October 07, 2008,
M.A. asks from Lubbock, TX on October 06, 2008
What Are the Responsibilities of a Godfather?
My question really does not fit under this category, as I am asking what the responsibilities are of a godfather in terms of gift-giving, mainly for birthdays. My husband is the godfather of his sister's 2nd daughter, but not her 1st daughter. She has 2 kids, as do my husband and I. We have always sent the girls gifts for their birthdays, but stopped doing so this year because they have NEVER reciprocated by giving our children gifts for their birthdays (they sometimes send a card). There is a younger sister in the mix with two kids as well and I know they all exchange birthday gifts between the kids, as do the younger sister and us. I don't know why our kids are left out by the older sister??? Problem is my husband's goddaughter's birthday is this week and I saw that he sent her a $50 check (I remember he sent $25 last year, but he doesn't keep track of this sort of thing and that gets all over me). So now the first daughter's birthday has already passed and we just sent a card. I'm worried this is going to start a problem, especially going forward as the girls get older and wonder why their uncle only sends $ on one of their birthdays. My husband gets mad at me for getting caught up in this sort of stuff and being the sister-in-law, I don't feel like I can address it with his sisters. ???
K.F. answers from Dallas on October 06, 2008
When you married the man, you married the whole family so you should really think of them as your sisters and behave the same way you do with your family. My kids all have different godparents and while the one that is actually a sister-in-law does give her godson a bit more at xmas than the other two kids, they do get a "regular" decent gift. If your husband does nothing to promote a real relationship between you and his family, you should take the initiative. Regardless of how the chid's parent acts, I would feel poorly sending a gift to one child and not the other. If your husband has sent money to one, something should be sent to the other child.
My understanding of godparents is that there are three types and they can "overlap." Godparents in some instances are actually the people that you wish to raise a child if something happens to you. In the Catholic faith, the godparent is directly responsible for the religious upbringing of the child nearly as much as the parents. Most protestant denominations believe that bringing up the children is something that is a duty of the whole church, the village concept, so while the godparents might feel a responsibilty to the spiritual growth of the child, it would be along the lines of a child that shares the faith, period.
Being a godparent obligates no one to a particular role, they give of themselves how they feel comfortable giving and hopefully in a way that the parents and child appreciates.
K.T. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
I have a similar situation. My husband and I are the god parents to 1 of my sister’s 2 kids, and I have two different cousins where we are the god parents to one of the two siblings. In the past I too felt uncomfortable when it came to gift giving. Here is how I resolved it – and it was different for each situation.
1.My sister’s kid. We exchange gifts at xmas and b-days between her kids and mine. Both of her kids get an equally valued gift and then I buy the godchild an extra gift that is religion oriented – likes books, jewelry, etc.
2.With one of the cousins I knew the other child’s god mother flaked shortly after being named the god mother and the godfather was a bachelor (and not the thoughtful kind). So I felt really uncomfortable giving the one child a gift knowing that the other child’s god parents were not that involved in their lives. So I called the cousin and said to her candidly that it made me uncomfortable and asked whether the other child was upset. She said he never even noticed and assured me that I didn’t need to give him a gift. I still felt bad so now I send the god child a religious oriented gift of a decent value (most recently – cross earrings). And then I send the other child a small gift on his b-day of a lesser value.
3.With the other cousin – I knew the other child’s god parents were active in the child’s life -- so I just buy for the god child. I sign the cards – love your godparents so it is obvious that it is a gift based on the fact that we are the godparents. Again, I try to buy a religious gift – but he is still young – so sometimes he gets toys ;-) (The only exception is if the non god child actually has a b-day party that we are invited to and we actually attend – then I get that child a present).
Given that – I would suggest that if he continues to give to one child only, he sign the card from himself as the god father. Like, “love your godfather Uncle Bob” so it is clear that it is from him as the “godfather”. You might also consider getting religious oriented gifts – but truthfully that takes effort and sometimes the kids prefer cash. Mardells is a good place to go for that type of stuff.
I personally don’t think you should have to get both kids a gift – especially if they are not giving your kids gifts. But, do remember that the sins of the parents are not the sins of the child – so it really isn’t the kids fault that they do not send your kids a gift. And since you have been giving them both gifts all along it may be strange to the one child to suddenly not receive one anymore. You didn’t say how old they were – so if they are still young then they probably won’t even notice. Especially if you have always given them gifts at b-day parties.
I do think it is fairly customary for the god parent to do something special for the child. If you don’t want to give either one of them a b-day gift, don’t. Then come up with some other tradition. Like have him send her a special present on x-mas or Easter (or some other holiday) so it truly does revolve around the religious aspect.
Hope this helps.
R.V. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
I don't mean to be rude but--- It is none of the children's fault what does or does not happen between the adults in the family. It doesn't matter if you are God parents or simply aunt and uncle.
