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Do you have a godparent? Are you a godparent? What does the term mean to you?

Some parents pick siblings, or appoint the persons that served as best man and maid or matron of honor at their weddings. Some people  appoint their closest and dearest friends to the role of Godparents. When I speak to many of my elders they are quick to point out that a great deal of their shaping in their youth was done by the person who was their Godfather or Godmother. It is the role of an adult that a child can turn to in trust and confidence. It is a role that if honored can add quality and substance to the growth and development of that child if done right.

Godparenting is a special role that far too many people do not take seriously. When I committed to reject Satan and stand in support of  that child,  I knew deeply what I was doing. There is a book Balancing Heaven and Earth, by Robert A. Johnson. In it he calls Godparenting a profound art. “A God Parent is designated as the teacher of the inner world for a young person while his or her natural parents are the caretakers of the physical and practical aspects of life.”

A godparent is a mentor and guide for a child, one who appreciates the child’s inner worlds, emotional and spiritual. When I look in on each of mine I am profoundly proud of all. It also allows me to have that special child that I can pray for. Each one has a different relationship with me.

So what might be characteristics of sensitive godparents? Surely they would be patient, very patient, and kind to a child. They would listen deeply, encouraging the child to reveal thoughts, explorations, ideas, and feelings. Godparents would hear longings, and find ways to address them, if only by naming and acknowledging them. Godparents might teach skills or the appreciation of music, the arts, history, and more. They would notice the natural abilities and interests of a child and encourage them. They might teach children how to untangle fear and anger, and use those emotional experiences as information and stepping-stones to freedom and acceptance.

I imagine good godparents might store up stories about a child, noticing growth and changes, and reflect these to the child occasionally. A good godparent might provide a place of refuge in the storms of adolescence. And a good godparent might follow a child well into adult life, always providing the sense: You are special to me. You are on-course, you are learning what you need to learn, and you are safe. One of my godchildren has just approached a milestone. He turned 16. I recall kindly the child who was all to happy to see  me  as “cool”. Those days may be long gone, but I know that in his heart I will always have a fond spot as we share so much in common.

Contemporary children and families would be greatly supported by having true godparents around. It is a joy when you can pitch in and help out. I have found over the years that it was the opportunities that presented themselves with my Godchildren that taught me exactly what I was made of.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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