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How Do I Get Grandma to Agree?

Help! My mother-in-law loves the name Raquel. I want to name my daughter Mia, after my best friend who died in a car crash. My mother-in-law understands the sentimental value of Mia, but is stuck on Raquel as the best name for our baby. My husband goes along with what she says because he doesn't want to make her angry. What should I do?

–Dutiful Daughter-in-Law

Oh, dear: This is more of a relationship dilemma than a naming dilemma. At least in the U.S., choosing a baby’s name is considered a joint decision—but of the baby's parents, not the mother and grandmother. Asking for a grandparent's opinion is one thing. A grandparent who feels like she has the last word on the pick is quite another.

This is just one of the first of many parenting decisions you and your husband will have to make. A pattern of giving in to a family member just to avoid conflict doesn't bode well for the years ahead. Do you want your mother-in-law to feel like she gets to dictate other choices in your baby's life, too? Probably not.

So that means standing up for your own name choice, and your right to make it. Ideally, your husband would lead this initiative, since it's his mom! If he won't confront her in person, will he at least back you up if you do so? (If he won't: this is a bigger problem than the Name Lady is equipped to handle, frankly.)

If you are the one breaking the news to your mother-in-law, be firm, but polite and kind. You might say, "I know you love the name Raquel, and we think it's beautiful too. But we're going to call our daughter Mia." If it's true, you can add that you'll consider Raquel for the middle name, or for a future daughter. But most of all, present this as a done deal, a decision you and your husband have made together—as you will for many more decisions to come.


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July 18, 2016 11:23 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Your husband needs to man up, unless he plans for grandma to raise the baby. The way I see it, you have a couple of options.

1. Tell your husband Raquel is off the table. You can then give him the option of telling his mother, or you can tell her (I'd make it clear that you don't plan to mince words if you have to do it). Then be prepared to carry through on this if your husband refuses to confront his mother.

2. Tell your husband Raquel is off the table. Then agree to simply smile and not when his mother starts talking about the name. Once baby is born, give her the name you want. If you chose this option, you'll need to be prepared to deal with any fall out that might occur.

So really, the choice is to decide if you feel more up to dealing with the confrontation now, while pregnant. Or do you think you'll feel more up to after you've had the baby.

July 18, 2016 1:25 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Holy moly. MIL is convinced that "Raquel is the best name for [their] baby"?! Did her mother-in-law name HER children for her? Exactly how involved was she in the conception? She needs to back off now, and major boundaries need to be set. There is a big difference in being a grandparent vs. a parent, and the sooner she learns this, the better for EVERYONE.

July 18, 2016 2:15 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If MIL insists (and I have one such who does try to rule my life as well as her sons's) then Mia Raquel is actually a reasonable name to give your daughter. If bringing your daughter up will mean seeing a lot of your MIL then peace may be a better way. Your preferred name gets priority, in honor of YOUR friend, but she gets a look in too with the middle name. Or maybe run with Mia but allow Raquel as a family name? I have one name my friends know me by and a totally different one which appears on my birth certificate, so it can be done. Good luck! The MIL dilemma is never easy.

July 18, 2016 3:25 PM
By Kat (not verified)

Great advice Name Lady! This is really not a naming issue but a relationship issue in which the boundaries of your marriage have become obscured. Take time before the baby is born, possibly with a counselor, to explore what boundaries need to be set and how to inform the MIL of them.

July 18, 2016 3:32 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

"Thank you for your suggestion of Raquel, but we have decided to name the baby Mia after my best friend. We can't wait for you to meet her!"

Then don't discuss names with her anymore. I would not mention anything about using it for a middle name or future daughter, even if you are considering it.

July 18, 2016 5:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Anon 2:15, MIL does not EVER get to insist on anything and if this is how YOU are CHOOSING to live your life, I'd really think about that.
You do things like agree to have Thanksgiving (if you want) at her place, for example for peace; you don't let her name your child AT ALL for peace.
If husband can't get on board that is a huge problem not cut out for a baby name site as Name Lady says.

