Is it ever okay to decline an invitation to be someone’s ninang or ninong?
The fast answer is yes, you may refuse to be someone’s godparent. However, it is not that easy.
If you are in the Philippines, refusing an invitation to serve as a child’s ninang or ninong on their baptism is a no-no. Here are some of the mostly cited reasons why [they say] you should never say no:
- Being invited is supposed to be a blessing and an honor.
- Your relationship with the parent may be damaged.
- Bad luck (Roman Catholics do not believe in luck)
Yet, if you think about it, your hesitancy to accept the invitation means you are taking the Sacrament seriously. For us Roman Catholics, baptism is special: it is our entrance to the faith, and thereby, salvation. It is our first protection against evil.
ROLE OF A NINANG OR NINONG
Being someone’s godparent is a lifelong commitment:
- To serve as the child’s guide in building their Roman Catholic faith
- To represent the Church, the community of faith to the person being baptized
It is not a godparent’s obligation to give gifts or money to their godchild. However, this is the Philippines, and there will always be parents who expect you to do so.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
- Are you willing to be a better Roman Catholic to be worthy of this role?
- Are you genuinely interested in being the child’s guide towards Christianity?
- Are you ready should the child ask you for more than spiritual support (e.g. money, favors, job)?
- Do you have a good relationship with the child’s parent?
- Are you willing take on the role of a parent should something happen to the child’s real parent?
- Are you able to be physically present in the child’s life?
HOW TO SAY NO
1. Reflect on why you are hesitant to accept the invitation.
- Is there an aspect of your life where you are deviating from Church teachings?
- Are you not confident of your faith the Roman Catholic Church? You may be inactive or non-practicing, and therefore ill-suited to represent the Church.
- Are you overwhelmed with the idea of a lifelong commitment to the child to be baptized?
- Are you overwhelmed of the number of godchildren you already have?
- Do you belong in another religion or denomination and therefore will not be able to attest to the Roman Catholic faith? If so, this is a valid reason to refuse.
- How is your relationship with the child’s parent? There is the expectation that you and your godchild’s parent will be friends. Do you see yourself having an important role in their life?
2. Thank them for thinking of you.
Being considered as a godparent is indeed an honor and a privilege, as the child’s parent thinks you are “worthy” to have a major part in their child’s life.
3. Be honest.
In the end, you just have to be honest. An honest no is always better than a half-hearted yes. If they are your friend and/or take the Sacrament as seriously as you do, they will understand and accept your decision without ruining your relationship.
SOME WAYS TO WORD YOUR REFUSAL
- “I’m flattered, but I have so many godchildren already.”
- “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m not really up for the role.”
- “Thanks for considering me, but I don’t think I’m qualified to be their spiritual guide.”
- “Thanks but I’d rather be the coolest aunt in the planet.”
- And my personal favorite: “I’m flattered but I’m not really a good ninang (or ninong). I don’t even remember some of my inaanaks.”
In the end, remember that you do have the obligation to accept being a godparent. As previously said, being a ninang (or ninong) is not something Roman Catholics should take lightly. It is a lifelong commitment that demands much from the godparent. If you are not up for the job, just be honest. Saying “no” is better than saying “yes” and not living up to your job description.
How Do I Decline the Invitation to be a Godparent?
Thanks to Anna Hecker @annaelise for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/ecbXfGuiGEM
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