Passed over as a Godmother: Dealing with the hurt

Published: May 10, 2010 | Last Updated: May 10, 2010 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading


Dear Irene,

I am an only child and have a friend named Linda (who is also an only) whom I’ve known since first grade. She is due to give birth to a baby girl and two months ago asked me to throw her shower for 50 people with the help of her mother and sister-in-law. I felt really honored and threw myself into it, and it was a tremendous success.


In her words and mine, I was also the first person she told she was pregnant after her husband (even before her mom!). We spoke just recently and she excitedly detailed the upcoming baby christening she already was planning. In lieu of traditional godparents, she and her husband decided to name his two brothers as godparents, and do something special for me, for another friend, and for her two sister-in-laws during the ceremony. Is it wrong that I feel hurt by this?


I truly hoped that I would be a godparent, that I would be family to her when both of us don’t have anyone else. Should I say something to her? Especially because this hurt is making me not want to rush the six hours to be at the hospital when she gives birth. Then I think, what does it matter—I’m just a friend. I realize I also might be reflecting my past hurt onto a situation that doesn’t merit it — and thus I’ve come to you! Please help, Friendship Doctor. What should I do?




Dear Beth,

You are so fortunate to have such a close and long-standing friendship. When a woman doesn’t have a sister, a best friend often feels like the sister she never had so I’m sure this relationship is as special for you as it is for Linda. You are far more than "just a friend." However, with Linda becoming a mother, it will definitely change the nature of your relationship, even in terms of the sheer time she has available for herself. So I can see how this might make you feel uncertain about what is to come.


While it’s understandable that you might be disappointed and hurt because you had hoped to be a godparent, you have to understand that your friend and her husband have every right to exercise their own prerogatives and do what they think is best for themselves and their baby. (And although you were very gracious to throw the shower, I’m certain you never expected any payback for doing that.)


The fact that Linda told you first, decided to single you out, and wants to honor you during the christening, shows how important you are to her and that she wants you to play a special role in the life of her first child. I’m sure Linda and her husband had to weigh many considerations in making their decision. For example, her husband’s family may have had traditions or expectations that you don’t know about. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Linda’s decision diminishes your friendship in any way.


In many cases, the role of a godparent is somewhat ambiguous and is subject to the people and personalities involved. In no way should this stop you from carving out a special role for yourself. Try to swallow your initial feelings of hurt and be the unofficial godparent you had always hoped to be. Shower the baby with your love and affection and be there for Linda as she adjusts to the challenges of motherhood. Also, you never know what life may bring: Your BFF may have other children and you may have another shot at the brass ring.


This friendship seems to be too important to tarnish in any way by saying something now that you’ll later regret.

Hope this helps.



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  1. Rose says:

    So I’ve know Michelle all my life, next door neighbors, went to the same elementary, are sisters are even the same age and were besties too. We moved away but still kept contact and of course eventually drifted apart, life happens you grow up. In college we found “elementary school friends” again and a small group of us began hanging out, it was like time stood still friendships rekindled. She was until recently my ride or die. We had fun clubbing, shopping, keeper of secrets, financial tough times. We were young and managed threw together. She got pregnant and was coerced by soon to be mother in law to have a quickie wedding before baby came. So her sister was the only bridesmaid. It made sense, the grooms brother was the only groomsmen. During her pregnancy as her bestie I went with her to md appts and she told me to throw her a babyshower with her sister. I sid yes of course, sister was hesitant because money was tight. I’m very giving and loyal, I didnt mind. Over the next couple months I would see her and baby, but rarely since schedules and of course a newborn and adjusting to new role as mom. A few months ago, she dressed baby in white and took him to Easter mass, that day baby was baptised. I was shock to see he was baptised and not invited to this special moment in babies life, I mean Michelle and I went to Catholic school together and were besties, how could I have not been invited and not even considered as a god mother. Thats when someone pointed it out, that this bestie friendship was more her using me or calling me when she needed something. I’ve always been the one looking out for her and taking care of her and now she didnt need me anymore. I weighed the pros and the cons and decided I wouldnt let her do this to me anymore, I cut off ties. The babies first birthday came, I got an invitation. I told my sister that she could go, because she knew Michelle all her life as well. I didn’t go. According to my sister, the now ex best friend Michelle, her family who watched us grow together, and our elementary school friends were asking where I was. They knew then there was something wrong “drama” since how could there be Michelle with no Rose. I felt attacked my by family to make amends but I’m not ready to be her friend right now, maybe in time, but I know I won’t make the same mistake again and make her my bestie. Is it wrong that I just gave up caring after being hurt by someone I thought was my best friend? I’ve moved on and wish her the best but my family is attacking me for letting go of this toxic relationship? I don’t want to defend my decision to end a friendship to my family, why can’t they let it go.

  2. Dior says:

    Dear Irene, about a year ago my best friend had her first child and when she asked my mother to be the godmother my feelings were so hurt. I felt like she didn’t think highly enough of me to ask me to be the godmother. Then things between us has just become different, she started to be really distant and always seemed to have attitude whenever I would contact her. I really wanted to help out with the baby shower but my mother was so involved with it and it just bothered me so much, it felt as if we weren’t even best friends. Eventually I just stopped contacting her altogether although she still remains in contact with my mom. And whenever my mom chooses to visit the baby she always asks me to come with her. While we’re visiting I never make conversation and I always feel so uneasy but the whole situation still bothers me and I just want to let it go and focus on what’s going on in my life now. Also every time my old bff sees my boyfriend she is always talking about how our friendship used to be but she never says anything to me when she does see me,I just want to let go of these negative sad feelings that I have and move on.

