Offended family with Godparent choice; advice needed!

Hello. Let me begin by saying I am a cradle Catholic who’s family is still practicing and my mom even works for the church. I would say that even though I’ve been a catholic my whole life, it was until a few years ago when I met my now husband that I even took it seriously.

That being said, I have a younger brother who is 15 and a sister who is 22 who were raised similarly in their faith. My sister and I have been very close since she was about 16, and was even the Maid of Honor in my wedding 11 months ago. While I love my sister dearly, I don’t see us in the same place in our faith journey.

We just had our first child 6 weeks ago; and had him Baptized in the Tridentine form (it was beautiful). When choosing Godparents, my husband and I had narrowed it down to three couples we are close friends with, who all share a similar thirst for their faith and wish to seek holiness for their families. We eventually decided on a couple whose husband was the Best Man in our wedding. They seemed like the obvious choice, and we know they will take this role seriously.

We announced this choice to my family not even two weeks ago, and just two days before the Baptism my mom pulls me aside to tell me my sister was really hurt. She went on to say that choosing people who aren’t family isnt always the best choice (unless there are no other options), because they might not be around when the kids are older. When I explained why we chose who we did, she said I shouldn’t be the judge of where my sister is spiritually. I should mention that my mom is very protective of my sister, and feels I have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude when it comes to the family (which I disagree with).

One last thing; the night before the Baptism my sister went to a bachelorette party, and actually ended up missing the Baptism (I believe because she slept in, I wouldn’t know because she never talked to me about it). I know she would never intend to miss it, but it kind of confirma our decision.

So my question is, how do I address this situation? Especially since she herself never told me she was hurt but I know she was because both my mom and brother mentioned it. Please help! I don’t want to ruin our relationship.

Different families have different views on how much the Godparent is involved.

Your mom is correct in one way. Nonfamily can have a way of moving in and out of our lives in a different way than family. With our youngest, we do regret a nonfamily Godparent because she seemed to go on a different path shortly after the ceremony)

But that’s not the point.

As a teenager, your sister may very well not have been at the maturity that you wanted. Did she miss the baptism because of her perceived slight? (I guess we can’t know that).

I think the best way to handle this is with a simple apology. something along the lines of

“We didn’t realize that our choice of Godparent was going to hurt you. I’m so sorry, i would never have meant to hurt you - you mean the world to me.” Maybe she is really hurt - maybe your mom is. You will know more after talking to her.

If you would consider your sister for a future child in that role - then you can tell her that you look forward to her being able to fulfill that role in the future. You can tell her how important you and your husband believe the role is and what you expectations are.

If I was in this situation, I would wait until my sister spoke to me. Maybe your mom is just taking up for her when she really isn’t that upset at all. Maybe its your mom who is offended and not your sister. Does you sister have a history of communicating to you “through your mom”? If not, I probably wouldn’t worry about it. If you sister does eventually say something to you about it, point out that you want as much love and support for your child as possible and either way, she will always be your child’s auntie. I say this with dread because I know I’m going to have offended people on my hands as well at some point because there isn’t a single soul in my family that is in an acceptable condition to stand up as godparents. When I’ve hinted at this, my mother has insisted that Catholics can pick anyone they like to be their child’s godparents and I’m just sporting a superior attitude. What is a parent to do when as far as the eye can see there is nothing but baptized, but woe-fully non-practicing Catholics all wanting to be godparents?

We were pressured to choose my husband’s sister as my daughter’s godmother. If we had to do it all over again, she would not have been godmother. We too had at least two married couples we were considering to be the godparents but caved into the family pressure. Guess which choices we’re close with still today? The two married couples, not so much my SIL and her husband. The family arrangement was also I was to be the future godmother of the next baby my SIL had, and when she eventually did have a another child, she choose outside the family.

