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Monday, October 27, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: Disappointed in a Family Member's Name Choice

Robin writes:
Oh Swistle, help!

My sister and I are both a little perturbed at the name my brother and sister-in-law have chosen for their first boy. They have a little girl already, named Cora Evelyn, which I *LOVE*. Cora is a family name (paternal great-grandmother), and I think Evelyn is just so beautiful. The name they have chosen for their boy is Kevin Christopher. Nice, solid name, if a little too much "our generation" for the first name. They are honoring two good friends named Kevin with the first name, and my sister-in-law's brother with the middle name. All good. Our issue lies with the fact that my brother is named after our paternal grandfather, and that he is the only one carrying on our very uncommon family name.

Both my sister and I had really hoped that he would name his first boy after himself/our grandfather (making the boy a trey), or after my father, to carry on the family name tradition. We understand, OF COURSE, that it's not our baby to name, but we both can't help feeling quite disappointed with their name choice. I mean, c'mon, you're naming the baby after a friend, when you have a wonderful father or grandfather that you could honor? Our family is VERY close, and my sister-in-law is estranged from her own father, so I don't see any snubbing issues that could arise from naming the child after a male on our side of the family.

Ok, so not really a baby-naming question. But do you have any suggestions for how to get over our disappointment?

Oh, this is a rough situation, and I loved you dearly for having such a firm grip on what the situation IS: the disappointment in a baby's name.

And yet, your clarification of the issue also makes it tougher for me to answer. If I could lecture you sternly on everyone getting to name their own babies, about family traditions being nice but not obligatory, etc. etc. etc., I'd have a whole post right there. But because you go straight to the heart of the matter and ask how to get over the disappointment, I'm left stammering. I know what you mean! and I don't know what to tell you. And I don't know what I'd do if I were you.

It's nice that you have your sister to vent to about it. The two of you can say, "Oh, it would have been SO PERFECT!" a few times, knowing you can't say it to your brother. After that, I suggest a regimen of every time the subject comes up between you, brushing your hands briskly and saying to each other, "Well. The baby is already named." Then swig back a shot (liquor, melted chocolate, whatever helps) and say, "To Kevin!" Repeat until the disappointment is numbed.

Pretty useless advice, I realize. Perhaps some of us have had experience with this situation and can chime in. What DO you do? What DO you do, if you're disappointed by the chosen name? How do you, as Robin puts her finger right on it, "get over the disappointment"?

17 comments:

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Just focus on how sweet and cute the new baby is. Pretty soon, you will not be able to imagine him as anything but a Kevin!

Shepherd Family ACAL said...

A agree with Barb above, Love that new baby and be happy for a health happy family! You can always get pregnant yourselves and hope it is a boy! :O)

Karen Lew said...

Barb's right. I'm sure he'll just BE Kevin before they know it.

I do have some sympathy, though. I remember that when I was pregnant with my first that when we told my aunt that we weren't considering my deceased mother's name for a girl, she nearly cried. She tried to hide it and never tried to sway us, to her credit. We have a boy, so it was moot.

Robin and her sister might be reminded that Kevin IS named after the family with the family name (I'm assuming that Kevin has his dad's surname.) Plus, there are lots of good reasons to avoid a Junior or a Trey, starting with a loathing for the nicknames Junior and Trey, feeling ridiculously vain for naming a child after YOURSELF, confusion over who's been called, feeling obliged to name future children after close relatives. And how about, they just don't like dad's or grandpa's name.

If is really important that the unsual family name be continued, Robin or her sister could use it themselves, though it sounds a little unorthodox for them.

Dawna Drake said...

I agree that the sisters could always use the name to honor their father/grandfather and it is just as acceptable since the brother does not want too. This way it's also honoring their brother!

Karen Lew said...

On my second reread, I realised that perhaps naming the boy after one grandfather would be a constant and painful reminder of the estrangement from the other.

Anonymous said...

i don't have much sympathy on this one. i'm a pushy sister myself but i think you have to draw the line on deciding what your brother should name his child. That said, I think you or your sister should use the name you love and use your maiden name as the baby's middle name.

kelli said...

Any chance it's a timing thing? If your brother is named after his grandfather, maybe he is hoping that baby Kevin will grow up and use the name for his son? Maybe that's a long shot, but the skipping generation thing might have something to do with it.

Otherwise, I have nothing new to add. :)

Fine For Now said...

Several people have VERY good points about why they think the brother did not use the Father's name. No matter who is right, they chose not to use the unique family name and that's okay! But it is also okay to feel sad about it too!

Recently in our family this same thing almost happened. My step-father (a JR) has an original rarely used name and his son (the 3rd) and wife were pregnant with a boy. Everyone just ASSUMED they would use the name and make the baby a 4th! They had us all hanging in suspense and almost didn't use it (oh the dissapointment!) but had to choose right before leaving the hospital and went with the unique family name. There was a huge sense of RELIEF that the tradition was passed on.

For me, I hope they are happy that they chose the name because they liked it and wanted to honor the baby's father, grandfather and great grandfather, and not because they were pressured to use it :)

Anonymous said...

Ignoring the fact that Robin and her sister's disappointment is a bit overbearing IMO...

If Robin and her sister are not yet married with children, they each can chose to keep their maiden name once married, then pass on their much-loved family name to their own offspring.

Until then, perhaps not dwelling on their nephew's name will help get them over their disappointment.

