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To not want to be godparent to my neice? just been warned she's going to call & ask me soon!!

14 replies

devonsmummy · 06/10/2007 15:50

HELP!! My 10 year old niece wants me and DH to be her godparents.
Neither of us believe in a god of any kind and I refused to marry in church because of this.
We will not be getting DS christened either.

my brother has just called to say his DD is going to call me later & ask that we are both godparents.
Add on the fact that DH cannot stand to catch sight of my nieces mothers family and does not want to be linked in anyway to them.

My instant reaction was NO but now as she has limited contact with this side of the family (parents seperated) I know I will feel awful if I say no.

What shall I do????

OP posts:

Freckle · 06/10/2007 15:54

Could you offer to be some sort of secular "god" parent? I believe that humanists have an equivalent that they call a "guide friend" or "mentor".

You may need to explain to your niece that neither you nor dh believe in god and could not therefore take the necessary vows to become a godparent. However, as you love her very much, you are happy to be a special aunt and uncle to her - or the humanist version of a godparent.


cornsilk · 06/10/2007 15:55

Is your brother religous? If not, then the godparent thing may be more of a mentoring role, in which case why not? I would be chuffed if my neice chose me.


bran · 06/10/2007 15:55

I think it's fair enough to say that you're honoured to be asked, but feel unable to accept because you don't believe in god. Make sure that your neice knows that it's not because of her, but because you can't swear in church that you would do whatever it is they ask you to swear.

It is a very tricky thing though, because it's a child asking you and not an adult. Could you perhaps offer a non-religious undertaking to answer tricky questions and take her for a day out every summer instead?


Marina · 06/10/2007 15:56

Freckle's advice is good.
I think it's wrong to make people stand up in church and make promises that they can't fully believe in.
I am sure you'd make a fab "guide friend" instead, that you love your niece is not in doubt.


Fireflyfairy2 · 06/10/2007 15:57

I don't know.

I would be inclined to say yes, but I know that if she wants you as a role model in regards to the church etc it would be difficult.

I am godmother to my sister's daughter, but I tend to be a moral guide rather than a faith one IYKWIM. I call her, she comes & stays with me, we chat etc.....I am more of a friend & another adult she can come to if she feels she can't go to her mam.

I think your dh needs to forget the fact he can't stand her mother's side of the family & think about what good he can bring to this girl's life.

Of course, if you both feel strongly that you can't go inside church then you'll have to tell her.


devonsmummy · 06/10/2007 16:02

thanks everyone.

just thought can you be a godparent if you are not christened?

just spoke to Dh and he said a big NO.

i think i will say yes even though I don't believe. she is a very emotional little girl and I'd hate to upset her.

OP posts:

Marina · 06/10/2007 16:06

I think you need to talk to the vicar in confidence devonsmummy. Is that feasible?
In the C of E they have some discretion over whether godparents are baptised themselves (one of our Godmothers is a Unitarian and therefore not baptised, but does have a faith - there was no problem).
This is such a hard one - she has obviously actively chosen to be baptised, and it must be a very special moment in her life.


devonsmummy · 06/10/2007 16:10

Marina - not poss to speak to vicar as we live 3 hour drive away.

Situation is also a bit unusual as my brother is not on the birth certificate - someone else is - so unsure what surname she will be christened as. A long story!!

OP posts:

BOOquets · 06/10/2007 16:13

I wanted to refuse to be GM to my baby niece because NONE of our family believe in God, my sis and BIL just like a good party. Gave in in the end for the social convenience and kept my mouth shut - it's just one day and you don't need to look the vicar in the eye.
Esp as your niece is old enough to be making these decisions herself, it obviously means a lot to her.


Freckle · 06/10/2007 16:14

Christenings don't normally involve surnames. It's usually the Christian names which are spoken.

You could always speak to the vicar by phone. Ask your brother for his phone number. Explain your dilemma and ask for his advice.


BOOquets · 06/10/2007 16:18

I find it easiest to ask 'who cares more?' in dilemmas like this, and who will handle it better. You feeling a bit uncomfortable 'performing' vs her asking and being rejected.


CappuScreamO · 06/10/2007 16:20

no you have to have been christened/ baptised to be a godparent


lucyellensmum · 06/10/2007 16:27

I am a catholic and the catholic religeon requires that at least one of the GPs are practising catholics, other than that they can still be GPs, i had six

Do you have a lot of contact with your neice? Is it something really important to her, the christening? As she is clearly able to decide that she wants to be christened. I think the term for non catholic christening is christian witness. It was quite ritualistic i found and im sure my ILs were a bit but also they found it a lovely way of welcoming DD to the world and really enjoyed it. I think your neice may be terribly hurt if you refuse as she will not really be able to understand your religeous views, to which you are fully entitled. Has she chosen you out of duty as you are the closest relatives or because there is no one else or because you mean a lot to her?

I would think very deeply about this before you respond. Someone suggested talking to the Vicar and i think that is a good idea as they can guide you. If it is simply because she wants to have you two connected to her in some way there are civil ceremonies taht would accomodate this.

Good luck


glastocat · 06/10/2007 18:44

I would decline politely and say why. My husbands family are Catholic and there was quite a palaver when we didn't christen our boy, even though we didn't marry in church either. In fact, my kid is six and my MIL is still going on about it. I suppose it depends on how strongly you feel about it - I used the line that I didn't want to disrespect Catholicism by lying in church about my religious intentions.

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