can be a difficult task, especially if you are worried about offending members of your family by passing them over. There are a few ways that you can manage the situation with as much grace as possible, however, hopefully staving off any hurt feelings or family feuds.
Look Outside of the Family
Sometimes choosing godparents outside of your family is the best option. Make it known to your relatives that you’re doing so because there are too many of them that you’d like to honor and no way of deciding fairly without offending someone. Under Catholic tradition, a sibling of the mother and a sibling of the father are generally chosen as godparents. This is an especially good tactic if you and your partner have several siblings. Because part of the godparenting tradition for some families also includes caring for your children in the event of your untimely demise, many new parents feel more comfortable opting for a couple to act as godparents, over tangentially-related adults. Explaining to your respective siblings or other relatives that you feel more comfortable leaving the future of your children in the hands of an established couple may also take some of the sting out of a perceived rejection.
Honorary Title Versus Legal Guardianship
For some parents, choosing godparents is a strictly ceremonial gesture with other plans made for the legal guardianship of their child in the event of a tragedy. For others, the primary reason for choosing godparents is to designate a legal guardian to prevent confusion. If you’re determined to choose a godparent outside of your family, you should consider what capacity you’ll be expecting them to act. For the purely ceremonial purposes of being a special person in your child’s life, you can feel a bit more secure asking a friend who is very close to you. If you will be moving for legal guardianship as part of your godparents’ duties, the decision justifiably becomes a bit more difficult.
The Question of Faith
If you’re choosing godparents as a tradition connected with your spirituality and have strong convictions about your children being raised in that faith, should you be taken from them, it’s wise to consider the implications of choosing godparents from outside of your faith. If you expect your child’s godparents to be responsible for his upbringing in the event of a tragedy, you should also expect that they would naturally be likely to instill more of their own religious beliefs than your own. If your family members don’t share your religious affiliation, this can be another talking point you bring up in order to gently explain your choice to opt for godparents outside of the family.
While it’s obviously important to be considerate of your relatives’ feelings, it’s also important that you not allow yourself to be manipulated or dissuaded from a decision that has significant meaning to you. If you’re closer to your childhood best friend than the sister you rarely see, there is no shame in naming your best friend the godmother. Keeping a grasp on your composure in the face of blatant disappointment or disapproval is never easy, but refusing to argue or be drawn into a debate can prevent dramatic scenes that are difficult to overcome. Stating that you have made your decision and that you hope your family members can respect it as one of your first major choices as a new parent can help to diffuse some anger, especially if you remain calm and respectful throughout the conversation.