Ask the Name Lady

Ask Now

Should the Child Who Inherited My Name Inherit Everything Else?

Each of my grandchildren have been given a family name for their middle names, two from the mother's family and two from the father's side. One of the children's middle name is my maiden name, which will not be continued other than with this child. Is it proper for me to leave this child, and only this child, with family property from that family? I can leave other equally valuable items for the other children, but they will not be of ancestorial value. - Grandmother

Names are my profession, and my obsession. So when I say this, I don't say it lightly: you're placing much too much importance on the children's names.

When your kids named their babies, they showed that family history and traditions were important to them. They spread around the family connections to be even-handed, not to divide up the territory! It would be a shame for a mere middle name to put distance between you and three of your grandchildren -- or between three siblings and the fourth.

Names aren't the only way to connect kids to family traditions. After all, regardless of who carries on your name, all four of those kids have equal chances of carrying on your DNA. If you go about things right, all four will have a good chance of carrying on your memories and traditions, too. Why put all your eggs in one basket?

Introduce all of the kids to your precious heirlooms, and share the stories behind them. You may find that one grandchild truly appreciates the quilt her great-great-grandma sewed, while another loves the crazy tale of the dented silver teapot. Inheriting those special keepsakes with stories attached will help keep your ancestral traditions alive. Better yet, it will make each item a precious reminder of you, for all four kids.

Comments

Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

August 24, 2010 12:15 PM
By 4boymomma (not verified)

I agree with leaving pieces to all the children. Or let them choose. When my great grandmother died when I was 11, I was allowed to choose something from her home. I have this bizarre pottery piece depicting badgers coming out of their sett. But it was in her house, she loved it, now I have on a book shelf, and everytime I see it, I know she is watching over me and my family now, and I tell her great great grandchildren about her.

August 24, 2010 12:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Kudos to the name lady for being fair and even-handed in your answer to such a ridiculous question.

August 24, 2010 1:09 PM
By Christiana (not verified)

I think it might depend on the item, though, wouldn't it? I mean, she's trying to be fair and give equal value, but maybe this is a piece that is specific to the name and she thinks it's logical to give the child w/ the name that piece(s)? I'm thinking in the context of a family crest or something w/ the kid's name on it is going to mean something more to that kid than to the one who has his/her sister/brother's name on it, possibly.

DO I think this child should get preferencial treatment just because - luck of the draw - he/she is the one w/ Grandma's name? No. Do I think there could be something that makes a little more sense to give to a child who shares that family's name? Quite possibly.

August 24, 2010 1:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that it's often the little things that count. When my granparents passed away, he had some money set aside so that each grandchild would get a small inheritance. (About $1500 - $5000 each, depending on how much the grandchild in question had already received from them when they were alive.) Each grandchild was also allowed to pick something from the house as a memory. My choice was two ceramic chicken cookie jars. (I know, it's strange, but they were important to me.) Needless to say, the inheritance money is spent and gone - part of a downpayment on a car, but the chickens are still in my home providing me with lovely memories every day!

August 24, 2010 4:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree, divide up the stuff evenly. Maybe items with the family name on them should go to the one child with the family name, but unless everything you own is monogrammed then it shouldn't be hard to divide up the rest.

My older sister inherited all of my grandmother's stuff because she was the oldest granddaughter (I am the only other grandchild). I have memories of being upset about this -- how fair is it to the other kids when it's not their fault they weren't given the family name? Why create resentment that is unnecessary?

August 24, 2010 5:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

wowzers- a few weeks ago it was the devil child name issue and now this!? some people are CRAZY!!!!

August 24, 2010 5:27 PM
By kc_hardt (not verified)

We have a year old daughter and are having twin girls in about 6 weeks. All of my daughters have a name connection to one side or the other of our families. One of my twins is going to be named after my husband's grandmother's side ( I mention this specifically because she is the one with more money), if we thought for even one nanosecond that she would favor the one with her name we wouldn't have named any children after family members. We named them like that so they would feel connected to their past, not so they would be one person or side of the families favorites and trust me leaving one with something of family heritage and not the others would engender feelings of being left out.

Like the name lady said, it would be far better to wait and see their personalities. My sister and I got some lovely trinkets that were family "heirlooms"(no monetary value)and they are some of the most valuable things we own, because we treasure the memories and stories. My cousins got the big money items that really had no family history. Which was perfect, they would have sold my grandparents "heirlooms" right off, while money had no significance to my sister and I. Just wait and see, who values what.

August 25, 2010 8:11 AM
By Nicki (not verified)

The parents are just trying to honor their relatives, they're not looking for handouts for their children.

August 25, 2010 8:35 PM
By Mau (not verified)

I only met my great grandmother once. When visiting her at the age of eight, I complimented one of the clocks in her house, and was surprised 13 years later to receive it specifically in her will.

Apparently everyone else in the family had always teased her about the ugly clock that didn't match any thing else she owned. She passed it to me since I was the only one to appreciate it.

I was not lucky enough to know my ancestor well, but I love my crazy antique clock that doesn't really tell the right time because it is such a fun reminder of a lady who was, from what I understand, just as crazy as the clock I inherited.

August 26, 2010 1:29 PM
By MKA (not verified)

I agree with kc. Wait to see who values certain objects.
My grandmother left me a cakeplate, server and 5 small plates along with a set of gold rimmed goblets because I used to like the set and we would have cookies and milk with them when I was little. I don't remember it but she did and that makes them priceless to me. My son is named after my Mothers Great Grandfather. My grandpa wanted to name uncle Graden and grandma said no. My uncle wanted to use it but had daughters. When I used it my uncle got teary eyed and was thrilled that the name would be passed on. My son loves his name because everyone in the family is happy that he is carrying on this family name. His name is Kyle Graden. I thought it sounded masculine and not boring.

August 31, 2010 12:16 PM
By yana (not verified)

Unless it is tradition then no! But obviously this is weighing very strong on you. I don't think it is fair for parents to pick "favorites" (that's what you would be doing). Even if it is tradition I think it is time to break the chain! All the other kids would be upset to find out about this!!!

September 3, 2010 6:59 AM
By Anon (not verified)

I encountered this problem in my family and I found it rediculous. My dad and his brother had five girls between them, and my uncle named one of his daughters after his mother. My grandmother was very patial to the granddaughter who was named after her. She even paid for her to go to college, while my sister and I received dollar-store type gifts on Christmas. My cousin flunked out of college and wasted the money. It's silly. Just because a kid is named after you, does not mean they will have more in common with you or that they will appreciate you more. Get to know all your grandchildren before you make decisions on who get what (attention and gifts). Give to the ones who appreciate their family history and with whom you habve a special relationship.

May 31, 2012 8:28 AM
By Arthur van der Vant (not verified)

This is especially important in a single-child family. If it's feasible, expose these children to as much time as possible with extended family, preferably cousins who are similar in age to them.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.