If there is more than one child in a household then it is your responsibility as an ADULT to see that you treat the children equally. They do know the difference, they do remember that Aunt so and so sent little Jimmy something but didn't send me anything.
To say "they don't send gifts to my children so I will send a gift to only 1 of theirs" is rude and hurtful to the child and makes the child feel as if they have done something to cause this ill behavior from the aunt and uncle.
We have been on the receiving end of such ignorance and frankly I cash the checks that are sent and divide them among all of the children in the family so there is no "hurt" feelings among the children. The children did not ask to be step-children, have different God parents or a different color hair.
Sorry to be so hard on all of you but it is simply disgraceful and frankly Low.
What would GOD want you to do.
L.W. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
My Godfather was at my baptism and that was probably the only time he saw me. He lived two blocks from my Grandparents/was a cousin of my Mother's. I know some Godfather's are very active in their godchild's life. Leave your husband alone... at some point he'll wake up and smell the coffee. It is not his responsibility to pacify the other siblings in his Godchild's household. I would buy gifts/cards/school supplies for my two Godchildren (brother's children) and I can count on one hand how many times my daughter was remembered by her uncle/aunt ie the parents of these two children. I stopped the gift giving about five years ago even though I felt bad at first. I still send them a birthday/Valentine card sans gift card/money. The children involved here are 25, 23, and 18.
E.T. answers from Dallas on October 06, 2008
there are 6 other kids besides my own on my husband's side of the family. As far as gift giving goes for birthdays, we ONLY give to the 2 we are Godparents of. The other 4 kids don't even notice because they have their OWN special Godparent buying them something special on THEIR birtdahy. I know one year, one child did ask why her sister was getting something and she wasn't. Her mom simply told her that we were the sister's Godparents. The child understood perfectly.
K.E. answers from Dallas on October 06, 2008
Personally I think that I would just leave it up to him. If it becomes an issue with your sister in law tell her to address it to him not you because he's the one that handles that. Good luck.
A.M. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
I am catholic, am a Godparent to 2 kids and have 4 kids of my own, whom all have Godparents. The role of a Godparent, as I believe, is to be there as a support for the child through the journey of life. Part of that can be remembering birthdays, Christmas, important events, etc. by sending or bringing a small gift, but the real importance should be placed on time spent with the child, letting them know you care and are there for them. If there is a distance between them, a card or note or phone call is nice. I'm not saying your husband is wrong for sending a check, it's just that it doesn't have to be so grandiose and maybe he should make sure that the importance is placed on the relationship with the child and that eventually the child feels that he/she can come to his Godfather with any problem, issue or happy things too! Good luck!
K.G. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
a godparent is not require to give gifts. the focus should be on being "there" and also in helping provide a role model in their faith etc. remember that the children aren't responsible for their parents sending gifts to your kids etc. My opinion is that you should send gifts to both neices on each of their bdays, christmas or gift giving event if you want to but don't leave out one child. they are after all both neices. but when you send the gift to the godchild make note that its from GODFATHER rather than just uncle. Now, how much value the gift has isn't important. if you can't always afford (or ever afford) a $50 gift then don't do that. but remember that both girls are relatives and the other wll wonder way her uncle/aunt never sends her anything. that said, i'll reiterate that you don't have to send a gift. send a card. I'd say, if you aren't sending a gift then a card only to the goddaughter is fine. but you know how kids preceive gifts. it just doesn't seem nice to only send a gift to one for christmas and not the other. of course you wouldn't send a gift to the other girl on the gdaughters bday though.
J.J. answers from Dallas on October 06, 2008
It seems to me that you have two separate issues. As far as being Godfather, that really depends on your particular religious beliefs. God parents in general do not typically have gift giving responsibilities. The god parents' job is to aid in Christian education and helping support the parents in a solid Christian upbringing. My personal thoughts are that it may include gift giving as far as christ centered books or toys, but not money or other gifts. HOWEVER, god parents are also family members or close family friends which may of course give gifts as just that. So, my thoughts are that if he is giving a non-religion centered gift then it should be given to all siblings, not just the one that happens to be a god child. I also do not feel that a gift should ever be expected, no matter what the relationship may be. In short, yes I agree that sending money to one can cause issues. If one of my kid's God parents started sending checks on birthdays to one child and not the other, I would find it awkward. Your sister in law may well be feeling that too, and not know how to address it to your husband. It would feel really wierd telling someone a gift isn't welcome or to please give an extra gift to another child.
G.W. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
Okay, i am not going to address any "Your husband should act this way" or "You should feel that way". That's your business!
