The gentleman’s guide to being the ultimate godfather

The family-values, help out the parent type. Not the gangster type.

We’re not talking Brando, but it’s a job that can be as daunting as heading up a crime syndicate. After watching the intense stress and worry a pregnancy can bring to some of your closest friends, being asked to be a godparent can feel like them sucking you into the whole experience, to wallow in the late nights and constant self-questioning together. But don’t refuse – being a godfather is just like being a father, but with diminished responsibility. It’s like being a cool uncle, just with the chance to say no.

But, even though it’s a fun role, taking on the godfather position is not something you should undertake lightly. Yes, the novelty will be there during the early years – borrowing the baby to impress the ladies and showering it with gifts, gadgets and ice creams aplenty – but this is a role for life. Once the kid grows up and is no longer fun and new, you can’t let contact slide. If their 18th rolls around and you’ve just got your PA to send a generic card with a crinkled tenner stuffed inside, then you’ve failed in your duties.

Being designated a godparent is an honour – a mark to which you must step up. Children hold their most esteemed godfathers in something of a godly light: It is a role that carries onus and influence – the presents you give and the wisdom you impart can play a major part in shaping the interests of your godchild’s path. It’s a win-win, if done correctly, so here are the key rules to ensure you fulfil your role as a modern-day godfather…

Never forget special occasions

The gentleman’s guide to being the ultimate godfather

This is probably the big one. Birthdays and Christmas are your times to shine – annual events carved out in the calendar during which time you can buy the best presents, and drop in to make a good impression. But forget, and the positive pendulum will swing wildly in the other direction. If Father Christmas took a sabbatical, all hell would break loose, so follow his lead and jot down the relevant dates in your diary. And when it comes to the presents…

Don’t be afraid to give quirky gifts

The gentleman’s guide to being the ultimate godfather

Unlike the parents, you are in the special position to give quirky gifts; gifts that may drive the parents mad, but show your allegiances to your godchild. Either give a decent present on every milestone (including graduation and confirmations), or, as is extremely popular nowadays, give something of thoughtful value at the Christening that can be enjoyed on their 18th birthday – i.e wine or port, or some unique memorabilia.

Remember, tradition dictates that a child has 3 godparents – consider yourself to be in direct competition with them to the top spot of the favouritism podium.

Don’t accept too many positions

The gentleman’s guide to being the ultimate godfather

Godchildren aren’t collector’s items. Far better to have one who you put a lot of work into making it work with than acquire a small army who will have forgotten your name by the time they are 12 years old.

Before accepting the responsibility, ask yourself if you have the time to fulfil the role to the best of your abilities. If not, kindly decline – there will be many other people willing to put their right leg in a log chopper to be offered such a hallowed position.

Treat your godchild as an equal

The gentleman’s guide to being the ultimate godfather

As a godparent, you are in the gratifying position of being a grown-up role model and influence to your godchild. Treat them like a friend, like an equal – leave the nagging and judging to the parents. The best thing you can do to be a great godfather is to be a mentor – so set a good example. Understand what it is that the parents want from you, and try to rise to the challenge.

Stay in touch throughout their lives

The gentleman’s guide to being the ultimate godfather

Yes, once your godchild reaches 18 and are left to fend for themselves, you aren’t expected to keep up the lavish gifts, but you are expected stay in touch, stay interested in their lives – a path which, hopefully, you have played a hand in.

Before the end of your duties come though, send postcards from holidays, congratulate on achievements, give advice when sought, and let them know that you enjoy being a godfather as much as they enjoy having you there.

Need a little wider coaching? Here’s how to be a better man in 2018…

Further Reading