Family politics: badly need advice on baptism & godparent selection

My infant daughter is 7mos old, and the baptism issue is looming large, as my wife and I need to get her baptized ASAP (am trying to beat the 1 yr mark). I am Catholic, and my wife is
non-denominational. According to my parish, it’s ok to select one sponsor/godparent as non-catholic, as long as they are a practicing christian in good standing. The problem is this–due to family politics, normally I’d pick one of my three sisters to be godmother (all are catholic), but if I pick one, then the others would be very jealous and mad. If we select my sister’s only sibling (her sister), then my family would get mad, because my sister-in-law is baptist, and there are other animosities between our families. My wife has largely left the decision up to me. I really shouldn’t pick my older sister because although she is catholic, but is married to an outspoken atheist. If I pick my middle sister, then my oldest sister will get extremely jealous, and say that ‘the whole world revolves her’. …and to make things worse, my wife and my middle-sister do not get along (to say the least). To be honest, no one in my family really likes my wife, but that’s another story. :slight_smile: …my other sister is quite distant from the family, and is out of the picture. Neither of my sisters are particularly close to my daughter. My mother is deceased. So right now, I (we) have selected my middle sister’s kids: my nephew, and my youngest niece. Of course, this will make my oldest niece mad at me. Thus, also guaranteeing that everyone will be mad at my wife and I. Also, we don’t have a good set of close friends that are Catholic, and our preference is to keep it in the family. I need suggestions on how to handle this. Else, is there any way to select two sets of godparents/sponsors, or give the families an informal/formal role in the religious upbringing of my daughter?

This is a true dilemna, and any guidance or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Ask your priest for some recommendations from someone at your parish. This is to be a role model for your child who will be a Catholic guide for your child, not a family popularity contest.

Edited to add that if your sisters are that petty that they would be ‘offended’ if the other were picked, then I would pick none, as obviously they are not mature enough to handle the task.

Also, are the niece and nephew confirmed? Godparents must be confirmed in the Catholic church.

And should be 16 years of age.

I agree with Catholic90, if your sisters are that petty, being a Godparent should not be the reward.

Talk to your Priest. He will have an idea.

Oh I agree it’s not a popularity contest. I did discuss it with my parish and only one sponsor needs to be confirmed catholic, the other can just be a practicing (i.e., baptized) christian in good standing. But in this case, both my niece and nephew are confirmed, practicing Catholics. So I’m hoping that this is a good compromise, without sacrificing the integrity and true meaning of the sacrament.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

First let’s get terms right.

You need one godparent/sponsor. By definition that’s a Catholic who is at least 16, practicing and fully initiated: baptized, confirmed and has received Communion.

You may have a Christian witness with the godparent. That’s a person who has been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That person is not a godparent as defined by the Church. In some churches that person’s name wouldn’t even make it into the register or onto the certificate of Baptism.

It’s too bad you want to keep it in the family because that would give you an out: “You already all have special roles in our daughter’s life by virtue of your various kinships to her. Another person we respect and who is a good Catholic role model is going to be her godmother/godfather.”

Looks like you’ll have to make a whole bunch of women “honorary” godmothers. That won’t give them a church-recognized role but it may keep peace in the family.

Good point. …and a lesson for me…I need to have more catholic friends. My two best friends are…but both have strayed, gotten divorces, so I don’t think that makes them eligible or good choices.

May I just interject that the “looming large” and “ASAP” really should have happened 6 months ago . . . so please do, indeed, get this precious child baptized as soon as possible. And may God bless her . . . and your young family.

In addition to the one required Catholic Godparent you may have a Validly Baptized non-Catholic Christian as a WITNESS to the Baptism, NOT the other Godparent. The Nephew and Niece would work as long as they are both at least 16 and Confirmed practicing Catholics.

Are you God-parent to either your niece or nephew? My husband and I went that route and choose a God-child since his brothers and sisters were feuding at the time.

Yes, I’m godfather to both my niece and nephew.

Well your situation is similar to mine. My husband’s family was large and quarrelsome somewhat like you describe yours. I have only 1 sibling like your wife, though he’s Catholic so there were no issues there.

It seemed to us that no one could argue about including one member from each side of the family. So on my side since I only have a brother that settled the choice between my husband’s qualifying God children (like you one niece one nephew). Most of his family members were mollified by the choice of his God daughter as God mother to our daughter and seemed to feel it was only fair to include both families in the baptism.

This gives you a a positive position to present to the families, both families are included, you are linking generations together and so forth. I don’t know if your families will react the same way but it worked for us.

Call me crazy, but I thought the event in question was the baptism of your child, of welcoming her into the family of the Church. It isn’t about reaffirming the pecking order in your family, and you should say so.
As for the mess you have laid out, I agree with others here, your sisters are not up to the job. If family will not talk to you because of your selection, if they cannot rejoice with you, the relationships were never that strong to begin with. Tell them so.
I agree that if you have no family or friends, ask your priest for a few solid people from within the parish. My wife and I defied all of our family conventions and chose only 1 family member out of a total of 6 godparents for our three children. They are solid witnesses to the faith. Sure it stung a number of siblings, but it also motivated some to think about their lifestyles.
In the end, you will not completely alienate your family. They want to have a relationship with your child. God Bless.:thumbsup:

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