Help! I’m a long-distance Godparent. I felt the same panic when I was asked recently to sponsor the first child of two of my dearest friends. Since they entrusted the spiritual nurture of their precious bundle to me. I had to see how I measured up. My most major flaw was that I lived too far away.
The family resides in the Caribbean and I am in Central America. True, not too far away. Nevertheless, I am not in the same country and it is still going to be long-distance affair. As in any relationship, distance can make a negative impact.
Since being asked, I have been thinking about my role a lot. Moreover, I am accustomed to wearing the other shoe – giving parents advice on this issue. Therefore, I decided to revisit and listen to my own counsel. I believe it wise to take my own advice before all my older, and my newest, Godchildren decide to get rid of me.
Being a Godmother, or Godfather is far more serious than many people realize. I might be stating the obvious for some of you. However, the fact is too many persons (including some parents) tend to see this responsibility as a position of status and prestige, without realizing that an awesome responsibility has been placed in their hands. So I made up a list for myself and I’m sharing it with you.
6 Helpful Long- Distance God Parenting Tips
Attend First Ceremony – It doesn’t matter how far away you live. You should be present at this first ceremony of Baptism or Dedication. Some churches make this mandatory. My sister & colleague is Moravian and my presence is mandatory. I guess I won’t be missing this ceremony!
Make a Chart of your one or several God children- I have 6! I heard of this excellent idea and thought it was just so practical. Keep your chart in a prominent place. It can be a mini-one in your diary or a large one hanging from a wall in your bedroom or office. Use this chart to also boost your prayers for your Godchild.
List their names, birthday, date of Baptism or Dedication, other rites of passage like first day at school and so on. In this regard, you will need the help of the parents to send you informative updates and pictures.
Pray Regularly – Keep your Godchild(ren) on your prayer list and pray for them. Your role as Godparent is to offer spiritual nurture. It is not for buying expensive presents unlike what popular culture would have you think.
Maintain Contact and Communication – Even before the child is able to speak, ask the parents to put him or her on the phone so they get accustomed to hearing your voice. Trust me, your Godchild will recognize you by your voice the first time they physically meet you. Write and send cards on the anniversary of Baptism/Dedication, birthdays, graduations and just to say, I’m thinking about you.
Today’s children seem to be born knowing how to use a computer. They are more advanced that we the are. If you are reading this online, then perhaps you are not too ancient then. Keep in touch via the Internet by using email and Instant Messengers. This can turn out to be a helpful means of contact and your Godchild knows he or she has someone they can talk to besides their parents.
Spend Time together – When possible spend time with the family of your Godchild or invite the child to visit with you. This might include Summer vacations or other school breaks and use of your vacation time.
Give Spiritually Nurturing Care and Gifts – Too often parents look for Godparents not for the spiritual care they can give, but for their capacity to buy their children expensive gifts. Those parents have missed the point of this religious role. When properly understood, God parents should appreciate their role primarily as support in spiritual education and nurture of children.
Even though you are far away, you can still give meaningful gifts that will help to affirm the spiritual care and education of your Godchild. It makes sense then that your gifts be mostly of a religious nature. This is not an easy choice when competing with violent video games, dolls that scream out commercialized versions of beauty, and other useless and psychologically damaging toys.
So, I hear the question every godparent must now be asking. Where on earth do I get these ‘spiritual nurturing gifts’ that are not boring? Listen, that is a whole new story. I’m still searching so look out for my suggestions.
Happy Godparenting with renewed commitment!