  3. LaTrice says:

    My best friend and I talked about who was going to be the godmother of her kids a few years ago. I was under the assumption that she was going to pick someone else to be the godmother, so whoever she picked, I was going to be happy for them. Then, so told me that she wanted me to be the godmother, and out of curiosity, I wanted to know why. She told me that she trusts me, and she knew that if anything ever happens to her (and God forbid), her kids will be in good hands. Honestly, I couldn’t help but be excited to know that my best friend wanted me to be the godmother of her kids-which to me is a HUGE honor.

    I told myself that I will never EVER be like my former godmother, who was more of a bully than she was a godparent. Not only did she make fun of my weight, I was told what I should and shouldn’t eat, how to dress, and worse of all, she was playing favoritism. She was very opinionated about EVERYTHING, and told her closest friends how to raise their children, so who was she to do that?! She was super jealous of my mom when it came to relationships. When I was eight-years-old, I woke up to foul language being used, slapping, and screaming. I couldn’t understand what was going on, but I knew that it wasn’t good. The police were notified, and I had to go downstairs, and tell the police officer my side of the story. I was so scared because I felt that my former godmother’s boyfriend was going to kill her, and then go after those that were in her house.

    I didn’t like how poorly she was treating me, so as soon as I got home, I told my mom EVERYTHING! The next day, she confronted my former godmother, and that’s when my mom ended her friendship. When I think about my former godmother’s actions, she was very insecure and extremely jealous of my mom. I told my mom that I didn’t want to see her ever again, and honestly, I had lost a lot of respect towards my godmother. She didn’t know what puberty was, and it wasn’t my fault that I was being labelled as the “ugly duckling.” If I were to bump into her today, I know that I will definitely make such a complete fool out of myself, and that’s how much I HATE my former godmother!!

    I made a vow to myself, and to my godkids, that I will NEVER EVER mistreat them! Being a godparent is a privilege, and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. My godkids mean everything to me, and they’re beautiful people.

    • What a horrible way you were treated! Thanks for the reminder of how much responsibility comes with this role.

      Best, Irene

      • LaTrice says:

        I want to thank you Irene, for allowing me to share my story. When I was growing up, I couldn’t talk about how poorly my former godmother was treating me, because I felt ashamed of myself. No one could understand my pain, and how much this woman destroyed my self-esteem. Although it took me a very long time to rebuild my self-esteem, I had to tell myself everyday that I was NOT the “ugly duckling.” Just because my former godmother didn’t have any children of her own, her actions didn’t give her the right to play the role of a “bully.”

  4. Memphisminnie says:

    I have found myself in this position on numerous occasions. I thought I was the only one who thought the same thing about people who do not have close family relationships transferring that job to their friends. I have been on the receiving end of this many times. And it’s all starting to make sense. I just want to thank you for letting me know it’s not all in my head!
    Maybe I’m not as cold hearted and frigid as I have been led to believe. A true friend would not ostracize you because you did not ask them to be maid of honor. A true friend would not give you the silence treatment because you didn’t want to talk to then 24/7 on the phone or listen to them yell at their kids on the phone all day. A true friend would not count the number of birthday cards or phone calls and decide you were a bad friend because they didn’t add up to what you expected. To me, friendship is measured by laughter, closeness and listening. Not birthday cards and mundane chatter.

  5. LMC says:


    I notice that many of the questions that your readers pose are related to the expectations of a friendship. And in my personal life has been affected by the issues surrounding the expectations of friends of me, so I feel compelled to respond to this.

    Godparents are a traditional arrangement where they are responsible for the child’s religious life and, in many cases, are the people who would raise the child should anything happen to the parents. This is something that the reader must think about very deeply. You can have very deep friendships without being the “everything” for your friend. In no way does it diminish the depth of that friendship or the person’s love and appreciation for you.

    The other hand of the issue is that we have to remember that friendships are made up of 2 imperfect people. The less expectations you have of another, the less hurt you will experience.

    What I also read into this letter (and many others on your blog, including comments) is that people want and actively pursue the idea that a friendship is akin and/or a replacement/substitute for the familial relationships they didn’t have due to lack of siblings, parents, abuse, etc. I have to take a personal stand and say it’s tragic and I feel for these people (and I find myself in that position so I don’t speak without book) but that you should NEVER assume this depth of friendship, as in “you’re family to me” unless it’s been expressly verbalized by the other party.

    Holding these expectations that “as my best friend, who’s like a sister to me, you should have…. [insert expectation(s)]” just sets you up for hurt feelings. And looking at it within the context of a friendship is, in a way, unfair because you are setting up conditions in a relationship which are unspoken but expected. It’s like setting up a contract without discussing all of the provision details and expecting the other person to read your mind and “know what you mean.”

    Ultimately, you can control how you’ll act in a friendship; you can’t control the other person.

    Some quotes about this:

    Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations.
    As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man, upon easier terms than I was formerly.

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