God­par­ent pro­pos­als: I don’t...

New par­ents in Bri­tain are adopt­ing yet an­other lav­ish Amer­i­can trend. Ge­orgina Fuller de­spairs

The Sunday Telegraph - - Features - O ally nd union. hole nts hy ce 3 Broo Me li

Cou­ples in pos­ses­sion of chil­dren, so the logic has al­ways gone, must be in want of a god­par­ent. Yet what started out as a re­li­gious tra­di­tion nearly two mil­len­nia ago has be­come more pop­u­lar than ever – and, along with it, the trend for “god­par­ent pro­pos­als”: a lav­ish (some might say un­nec­es­sary) way of ask­ing some­one to be your beloved off­spring’s guardian. Searches of the term were up 152 per cent last year, ac­cord­ing to a Pin­ter­est study on the top trends for 2019.

Think per­son­alised Baby­gros, wine bot­tles with cur­sive slo­gans (“only the best aun­ties get up­graded to god­mother”), mugs, bracelets and keep­sake boxes. As if baby show­ers and gen­der re­veal par­ties weren’t enough, it seems we are to adopt an­other ex­trav­a­gant Amer­i­can af­fec­ta­tion, that it is no longer ac­cept­able to sim­ply ask an old friend over a cuppa if they fancy be­ing god­par­ent. We now have to mark the oc­ca­sion with an of­fi­cial pro­posal, and a point­less gift.

In these sec­u­lar times, the pol­i­tics of god­par­ent­ing can be con­fus­ing – es­pe­cially if you have con­flict­ing re­li­gious be­liefs. While many cou­ples cir­cum­nav­i­gate this with nam­ing cer­e­monies or non-re­li­gious af­fairs, there may still be some am­bi­gu­ity when it comes to what is and isn’t ex­pected of the god­par­ent or guardian.

One friend, who wished to re­main anony­mous, said: “I’m of­fi­cially Church of Eng­land, but am ac­tu­ally bor­der­line athe­ist. My el­dest god­child is Catholic and just has his first Holy Com­mu­nion. I was ex­pected to buy him a big present, but I de­cided not to as I felt pretty re­sent­ful about the whole thing. I don’t think god­par­ents should feel ob­li­gated to buy presents and I don’t know why they asked me in the first place as I’m re­ally not re­li­gious.”

Some peo­ple by­pass this com­pletely by tak­ing out the faith el­e­ment. Dr Caz Udall, a lead­er­ship coach and mother-of-three, chose to have “soul broth­ers” rather than god­par­ents for their chil­dren. “We wanted peo­ple that had a good con­nec­tion, gen­er­a­tion wise, for our kids,” she ex­plains. “We chose the chil­dren of our friends, who were teenagers at the time, be­cause we liked the idea of hon­our­ing our friend­ships with both the adults and their chil­dren.”

It was, says Dr Udall, a sort of kin­ship net­work. “We are 15 years in and the old­est ‘soul brother’ is now 30. It has been a bril­liant ex­pe­ri­ence.”

We have a to­tal of six god­par­ents for our three chil­dren, and while I am grate­ful to all of them for tak­ing up the man­tle, I’m sorry to say I think the whole thing is a waste of time be­cause, un­less the god­par­ents stay child­less (or they’re El­ton John), they are prob­a­bly not go­ing to have enough time or money to de­vote to your kids.

I am for­tu­nate to have two gor­geous god-daugh­ters but, with three chil­dren un­der 10 and never-end­ing work dead­lines, I rarely have the time or the money to in­dulge them. I did man­age to take one to the panto last year, but other than that, I have been ne­glect­ful.

As my hus­band is Catholic, there was no way we weren’t go­ing to have our chil­dren chris­tened and we did think care­fully about who we asked. Our crop in­clude old school friends, aunts, un­cles and a brides­maid’s hus­band – peo­ple I would ex­pect and hope to stay in our lives, but asked to be god­par­ents more as a ges­ture and ac­knowl­edge­ment of our friend­ship than ex­pec­ta­tion of duty.

It seems to me that god­par­ents are of­ten more of a mid­dle-class ac­ces­sory or sta­tus sym­bol: there is in­stant ku­dos, for ex­am­ple, if a child has a fa­mous one. Think Cara Delev­ingne and Joan Collins, Drew Barrymore and Steven Spiel­berg and Dolly Par­ton and Mi­ley Cyrus, ce­ment­ing the el­ders’ sta­tuses as car­ing bon viveurs.

In­deed, the idea of be­ing a glam­orous guardian with next to no real re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is of­ten bet­ter than the re­al­ity, es­pe­cially when it in­volves a life­time’s servi­tude and two lots of presents each year. And, if you’re a royal or a celebrity, there is no limit to your god­par­ent­ing prow­ess. Prince Charles has at least 30 god­chil­dren, while El­ton John has 10, in­clud­ing Brook­lyn and Romeo Beck­ham and Liz Hur­ley’s son, Damian. Mean­while, Prince Louis, fifth in line to the throne, has a to­tal of six god­par­ents.

The gen­eral con­sen­sus re­mains that god­par­ents are guardians, and that’s cer­tainly some­thing my own, Penny, took on board a after my beloved mum died. S She was one of the first peo­ple I Is spoke with in hospi­tal, in a di­amor­phine-fu­elled di haze, after af our first child was born

– I longed to call Mum, but Penny Pe was the next best thing.

I’m I not sure she would have ap­pre­ci­ated app my mum ask­ing her he to do the hon­ours with a slo­gan-cov­ered slog wine bot­tle, though. thoug

While I am grate­ful, I’m sorry to say that I think the whole thing is a waste of time

El­ton John’s god­chil­dren in­clude the sons of Vic­to­ria Beck­ham and Liz Hur­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.