Other People’s Name Opinions: Do you care?
It’s one of the many joys of being an expectant mom: suddenly everyone has an opinion — on your diet, your wardrobe, your activity levels, your birth plan, the size and shape of your baby bump…
And, of course, baby names.
A recent survey by the British parenting website Mumsnet found that one fifth of grandparents have said that they “hate” their grandchildren’s names, with grandmothers the worst offenders for baby name bashing.
And the response received by a whopping ten percent of new parents surveyed on announcing their baby’s name?
So, today we’re asking for your take on the role of other people’s input in the baby-naming process.
Do you let other people’s opinions affect your choice?
Do you invite input from others, or do you prefer to keep the discussion private until a final decision is made?
Is there anyone else, besides your partner, whose opinion you really value?
Have you ever been on the receiving end of unsolicited baby naming advice or feedback, and how did you handle it?
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on July 31st, 2018 at 2:20 am
I think it depends on 1) Who it’s from? , 2) What the criticism is? , 3) Are their intentions pure and 4) How often are they crying foul.
1) Who it is. I think if it’s from a colleague who isn’t involved in your personal life and hasn’t even met your partner – it doesn’t really matter. If it’s from your partner’s estranged sister he hasn’t seen in person since her wedding in 2012 – it doesn’t really matter. I also think the opinion of those over 50 should be taken with a grain of salt. This is mostly because naming has become much more liberal then in their time. To some at that age the name Paisley might be a crazy name that’s unusable despite the fact it ranks around the same as the names Shirley or Paula did when they were born or naming children.
2) What the criticism is. If it’s that your sister hates the name Caitlin because she went to high school with a mean girl with that name – it doesn’t count. Or if your mum hates the names Arthur for your son because it reminds her of some old rhyme from when she was a kid – it doesn’t count. However if they criticism is “There is a kid in my son’s class with that name and she gets bullied for it all the time” or “I could see that name offending some people” or even “No one is going to be able to pronounce that where you live.” then I think you need to at least give it a listen.
3) How pure are their intentions? Is your sister saying she hates the name Frankie because she genuinely thinks everyone will think your daughter’s a boy or is she saying it because she wants to deter you so she can use it for her daughter due in November? Is your cousin saying Gabriel’s too plain because she genuinely thinks so or because she wants to use it as a middle name? This is not a common type and you should be able to weed them out with the criticism aspect but if not focus on the tone and keep your eye out.
4) How often are they crying foul? If your older brother likes all of your names but the name Henry and gives a valid criticism then he’s worth a listen. But if he hates every single one of your names regardless of gender or what it is then it could be a sign that he has a problem with the new addition that’s about something other then baby names. Or maybe he doesn’t like your naming style. Either way if they’re turning down every name then it makes the criticism way less valid (especially if it’s not strong criticism to begin with).
on July 31st, 2018 at 5:49 am
I very much appreciate my mums point of view, other than that I don’t care. People not liking the names make me reevaluate but opinions are your own.
on July 31st, 2018 at 6:21 am
Thirty-three years ago I wanted to name my daughter Marjorie after my maternal grandmother and use a nickname I always loved- Maggie. My aunt told me I couldn’t do that – everyone would call her Margie.
I deferred and used Marjorie as a middle instead and I have ALWAYS regretted it.
WHY did I give someone that power!!!!
A close friend wanted to give her baby boy the same first name as her husband – David. They would have different middle names so he would not be a “junior.” Many friends had laid into her and told her to “stand up for herself” and choose a different name, but she happened to love the classic, David, and loved the thought of honoring her husband with the name. She took a LOT of flack, but stuck to her conviction. Good for her!
on July 31st, 2018 at 6:56 am
Yep, everyone, except my mother, hated the fact that my son’s first name was going to be his father & paternal grandfather’s name (Isaac) and his middle name was going to be my mother’s maiden name (Racy). And we were going to call him Racy.
OMG, you could have heard the outcry on the moon, especially from my beloved paternal grandmother & aunt. They decided between them that they simply were NOT going to call him Racy, and were going to call him Joey instead. (Where Joey came from I have no idea.)
Well, I put my foot down and told them both that if they couldn’t bring themselves to call him by his name then they didn’t need to see him.
Fortunately, that did the trick and they came around PDQ. So sometimes you just have to be firm and tell people, even people that you dearly love, that under the circumstances ‘it’s my way or the highway.’ And if they don’t like the name they don’t need to come around – that they aren’t welcome.
That’s hard, I know, but sometimes it’s the only way to get people to back off.
