She wants to be called 'Godmother'

(66 Posts)

I'm an atheist and my DP is a catholic. We agreed that my son could be christened on the basis that if I was not religious it should matter to me and I could tell him about my views and in the end my son could choose for himself.

My DP chose his best friend to be god father along with his wife. His wife is Brazillian and the best friend converted to catholism for her.

In the weekend they pulled my DP aside and requested that my son call her 'Godmother' we got in the car to go home afterwards and DP told in a I've just had this odd conversation kind of tone. We both stated that we never referred to our own god parents in that way. Now that I've had a day to think about it I'm quite offended by the idea. I know DP will be shy of taking the bull by the horns on this.

Oh wisdom of Mumsnet how best to respond? Before I correct her correction one day and say "no darling it's actually 'godmother over mum's dead body'"

Point to note, DS is quite shy (with everyone) and doesn't reciprocate her affection for him.

Habba it's more than that.

One of DP cousins was at my house when she was 4 and told us in this voice straight out of the exorcist "Jesus died for me".

I'm not having that for DS and my intention was always let him choose when he is old enough.

cherhorowitz Mon 20-May-13 15:09:19

I agree that it's very oddly formal. I've always called my godmother Auntie. She likes it that way as do I. She sounds an utter loon.

It's a Brazilian thing, try not to take offence, it's common in Brazil. But i agree, it sounds very formal, suggest Aunty to her.

The tricky bit with that is that, as a catholic, your DH does believe that Jesus dies for him. Or he is at least supposed to believe it.

And by having your DS baptised, you have said you plan to raise him to know and understand the faith, so that he will choose to be confirmed when he gets older.

And his godmother stood in church and said the same. She may think you actually want her to do that...

Of course he can choose when he is old enough. But baptism isn't a "one-off dunking" it is the start of raising a child within the context of that faith, so that he can choose whether or not to "confirm" his membership of it later.

fubbsy Mon 20-May-13 15:16:03

Just say no, but in the nicest possible way. If DP won't take the bull by the horns, you are going to have to.

I would tell her I was not comfortable with it. I would explain that in our culture it is not done and sounds odd.

Don't forget, when he is old enough DS will make his own choice about what he calls her.

Thanks for sharing your points of view. The most sensible approach is to ensure DP informs them both that I am offended by the idea as I'm an atheist and that they choose a term like Aunty instead.

FrauMoose Mon 20-May-13 15:31:50

It seems absolutely ludicrous to have a child christened and then get cross because two of the other people involved in this ritual take the matter seriously.

Some compromise - and some respect for another person's faith and culture - would seem to be gracious and appropriate.

I think it's fine to say that it's more usual to say 'Aunt' in this country, as a way of acknowledging a close and special relationship to an adult who is not a blood relative.

OddBoots Mon 20-May-13 15:44:07

How would you feel about her being called "Madrinha" instead (the Portuguese word for godmother)? It almost sounds like just a first name to anyone who doesn't know Portuguese.

Blimey, I wouldn't tell them you're 'offended', i could imagine that leading to awkwardness. Just say you would prefer XYZ, rather than Godmother.

HabbaDabba Mon 20-May-13 15:49:36

smear - I hear what you are saying. I have relatives and friends who go on about how it's part of God's mysterious plan for a family to get wiped out by a drunk driver for example. So I share your distain for religion.

But if I were to make a stand it would be over something like saying Grace before dinner or singing/praying in church. However I accept that this god mother thing is a big issue for you. So how about simply getting your DC just to say 'hello' as opposed to 'hello godmother'? And to speak only when spoken to thus alleviating the need to directly address her?

If we were talking about a MIL then my advice would be different but this is the wife of a very close friend. I don't think that you should go nuclear just yet smile

ChocsAwayInMyGob Mon 20-May-13 15:50:06

you should not tell them you are offended because you're an atheist. You are having your child christened. It's a bit late to start getting offended by Christian stuff!