What I would say though to your sister is that she will always, always, always be your children’s aunt. Nobody can take that away from her. I would address it, see how she actually felt about it, if she can own her own feelings without any interference from other family members. Because being honest with each other about hurt feelings and whatnot should be the glue in your relationship, having mom and brother tell you how she feels can actually undermine you and your sister’s relationship despite the good intentions they both have in telling you how your sister felt. I wouldn’t necessary apologize for not picking her, because you shouldn’t feel sorry for having picked some one else to be the godparents, but you can verify her feelings and promise to communicate with each other one on one without having to use your brother and mother as communication channels. You can also say to her if she’s ever having to choose a godmother for her future babies, you will understand if she feels conflicted about choosing godparents and that you understand you might not be her choice either.

I prepared a family for Baptism a few years ago and they made a similar choice. When siblings complained they were told, “You have a role in our child’s life, you are her aunts and uncles. That will never change. We brought in two other adults to be further influences on her life. This is not a slight, this is an extension of her family circle.”

I’m really glad that not everyone feels this way. We were asked to be sponsor and Christian witness for a child who will be born in about 6 weeks. Between them her parents have 6 siblings, yet they opted for us, a couple older than their parents, to play this role for their precious firstborn. We are so honoured! When I asked, “Are you sure? You’ve thought this through?” the reply was, “You’re who I’d send her to if she had any questions about her faith, so yes, we’re sure.”

I’m impressed that you made the choice you did. In both of my children’s baptisms, we chose family members, of which only one of the four is what I believe a “true” practicing Catholic. At the time, I felt pressured by my wife, who is a non-practicing Catholic, not to offend anyone and not being strong in my faith at the time myself, went along with it. I’m a little regretful in those decisions, so I’m glad you made the right choice for your children’s future.

God bless,

I think that if the sister is not a Catholic in good standing with the Church she should not be asked to be a Godparent. However, if she is in good standing with the Church I think that is highly inappropriate of you to guess and judge her spirituality.
You can choose whichever Godparent you want but if in 15 years a real emergency arises it is more probable that a sister, that is very close to you, will show up for support rather than a couple of friends.
Isn’t it possible that your sister chose to go to the bachelorette party and did not show up at the baptism because she was hurt, be careful at pointing fingers without knowing the reasons for someone’s actions. You are saying that your mother thinks that you have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude when it comes to the family but you disagree with it. How do you fit your comment about your sister sleeping in without knowing what happened and your attitude?
I do not know if you are either right or wrong and it should not be my concern. I think that you should reflect on what is going on and have a real discussion with your sister. Whether you are holier than thou or she is not as mature as you are it does not matter, she is your sister and she is very close to you. Do not wait for your mom to be the moderator, just talk in complete honesty without being accusatory and be ready to listen without being defensive. The past is past and your sister is still your sister, just keep her very close to you for the future, and she can wait to be the confirmation sponsor.

Hi and welcome!

I empathize with you:grouphug: and with your sister in this situation. I imagine she was hurt :sad_bye:and somehow “happened” to miss the event since she felt shut out.

Here’s a plan::newidea:
Since we can’t go back in time, one thing that should be done is to assure her that no one can take her place as “Aunt” to your child.:angel1: Once you’ve had a gentle talk with her, why not begin talking with her about planning for Baby’s First birthday, First fourth of July, First Halloween, Christmas, etc.* Baby’s first everything,* and what about the the two of you, :hug1: beginning right now to plan a very special photo album? For now, you could go a little overboard on all this, just to re-assure her.

Please include her on shopping trips for Baby.:gopray2:

People often respond to feeling they are really a part of things. She feels left out, so let’s get her back in there as only baby’s Special Aunt can be! Starting A.S.A.P. There will always be a Baby’s First everything and let’s get Auntie on board now.

Over the years, you might find that although Godparents have an important role to play, there’s no one like family. And don’t forget your mother :nun1:either! You can also make sure that Baby’s first birthday party is one where her Aunt is co-hostess and those Godparents are welcomed BY your sister and Mother and yourself.

