Tips & Techniques for Godparents

Work with your godchild’s parents. Talk with your godchild’s parents often about his or her life, spiritual and otherwise, and ask how you can help… parents can often use another perspective — and another willing hand — as they guide their children to adulthood.

Pray through the ups and down of life with your godchild. Find out what’s troubling or challenging your godchild, what he or she is excited about or eagerly anticipating, then do your best to talk about God in that context. Encourage your godchild to pray, pray together, and let your godchild know that you are praying for him or her every day.

Make a big deal of your godchild’s namesday. Celebrate with a special visit and dinner if you’re nearby, and give a “spiritually oriented” gift to celebrate, like an age-appropriate book of his patron saint’s life, a new icon, etc.

Emphasize the spiritual aspects of holidays. Make it a tradition to read the stories of the Nativity and Pascha morning with your godchild, and help his or her parents downplay the material and commercial aspects (Santa, the Easter Bunny, loads of loot in pretty wrapping). Play up the feasts of the Church instead — by bringing candles to be blessed at the Feast of the Presentation and flowers at the Dormition of the Theotokos and sharing them with your godchild, or by baking a birthday cake for the nativities of the Theotokos, Jesus, and St. John the Baptist.

Invite your godchild to go with you to Great Vespers, Matins, or weekday services for the feasts if you live close by. Encourage your whole “god-family” to come to Church for services other than the Sunday/resurrectional Divine Liturgy, if they don’t do so regularly.

Ask what your godchild is learning in Church school… Discuss the lesson of the week, and offer to help with Church school homework, prepare for oratorical competition or catechism bowl, etc. Buy your godchild’s first Bible, and update it regularly as his or her reading level increases. Encourage him or her to study the gospel!

Help your godchild serve God. Choose a service project to work at regularly together, such as working at a hot-meal program or visiting parishioners in the hospital. Help him or her discover new ways to use God-given talents to help others — the artistic might design posters or programs for retreats, the musical might record Church music for shut-ins, etc. Encourage your godsons to serve in the altar, too, and “cheer them on” each week.

Encourage both boys and girls to attend seminary, and explore the monastic lifestyle, if they show interest. Mention the priesthood as a “career choice” to your godsons, and help them learn more about what our Orthodox clergy do — and how important their calling to guide others in the Faith is to all of us!

Make your godchild “one of the family”. Include your godchild, and his or her parents and siblings, in your own family’s “social” events: reunions, picnics, camping trips, and zoo and museum outings. Spend time together.

Keep in touch by phone, e-mail, or postcard if your godchildren are out of state or across the globe. Prayer and love in Christ know no distance!

Thanks to Fr. Timothy Sawchak of SS. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church in Lakewood, Ohio, for suggesting many of these wonderful tips for godparents.

by Nichola Toda Krause

© 1999-2000 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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