Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week … what do you do when someone you love hates your choice of baby name? Have your own questions? Email email@example.com
Dear Scary Mommy,
My big sister and I are very close. We are best friends, live near each other on purpose, and do things together all the time. She has three little kids, and I’m due with my third in a few months. I recently told my sister what we were naming our new baby, and she didn’t respond well. She made a cringe face, then she asked if I was kidding, then when she realized she truly hurt my feelings, she said it was better to be honest with me because other people wouldn’t say it and just think it.
Since then, any time we refer to the baby by his name, she makes gagging sounds and says things like “my poor nephew!” My husband is pissed, and asked her to tell us why she hated it so much. She just said she “thinks it’s fucking terrible.” Now I’m starting to resent my sister, and my husband thinks we need a break from her. What the hell do we do?
I didn’t know if I should include his name in here or not, but it’s Rivette.
Ugh – if only you could go back to the days when the biggest thing to fight about with your sister was getting a stain on her favorite shirt (that you wore without asking). Those petty sibling squabbles would be a refreshing change from the kind that can actually hurt your feelings and cause lingering bitterness.
But here’s the good news: What you decide to name your baby is none of her fucking business. Let me restate that. Your baby, your business.
It doesn’t matter if she likes the name or not. She isn’t the one who made the baby, nor will she give birth to and raise him, so she isn’t the one who gets to choose. And though she can insert her opinion all she wants, you get to take it with a grain of salt because again — not her baby! As my 7th grade English teacher was fond of saying, “Opinions are like butts: everybody has one, and they all stink.”
It wasn’t necessarily wrong of your sister to be honest about her thoughts. Once. Sure, she could have phrased it in a nicer way, but hey — siblings, amiright? However, repeatedly harping on it, even after she realized she hurt your feelings (especially after she realized she hurt your feelings!) is just treading into truly shitty territory.
I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say maybe she doesn’t realize just how deeply she’s hurting you when she says these things. Maybe what you see as outright meanness might be just sisterly teasing to her. Since the two of you are close enough to be honest with one another, I would advise telling her straight up how it makes you feel, that you’re genuinely upset, and seeing if that helps the situation. And if it doesn’t – if she still continues to be mean about it — maybe your husband’s suggestion to take a break from her isn’t a bad idea. That behavior is toxic, and you don’t need it in your life, mama. Especially not right now.
The sooner she realizes that her opinion isn’t going to sway you, the better off everyone will be. You’ve made the choice for your son’s name, and whether she likes it or not, she’s going to have to get on board.
You should never have to justify your choices about your kids to anyone, and their names are no exception. And you have every right to expect your sister to call your son by only the name you chose for him. But if you’re okay with it, maybe she can come up with a cute, auntie-exclusive nickname.
Once the baby is born, though, I guarantee she’ll love her new nephew so much that it wouldn’t matter if you named him after Dweezil Zappa. And it won’t take long before she won’t be able to imagine him being called anything else.