If a grandparent were to suggest baby names to one or both soon-to-be parents, is the grandparent interfering? Why is suggesting nice girl or boy names as possible options out of excitement and anticipation of the coming baby considered an interference in the parents lives? As a grandmother of three and soon-to-be grandma of two more grandchildren, hearing about the baby names being discussed as possibilities is fun and exciting. I haven’t made a single suggestion for any baby names and I’m not going to.
Baby names for our upcoming grandchildren is one of the many things being planned and considered, even though there is still plenty of time for the baby’s parents to make their final selection of their favorite baby names for either a boy baby or girl baby. Some of the girl names that have been mentioned are beautiful, feminine and “soft” sounding, perfect baby names for girls, while names for boy babies are a bit more challenging for the parents to pick even one they both like.
As I’ve said before, choosing a grandparent name or nickname for “Grandpa” and I is really no big deal. I would happily accept the moniker of “Grandma” if that is the name my grandchildren ultimately choose to call me, and Grandpa doesn’t care either. But when it comes to parents choosing baby names, that is an area where friends, in-laws and grandparents can often get themselves into trouble.
Based on the message boards, blog articles and comments, as well as grandparent forums and online polls about grandparents interfering in the decision-making process for baby names that I’ve seen, it is clear to me that some grandparents have stepped over the very fine line between making simple suggestions about baby names to rude and disrespectful behaviors. On the other hand, there have also been many cases where hyper-sensitivity on the part of one parent (usually the daughter-in-law) creates a full-blown war over baby name suggestions, based on the kinds of email I receive regularly about so-called interfering grandparents or mother-in-laws.
Oh the stories I could tell of grandparents, mother-in-laws and father-in-laws making a few harmless baby names suggestions of boy or girl names they really liked and the baby’s parents subsequent reactions would be shocking to readers. Sure, there are boy and girl baby names chosen by celebrities that might fall into the category of “weird”, “odd”, or downright crazy names celeb’s choose to name their children. Whereas, some parents might think naming their baby Apple, Camera, Puma, Chastity, Sailor, Suri, Banjo, Free, Dweezil, Moon Unit or Diva Muffin are just unique baby names that no one else has.
There are online websites that list the most popular baby names for any given year, but you can bet that if a grandparent were to suggest any of those baby names for girls or boys, there will be parents who become upset at the mere suggestion. So much thought goes into choosing a name for a baby, including the various meanings and unique spellings of names under consideration, that it would be best for grandparents and the relationships with their adult children to keep their ideas to themselves unless asked directly.
Even if/when the parents-to-be ask for advice or want ideas for baby names, tread very lightly and carefully so any names you may suggest does not come across as telling the parents what names they must choose for their own child. I named my children, you named your babies, so take a step back and give the parents the space they deserve in naming their own child. If you, as the grandparent, don’t like or actually hate a baby name chosen, suck it up and deal with it. The choice of names is theirs, not yours.
If you hate a child’s first name but like their middle name best, calling the child by their middle name instead of their legal first name (the name chosen by the parents) will get grandparents or in-laws into trouble. The line between being helpful and interfering is extremely thin, and in some cases, being too sensitive to hearing input offered by grandparents or in-laws creates bigger problems than necessary.
If parents ask for baby name ideas, be prepared to hear the person’s favorite names. If you don’t want advice on names, don’t discuss baby names and don’t ask for suggestions from people. It is unfair to grandparents, in-laws, friends etc to discuss problems, concerns, worries or conflicts about baby names, child development or child behavior problems with people and then get upset and argue when thoughtful solutions are offered.
Some parents choose to keep the names they’ve chosen private until the baby is born in order to avoid problems and conflicts. When the announcement was made that a baby is on the way and we’re about to become grandparents again, the first-time parents were given a baby names book with over 100,000 names for boy and girls to choose the perfect name for their child. Not only does it help them in their efforts to find their favorite names to decide on, but it helps take the pressure off of grandparents wanting to suggest baby names that the parents may or may not like and being treated as interfering grandparents.