Atheist could step into ‘goshfather’ role
Dear Amy: I am a happily married man with two wonderful children, ages 6 and 8. Recently, a close friend and his wife (who are Catholic) asked me to be the godfather to their child.
I instantly reminded them that I am an atheist. My children weren’t baptized, and my understanding is that a godparent is a religious mentor; indeed, in a recent column, you noted that a godparent provides a spiritual backdrop to a child’s life.
Although I am not Catholic, religious or spiritual, I would be delighted to be a mentor, close confidant, friend, uncle, etc., to the child.
If anything happened to my friend and his wife, assuming it was consistent with their wishes, my wife and I would happily provide for and love the child and raise it as our own, on equal footing with our children.
Nonetheless, in my head the question remains, is it appropriate for me to be a godfather? Atheist Godfather Atheist Godfather: First there is this: Are you willing to participate in the church service during the child’s baptism and swear in front of your friends, priests and the congregation not only to renounce the devil (my favorite part) but to also uphold the tenets of the church?
The following is from Catholic Church canon regarding the role of godparents: A godparent will “. . . help the baptized to lead a Christian life in harmony with baptism, and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it.”
If you are not comfortable participating at this level, it would be most ethical to decline.
If you are comfortable participating in the baptism service and other church services, and if you feel able to fulfill this role for the child, then you should accept.
The second hurdle is the church itself.
Christian churches differ regarding the godparent role. But a Catholic priest might not be willing for a non-Catholic, nonChristian, nonbeliever to take it on. Your friend should check with his priest.
If you are not comfortable fulfilling religious-oriented roles as a godfather, you should thank your friend for this honor and gesture of friendship and trust. Ask him whether you can be given an alternate status, whereby you will forge a special friendship with the child. Perhaps you could be the “goshfather” — a special friend and honorary uncle. Dear Amy: “Mom” was wrestling with how to encourage her underachieving daughter to succeed at an expensive college.
I, too, had a child who skated under the wire in high school, and I thought was too immature for college.
They should let her go to her dream school, under the caveat that she apply for and use student loans for tuition. If she achieves the C’s her parents want, then they can reimburse her, semester by semester. If not, it’s her dime. It worked for us. Having some skin in the game can make a big difference. Been There Been There: This seems potentially expensive and risky (if the student doesn’t get Cs, stays in school and continues to compile debt), but I agree that this student must have skin in the game. Amy’s column appears seven days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to email@example.com or Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Dr., Suite 175, Addison, Tex. 75001. You can also follow her @askingamy.