The role of godparents has been much changed over the past few decades.
Once, the role was primarily a spiritual one. The godparents of a child would take responsibility for the child’s religious education, guiding them through scripture and encouraging them to engage with their faith. This role would also be performed by the parents, but godparents were felt to have a level of separation from the conventional family dynamics, which allowed them to perform a clearer, more religious role in a child’s life outside of other parental duties.
The role expands
In time, the role of godparent evolved further, and came to represent a person who would welcome a child into their home should their parents pass away. In most cases, this meant that the godparent role was awarded to couples, who could provide a stable family environment, with the ability to welcome their godchild into their own family should it become necessary. In addition to this, godparents were also still expected to take a role in the spiritual education of their godchild, as well as providing advice and support whenever required.
In these previous iterations of the role of godparent, the responsibility was a heavy one. To accept to be a godparent was to take an active role in a child’s life; to be their religious guide; and to be willing to bring them into your own family if tragedy were to occur. However, the role has changed significantly in recent years, and many would-be godparents now find themselves wondering what exactly is expected of them when asked if they will perform the role.
The role of a modern godparent is a difficult one, and is largely decided by each individual family. If you are asked to be a godparent by a devout family to whom you are close, they are likely expecting that you will perform the conventional role of helping to further the child’s religious education. In most cases, the role will also extend further; you may also be expected to be closely involved in your godchild’s upbringing and to treat them like a member of your own family. You will also have the opportunity to truly get to know your godchild, and will be able to give gifts that reflect this, finding an RC drift car or a telescope that reflects your godchild’s interests. In some cases, godparents may even offer financial assistance when their godchild goes to college, though this is optional rather than required.
However, it is unlikely in the modern age that becoming a godparent means that you will be expected to care for your godchild should their parents pass away. This role is now more commonly given to family members, with godparents playing a supplemental – but still crucial – role in the child’s life. Of course, it is advisable to ask for clarification from the individual family, but in most modern cases, the role of godparent is closer to an aunt or uncle dynamic – close to one another, with lives linked and shared, but not expected to assume parental duties should the need arise.