PS ~ The reason we were so adamant about my mother’s maiden name was that there were no boys to carry on the name. It has become quite a ‘thing’ with both my kids because each of them has used the name Racy as a middle for 1 of their kids.
on July 31st, 2018 at 7:27 am
I heard a lot of criticism when we gave my daughter the middle name Xochitl. My family said no one would be able to pronounce it, my daughter won’t learn how to spell it, etc. My brother also criticized her first name, Noemi. He said she shouldn’t have a Spanish first name because her last name is Spanish. I definitely DID consider the fact that in the US, people would have a hard time with Xochitl, and that’s why I told my husband it could be her middle name. I had way less complaints about Kiana Rosalie.
on July 31st, 2018 at 8:26 am
If people dislike a name as a simple difference of style, I don’t think that criticism should weigh on the parents at all. If it’s someone close to me, like my mom, sure, it stinks. Its natural to want approval from the ones you love, but everyone has different taste (especially when said people are from different generations) and someone else’s taste should never take precedence over the parents.
However, some criticisms should be considered. Things like “it’s going to be misspelled his whole life, people are going to associate that name with a terrible person in history, it doesn’t age well, that spelling looks uneducated” etc. I’m not saying hearing those criticisms means you can’t use the name… but they should be considered when weighing pros and cons. Think about the impact that criticism may have on your child, could it hurt their chances at a job, could it cause assumptions that make your child less approachable? I don’t think grandma saying Felix is a cat name will influence your son’s ability to make friends. Your BFF saying Winifred is too old lady won’t keep your daughter out of college. But your sister pointing out Prarie might not fit an adult as well as a child… might be valid.
I have 3 Kidd. No criticism on our choices for the first 2 were compelling enough for us to change them. But baby #3 we realized people really struggled to remember the name and he’d forever be “that kid with the weird O name”. Along with other factors, we decided not to use our original choice, and I’m thrilled we changed our mind.
on July 31st, 2018 at 12:50 pm
I will throw around names when we’re not seriously naming someone. I can get a feel for people’s opinions then. But when we are ready to pick a name, no will know it til the baby is born. It’s the one thing we keep to ourselves during the pregnancy. I think people are more accepting when the names already being worn by a cute baby.
Once an older lady at the BMV started talking to me about my pregnancy. She said she hoped we didn’t pick the name Zander. Because her granddaughter did and she thought it was horrible. I wish I’d said, “Yes! That’s our name!” It wasn’t, but just to make a point. I felt bad for her granddaughter.
on July 31st, 2018 at 3:13 pm
I’ve been on the opposite side of this from most of the comment-ers and I regret not speaking up a little louder. My sister named my niece Lilly Lillian, which is about 4 to many Ls for any name, we suggested just Lilly with a different middle, or Lillian with a different middle and call her Lilly. But no. Lilly Lillian is on the birth certificate. The part that bothers me most is that it she didn’t really pick the name her self, it was the name her mother-in-law picked for a miscarriage she had, when mil suggested it jen just went with it and refused to budge.
on July 31st, 2018 at 3:42 pm
Oh my gosh!! This ones for me! I shared the name with my father and grandma but no one else and when my mother in law found out she legitimately looked ill.She was upset for months!!! My sons name is Atticus and yes it’s unusual but you’d think we’d of called him toilet! She’s over it now though! Funny thing is my husband is Marlon and sil Bryna witch are uncommon to me!
on July 31st, 2018 at 7:52 pm
I don’t discuss the name before baby is born, therefore I don’t have to hear people’s opinions as much.
tp b Said
on July 31st, 2018 at 10:34 pm
We never share the name until baby is born. We give both name and nickname at birth.
My mum likes the names, but not the nicknames. For five of our seven girls she’s come up w/ alternate nicknames. But it only lasts about a week or so and then she gets used to the nickname we actually chose.
Example, she wanted our Dot to be a Dora (first name = Dorothea) and our Bess to be an Ella (first name = Elisabeth). Dora and Ella are fine names, but we loved the nicknames we chose.
