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Baby names can be pretty divisive – in fact, a survey found 75% of first-time parents have argued over what to call their little one.
And while it’s pretty normal for the parents themselves to disagree on what to name their child (it’s a pretty big deal, after all), what most expect once they’ve chosen the name, is for people to accept that that is what their child is called.
But some family members will choose to go against the parents’ wishes and will either come up with new nicknames for the child or simply use a different name altogether. Such is the case for one couple, whose dilemma appeared on Mumsnet this week:
“Our grandchild (5 months) has an unusual name. It’s a made up name which is a bit ‘out there’ – think along the lines of ‘starry-Skye’ or ‘misty-bridge’. Our daughter-in-law is a bit wacky.
“It’s of course entirely up to the parents to choose the name of their child but my husband won’t even say his name as it makes him cringe so much. He refers to the baby as ‘the little one’ or will call him by his middle name.
“It’s now become apparent to the parents how he refuses to use his name and it’s causing an atmosphere. I just don’t know what to say to them as I completely understand his point and feel very sorry about the potential bullying he (the baby) is likely to encounter further down the road. Advice on moving forward please.”
*The above post has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
So, what should they do?
It’s a tricky situation, especially for the person who’s stuck in the middle, but Counselling Directory member Rosalind Miles suggests the best way to move forward is for both grandparents to try to find acceptance towards the grandchild’s name, despite them disliking it.
And yes, this means calling the child by their actual name.
Here are some other things they might want to try, according to the therapist:
Reflect on the intentions behind the name
The grandparent says their grandchild’s name is a bit “out there”, so Miles recommends reflecting on why the couple chose that particular name.
“It might have sentimental or cultural significance that you may not be aware of. In this scenario, where it is a blended name, perhaps consider the meanings behind each part of the name,” she suggests.
Focus on the positives
It can also help to look for positive qualities in the name or find ways to appreciate its uniqueness and, if necessary, the meaning behind the name.
Acknowledge your feelings, but don’t broadcast them
It’s completely fine to not like a name – we’re all individuals after all. But while acknowledging your feelings here can be useful, the therapist advises trying to keep them private.
Airing this with your child – or refusing to call their baby by their actual name – is likely only going to result in hurt. Ultimately, this could lead to the grandparents not getting to see their grandchild as much as they’d like.
“It’s normal to have personal preferences, but it’s important to respect the parents’ choice and not let your feelings negatively impact the relationship between you,” Miles adds.
Remember: it’s not your decision to make
At the end of the day, the parents have the right to choose their child’s name, so Miles urges the grandparents to “respect their autonomy in this matter”.
She concludes: “The important point to consider, and what matters most, is the love and support you offer your grandchild. Names are just one small aspect of a person’s identity, and over time, you may come to associate the name with the individual it represents and not just the name.”