That’s the happy part of etiquette: making people feel welcome, :curtsey:comfortable in their roles, and loved. Sometimes, we do things subtly, and other times, we work a little harder to make up for mis-understandings.

Very best wishes!
Kathryn Ann

My wife wanted some cousins to be godparents who didn’t practice their faith. I didn’t think think this a good choice, since, as I saw it, godparents ought somehow to have a place in the religious life of the child. I took care of this by agreeing, then added someone to be a godparent that did practice their faith. Of course the cousins weren’t even interested then and later on in their own religious life, let alone that of my son

Just curious, who is really hurt? Your mom or your sister? Maybe your mom had dreams that you and your sister would be two peas in a pod for the rest of your life and since that is not happening, now she is hurt?

Either way, no one knows exactly how your sister feels unless your sister comes out and tells you herslef. If you confront your sister, she may become mad at your mom for talking behind your back.

Next time your mom brings it up, my advice (which you are free to disregard) is to say ‘Sis is 22, more than old enough to pick up a phone and tell me herself how she feels’

But I have bigger concerns. If you cave into letting you mom pick your kids god parents, you are setting a BAD precedent. Then your mom will pick their schools, their activities etc. I would put my foot down now and say ‘Mom, God blessed me with this child and as such I am responsible to do what I feel is best. Hubby and me will be making all decisions’


May I make a suggestion?

Why not ask your sister out to lunch, just the two of you, and tell her that you are concerned that the choice of Godparents has hurt her and that was not your intention. Don’t explain, just tell her you love her and that you think she is the best sister EVER. Ask her if she can forgive you for hurting her feeligs and ask if she would ever consider being a Godmother in the future?

I also have a question. Does your parish prepare the Godparents for what their role is in the child’s life? At my parish, as part of the School of Relgion, we have calsses for the Godparents. What we have discovered is this: many people, picked for ‘cultural or familial’ reasons, find their faith fire STOKED by these classes!

If your parish does not do that kind of preparation (not all do and that is not a judgement it is just a statement), perhaps YOU could find some really wonderful preparation stuff through RCIA or Catechetical Studies to give to your sister if God sees fit to give you another child to love?

I know I probably sound kind of whimpy - but sometimes, an ounce of sugar and a little bit of preparation can get a bumpy relationship back on track.

AND congratulations on your new Mommy status!

I think it’s nice to be kind to your sister about it, maybe even to ask her if she really does feel this way, and to, as other people said, emphasize that as the aunt, she is automatically one of the most special people in your baby’s life. I would not offer her the position of Godparent in the future though. Obviously, you didn’t think that she would be the best godparent for your child to begin with, and if you have more children, it is appropriate to choose the best possible godparent for them too, not just the people who will be the most offended by not being picked. If she matures in her faith by the time another one comes along, then you can offer it to her then, but for now, I wouldn’t make that promise. I would also feel a little bothered that anyone would feel ENTITLED to the position, and would wonder if the reason she missed the baptism was more out of spite than responsibility. I wouldn’t be inclined to encourage either the entitlement, nor the possible immature reaction by apologizing for making a choice that was perfectly legitimate. If you feel the need to explain your decision to pick your friends, you might explain to your sister that while you were both raised Catholic by your parents, over time, you have learned more, and changed in the way you understand and practice your faith. Perhaps this will happen for her, just as it did for you, but for now, these friends most closely reflect your current practice of the faith, and it just made sense to choose a Godparent who was completely on the same page as you when it comes to the faith. But that you know that your sister’s prayers and good example of Catholicism will be just as meaningful to your child and to you, no matter what. I also really like what the previous poster said about how choosing friends for godparents actually widens the circle of people who love, teach, and pray for your children.