With one exception. She only calls our Mariana by her full name. Being from Latin America, she feels like our nickname for her – Maria – is too dull a name. But we live in a very very mono-litichically English speaking part of the world. I can count about five Spanish speakers I know here. And we are very happy w/ Maria as a nickname.
tp b Said
on July 31st, 2018 at 10:36 pm
on August 1st, 2018 at 2:01 am
Before our baby was born we shared our name with my mother-in-law
Me: If it’s a boy we’re going to call him Harry
Mother-in-law: OH NO you can’t call him that, it’s awful, I had an Uncle Harry and he was horrible
Me: Well I’m sure you’ll get used to it
And she has
Ultimately it was our choice and had been a personal favourite for a long time, still love it and would definitely regretted it if we hadn’t used it : )
on August 3rd, 2018 at 11:47 am
In general, I would say I don’t have a problem the chosen name nor do I care what others think. Nobody liked Rudolf for our son. Even other people on nameberry tried to steer us towards Rupert or Rudyard when my husband needed a little more validation. Yes there is the reindeer but at least he is timeless- not trendy like Elsa. I figure we embrace the reindeer theme and if he is ultra sensitive in school and getting bullied he can go by Ollie. The reindeer association never deterred me in any way.
However we liked Geraldine for a girl. My mother pointed out that the man she dated and later became a serial killer- killing the women who rejected him earlierin life was named Jerry so if Geraldine ever went by Geri it would make her uncomfortable. (I remember hearing about the murders on the news when I was 8 or 9, but I never knew his name). Because it was more than just an ex boyfriend; it was clearly traumatic for her and she is someone who would be around a lot we deemed Geraldine unusable. Even if Geraldine was what we were dead set on and it was an honor name, we pick something we we’re lukewarm towards over making my mom that uncomfortable.
on August 3rd, 2018 at 2:19 pm
I had a lot of criticism from my family and my husband’s family both over one of my twins, Alaska… almost enough to steer me away from tr name even though I had been dead set on naming a girl Alaska since I was in high school. In the end, we just went ahead and did it. No other name felt right to me, I never see them anyway, and if they don’t like the name— then I guess that’s their problem.
The next time around we’ll probably keep the name hush, and if we don’t, I think I’ll be able to handle it better. The only opinions I really value are my husband and my mother’s anyway. (Although it might be sort of fun to give everyone a bogus name just to see if our extended family freaks out— “How does Juneau sound with Alaska?”)
on August 3rd, 2018 at 2:42 pm
There are times where I think you should consider negative feedback. For instance, when it’s overwhelmingly negative (even from anonymous strangers on Nameberry) or there’s a bad cultural connotation or teasing potential that it so in your face that it can’t be ignored.
That being said, I gave my in laws the right to give any feedback on the Persian middles, as it’s ultimately to honor them and their culture. They weren’t big on Pari due to some negative connotations, but DH insisted we use it anyhow as the negative associations were soooo old.
For my daughter, everyone knew her name ahead of time. MIL was very supportive. I think she would have named her own daughter Emiliana if she could. My mom asked my husband to take over so I wouldn’t choose weird names anymore. My sister said to stop with these weird names that no one has heard of, and instead use something normal like Grace. I used Emiliana anyhow, and I have never regretted it, as we don’t and may never live in the US… and our expat friends all find it rather normal.
For my son, we’d thrown around Edmund, Raphael, Soren, and other names before being pregnant. Most of my family loved Raphael. My friends loved Soren. My mom seemed to think a Caspian would be mocked due to Casper the Friendly Ghost. My in laws weren’t big on Caspian, as it’s a strange and rarely used Persian name. But they loved his Persian middle, Kaveh. They refused to call him Caspian at first. But he’s such a Caspian. I’m so glad I used the name I loved… and the in laws have come around. This time they haven’t called him Kaveh or Kaveh Caspian once.
on August 3rd, 2018 at 3:57 pm
My mum hated the name I chose for my son. She thought it was pretentious. And other people tend to think the name is too effeminate, try-hard, unusual etc. I didn’t care. The name is spelled properly, used for the sex it was intended for, doesn’t have any terribly negative connections, and is easily spelled and pronounced in the country I live in. To my mind, as long as those qualifications are met, people can hate or complain all they want, but the name will remain appropriate regardless.
on August 7th, 2018 at 1:03 pm
I’ve had an ever-changing name list since I was twelve years old, which is over fourteen years now. There are no little dumplings on the horizon yet, but I have never shown my list to any personal family or friends before. This is mainly due to potential name-napping, but also because these names are on my list because I love them and have carefully chosen them. My sister, for example, would despise about 90% of my list, as our styles are very different. I actually value opinions on Nameberry and other sites far more, as us name-nerds consider so many factors that others would overlook. When the time comes, my other half will be able to view the list, but that’s the only opinion that truly matters to me. I would definitely not reveal a baby name until said baby arrives – purely as my initial choices may not fit the little darling!
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