When Granny Rolls Her Eyes at Your Top Fave
After poring over every possible source, narrowing list after list, sharing and getting sage advise on the NB forums, you and your partner have settled on the perfect name for your baby. Which you then proudly announce to your families.
But then there’s that one judgey relative—be it Grandma, big brother, or Mom-in-law– who rolls her eyes, followed by vehemently verbalizing her (more often than not) disapproval. Could be something like…
-I’ve never even heard of that name. How do you spell it anyway?
-Who would ever use a word as a name?
-That name went out with corsets and the Charleston.
–Do you really want my grandchild to be laughed at and teased in school?
So: Our Question of the Week is how would you handle this situation?
Would you ponder their point and consider making a change to avoid family friction, maybe switching first and middle choices?
Would you defend your adored favorite and try to make a case for why you love it?
Would you hold your ground and firmly end the conversation?
BONUS: Here are this week’s Forum Finds from Katinka:
*What a dilemma! Torn between a family favorite, a longtime love, and a coup de coeur. Which would you choose?
*Over to the boys’ side: mythological names may be white-hot right now, but would you name your son after a dragon?
*And most kids daydream about soccer or superheroes, but for a budding name nerd it’s all about the fantasy future family! What was yours?
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on March 25th, 2018 at 10:46 pm
I wouldn’t tell anyone my name choices until after the baby was born. Just more pleasant that way!
on March 26th, 2018 at 12:16 am
honestly I would stick with what I loved. It’s not their baby after all and I’d be the one that would have to live with it day in and out. (However I know I am lucky that my family, though they might disagree with my name choice, would never make me feel guilty or bad about it. It might be a different story if I had a family member who would really try to undermine my choice in a very negative way)
on March 26th, 2018 at 4:37 am
Most people I know don’t share the name before birth, and I wouldn’t either. (Especially if you don’t know the sex.) It can cause unnecessary drama. Once the baby is born and named, I would think most people would be kind and polite enough to keep any reservations or negative opinions to themselves. I think parents should stay strong and stick to the name they love! It is absolutely their decision and one they will live with.
On a personal note, my grandmother apparently disliked pretty much every grandchild’s name (all parents waiting until after birth to share too!) and was pretty vocal, even if only for silly reasons! (e.g. Valerie was disliked because it reminded her of the folk song, “Valerieeee, Valeraaaa”) Thankfully, in all cases, once she got to know the kids, her reservations disappeared and we haven’t held it against her.
on March 26th, 2018 at 5:40 am
Several members of my family gave me a hard time about my first daughter’s middle name being Xochitl. They said it was weird, she would never be able to spell it, why don’t I give her an American name, etc. We kept it because it is the word flower in my husband’s second language and it is important to me that my daughter knows about the Aztec part of her culture.
on March 26th, 2018 at 7:37 am
I wouldn’t name the baby until I’ve given birth it and then try the name out for a day before telling family and friends. I think people are nicer about it when the baby is here and it’s a done deal because they can’t change it anymore.
on March 26th, 2018 at 7:50 am
Knowing my family EVERYONE would have something to say (to my face or otherwise). Which is why my choices are going to stay between my partner and I. If we love them, then who cares? Not to mention, my family will fall in love with the name as they fall in love with my child. Once that happens, their biggest association will be my child, and how can that be a bad thing!?
on March 26th, 2018 at 10:59 am
I likely wouldn’t tell my family before the baby was born (basically only if my son were to blab). If I got that reaction from someone, I would let them know that they don’t have to like the name, because they don’t get a vote. I don’t really care about my family’s opinion on names, because most of them don’t share the same taste in names. Now, if it were my brother who does seem to have similar taste, I would be a bit shocked, and I might carefully consider his opinion, but ultimately, it would be a decision between my husband and me.
on March 26th, 2018 at 11:10 am
OK, I”ll be the outlier here. First, I would take seriously any concerns about giving a child a first name that is highly unusual, highly ethnic, or very hard to pronounce or spell. I would add nickname names or names that may have a connotation. ( Bambi and Tiffany come to mind as names that create a first impression on their own.) It can be very difficult for the child to have a name that the general population they are interacting with will find difficult to remember , pronounce or spell. One that comes to mind is the Gaelic spelling of Rory – as much as I love the original I can never remember it. While I have family members named Jesus in Spain, i would not name an american child that.
Sometimes we can so love a name, that we overlook the long term living with it.
