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.
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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.