Category: naming baby after grandmother

Family names are important to nearly three-quarters of expectant parents, according to a nameberry poll , but for parents whose own mother and father have passed away, choosing a name that honors them and keeps their memory alive may take on a special significance.

That’s one important message of Allison Gilbert‘s new book Parentless Parents.

When Gilbert‘s second child and only daughter was born after she’d lost both her parents, choosing a name that echoed theirs helped soothe her loneliness.

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A return engagement by one of our all-time favorite bloggers, Abby Sandel of

Call it the Great Naming Compromise of 2001.

Other couples sign pre-nups. My husband and I negotiated our children’s names before we cut our wedding cake. The agreement was simple. Our firstborn son would receive his father’s name; our firstborn daughter would be named after my mother. Given that he likes Emily while I prefer Calixto, this was no small compromise.

Our son Alexander arrived in 2004. Alexander‘s grandfather was over the moon to have a namesake. And while our son wears at least four nicknames, sometimes in the same sentence, we’ve been happy with our choice.

Four years later, the ultrasound tech announced that baby #2 was a girl. We had a name, right?

Not exactly.

My mother’s name is Clarina. She’s named after her grandmother. Trouble is, Mom heartily dislikes her flowing, feminine name–and forbid me to pass it down. Back in 2001, we’d settled on Claire Caroline as a wearable, grandmother-approved interpretation.

As my due date approached, I worried that we’d inevitably need a way to distinguish the two Claires. My husband agreed that pre-emptive nicknaming is not a bad thing in a family with members known as Bird, Boat, Ritz, Ketch, Rohn, Stir and the Vees.

Only how do you wrest a nickname from Claire?

Our first thought was Callie. But would Callie be confused with Kaylie, Hallie and Kelly? Plus, our son often answers to Aly. Rhyming sib names? Not for us, thanks.

I pushed hard for Coco, but my husband got more of a “gorilla” than “high fashion” vibe.

After hours staring at Claire Caroline, the nickname emerged–Clio. My husband immediately agreed. Best of all, it matches with yet another family memory. My (late) father used to call me Cleopatra.

With just weeks to go, I decided that Clio needed one more syllable to make her name complete. A friend had mentioned avian names months earlier. As I looked over her list, I noticed Wren–the perfect way to honor my sister, known in the family as Bird.

Claire Caroline Wren arrived on October 2, and Clio suits her quite well. While I’m sometimes regretful that we limited our list, we learned that it is possible to marry creativity and tradition.

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