Now , if they just don t like it , but its a name that most people would be able to pronounce, spell and remember.. go for it. My Nicholas should have been Gregory or Andrew according to his grandma and the rest of the crew
on March 26th, 2018 at 11:11 am
This happened to me, but when my daughter was already 1.5 years old. We were on a trip to the US, and my mom said how excited she was that I’d chosen a “normal” name for my daughter (right before she called her Emily Anna, rather than her name… Emiliana). My sister also said how much she hated Emiliana, and that I should have named her Grace. Ugh. I hate the names she gave her kids, too, but I’ve never said a word because I try to be mature. When I mentioned Caspian as a possible name for a future son, both responded with how he’d be teased. I used Caspian anyhow. I do consider outside opinions, which is why NB is so useful. I love that I can gauge what strangers might be thinking based on reactions here, especially when multiple people say the same thing. I went ahead and used Caspian. Every name can be teased for some reason or another. And we’re not even sure if we’ll end up in the US or not. So my advice to others is to keep a level head, be mature, weigh the criticism, but go with your gut. In the end, no one can be sure whether your baby would rather be trendy Noah or named after grandpa Clarence.
on March 26th, 2018 at 11:17 am
@nickmom I completely agree as a Tiffany. However, Tiffany was popular the year I was born. My mom says that everyone told her what a wonderful name choice it was. So even though you choose a name everyone loves and is very common (and easy to spell, remember, etc), you do not control whether your name will later become hard to wear. No one rolled their eyes at Tiffany, but I often wish they would have!
on March 26th, 2018 at 2:15 pm
We let purple know with putt first that none of our kids would be named after either of us. Then my brother- in – law named his kid after my husband even though we said we didn’t want that (they never got along.) It has caused major problems ever since. With our second kiddo my son told my mother what we were naming him and her response was “oh honey you can’t name your brother after Star Wars characters.” We named him Emrys Atticus anyway. No one bats an eye now. He gets called Remy most of the time anyway. With this one we are playing dumb. The list is just as “out there” as last time but we try to find names that convert to good nicknames so outsiders don’t struggle so much. What is funny is that our eldest, who has the most “normal” name also turned out to have the most tease-able name even though we really tried to avoid that. He’s Gabriel Christian but our last name starts with an R. With so many Gabriels out there he is frequently called Gabe R. Just say it out loud….
on March 26th, 2018 at 2:40 pm
This is a tough one. I likely would not tell more than one person our name choices before hand – and even then with the stipulation of ‘I don’t want to hear whether you hate the name or not, I want to know of any negative associations I might not know of’. (ie: I had an acquaintance which named their daughter Baelor , and didn’t know that a balor was a mythical creature of D&D lore).
on March 26th, 2018 at 4:32 pm
I never understood how you could pick a name for your baby without meeting him/her first. For our first baby we didn’t find out the gender, this time we know, and we have a list of some of our favorites again but when the first one was born, it still took us almost 3 days to decide because we were getting to know our sweet new baby. PS- we don’t tell anybody the names that our on the list either. It was hard enough to narrow them down, i dont need any outside opinions please, lol.
on March 26th, 2018 at 4:33 pm
I hate to say this, but I would probably be the one judging the name. With a name like Violet, it was unusual, and in grade school people teased me for being named after a flower/color. Also, I have 2 middle names, Anwyn & Gail, so my initials were VAG . Yes. Personally I prefer classic names, my daughter is Emily Ann. But “weird” names are growing in popularity, so I don’t know
on March 26th, 2018 at 7:20 pm
My mother was going to name me Indigo. She told her mother in law, who laughed. My mom named me a “normal” name instead. Around age 10 she let me chose if I wanted to go by Indigo. I chose to make that change. It was always very difficult to get relatives to accept it. It was a constant fight. They finally got on board after several years. Now I’m in my early 20s and have decided to go back to my birth name. It’s easier in the real world. It’s another difficult transition though. And I struggle with my identity. I still don’t know what the right choice is. I can say for sure I would be better off having never been given a choice in the matter.
on March 26th, 2018 at 7:57 pm
I never reveal the name before the birth for this reason! Name taste is too subjective; no point having a name I love scoffed at because my mom knew a guy in high school with the name who was a jerk, or something similarly irrelevant to me.
on March 26th, 2018 at 10:17 pm
I wouldn’t be swayed at all. Although my mum is pretty open minded and bohemian so I don’t think she’d have a problem with anything I chose. My partner’s mum is a different story but she had her time to name her babies what she liked.
on March 27th, 2018 at 7:44 am
I’m not emotionally attached to the opinions of others, especially those who are too rude to know when to keep those opinions to themselves. It’s hard enough coming to a consensus with my partner, so I have no intention of making it a committee decision. We’ll likely keep the whole name a secret until after the baby is named.
