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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

A little Godmotherly ceremonial advice
from Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? ' Dear Alice,

Help! A friend has asked me to godparent (Godparent?) her last child. I'm fond of her, and would like to say yes, but I'm worried.

I am (a) single, (b) though I like children, don't have any of my own, and c) don't know much about kids. Additionally, I am being asked to be a godparent 'with' a man I don't even know (apparently one needs two, like bookends)!

Are you a godparent/Godparent?
'If so, how does one cope?
(Name withheld by request)

Ask Alice

Alice Dear Name withheld,

Lots of good questions here, but luckily I have the answers!!!! Or rather, I know someone who does. The book you want is called How to be an Inspiring Godparent or Mentor, and it's by a wonderful friend of mine called Wendy Haynes, who is one of Australia's foremost experts in the craft of creating inspiring ceremonies and celebrations. (She also excels at public speaking, but that's not what you're after, is it? Unless your friend expects a godparent-of-the-year speech out of you, of course, in which case I somehow see you, or anyone, oiling out stage left very fast indeed!)

'How to be an Inspiring Godparent/Mentor/Guardian' by Wendy Haynes

Several reasons make this not only the best book for you, but also for almost anybody:

  1. It deals with all that embarrassing stuff, not only suitable presents on the big day, but the really crucial things like how to make sure you're not wrong-footed during the baptism/naming ceremony and who to ask about what. It's also wonderfully readable and sometimes very funny.
  2. It's so marvellously broadminded. Wendy has officiated at thousands of civil and religious ceremonies and nothing fazes her. Everything from fundamentalist Catholicism (is there such a thing?) to tribal-type rites where people gather in circles and enjoy chanting (OK, it doesn't float my boat, but why not?)
  3. (and this is the best of all) it doesn't stop with the ceremony. Instead it's crammed with ways in which people like you (full of the will to win but lacking kid experience) can make the most of the relationship. It's basically a relationship-based book. In fact, she goes into details of mentoring and even becoming a guardian.

Everything you need, to be the 'compleat' godparent, in short!!!

With regard to this guy who you are being asked to godparent with, there are two possibilities:

  1. your friend is hoping to start something, as friends do
  2. your friend has frankly run out of married godparents

In neither case should this worry you unduly. The godparents can operate perfectly successfully separately, not unlike church and state. You probably won't set eyes on him from naming ceremony to the kid's wedding day. However, if he's really nice, and you somehow find your eyes meeting (click!) over the sound of screaming baby, well, you never know ...


Copyright © 9 May 2008 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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