My Mother Hates My Baby Name

Filed under: Relatives, Baby Names


My husband and I love the name Agnes for our little girl. I made the huge mistake the other day telling my mother about "our" name and she made a big deal about how much she doesn't like it, and how my dad will "hate" it. I still love it. However, I have spent the last two days on the Internet trying to find alternatives. Nothing like the words from a mother to cause guilt and anxiety. Help!

- C


When you choose a name that goes against the fashion tide, you can expect mixed reactions. How should you react to nasty comments? You can take them to heart and reconsider your name choice. You can ignore them and hold fast to your own opinion. Or you can try to understand where they come from, to prepare an effective response. Let's try to understand your mom's reaction to Agnes.

We like the names we like partly because of the associations they bring to mind. In your parents' baby naming days Heather and Melissa sounded like fresh, youthful names for girls. To you and your friends, those names sound more like moms than babies. The same thing happens at the other end of the age spectrum. We hear names from our grandparents' generation as dowdy because the people we know with those names are, well, old. (When was the last time you heard an expectant mom trying to choose between the names Norma and Doris?)

Meanwhile, our great-grandparents' names ring forth with a sweet freshness. Agnes has been out of fashion long enough that you may never have met anyone with the name. To you, it is association-free. The trick is that your great-grandparents are your mother's grandparents. To your mom, Agnes probably summons powerful associations of blue hair and dentures.

Because of these different associations, naming clashes are common. Keeping a controversial choce a secret is one way to avoid an assault on your favorite name. Introduce the name when you introduce the baby. Who can make nasty comments to the face of a loveable newborn babe?

Since you already have told them, and gotten an earful of their "true" feelings, try to make your peace with it. If you can get past your hurt and just accept your parents' generational viewpoint, they're likely to come around in time ... thanks to their new grandbaby. That adorable infant will give your parents a sparkling new generation of associations to make Agnes youthful again.

Have you battled with family over baby names? Share your experiences! And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

Related: Getting Pregnant in the Spring? Take Caution

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.