I’m also fortunate to have a mother whose blanket position is “even if I don’t objectively like a name, I’ll grow to love it when it’s being worn by my grandchild.”
on March 27th, 2018 at 11:28 am
Well, first it would depend on what the objection is. There’s a difference between “This name isn’t my taste” and “This name is heretical/the name of an abusive ex/culturally appropriated, etc” It’s not my name, so it is important to consider how it will wear and how others will interpret it so outside opinions are welcome. I am confident in my taste, but would at least consider other objections, because they could affect my child’s life, and I owe it to them to at least be aware of what others might think.
I think some people get too attached to the “idea” of a name and forget that in reality, people aren’t going to like it. There is no magic name that everyone loves and thinks fondly off. If your attachment to a name is shattered by someone not liking it, well, it’s not much of an attachment, is it?
on March 27th, 2018 at 1:19 pm
Not an issue with me as I have never wanted children. But if I had, I would have named my children what I wanted not what others wanted. After all, I was the one who had to go through the pain of giving birth to them! And since my mother inflicted on me a name I never liked and ended up changing, I definitely would go for what I wanted!
on March 28th, 2018 at 2:45 pm
When I told my adored, crotchety, then 97 and since deceased grandma the top three names we were choosing between for our little boy, she was shocked and disapproving. I explained how much wider the range of names given to babies nowadays is compared with when she was naming kids. She wasn’t convinced and said “well I hope he survives [having a name like that].” I thought it was hilarious and told everyone my grandma’s response to our name choices was that she hopes he survives. She was an adorable kind of grumpy about lots of things, especially in her last handful of years. I didn’t take it personally. Today my little one is almost 8 months old and despite never getting to meet his wonderful great grandma, is nevertheless surviving being named Wren.
on March 28th, 2018 at 3:27 pm
I love this, @Apodosis!
on March 28th, 2018 at 11:08 pm
I will never tell my family my name choices, the ones I have revealed have been met with smirks and comments. As for aunts and uncles, I’ve been around when they mock names of new babies in the family, so I know that it happens. I’m expecting it, so it doesn’t bother me anymore. If I had my way, they’d never know, but eventually, they’ll hear, and that’ll be it.
on March 28th, 2018 at 11:27 pm
This is unlikely because of my mentality with names. I’m the type of person who goes conservative first, interesting middle, with an interesting/conservative balance in the given and surnames.
But the premise of this question is, what would you do if this happened? So I would probably go through a few steps.
1) I’d ask clarification.
>How do you think it’s spelled?
>What don’t you like about it?
>Why do you think they’ll be teased?
And I’ll sit down and take in their thoughts. Some people just want to say their thoughts, and then I’ll
2a) Offer reassurance.
>I know that you’re worried about her name being too uncommon, but Genesis is actually a very popular name nowadays! She might not go to school with another one, but it’s likely she’ll meet someone with the name as time goes on. Besides that, we love the nickname Jenna, which is much more common if she wants that instead.
(Note: Reassurance truth might be slightly stretched.)
On the other hand, some people might be voicing legitimate concerns, so I’ll
2b) Talk out the issues with them.
Maybe they don’t like the idea of a nickname name, and we could brainstorm names that feel more fleshed out (Elizabeth to get to Beth, Jason for Jay). Maybe there’s a cultural or societal issue. Maybe they feel you’re being a little flippant for a name that, honestly, isn’t yours. This is a name that someone else will have to live with. And they’re just worried that “Moon Unit” won’t appreciate it when she’s filling out job applications and don’t you think “Apple” would be better?
And after I go through the appropriate steps, I will
3) Ignore all the opinions that I really don’t care about.
I think that listening to (most) people is (mostly) important, because if they’re saying something then chances are other people will be saying it too. And if grandma is the only one who will admit she can’t spell your name, good on her for speaking up.
As an aside, this question seems skewed towards older relatives who are prone to judging modern choices, but think of how (lovingly! They only mean well!) judgmental more “hip” people on this site can be. What if the relative or friend is actually younger, and their worry is that this name will date the child as they get older because it’s part of such a current trend? It’s not your fault that you love occupation names and think Cooper would be adorable with young Aiden! =P
PS I started writing this about eleven hours ago and then had to go to work. I guess I’m just that determined to talk about name judgement. XD
on March 29th, 2018 at 12:30 am
@ms.Teal So well thought out!
on June 20th, 2018 at 8:58 pm
I’m only 21 and not won’t be expecting for a long while, but in my household I’m known as the baby name queen and me and my mom talk a lot about it. She’s told me that she doesn’t have any problem with me naming my kid how I want. If it were to name my kid Lucifer, Jezebel, Adolf or anything like that, she would have an issue. But luckily my weirder favorite names would be middle names.
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