What is my role?
Hello Rabbi & Susan,
I am a godmother and I am asking your advice in regards to the core attributes of such a woman in this lifetime commitment.
What a lovely honor and tribute to you, Tameka, that you were asked to be in this position. We are not aware of any Biblical significance to the role of godparent.
However, there is absolutely no question at all about the very important role that ancillary adults can play in a child’s life. Our own children benefited greatly from the presence in their lives of adults whom they liked and trusted and—this is so important—who also had our fullest trust.
The fact that Scripture mandates respect for parents (Exodus: 20:12), implies that the relationship between parents and children is a unique one. It also teaches that the parent-child relationship is not an easy one and can sometimes be challenged by immature emotions. Even in the healthiest of parent-child relationships, there are often times that a wise outside voice, trusted by both child and parent, is needed. An adult dedicated to the well-being of a child who offers affection and guidance is a true blessing.
We emphasized the importance of that adult being trusted by the parents. We see clearly today how many teachers and social workers actually engage in undermining and even supplanting parents. Naive parents send children to elementary, high school and university and are horrified when they discover that their children are trained to oppose the values they hold dearest. These officials may even encourage their charges to pursue harmful activities. In contrast, being chosen as a godparent, or that trusted adult, means that your friends or relatives rely on you to be an extension of them and their values. You can be a sheltered cove in the storms of young lives, yet your friends know that you would never betray their trust in you.
We encourage you to nurture the relationship between you and your godchild. While you frequently might be a source of fun and treats, what is more crucial is that you be a source of stability, wisdom, and inspiration. You have been chosen as a role model and that is both a great honor and a great responsibility.
Onwards and upwards,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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