As for the present thing, if you are wanting to just send a gift for the godchild, not for birthdays (I think that's fine. You can even send one to the child on her "baptismal birthday" - anniversary of when she was baptized) then I would send a gift or money with a VERY CLEARLY "GODPARENT" CARD, like "A gift from your Godparent" or "To celebrate your Baptismal Birthday" and have your hubby sign it: Love, Your Godfather, (His Name). That way it is very clear that the present is for his Godchild.
I have one brother like this - I constantly send gifts and he doesn't EVEN send a card. I thought for a while it was because he was divorced and did not have a wife to help him remember these things, but now that he's remarried it has not gotten better. I have just decided to send gifts and not expect anything in return. If we ever get anything, I'm thankful but also shocked. I spent lots of years being hurt by this, but eventually time healed my feelings and now I'm just like, "whatever".
A.J. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
God Father/mother is really different based on the religon. But Many people have the lable God parent but it really only meant that if something happened to the parents then they would raise the god child/ren as their own.
Many religons have different meanings and duties.
but as far as the gifts, you are right about not sending one something that the others dont get... that will eventually cause friction.
J.G. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
Growing up my godparents (my dad's sister and brother) gave me gifts at Christmas and on my birthday but didn't give anything to my brother. Likewise his godparents (my mom's sister and her husband) gave my brother presents on Christmas and birthday. I in no way felt left out b/c I didn't receive a gift from my brother's godparents. My mom is one of 5 and Dad is one of 7 so there were lots of grandchildren and were not exchanged with all - too much. Since the role of godparents is assist the child in the instruction of the faith - somekind of religious gift may be appropriate. I have 3 godchildren - one is my nephew and he is an only child. The other 2 are children of friends and I only give their siblings gifts if invited to their birthday parties. At Christmas I give my nephew a Christmas ornament (along with others things - besides him we have one other niece) - these will be his when he leaves home and my 2 godchildren I give a piece to a navitity set and some kind of toy that they would enjoy now. I bought 2 nice navitity sets after Christmas and keep the set and give a piece each year.
A.C. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
I think the kids should be treated equally, whether that family reciprocates with your kids or not. I assure you that I noticed as a child everything my sister and I got and I remembered from year to year who gave us what. I would have been very hurt that my uncle valued me so little compared to my sister. Kids self esteem is very fragile.
I would write a check to the other one and say "I just noticed that the check I wrote for your birthday was in the bottom of my drawer- I must have forgotten to put it in your card... sorry!
L.G. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
It sounds to me like all of the adults in this situation need to sit down together and have an "adult" conversation to decide what to do. I don't understand the "godparent" thing. I'm sorry but there is only one God and he is the parent to all of us. I feel that we should "all" take care of our family whenever they need us. It is very important to the children to know that they are loved "equally" by all of their family. I don't understand why someone would pick different "godparents" for different siblings. This is confusing to the child.
Since you are already in this situation, then the adults need to decide if gifts will be given at birthdays, and then draw names at Christmas or what ever you decide to do. Our world has gotten too obsesed with worldly posessions. Is that truly the meaning of the holidays that you are trying to share with each other. A birthday is a time when you let that person know that "hey, I'm glad you are here, and I love you". If anyone is showing that to one, and not others, then those children left out are going to begin to wonder if they are loved and what their worth is.
I have and am still in a family situation similar to this, as I'm sure most families are. I too was feeling like my child wasn't being treated fairly by extended family. I finally woke up and decided that I was not acting as God would want me to. Did Jesus heal people to see what he would get in return. No, he did it to show people how to care for one another.
I hope that you can all resolve this as adults. It doesn't hurt to let the others know how you feel, and allow you all to move forward from here. Belive me if you don't do something, or at least just decide to give and not expect a return, it will only get worse. It will eventually cause distance in your relationships in other areas. Family is all we have. Take care of them.
C.H. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
heres what i think:
If you do for one child you must do for all.
Give gifts unconditionally and never expect anything in return. Give simply because you want to. Because its fun for you. If not then dont do it. :)
S.A. answers from Dallas on October 07, 2008
Wow, when did "gift giving" become a responsibility of any one and when did we take on the mentality that we give in order to receive? Are these the "Christian " values we want an adult, parent, aunt, uncle, God parent or anyone else to instill in our children? I personally have been on both sides of that coin. As a single parent for 15 years there were years that my children recieved gifts, but ufortunatly I ws not in a position to give. There were also years when I gave and did not recieve. The point of giving, is to show an act of kindness, to be generous, not to give with one hand while holding out the other for re-payment. That being said, children are delicate, but are also smart. When I could not buy for all I baught for none. I would never make one child feel less loved or valued, but not treating them equally. IF in Feb I was able to send a b-day gift but in July I was not, the July child recieved a card, a call and hoemmade gift or a promis of a special trip with me at a later time. PLease lets not teach our children to give with the thought of recieving. LEts teach them to give because we are blessed with the opportunity and means to do so, because we love someone and want to show it, sometimes with a monitary gift.