For expectant parents, choosing a name for their baby is among the most important decisions they make. But some parents are caught off guard when they announce the name they've carefully chosen only to be met with vociferous disapproval and disappointment from extended family members — and even complete strangers.
Choosing the Name You Want For Your Child
Lisa Cash Hanson, an author, business coach, and founder of MompreneurMogul.com, chose the name Matilda for her daughter. "I loved the fact that the name Matilda was unique," Hanson says. "I can't pin down really why we chose this name. It was something in my heart that she would be named Matilda and it stuck."
She says when people heard the name, they made faces and said things like "that's too old fashioned" or "she is going to get picked on in school" and worse, "that name is ugly." But, perhaps even more distressing was her mother's reaction to the name.
"I remember on a call my mom absolutely having a fit. She was so angry and said she wouldn't call her that. Then spouted off about 10 nicknames she'd use instead," Hanson says. Nonetheless, Hanson stood her ground. "Now, she loves my baby girl and her name Matilda!"
Stacey Weiland, M.D., also met resistance from her mother when she decided on her son's name, which is Andrew. "My mother wanted me to name him after my grandmother and grandfather. But I didn't like them very much so I didn't want to name my child after them. My mother wouldn't refer to my son by his name for about a month," Weiland says.
Weiland says she let her mother come around on her own to her son's name and advises other parents to do the same. "This is your child. You are going through a lot of big changes and sleepless nights. No one has a right to demand a particular name and give you more stress."
Talk Out Negativity With a Sweet, But Short, Explanation
Prefer to talk it out? Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill, a marriage and family psychotherapist and author of A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage, suggests couples discuss the situation with their family members the moment they hear negative feedback.
"Explain the history, the meaning to you, the love you have for a certain name," O'Neill says. "Then nicely explain that you understand that others may not see it as you do, but that you would ask that everyone be supportive. Anything less would never be good for any child to eventually feel."
If you are worried that the name you and your partner have lovingly chosen will cause negative feedback, consider waiting to reveal the name you have selected until after your baby is born. After that, the name of your child may seem less up for discussion.