Faith influences parents’ choice for godparents

New research on how we choose godparents for our children has found that, in many cases, it is the siblings of parents that get picked.

It showed godmothers are better than godfathers at staying in regular contact with the child, and that securing a school place for children is not as big a factor in having a child baptised as is often portrayed.

The study analyses the choices made by 695 respondents to a questionnaire on the issue of choosing godparents. It found that the main drivers in selecting a godparent involved religious faith and wanting their child to enter into a particular faith tradition.

Other considerations, such as wanting to fulfil a duty as a parent or wanting to cleanse the child from original sin, ranked lower among the respondents, but still ahead of the minority of respondents who said seeking to secure a school place for their child was a consideration, albeit not the main one.

The research was conducted by Bernadette Sweetman for a thesis submitted for the award of doctor of education at the School of Education Studies at Dublin City University.

It found that in the majority of cases, the selection of godparents was either made directly by the mother, or as a joint decision.

Regarding any considerations of school entry in baptism, Ms Sweetman said: “It’s a growing consideration.

“It is certainly not as big an issue as it is made out to be but it is becoming a bigger issue.”

According to the study: “While 14% of parental respondents with high levels of parental religious belief and practice agreed that they sought to secure a school place for their child, the corresponding figure of 67% for parental respondents with low levels of religious belief and practice is a striking statistic.”

The study shows parents indicated two main fact- ors that influenced their decisions in appointing godparents: The perceived importance of faith to godparents, and the perceived competency of the godparent to act as a deputy parent.

It found that 51% of children involved were baptised within three months of birth and 38% were baptised when aged between three and six months.

Some 60% of all parental respondents said the godfather was either their brother or their spouse’s brother, and 63% of all parental respondents indicated that the godmother was either their sister or their spouse’s sister.

While religious faith was also uppermost in the considerations of most respondents, 18% of fathers said they strongly disagreed that they practised according to religious tradition at the time of baptism, compared with 11% of mothers.

www.bitly.com/godparenthoodinireland

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