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I Want My Mom to Like My Baby's Name!

I really like the name Abby for my unborn daughter. I am African-American, and my mother would prefer a more “ethnic” name like Monica, Toya, or Jasmine. What should I do? Her opinion really matters to me.

–First-Time Mother

There are a couple of ways to approach this. First, consider that a big part of the taste difference between you and your mother is actually a generational difference. The names Monica and Toya were popular for African-American girls a generation ago (when your mom was naming babies). Today, more of those girl babies are actually named Abby or Abigail!

Second, know that there are some historical role models named Abby in the African-American community. Abby Fisher was the author of the first published African-American cookbook. Abbie Mitchell was an opera singer who made the first recording of the song "Summertime." Educator Abigail Jordan was the force behind the African-American Monument in Savannah, Georgia. Abbey Lincoln was a jazz singer, actress, and civil rights activist. You get the idea—no matter how you spell it, Abby isn't just a white name.

Of course, it’s possible that neither of those angles will soften your mother's stance on the name. If finding common ground with her is critical for you, consider coming up with a longer list of names you like. Then get your mom's input on those. You might even ask her to do the same. Maybe one of the ethnic names she likes will turn out to be a favorite for you too.


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January 25, 2016 10:07 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Your mother got to name her children, now you get to name yours.

However, you may want to consider putting Abigail on the birth certificate, even if you always call her Abby. Abigail looks much better on a résumé.

January 25, 2016 11:04 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree your mom's concerns are probably more generational. If you've already mentioned Abby to her and gotten negative feedback I suggest you show her a list of African American Abbys & Abigails and see if that helps (I'm sure there are more than just the ones Name Lady listed).

If your family is religious, you may also want to point out the Biblical character Abigail. As a Biblical name, Abigail (or variants of it) are used in several languages, including some from African countries. This might also help you convince your mother that Abigail is appropriately ethnic.

If none of this matters, and your mom still prefers names like Monica/Toya/Jasmine, you'll know her concern is really more a matter of taste and less an actual concern about Abby/Abigail being the wrong ethnicity. Then, name your baby what you want to name her.

If you haven't already talked to her about Abby, I say don't mention it. Name your baby what you want. Most grandmother's won't complain about a name when it's attached to a baby. If she does say anything about it, you can then point out the historical African American Abbys & Biblical connection.

Wikipedia would be a decent place to start learning more about Abigail.

And I'll also suggest behind the

January 25, 2016 5:58 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Interesting, I don't think of Monica or Jasmine as African-American names. The only Monicas I've known are white and would be fiftyish or older now. The Jasmines I've met range greatly in age and ethnicity - white, black, Latina. Never met a Toya but reminds me of LaToya and that makes me think African-American.
Anyway as most people would advise, the choice should be yours and Abby is a fine name for any ethnicity. Name Lady's advice is good about showing your mom African-American Abby examples since you must value her opinion; but ultimately it's up to you.

January 26, 2016 1:32 PM
By Danielle (not verified)

I had a similar situation. I had narrowed our sons name down to two names. She loved one and hated the other and the one she hated was what I was leaning towards. In the end, we chose the name she hated. I remember telling her over the phone "his name is Xander" and she said "it is... I can't wait to meet him." I know that she doesn't like his name but it doesn't change now she feels about him or me for not choosing the name she liked. We have very different taste in names and even though we're very similar that is something we don't agree on.

January 26, 2016 2:20 PM
By Stephanie (not verified)

You might also consider looking for a more "ethnic" long name that could be nicknamed Abby. The name that came to my mind immediately was Abeni, a beautiful Yoruba name that means "we prayed for a daughter and look, she came." It still might not be your mom's style, but at least she can't say that it's not "ethic" enough.

January 29, 2016 7:01 PM
By Mo (not verified)

Abby is a fabulous name. To my ear it sounds like a name that has spanned all demographics from race to location to economic status. Why? Because it's a beautiful name. As mentioned above. Most grandmas or other family members and friends will weigh in before the baby is born because they can. The name isn't actually attached to a person in there mind and therefore it's open to commentary. After the baby is born they get over it quickly because they love the baby.
My mom didn't love my first two children's names at first but she loves them now. My cousin chose a name for her daughter that I thought I could never get used to. Well, I'm used to it now, think it sounds normal and almost kind of classy.
Congratulations on your baby and good luck!

February 2, 2016 7:16 PM
By Juli (not verified)

Like a previous commenter, I don't see Monica or Jasmine as at all "ethnic" -- all the Monicas I've known have been European, and Jasmine (Jázmin) is currently a top 10 baby name in Hungary.

February 26, 2016 10:43 PM
By Anonymousdsfs (not verified)

It was a great read which was extremely helpful.

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