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by Abigail Van Buren

Outspoken Brother's Remarks Weigh Heavily on His Sisters

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 45-year-old male reader. I have been friends with "Oscar" for 20 years. He asked me to be the godparent of his new baby girl. As you can imagine, I was overwhelmed when he asked. I have never been a godparent. We discussed it at length, and I told him I needed to think it over to be sure of my decision.

After a few days I was still indecisive. Part of me wanted to do it and part of me didn't. I told Oscar it was an honor, but that I felt unsure and not fully committed. I knew if I were to accept and then reconsider, it wouldn't be cool. So I bowed out to give him time to find someone else.

Oscar's reaction told me he was deeply angry and hurt. That night I hardly slept. I kept thinking how much I had disappointed my friend, his wife and their entire family. I feel terribly guilty. It's clear that Oscar was expecting me to say yes. Is it wrong to say no when someone asks you to be a godparent? -- TRUE FRIEND IN WISCONSIN

DEAR TRUE FRIEND: No, it's not wrong if the person who is asked does not feel able to fulfill the obligations that go with that honor. Your friend may feel less hurt if you explain to him your reasons for not accepting and the fact that you wouldn't want to agree if you couldn't do everything that would be expected of you. Saying no sometimes requires tact, but I'll give you credit for being honest about your feelings.