Moominsarehippos Mon 20-May-13 16:01:35

I've never heard of a godmother being addressed as anything else thgan Aunt/y X.

They are clear on the atheist part as I did not partake in the ceremony.

And I will be offended, so why not say it?

ChocsAwayInMyGob Mon 20-May-13 16:29:06

Moomins, yes but the Godmother is Brazilian and its a Catholic country so it may just be a Cultural difference.

ChocsAwayInMyGob Mon 20-May-13 16:30:48

smeared- I don't think you should say it because I don't think they are trying to be hurtful of offensive. I think it's an innocent or naive request made by someone brought up in a Catholic Latin American country. Why offend them?

HabbaDabba Mon 20-May-13 16:34:50

Sorry smeared but someone who makes a big deal about being an atheist is just as irritating as someone who makes a big deal about being a Christian.

The problem with being "offended" is that she is your son's godmother. If you weren't offended enough to stop that from happening, it seems a little weird to be offended by the use of the term afterwards.

I think you stand a much better chance by going for the "Well, in this country that would be an overly formal way of referring to you, and what we normally do here is call godmothers Aunty. Or would you like 'Madrhina' instead?" sort of line. After all this is your DHs best friend's wife, who you allowed to become your child's godmother, so it would be better to stay on positive terms surely?

Most people will be understanding about cultural/language issues, I'm sure she'll be used to those if she lives in the UK. But to say you are 'offended' by something you agreed to, and something she values very highly, risks spoiling the relationship, which I'm sure isn't the result you want out of this.

FringeEvent Mon 20-May-13 16:52:51

I think 'madrinha' sounds affectionate, in the same way that 'aunty' does. 'Godmother' on the other hand sounds quite formal/stuffy - like actually calling your grandmother 'Grandmother' rather than 'Granny' or 'Grandma' or 'Nan' etc.

In my family (the French side), godmothers are called 'marraine'. It's always sounded normal/pleasant to me even though I grew up in England with English cultural norms.

suchashame Mon 20-May-13 16:53:12

If you have married someone of any faith different to your own then I would have thought you would have some sort of respect to their belief system even if not in it.

I think that if you have agreed to the christening then it's unfair to criticise or be offended when those agreeing to the roles take those roles and promises seriously.

. I was baptised and confirmed catholic but an not one now ! Ds can also make his own mind up later.... but till then godparents are promising to assist in teaching ds about those beliefs and a devout Catholic will indeed take the role on.

If you don't want them to then maybe call it off and ds can choose to be baptised later in life if he wants.

Habba and Chocs, I do see both your points. But I can't help feeling red mist just thinking about it.

I didn't know this would be taken so seriously by her and that she would request a formal title when DP reasoned with me that because I didn't believe in god it wouldn't matter.

Saying grace at the table is fine but getting my child to say a title with 'mother' to someone else offends me.

It's now up to DP to sort it out and state the facts.

TheFallenNinja Mon 20-May-13 16:57:57

I personally like the idea of being called "Godfather" smile

Hmmm

HazeltheMcWitch Mon 20-May-13 17:09:33

smeared - I do think you need to forearm your DP with suggestions. In Brazil, you'd call your godmother, Madrinha as others have said - but this literally means 'little mother' (inho/a as a suffice to denote smallness, cuteness, affection etc) - and you've said you're not ok with someone calling someone else mother.

Saltire Mon 20-May-13 17:14:42

Well if it's any help, my youngest god-daughter calls me "fairy" as in fairy godmothergrin.

realises this is no help whatsoever

I think you have been a little naive in thinking that someone from one of the most catholic countries in the world wouldn't take her role as godmother seriously. And in Brazil, its not a 'formal' title, its an affectionate name, very similar to calling someone auntie that isn't really your aunt.

But lets hope your DP sorts it out and you end up feeling comfortable with whatever you choose.

No no saltaire that was worth mentioning. grin

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now