Miss Debrett on... Being a Godparent
The road to godparenthood is littered with good
intentions. Being asked to officiate at the font is
highly flattering; it feels like an endorsement of
your credentials as a respectable adult, a vote of
confidence in your personality, morals, good
Unfortunately, the warm glow of
self-satisfaction can mask some
harsh realities. Are you
actually prepared to
commit to a (very possibly
arduous) programme of bonding
with a small child? Eighteen years of birthdays and Christmases stretch out before you; will you be able to stay the course? Do you suspect that greedy ulterior motives have informed your selection? Is your childlessness or wealth a factor that has been taken into consideration? (better gifts, help with school fees and potential legacies all rear their ugly heads…)
If you confront these issues head-on and still feel an overwhelming urge to say yes, then at least do it properly. Commit the child's birthday to memory (or your personal organiser) - it will avoid embarrassing hints and nudges from the parents. If you don't trust your ability to come up with the goods year on year, set up an annual standing order, or ask your wine merchant to set aside a suitable annual bottle (champagne will be a hit with both sexes).
Now comes the difficult bit. You really should make some effort to form a relationship with the child. Don't panic if it doesn't happen immediately - boring babies soon turn into chatty small children, and many people, especially those with no children of their own, will find that age is a definite improvement. If you really find face-to-face sessions with your godchild unbearably taxing, try and set up a relationship by letter or email - it's better than nothing…
Eighteen years will soon flash by, and you may even find you have acquired a friend or ally. The demands on your bank balance are finite, but the relationship may prove to be lifelong.
Miss Debrett's Top Tips
- Don't be flattered into taking on responsibilities you're not ready for.
- Do it properly; commit the child's birthday to memory and never miss a date.
- Make an effort to establish a lasting relationship with the child.