Can I Make My Family Accept My Baby's Name?

Filed under: Relatives, Baby Names, Expert Advice: Pregnancy

My husband and I are expecting a boy this November. Before we conceived him, we both fell in love with the name Bodhi. Now that we have informed our families of his name, everyone on both sides have expressed their distaste. How do we politely tell our family that we will not be caving on our son's name?

- Bodhi's Mom-to-Be

Congratulations on taking this rejection so well. It's easy for hard feelings to grow when your joyous name announcement is met with grimaces.I'll leave aside the question of whether your families' objections should matter. Readers, I urge you to put that -- and your opinions of the name -- aside, too. The naming decision has already been made. The project at hand is to prevent an extended-family meltdown.

Mom-to-Be, you've already taken the first positive step. You've decided to care about your family's feelings, rather than taking offense and telling them to shove it. That's a smart move. First off, telling your mother-in-law to shove it is always dicey. But more to the point, you don't want the name Bodhi to be linked to bad memories, or to become a symbol of family tension. You want to build a foundation of warm feelings for your son's name. Here's a four-step plan.

1. Help friends and family understand what you love about the name
Acknowledge that the name is unfamiliar, but stay positive. Let your enthusiasm be contagious. Share the story of how you fell for Bodhi. Combat the unfamiliarity factor by sending around web links with info about the name: meanings, history, celebrity Bodhis (like Goldie Hawn's grandson -- good grandparent company!), even a Google image search for "baby Bodhi." Seeing the name out in the world should help it seem less outlandish to your family.

2. Ask your relatives to share their own tales of choosing names.
This is a way of continuing the naming conversation without actually putting the name up for debate. Perhaps the chance to remember their own naming adventures will help them empathize with you. Better yet, rehearsing their experience of falling in love with a perfect name should open some warm feelings toward the whole process.

3. Start using the name, early and often
If they get to hear Bodhi hundreds of times before your son is even born, their outrage should run its course. They may even find themselves grudgingly attached to the name.

And if all else fails,

4. Let go.

You've picked a name you and your husband love. You've approached your family politely and tried to help them understand why you love the name and given them reasons to love it, too. That's really all you can do. So just accept their opinions, and trust that when they meet a real live tiny Bodhi with mom's eyes, dad's hair and the world's cutest toes, naming conflicts suddenly won't seem so important any more.

What did people think of your name choices? Share your experiences here. And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

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