Recently, the English author Martin Amis has been publicly raked over the coals for being a bad godparent.  Apparently a young woman recently glanced at one of his books and said to her mother, “Have you heard of Martin Amis?” and the mother tartly replied, “Yes, he’s YOUR GODFATHER.” 

Amis, who was publicly lambasted some years ago for spending a fortune on dental repairs, seems to be the man the Brits love to hate.   The national whipping boy.

Having read the whole entertaining story  here, it got me thinking:

What DOES make a good godparent?  And as the essay further asks, why do we think we must assign godparents for life when our child is “spewing meconium,” and ONLY at this time? 

My friends know that I don’t agree with the Episcopalian policy of choosing relatives as godparents.  That’s a waste of an official office.  Relatives already have a special place in your child’s life – choose a friend!

My college friend Stephanie (not her real name) went down the Episcopalian Road and then went on to bitterly regret it.  The godparents she chose from her family and her in-law pool ended up being complete duds.  Instead of forging a special relationship with their god-child, they fell down on the job.  Utterly.

She ended up firing them in her head (they were not given official pink slips) and choosing godparents from her circle of friends.  Stephanie even arranged for a special ceremony on the beach with the new godparents and her child, who was five years old at the time.

The article suggests that if you’re not happy with your children’s godparents, you should do exactly this. 

Chris and I have a handful of godchildren.  Our track record is a bit uneven.  There’s a correlation between our attentiveness and the frequency with which we see the  kids.   Unfortunately, if we’ve drifted apart from the parents, the same is true of the children.

My godmothering highlights including taking god-daughter Jane to tea at the Four Seasons when she turned 10. However,  I failed to prevent her from getting a tattoo when she was in college – not that she gave me advance notice – but at least she didn’t get 63 stars on her face.  Thankfully, her essential beauty is unchanged.  God-daughter Hollis I see only every few years but had fun taking her on a shopping spree one recent summer.  She chose a pound of fudge and a pair of skimpy shorts - only a teenage girl could get away with that.

In my Midwestern Baptist childhood, godparents were unheard of.  I read about them in Victorian novels and thought the idea was splendid but they were not a part of my reality.   And I know they are not part of the Jewish tradition.

But if you’re into the godparent thing, you might want to steal the idea proposed by the author of the NYT piece - no matter the age of your child, assign a handful of godparents to handle specific tasks.   In this scenario, you choose friends for their superpowers:  Camping Mom, College Prep Dad, Sports Dad, Book Mom, and so on.   This handily lessens the responsibility of each while forging more ties from your friends to your child.  Beautiful!

Solicited:  Your thoughts on the godparent thing. 
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