Unfortunately, in our fallen world, there is none of us who are beyond reproach.
Sin has been rampant in the world ever since Eve ate the apple. Therefore, it is
incumbent upon each of us not to judge one another without sufficient evidence
of actual wrong doing. In this case, your sister is quite young. She has not perhaps
reached your level of maturity within the faith, or perhaps she practices her
Catholic faith outside of the Tridentine rite style. That is not to say that she is
not a good Catholic, and a good person. She is your flesh and blood
sister. As stated by a previous poster, she will be there for you at times of
crisis when your new found friends have long since vanished. Perhaps it
seems that you have more in common with these folks at the present time,
and perhaps bestowing this honor on them as a couple seems to win you
their friendship at the current moment, but when push comes to shove, it
will always be your family who is going to be there for you. Your sister was
so dreadfully hurt by your decision that she used an excuse not to attend
your baby’s Baptism. This decision did not help to nurture your sister’s faith,
and in the long run, it will not nurture the faith of your child to have strangers
for Godparents who think that they are just too holy for words and who forget
your child in short order! I can only imagine the pain that you have heaped
upon the heads of your child, parents and sister! Is this what Catholicism
is all about? I think not! BTW, I was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church
at two weeks of age 56 years ago. My parents were deeply devout Catholics,
my mother’s sister was my Godmother and she too was deeply devout.
My deeply devout paternal uncle who was a priest baptized me. My other
paternal uncle was my Godfather. He rarely stepped foot into Church, except
maybe for Christmas, Easter, family weddings or funerals. He was an excellent
human being otherwise. He loved me dearly, and I loved him. I grew up to be
a very devout Catholic because of my PARENTS! People should be able to choose
those good people who may not necessarily attend Mass every week, but
who will live their children to be godparents. I am not an ill-informed Catholic,
and I am a VERY conservative Catholic except for this particular topic,
which routinely annoys me. Pick Godparents for your children from among
your loving Catholic family members if you are lucky enough to have them whether
or not they are the best practitioners of the faith. It may just result in
the Salvation of both your child and the Godparent!

For someone who thinks it is inappropriate for me to judge without “sufficient evidence” (which I believe I have), you made a lot of judging remarks yourself. First of all, we didn’t pick friends to “win them over”, our child’s Godparents are not “strangers” and they certainly do not think they are “too holy for words”. Also, did you ever think that if my sister did not attend her nephew’s baptism because she was so “dreadfully hurt” by my decision, that’s even more of a reason she is not fit to be a Godmother?? It’s not about her, it’a about my son. I’m so sorry if this issue annoys you…but it is apparent we have very different ideas of what God parents are. If there were to be a crisis, you are right, my sister probably would be one of the first people there…but I can almost guarantee the first people who will be in a church, praying for our child in front of our Lord, will be his Godparents.

Also, it “annoys” me when people say they are a “VERY conservative Catholic, except for …” What does that even mean??

Paragraphs are your friend.

Also, none of this makes any sense.

Sister’s an adult, right? I would wait and see if she approaches you about the issue. Your mom is well-meaning, but the issue is between you and your sister. I’ve got no time for silly go-between business in my family.

It sounds like you’ve got a great head on your shoulders. :slight_smile: We did something similar with our first baby, picking new friends from church we’d known only a year. We both have Catholic families but did not think they were taking their faith as seriously as they could have been. We made a good choice and the godparents (who are now also godparents to our 2nd and 3rd babies) have been wonderful, and a very holy example for our kids. Go with your gut on this one!

I would not feel the need to “address” this at all. Your sister is a big girl; if she has something to say to you she should say it. Also, I think you might get a lot out of the book “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend. It sounds like your mom likes to triangulate which is addressed extensively in the book. The next time your mom pulls you aside and says something like that, just tell her that your sister can discuss that with you if she wants to, but that you will not discuss it with her (mom) because it is between you and your sister. Lather, rinse, repeat as often as necessary.

Congratulations on your new baby! :slight_smile:

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