Do the Childfree Make Good Godparents?
Last year, we had a heated discussion (literally, it took place in our hot tub) about whether your child’s Godparents should already have kids or at least be planning to have kids someday. The real question being…
Are the Childfree more or less equipped than parents to play an important role in a child’s life?
The evolution of the Godparent role has always been a little fascinating to me. Originally meant to serve as the person who would ensure your child continued their religious education, the role expanded at some point to include some element of mentorship and getting them out of jail without telling their parents when they smash their car through the front of a 7-Eleven after one too many Boone’s Farm Wild Strawberry’s. [Philosophical question: Isn’t one Boone’s Farm Wild Strawberry’s “too many”?] But I think the Godparent gig has gone a little lax of late. Some are now little more than glorified wallets, setting Outlook reminders to send lavish gifts for birthdays, holidays and important milestones to children who don’t recognize the significance of the relationship.
In fact, I didn’t even know I’d been baptized Catholic (and thus assigned Godparents) until high school when I ran across this gem in the family photo shoebox line-up:
I don’t know who looks snazzier here – me in my golden-striped bib or my mom in the lavender couch cover. Perhaps it’s best I have no recollection of this event, but part of the reason I don’t is that the subject of my Godparents was never raised. I never received any flowery cards on kindergarten graduation day signed “your loving Godmother” or some other such rubbish. According to my mother, whom I interviewed upon drafting this post, my Godmother is actually my Grandma Betty. Who, quite obviously, already had children of her own. Five, to be exact. Which isn’t to say she didn’t have time for me. Why, just look how thrilled she looks to be spending time with us at some event involving Town & Country buses! And us with her!
[note: those are my brothers to the left, but I have no idea who the blonde is whose rear end I’m giving such a disgusted look]
In all seriousness though, she was there for us as children and did wonderful things and gave us gifts and welcomed us to her home on vacations, etc., but she did it as a Grandma, not a Godparent. Which makes me wonder about the opportunities for those who don’t have kids of their own, or even nieces and nephews, and therefore haven’t been an automatic candidate for Godparenthood.
Through this site, I’ve gotten to know plenty of Childree people who have no desire to have kids of their own, but do crave some sort of interaction with kids and want to secure an important spot in their lives. With all the free time, relatively undivided attention, and, well, cash, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they’d be great candidates for Godparenthood? But most of the babies I’ve seen come over the past few decades have been assigned to someone who already has kids or is definitely planning on having them.
Some might say there’s no need for official designations, that you can choose to ingratiate yourself into any child’s life simply by stepping up and being there. But for someone like me who’s naturally awkward around kids and disinclined to form a random attachment, the formalization of a role would be all that I would need to really excel as a Godmom. And despite all my blather on this site, I think I’d do a damn fine job at it. But prior to uploading this post, I’m pretty sure 99% of my friends and family would’ve said I wouldn’t have wanted the job.
So here’s my public announcement: I am currently accepting applications for Godchildren (must love cats, REO Speedwagon, and bacon egg and cheese biscuits), and those of you who don’t know me and are going to have children – don’t overlook your Childfree friends and family, because they just might be your most eager candidates.