Being a godparent is much like being an honorary aunt or uncle who has a special and often spiritual interest in a child's development. Acting as a godparent is also similar to acting as a mentor for the child as he grows.
Many religions have godparents, or similar roles for supporting family members, in place when a child is born or baptised. The purpose of this role is usually to give the child several adult figures outside of the parents whom he can count on to be present and supportive during his formative years. Often, parents select godparents as the couple who would become guardians of the child should they die, but this selection has no legal standing and needs to be formalized in a will. Accepting the role of a godparent does not mean the person accepted the role of raising the child in the parents' stead, unless the godparents agreed to that separately and legally.
Traditionally, godparents oversaw a child's religious education, but more commonly now, the secular role of the godparent is what people employ: a godparent is a mentor, a positive role model, a supporter of the parents and a sometimes indulgent adult friend. Etiquette usually dictates that godparents give birthday gifts and holiday gifts to the child, and some godparents start a special collection on behalf of the child.