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Help! Great-Grandma Hates Our Baby Names!

I am 20 weeks pregnant with our first child. Like many women, I've dreamed of being a mother since I was little. I made the mistake of telling my husband's grandmother some of my ideas for names. She shot down every girl's name by saying "You can't use that name, because my ex cheated on me with someone of that name." My baby is not that person and my husband and I are not involved with her past. But my husband listens to everything his family says. So if they are offended by a name, he will be, too.

–Nameless Mom-to-Be

Every girl’s name? Wow, that must have been a very unpleasant (or illuminating?) conversation! I'm sorry that Grandpa's checkered history seems to have tanked some of your favorite names. That has to hurt, and you're right that your baby has nothing to do with these past scandals.

However, I'll give your husband some benefit of the doubt. He's not necessarily being weak or unreasonable in siding with his grandma here. Perhaps he just wants your new baby to be a source of unalloyed joy to his family. I would imagine you do, too, so that makes it hard to choose a name that you've been told comes with painful baggage.

You mentioned that you had ideas for names, and that your husband won't go along with them. Has he suggested any possible names? Especially if he has not, it might be time to start over. Sit down together and brainstorm names that make you both feel happy. Leave Grandma’s rejections off the list for now, although that doesn't mean you have to exclude other names that you've been thinking about for years.

Incidentally, many moms find that their childhood wish list must be set aside when it's time to name an actual baby. Sometimes their tastes have changed, sometimes they run into family objections, sometimes their husbands have their own strong opinions, sometimes a surname presents a roadblock. There are lots of other options out there, I promise.

Once you and your husband have come up with some choices that you're pleased with, keep them to yourself. If your husband's family objects after your baby is born and named? Well, you didn't know there was any problem with your pick, so you're off the hook. Ignorance is bliss—and a sweet little baby will go a long way toward changing the perception of a name.


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October 3, 2016 10:31 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, stop sharing your baby names with family in advance. I would also examine just how many names grandma shot down as being the name of a former mistress of her husband. One or two I could maybe see. But if that was her answer for every name on a list of a dozen names, I would have to wonder if she wasn't just being cranky and used that as a reason to manipulate you and husband into not using a name she doesn't like.

Your husband may also need to do some asking around. Is it common knowledge that grandpa got around? Will other people know the names of his past affairs? If the answer to all this is no, I might be inclined to just use the name anyway.

October 3, 2016 11:02 AM
By Jenny (not verified)

Have fun with it. Make a list of names you would never use and see how many of them dear old granddad bagged. Mix in some real rarities such as Araminta, Theodosia, and Frida. Also mention some modern names such as Madison, Zara, and McKenzie that weren't even around back then.

October 3, 2016 11:32 AM
By Megan (not verified)

I really liked Adeline- it was my husband.s great-grandmother's name. However, his grandmother, daughter-in-law of adeline, didn't get along with her mother-in-law (as far as I can tell, just typical MIL/DIL stuff, nothing too serious). We never asked his grandmother what she felt about using the name, but part of me felt that well, she can't live forever and has a short-term memory of about five minutes (terrible I know). Anyway, we ended up going with another name.

October 5, 2016 3:41 PM
By Sabby (not verified)

Rookie mistake. Sorry you had to learn the hard way.
My Grandfather fathered a child with another woman. None of my cousins would use his name (the love child) or his mom's name. My grandparents have been dead for years. So there is some credence to not using a tainted name. It brings back bad memories for everyone.
I agree with the name lady. Sit down your husband and start making a list of names you both like. Once you have made a choice tell no one. If you feel that you need feed back ask strangers. Good luck.

October 13, 2016 2:07 PM
By M (not verified)

If you don't tell them and then later find out it's a name that brings people in your family grief then that's a big mistake. Sure you get to keep the name but they might try and alter it to take the edge off, or worse, your husband may force the issue of a name-change. Have family members write down names that would deeply offend them and send them to you but you don't need to run the final names by them; that is my opinion.

November 9, 2016 2:25 AM
By Cee (not verified)

I wonder if Dad loved the name too before the family history was revealed? If both parents still really love it, maybe try to find out if the name offends many family members (aunts/uncles etc) too, or just Grandma? She may come around hopefully... I took James off my list due to a rotten uncle I never met as I though it would upset my aunt & Gran - but both sadly passed away just before/after my baby was born.

November 26, 2016 10:34 PM
By Ann (not verified)

That can be a hard problem for lots of mothers. What you could do is go and find names that are from the modern days, that weren't very common back then. Or, you could also try combining names into a completely new name that you've never heard of or have heard very few times. I hope you find a new name soon!

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