July 19, 2016 4:51 PM
By My2cents (not verified)

I truly believe, your baby, your choice. I would never give in to a name I didn't like for my mother in law. Mt own mom wanted me to honor her sister, my aunt, who died rought before I found out I was ah in a girl. Wasn't my style, didn't go for it. I did end up honoring my late grandmother as a middle name because the names fit nicely.
That being said, Mia Raquel, actually has a nice flow to it and us a nice compromise if you want to keep things civil. (still don't think that kind of demand goes well, but that's me) Plus I love the idea of honoring your friend with a beautiful name.

July 19, 2016 6:28 PM
By KF (not verified)

She already got to name her children. It's your turn now. Being polite, calm, but firm is the best way to deal with people like that. If she so loves the name Raquel, let her get a pet or give the name to her car. Your baby, your choice. This is a committee of two, and she is not one of the two. Best of luck!

Is this her typical personality? If so, I'd say that even if you don't mind using Raquel in the middle spot, doing so sets a dangerous precedent for how much say she has in your parenting decisions. If this is out of the usual and she just feels really strongly about loving the name -- and you'd better be sure that it's not just a new manifestation of her desire for control -- then using Raquel in the middle is a viable option if (and only if) you truly do like the name.

July 22, 2016 10:03 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If you give in on this, it's a signal to her that you're weak and she simply has to behave the exact same way to get you to give in on anything else.

Your husband will do whatever buys him the most peace. If that means throwing you under a bus to appease his mother, he will do that. You have the advantage because you live with him. Make it less pleasant for him to choose her over you. Don't spare his feelings, he certainly doesn't care about yours.

I went through this with my husband ten years ago. Once he saw that an unhappy wife was worse than an unhappy mother, he learned to stand up to his mother. We're both much happier now that she's not trying to interfere in our lives.

July 22, 2016 3:52 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

MIL gets to have an opinion if she likes but she doesn't have to share it.

Does our husband LIKE the name Mia? You don't mention what he wants. I'm wondering if he doesn't like it but doesn't want to tell you as he knows the sentimental attachment so his mother is doing the dirty work for him?

You need to go back to the drawing board, take both names off the table and see what name suits both of you. Mia is a lovely middle name.

We drew very firm boundaries around our families early in our relationship - the needed them. This has been an ongoing work but I have found that if you give an inch to a person like this they will take a mile.

July 26, 2016 4:39 PM
By Sabby (not verified)

Run don't walk to a marriage counselor. That your husband wants to let his mom pick your child's name is beyond me. I could understand if the MIL was requesting that you use a family name or if your husband loved the name too. Don't worry, mothers sign the birth certificates. When your MIL meets your new baby you can introduce her as Mia. Hopefully grandma will be so happy and excited about the baby she won't have time to sulk about not getting her way.

July 26, 2016 6:40 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Mia Raquel is really pretty. But you do need to make it clear and you will name your child as you see fit!

August 1, 2016 5:08 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Mia is a beautiful tribute. Own it and your feelings. And your life, it isn't rude- find yourself. You are creating a new family with your husband and perhaps you show him the way. Encourage him to take part outright.

August 11, 2016 12:19 PM
By Caitlin (not verified)

I am pregnant with baby #3 and our first boy. Our girls are Jocelyn and Rowyn. My mil struggles on pronouncing and spelling them all the time. So when we told her the baby is a boy she said "I get to name this one since y'all can't think of me when naming your kids. I think he needs to be Bobby Scott jr." My husband said "absolutely not! We are naming him Finley Scott" so in the long run its not far off... but she acts like Finley is the hardest name to spell ever. It's not her kid and not her choice.

August 23, 2016 9:31 AM
By Jesamine (not verified)

Let's be compassionate towards the husband here. He was probably deathly afraid of his mother growing up. You don't need a marriage counselor, you need to get him a personal psychologist. It's not normal for him to let his family run the show because he fears retribution. He's not a minor anymore.

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