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Dear anyone with advice...,
When I was 8 years old my dad was unfortunately killed in a helicopter accident.
The family fell apart, my mum fell to pieces and never really recovered. My sister and I were sent to boarding school by our grandparents.
My mother would agree that children for her wasn't a want but an expectation.
When my father died, I was lost, totally. My father was a strong character and then there was nothing, or so I thought.
I was told by my mum that my godfather (My Uncle) would be there for me as he is my godfather and would act as a father.
For me, this was not a passing comment but something I was very much needing and wanting, and painfully waited. He never godfathered me.
I have held this against him for his entire life.
Forward to my early 30's and I have a great circle of friends, one of my exceptionally good friends asks me to be godfather. I immediately go into shock, not because I don't want to be godfather, but I know how bitter I was with my godfather.
It scared the shit out of me. I quite obviously agreed and felt very privileged, BUT I have the fear.
I am now god father to 3 of my friends children which is again an enormous privilege but I still feel lost.
I decided to tell one couple who I lived with for a few years in a shared house (who asked me to be godfather) my struggle with my Godfather. They didn't take it very well and simply assumed I didn't want to be godfather' Ahhhhhhh!!! I feel like I am burying my head in the sand.
My first Goddaughter to my two very good friends, is now 13 and I feel terrible that I still haven't sorted out my past issues...I don't know what's expected from me!!! Help!!
I don't want to lose best friends over this as well. But it seems like a subject that is very hard to discuss with them.
To me, it's not what the parents expect me to do, but what the child expects me to do....Sorry for the long message, but as far as I was concerned, my godfather really did let me down as a child.
Thanks loads for any advice,
The child expects presents, check ins to see they are okay every once in a while, your phone number maybe when they are older so they can phone if they have fell out with mum and dad (maybe worthwhile offering to the 13 yo). They do not expect more unless they lose their own parents or their own parents become super detached. Your friends will probably get annoyed because they are like “ we’re the parents, are you saying we are not enough”. In reality your lived experience is different to theirs and they’ve not experienced parents not being enough and a godfather being anything other than a ceremonial role. Is your godfather still alive, can you talk to him about how you felt?
God parenting is much less of a big deal than you think. Your past has put a huge pressure on it, but my godparents were given the title as a way to be honoured by my mother.
If both parents had died I would have gone to my godparents, but until that point they were just like my other aunts and uncles. Friendly, there to chat if I wanted and that's about it.
You're massively overestimated what being a godfather means in 2020.
I have no idea who my Godparents even are 😂
I think the best way to do it is to be an honorary “fun Uncle” figure; another adult, who knows their parents but isn’t their parents. Ideally, you want the sort of relationship where they could phone you to talk about things when they are older that they don’t want to discuss with their mum or dad.
So - show an interest. Send something thoughtful for birthdays and Christmas. If you go away somewhere interesting, send a postcard. If your goddaughter is 13, could you suggest taking her out somewhere “grown up” - say, for afternoon tea or to the theatre (if it ever comes back?).
As others have said, though - it really isn’t something to worry about. It just gives you an “in” to have a more family type relationship with your friends’ child. I’m sure you’ll be great.
Gently, your past experience - and particularly your mother's setting (whether deliberately or inadvertantly) an expectation that a godparent has a quasi-parental role - is causing you to way overthink this, and to invest godparenthood with a lot more significance than I think most people give it.
In terms of the children's expectations: they most likely don't have any. The circumstances which caused you to have such a mismatch of expectations versus your own godfather's just don't exist for those children. I do think it's generally worthwhile for anyone agreeing to become a godparent to have some discussion with the family of what they envisage that meaning and involving, and there's no harm doing that even after the event, but I'd suggest doing that in a very neutral way.
For yourself, I'd really suggest discussing this with a counsellor if at all possible. You deserve space to process your experiences and feelings and that would be a great way of doing so with a neutral, non judgemental person.
Talk to the family. GodParent means hugely different things to different families. We are quite religious, so chose godparents that were also religious, and my DH always takes his godson to church when they visit here (his mum likes to go to church, so this isn’t a controversial thing, it’s expected in this circumstance). I think for most families it just means that you always remember to send a card/present for birthday and Christmas (and potentially anniversary of christening if this is something the family does). As others have said, you are probably expected to be like an extra uncle, or someone for an older child to be able to speak to if they are finding it hard to talk to their parents.
Thank you to everyone here, I think I need to have a godfather meeting with the parents and child and talk about it
Again, thank you for all help
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