Perceived roles and responsibilities of Puerto Rican Catholic godparents towards their godchildren

Carlos Manuel Vidal, Fordham University


The researcher surveyed Puerto Rican godparents (N = 17) residing in the greater New York metropolitan area. The purpose was to describe the institution of godparenting within the Puerto Rican extended family system and to determine how godparents define their roles. The impact of place of residence (urban vs. suburban) and distance of godparent's residence from the godchild were examined. The sample was selected from the congregation of two Catholic churches, one in the Bronx and the other in suburban Suffolk County. The volunteer respondents completed a researcher-developed survey which was designed to ascertain: reasons for selection of godparents; the roles of godparents; the nature and extent of contact between godparents and their godchildren; factors limiting contact between godparents and godchildren; and the willingness and ability of godparents to provide godchildren with various forms of assistance. The survey data indicated that the overwhelming majority of Puerto Rican godparents view their role as godparent as a serious commitment entailing such significant roles as providing a home for the godchild in the event of the death of the parents, providing advice and counsel, providing emotional support, assisting with religious instruction, and providing tangible financial aid. The godparents surveyed reported substantial levels of contact with their godchildren, including visits, giving gifts, contact by telephone, and providing assistance in times of trouble. Nearly half those surveyed said they had often or occasionally provided a home for godchildren, and virtually all indicated they would do so if necessary. The results were interpreted in terms of the value of the institution of godparent to the community. It was recommended that social policy planners utilize the institutional as a natural support system, and that courts consider godparents in cases where foster care arrangements are required.

Subject Area

Social work

Recommended Citation

Vidal, Carlos Manuel, "Perceived roles and responsibilities of Puerto Rican Catholic godparents towards their godchildren" (1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9011414.