Mention an 'ex' and most people think you're talking about an ex partner; yet the 'ex' factor takes on a wider meaning post relationship breakdown, particularly if the shockwaves reverberate through your social circle. I'm talking ex godparents here.
While you and your partner readily agreed to be godparents when your best friends' kids came along what happens if you're squeezed out of that cosy social circle once your relationship's broken down?
Kate Moss is said to have fired Jude Law as her daughter's godfather after he split with her friend Sadie Frost a few years back, so if you can 'fire' a godparent is it ok to 'relinquish' your responsibility if a divorce or relationship break up makes it hard to keep in touch?
Hands up, I'm probably what you'd class as an 'ex' godmother; some years back my (now ex) partner and I were asked to be joint godparents to our close friends' first child. At that stage it was dinner most Saturday nights and even holidays together so it was natural (and flattering) to be asked. But 18 months after that champagne quaffing Christening my 12 year relationship broke up and I was the one who gradually ended up on the periphery of my one time couples' oriented social circle. Nothing unusual in that; these things happen when relationships break down, but it raised the issue of what to do as a potential 'ex' godmother and how best to handle the situation?
Should you make desperate attempts to do your bit and hang on in there, turning up on the doorstep come Christmas and birthday with the obligatory (and probably unsuitable if you never see the child), present, even when it's clear you no longer figurer on the parents' social calendar? Or do accept life's moved on and go gracefully?
In my case I won't pretend I was close to my godson; he was just two when I last saw him, and that was when I popped round to offer a Christmas present. But rather than just accept the situation, I guess there's always been an element of wishing I'd taken control; going for 'closure' as the Americans would suggest, maybe writing to his parents suggesting we all move on and they could choose someone else for the job? Or is that a bit dramatic? After all being a godparent has no legal standing so why feel the need to officially draw a line under things?
One friend of mine wastes no time worrying over this; she admits to taking on the 'godmother' role, (out of a sense of duty to her friends), and 10 years later while both couples' marriages are still intact; their friendship is nothing more than an annual Christmas card with her godchild's name included on it. She accepts it's just part of life; some friendships go the distance and some don't.
So is there an ideal way to 'end' the godparent relationship if circumstances dictate you're surplus to requirements? Relate relationship counsellor Denise Knowles says there's no hard and fast rules on this one and a lot depends on how good your existing relationship is with the child. She suggests the best approach, (if it's not too awkward or painful), is to sit down and chat to your godchild's parents about the situation and ask them what they'd like to do.
Another friend has seen the godparent split from both sides. She and her ex husband did the whole 'reciprocal godparent' thing with another couple which meant when my friend's marriage broke up she 'lost' one set of godparents for her own child when she fell out of favour and equally has since lost touch with her own godson. She favours the 'backing off' and going gracefully approach rather than trying to put some kind of closure on the situation but says with hindsight she'd never choose a 'couple' again as godparents for fear that if they split you're usually always going to lose at least one of them.
Are you an 'ex' godparent?
How did you handle the situation?
Have you tried to keep in touch with your child's godparents when your friendship has really waned?