This week’s news includes family dynamics – from involving the in-laws to picking a surname – plus a baby named after a fancy dress costume, and what’s hot in Austria.
In-law involvement: yea or nay?
Announcing a baby’s name before it’s born can be a tricky decision – especially if family members react badly. Here’s a particularly painful account from a mother whose in-laws really didn’t approve of the name choice.
What makes it strange (even bearing in mind we don’t know the whole story) is that the name in question really isn’t very out-there. It’s sort-of predicable that a truly unusual grandma-shocker of a name might get a few raised eyebrows, but here we’re talking a Top 300 name that’s been described as “one of the friendliest names on the planet”.
If it’s any consolation, even Kim Kardashian gets naming advice from her in-laws. She’s said that when choosing a name for her daughter Chicago, she got a few suggestions of spiritual word names from Kanye West’s family. Other options on the table included names from the atlas like Rome, Milan and Italy (ok, that’s one page of the atlas) and from the bible, like Aaron and Abel. Either would have been rare, but not completely unheard of, on a girl.
And on that gender note: here’s a detailed look from The Atlantic about why, traditionally, more boy names are given to girls than girl names given to boys.
Even as adults, we fret about how this new baby will change our family and our lives. A recent conversation with a mother expecting her second child highlighted the mother’s anxiety about the impact a new baby would have on her first born, but also what impact a new baby would have on the existing bond between herself and her firstborn. If we as adults worry about the unknowns associated with enlarging our families, imagine what free-floating anxiety might be present for the young child who has limited experience with such significant life-changing events.
Here are some suggestions that can help parents navigate this new territory. Let’s start with communication. Give your young child information about the baby in ways that are easy to understand and most importantly send a message that they can ask questions. Make books about babies and families available. There are wonderful books about animals and their babies as well, that young children love.
Let them know that someday the new baby will learn to walk and talk and play, but that right now the baby needs to eat and sleep… a lot. While some children, often depending on their age, relish the role of helper, some children do not, or at least not all the time. Don‘t push it. Children are naturally altruistic and typically rise to the occasion when it isn’t demanded of them. If your child verbalizes negative thoughts about the baby, acknowledge that sometimes siblings feel that way, but that those feelings will change.
Rather than scold or shame him, she set about to spend more one on one time with him without baby Annie. His talk of stashing the baby somewhere soon subsided. That amusing anecdote aside, yes, making sure that your first born gets your undivided attention at times is important. However, sometimes getting alone time with a sibling is impossible, so parents need to be creative about how they juggle time spent with a young child and the new baby.
Madeline tried to plan activities for her four-year-old daughter Eva to occupy herself with while Madeline nursed the new baby. Every attempt to send off daughter Eva to busy herself with something else backfired and produced whining and resistance. As always, when one tactic isn’t working, I suggested that Madeline try something new. Instead of doing what young Eva perceived as being pushed away, I proposed that Madeline let Eva know that she was about to feed the baby and that she would like it if Eva could come sit with her and together they could make up a song or a story. Eva embraced this idea enthusiastically and rather than the feedings be a time of tension between mother and older child; it became a time they both looked forward to. Sometimes Eva even chose to continue her play or choose something else to do during this time, but Madeline welcomed her presence if she decided to stick close by. This new strategy changed the dynamic and gave Eva choices.
The next thing to focus on is consistency. Just as new parents need extra support and self-care during this transition time, young children need to have their needs met in a loving and consistent way during this adjustment period. Always challenging and never more so than when parents of newborns are sleep deprived, maintaining routines and clear boundaries become paramount. Sarah, the mother of three-year-old Ethan, was beside herself. She kept saying “it is as if my happy-go-lucky son has disappeared since the baby arrived! How do I get him back”?
In talking about some of the acting-out that Ethan was doing, Sarah pointed out that his schedule had gone bonkers. He definitely wasn’t getting enough sleep, and both parents and the nanny were a bit lax about limit setting. There was a tendency to “not say no, or say no and not mean it.” Their thinking was “poor Ethan; he’s having such a tough time dealing with the new baby.” It turns out that Ethan, more than ever, needed to know that the adults in his world were in charge and that they knew what was best for him. Providing clear expectations in a kind and firm voice are precisely what he needed, not the other way around. With proper rest and loving limits, Ethan‘s sunny disposition reemerged as the family of three settled into being a family of four.
Like any of life’s changes, having a second child brings challenges. But it is important to remember that expanding your family will be a gift that enriches the lives of everyone involved. Feelings of doubt, for you and your first born, may arise, but these feelings are normal and temporary. As I assured the young mother who worried about her connection to her first-born, she need not worry. Having a baby join the family was the perfect way to demonstrate that humans have an infinite amount of love to give and that it was actually another way to strengthen the ties that bind her entire family together.
Thanks to Gay Cioffi for sharing her blog!
Award-winning educator Gay Cioffi has worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for over four decades. She is the creator of the wisely informative website littlefolksbigquestions.com. Check it out!
Grandma is over the rainbow about her new little namesake. Except how, exactly, do you honor a Glenda in 2018?
My partner and I are expecting our first, a little girl, and are overjoyed! We are debating on first names right now, but know that we want the middle name to honor my partner’s mother, Glenda (who is arguably more excited than the both of us, haha). Neither of us are huge fans of her name as is, and we are drawing blanks for potential alternatives we like that sound similar – we’ve ruled out Glynnis.
Grandma Glenda, however, is a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz, and so we were considering Dorothy as a middle name if we could find no other alternatives. I realize Glinda is both a Wizard of Oz name and fits the theme, but we aren’t fans. We are also not completely opposed to Glenda as a middle name, but we would need to be convinced one way or the other.
For first names, our top choices would probably be Alice, Rose, Quinn, or Fiona due to a combination of them being either family names and ones that we’ve always liked. Our last name is two syllables, and starts with a W, so most names should flow pretty well with it.
Thank you for your help!
The Name Sage replies:
by Linda Rosenkrantz
They were once the belles of the ball. But then they gradually lost their luster and found themselves in baby name limbo.
Most of these girls’ names aren’t vintage enough to benefit from the 100-year rule. And many are recent enough to still bring up images of moms and aunts and grandmas. A few of them can be considered semi-classics, once as high as in the Top 15, yet none of them makes it even into today’s Top 1000.
But if you can manage to shake off the dust and look at them with fresh eyes, re-imagine their original appeal, I think you will find choices here that still have a lot of intrinsic life.