My husband and I aren’t religious, and therefore when we got married, we had a legal and non religious ceremony which is these days, not at all considered strange or particularly unusual. Our baby is due in July and we do not feel that a Christening would be appropriate and that ‘Godparents’ are therefore not necessarily expected. However, we are both very keen that our baby is still officially ‘received,’ into our world and celebrated with friends and family; and having seen the benefit and closeness that Godparent relationships can provide, I’m very keen to have something similar for my baby.
I did some research and a baby naming ceremony is the non religious version of a Christening and you can choose to designate ‘supportive adults,’ or my preferred term, ‘mentors.’ Admittedly when we asked the chosen ones, we asked them to be Godparents and explained we’d be doing it in a non religious way because we decided ‘will you be our babies mentor,’ sounded a bit like we were going to be home schooling her and expected them to be on the staffing team!
A few people have asked why we’re bothering if we’re not doing it ‘properly’ and I know some people see it as old fashioned. Well, firstly, I’ve never pretended to be particularly ‘new fashioned’ and secondly, I do think that Godparent relationships can be incredibly important ones for a child. The one big difference for me is that I don’t necessarily think that the mentors should be family members. Not because I don’t trust my family members but because, they will already be an important part of our babies life. We both have a brother we’re very close to and they would be by far the top of our list plus my brother in laws wife to be. HOWEVER, they are going to be fantastic Auntie and Uncles and will be a huge influence on their niece without the additional accolade which would almost seem an unnecessary addition. Whereas by choosing 4 close friends, our daughter gains those extra relationships, people she can go to if she didn’t want to talk to her parents or family and she will hopefully grow up with many happy memories with a whole host of trustworthy and loving people.
Some of the more cynical may suggest that we may have just tried to guarantee a few extra babysitters(!) but having had Aunties and Uncles as Godparents myself and seeing my brothers bond with his non family member Godparent, I have to admit to being slightly jealous of that relationship. Friends of mine had a slightly different tact, their close friends and family all signed a ‘promise book,’ where we all pledged how we would influence the child, and look out for them. And I think that’s amazing. In a society where friends are just as involved in your life as family, I think it’s great to involve them in such a way. I have no doubt about the people we are choosing and likewise look forward to seeing our other friends and family influences on our little one. In fact, we consider our close friends to be very much a part of our family.
After all, when you bring a baby into the world, you’re bringing them into YOUR version of the world and the people in your world will inevitably shape the person they become before they’re old enough to decide who they have in the centre of THEIR world. Not that you suddenly ditch your friends if they aren’t professionally trained childminders! I’m certainly not perfect and would never expect everyone else to suddenly live up to unreasonable expectations! In fact quite the opposite – I don’t want to be one of only two influences on my baby, we’re more than flawed!! I’m terrified of birds and dogs, but don’t want my child to be, my husband is not fond of spiders, but we don’t want her to be. Friends and family will hopefully help with those whilst we both pretend not to cower in the corner!
So with just 13 weeks to go till our due date, our thoughts have gone to welcoming our little one into the world, introducing the people in our lives to her, and introducing her to the people in our lives! And in the same way that our wedding day was a real expression of who we both are, our babies baby naming ceremony will be a real expression of the family she is being born into. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (mainly because I’m rather proud of my snazzy phrasing…!) no-one can ever predict the plot of life but you can ensure you have a fantastic cast!