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Expert Tips For Dealing with Loved Ones Who Don't Like Your Baby's Name

Family of six calling baby towards them

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Key Takeaways

  • Naming a baby can be challenging enough without the conflicting opinions of loved ones.
  • When parents pick a baby name that family members dislike, it can be a source of stress and tension.
  • According to experts, the key to dealing with opposition to your baby's name is to be firm in your decision, while validating your family members’ concerns.

Expecting a new baby comes with so many exciting moments—picking out a name is just one of them! It can be a complex process, but eventually, you land on the perfect name. It's well-considered, and one you think will carry your baby through life. Then you present the name to your friends, family, and loved ones, only to have them respond with utter dislike. It's not a situation any parent enjoys—even celebrities.

Like any new parents, Colin Jost and Scarlett Johansson were eager to share the joyous news of the birth of their son. While family members were excited about the newborn, Jost’s mom was not excited about one aspect of the baby’s arrival—his name. Jost joked that although his mother didn’t initially care for the name the couple chose, she eventually got on board with it.

Experts say it’s common to have a family member who is unhappy about the name you give your baby. When your parents or other family members are vocal about their displeasure, you may not know how to handle it. But being clear on your desired name, and approaching family members with care and compassion, can help you weather the name disagreement storm. Read on to learn more about how to handle your family's name disapproval, according to therapists.

Naming Your Baby

When a couple finds out they are expecting a baby, deciding on a name is usually one of the most important and thrilling aspects of welcoming the newborn into their lives. There’s no limit to the places from which parents can draw inspiration.

Cultural and ancestral practices can play a big part in naming a baby. Family traditions, and passing down the name from generation to generation, can also be a vital consideration. The Social Security Administration puts out an annual list of the top baby names, and many parents look to those lists for ideas. Parents can also seek names of special significance to them.

“When a couple picks out a baby name, it’s a personal part of the couple's life," says Rachael Benjamin, LCSW, senior therapist and director of Tribeca Maternity. "They might have been thinking about a family member, friend, or mentor. It’s usually something partners decide on together and build together. It’s one of the big first steps as a new family or a family adding a member.” So it can sting when your family or friends don't feel the same affection for the name you've chosen as you do.

Handling Your Feelings

Picking a name is one of the most public and long-lasting decisions that a parent can make for their child. When the decision is challenged, especially by those closest to you, it can result in uncomfortable feelings for new parents.

“I think that [the baby's parents] might feel at first kind of rattled or taken aback or surprised," Benjamin states. "They might feel at first really mad. People have reactions to these things and it’s normal."

Rachael Benjamin, LCSW

I think that [the baby's parents] might feel at first kind of rattled or taken aback or surprised. They might feel at first really mad. People have reactions to these things and it’s normal.

— Rachael Benjamin, LCSW

In addition to feeling hurt or angry, the new parents may feel that they are not being respected. In essence, they are having their ability to make decisions (and the respect to have those decisions accepted) called into question. It can be a difficult thing to process. Allow yourself the freedom to react to the reception of your baby’s name. Then decide how you are going to handle those feelings.

Dealing With Disagreement

Once the shock of your loved ones' objection wears off, experts say it’s important to take a leadership role in attempting to resolve the conflict. Steps toward a peaceful understanding can be beneficial for the entire family. Here are a few ideas you can consider.

Validate Their Opinion

Let your family member who disagrees know that you hear them and understand their displeasure. Tell them that you recognize that they are having a hard time with your new baby’s name. “Validate that they have pain around it, they have stress, they have frustration," advises Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C of Baltimore Therapy Center.

Keep it in Perspective

A family member’s first or even second reaction can seem off-putting. However, once grandma and grandpa, or aunts and uncles have a chance to bond with the new baby, the displeasure of the name can be long forgotten. Help family members focus on the relationship they’ll be building with the baby, as opposed to the child’s name.

Stick by Your Choice

It is, after all, your child to name. “There’s no trick to making other people see your way," Bilek says. "You don’t have to get them to see your way. They don’t need to agree with or like your decision—they have to respect it." Set your boundary, and stick with it!

Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C

There’s no trick to making other people see your way. You don’t have to get them to see your way. They don’t need to agree with or like your decision—they have to respect your decision.

— Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C

You may opt to approach the disagreement over the name in a serious way, or with a hint of humor. The key is to remember not to stress. Make it clear to your family that you love and value them, but in the end, the decision is yours to make.

What This Means For You

Baby naming can be a fun experience. But when your family has expectations that clash with yours, it can create a stressful situation. Experts agree that with a little patience on your part, clarity on your decision, and a dedication to work through the discomfort, everyone will soon focus on what’s most important—offering love, support, and encouragement to the new little one.

 

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