Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s new 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 you’ve envisioned a particular name for your baby for years — maybe even your entire lifetime — and someone close to you uses it before you can? Have your own question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Scary Mommy,
My cousin and I are both pregnant with girls; she’s due a couple of months before me. Recently she announced her daughter’s name, Adelina, after our grandmother. I am FURIOUS because it’s the exact name I had planned to use! Though we don’t see each other very often, we grew up close, and she knows that’s the name I wanted. I don’t even have a second option because I was so sure of my first choice. She stole my baby name and I’m beyond pissed about it. What should I do?
For starters, you’ll have swallow a very bitter truth: You can’t steal a baby name. If baby names were a proprietary thing that no one else could use, there wouldn’t have been 19,738 babies named Emma in the U.S. last year. And as outright infuriated as you may feel about that, your cousin has every right to use whatever name she digs.
If her baby hasn’t been born yet, you could always try to talk to her (reasonably, in a non-accusatory tone) about the issue. But if you do, go in with a low expectation of success. She — like you — is probably already envisioning her daughter with this name, or by this time, has a custom nursery with a huge wall mural of the name and the initials embroidered on all the blankets.
There’s a very good chance that your cousin did this with zero malicious intent. She probably didn’t do it to hurt you; she just admires your mutual grandmother and her lovely name, and wanted to pay tribute, as people often do.
You mentioned you don’t see one another very often, so what harm would it do to just give your daughters the same name — especially since it’s a family name? It would only cause potential confusion a few times a year, and you’d get to keep the name you love so much. Or use a diminutive form and switch it up: If, for example, your cousin calls her daughter “Addie,” then you could name your daughter Adelina and call her “Lina.”
If you just can’t bear to use the same exact name as your cousin, another version could pay tribute in an equally meaningful way — instead of Adelina, why not Adelaide or Adelyn or Adeline? You could even use a name with the same meaning … Adelina means “noble,” and so does Adara. Or try using your grandmother’s middle name instead.
At the end of the day (er, trimester?) you have to ask yourself what’s important to you. Is the potential conflict caused by confronting your cousin worth it? Acquaintances and even friends come and go, but this person is likely going to be in your life, even if fairly infrequently, for a long time. If it’s worth being prickly and uncomfortable at every family dinner from now until forever, by all means, let her know how angry you are. Talking to her about it isn’t wrong in and of itself, but your approach will be important if you do.
And please, be assured that no matter what you end up naming your daughter, it will suit her just perfectly. Some day, when you look at her, you won’t be able to imagine her going by anything else but the beautiful name she was given. Even if it isn’t Adelina.
Have your own question? Email email@example.com
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