My In-Laws Hated My Child's Name

by Alicia Stein
Originally Published: 
A married couple choosing their child's name with a mother-in-law standing behind them
KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

When we told my in-laws what we were planning to name our baby, their reaction was not at all what I expected.

It was a categorical “NO” from my mother-in-law, and a list of alternative suggestions from my sister-in-law (“How about Milo? Or Henry?”). My husband’s aunt had a million thoughts about how we could shorten the name, use another version of it—or, you know, not use it at all.

Charlie was our choice. Not the most “out there” name in the world, but also not too overused or common. I honestly did not see why it was so very controversial. But they hated it. With a passion.

And they weren’t afraid to tell us. At the dinner table. At the restaurant. And even the day before Charlie was born.

I was having some cramping (which turned out to be early contractions, as I would learn a few hours later) at a picnic in my mother-in-law’s backyard when the topic came up again. “Well, we are probably going to name him that,” my husband said, realizing I was in no condition to argue.

But there it was again. “No, just please don’t name him that,” my mother-in-law said, laughing and rolling her eyes like it was no big deal.

I felt my jaw tighten and my heart race. I was livid and stressed AF about what was happening.

See, the other times that she had complained, it really wasn’t too big a deal. It was more of a “WTF is going on?” kind of thing. But this time—with the baby on its way, and my husband and I clearly set on this particular name—it really got under my skin.

Add a whole slew of hormones, my fear about going from a family of three to a family of four, and the whole “I’m about the give birth” emotional rollercoaster, I felt like crying after she said this.

And I did. I left the picnic, locked myself in the bathroom, and cried. And then cried some more.

A few hours later, my water broke. The baby was born the next morning. And yes, we named him Charlie.

Since Charlie’s birth, no one dares disparage his name, thank the good Lord. I think once everyone found out that we really were naming him that, they knew better than to interject their opinions. And I sometimes wonder whether my husband gave his family a little talking-to after I excused myself from the picnic to hide and cry.

But the thing is, I still wonder if maybe they secretly hate the name. When they say it, I watch it roll off their tongues and I scrutinize the tone. Not every time, of course, but sometimes. And it’s an awful feeling.

I will say that my in-laws and extended family—though they probably don’t have as strong a filter as they should—are generally good people and supportive of our family’s choices. But in this one instance, they basically sucked. I’m still shocked that they thought it was in any way appropriate to go ahead and slam our choice of name for our about-to-be-born kid.

Maybe they didn’t realize how hurtful it might be? Maybe they thought the name was so atrocious that they had to say something or else our kid would live a life of ridicule and pain? I just don’t freaking know.

But I will never, ever, ever again share my kids’ potential names before they are born. It’s a decision between my husband and me and that’s it. Full stop. And if I am ever in the position to be blessed with a grandchild or niece or nephew myself, there is no way in hell I’m going to interject my opinion about a name choice.

Seriously, what the heck is it about baby names, anyway? Going into parenthood, I knew people would have opinions about how I fed my kids, disciplined them, and whether they were well-mannered enough. But I’ve since heard many stories of friends, family members, and even strangers going bat shit bonkers about someone’s baby name choice. What gives?

Check yourself, people. And CTFD. If you have an opinion about someone else’s baby name, zip your lips the fuck up.

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