I'm just flummoxed as to why this is even an issue!

d e v a n said...

I think time will lessen the disappointment. There is a baby who I LOVE but HATE the name. However, it's grown on me, as it has on everyone.

Vicki said...

Ok. I'm going to voice the other side of this. Never, ever mention to your brother that you're disappointed in the name he chose for HIS child. My husband and I made the mistake of telling everyone the names we had chosen for our twin boys and we got pressured from both sides to name them after either our fathers or our brothers. With me being pregnant and having complications anyways it did nothing but make me and my husband feel worse. Its not up to anyone but the parents to pick a name and you should never, EVER tell someone that the name they want to bestow upon their child is bad/sounds terrible/etc. Its just plain wrong. If you like the name so much, use it on your own children or name a pet after them but don't pressure people into using a name they don't want to use. (As you can see I'm a little touchy about this still to this day...)

R said...

I don't really have any advice for overcoming the disappointment (the whole reason for the post in the first place right?) but I just wanted to say that my hubs is a III and if we have a boy he will not be a IV... hubs was worried about offending grandma by not passing the name down, but my FIL did not want to pass the name along to hubs even, and we've decided if we have a boy (due in Jan.) to name him using MIL's maiden name, as we lost her last year to cancer...

just my two cents...

good luck to Robin & her sister on figuring out how to overcome the disappointment...

Frazzled Mom said...

Well, it could be worse. The child could have been named something terribly faddish like Vayden Van Jupiter or something like that...I'm taking the chance that the unique family name doesn't happen to be Vayden or Van or Jupiter - what are the odds? In any event, I hope you get my point, and hope maybe that will help you get over your disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Regarding how to get over the disappointment, I agree with the first poster (Barb) that after a while of calling your nephew Kevin, I bet you won't be able to imagine him as anything but.

I'll also echo what another poster (Vicki) said in that, you should never EVER mention to your brother or his wife that you and your sister are disappointed in the name that they chose. I had a similar situation with my grandmother in that she was extremely disappointed in the name we chose for our daughter, and I haven't stopped hearing it since she was born 3 years ago. Since then, she has made NO EFFORT to get over our name choice and won't let me forget how much she doesn't like my daughter's name. She has even gone so far as to try to call my daughter by her middle name, and any number of nicknames, just to avoid calling her by her given name! I applaud you for realizing that it is something that you need to get over, and won't be bringing up every time you see your nephew!

Also, to give you some insight as to one possible reason why they may have chosen not to continue the family name... my husband is a III and had a son, we would have a ton of pressure to continue the line. Personally, I don't like the my husband's name for a child, or the nickname Quad (IV) and would really have a problem naming my baby a name that I didn't like myself, even if it were a family tradition that was important to my husband and his family. Being the one to carry the baby for 40 weeks, then go through labor and delivery and then be the primary caregiver for so many years, I feel like I should have more say in our children's names than my husband.

Good luck with your dilemma!

Susan said...

I would so hate to feel pressure to name my baby after a relative or ancestor. And if I didn't like the name -- however much I might love the person or wish to honor him -- it would make it all the worse. I think you are wonderful sisters to bite your tongues and allow your brother and sister-in-law to make their own choice.

Swistle might have been kidding about the shots of liquor or chocolate followed by "Here's to Kevin," but in my long experience I have to confirm that kind of thing is an excellent antidote to the surface frustrations of life. A long soak in a tub with something expensive thrown in (like those mineral balls that kind of explode and have floating flowers) with an Agatha Christie book is what I personally recommend. And I highly recommend prayer. I've found that God is interested and quick to be involved in issues such as this.

robin said...

Hi all - Robin here. Good points all, and, to be honest, since I wrote my email to Swistle (a month or so ago), I've gotten used to thinking of the imminent child fondly as "Kevin," notwithstanding a nagging feeling of, "oh, but wouldn't it have been so perfect if...".

To clarify a few things - the first names we hoped would be passed down (my father's or grandfather's/brothers) are generally run of the mill. It's our surname that is so unusual. My sister and I were more disappointed that there would likely be no more "James Alvin ___"s in our little world - or, to clarify, that the surname and first names probably wouldn't be seen together again in our family. I've taken my husband's name, and could always name our baby after my father or grandfather, but there won't be any babies with the EXACT name. Silly and perhaps petty, but still, just the disappointment that we feel.

Oh, and one final note - I would NEVER tell my brother or sister-in-law that we are disappointed in the name choice. Like I said, it's their baby, and they could name it Meshibitheph and I wouldn't utter a word. It's THEIR baby.

Thanks for all the comments!

g~ said...

Man, the one time I don't check it and this is actually practical for ME! *I* am a first, middle name inheritor from my Great-Grandma (for those of you who need clarification, me, my mom, my grandma and my grandma all share the same first and middle names). That being said, when we found out we were expecting our second and last child--a girl, we DID NOT name her the family name. I know. How horrible. Because it's even LESS common for Girls to be Jr's etc. As you can imagine, we got LOTS of pressure to name her the family name but my husband was *really* against it and I was "meh" on it so we went with a totally unique first name (Malyn) and the family first name, Grace for her middle name. I have, however, informed all four of my siblings that they are MORE than welcome to name any future nieces with the family name. I think it's a great name for a girl, we just didn't want the confusion of "which Grace?" that I dealt with as a child.
I know, too long, too late.
g~