Keeping Baby’s Name Secret
Is this a parent’s right? You bet it is. An anxious and anticipating grandma though you may be, you don’t have to like it. But a couple’s decision to withhold such prized personal information is theirs and theirs alone. Your presence wasn’t necessary to make this baby then; your two-cents isn’t necessary now, either.
Some of my patients have gotten fired up about this topic and rightly so. In the routine of scanning a few weekly “regulars,” the natural flow of conversation usually turns to all the beloved options in the baby-name hat. These patients often declare “mums the word” and take off on a tirade, venting about fights between sides or an overbearing mother. After such heated debate, parents simply decide to remain tight-lipped. Who can blame them?
We know how it is. Names run deep in some families, and parents find themselves caught in the middle when traditional expectations rank lofty on both sides. Some opinionated family members don’t mind chiming in or expressing discontent with a name or its spelling. But why should parents concern themselves with hurt feelings because the middle name of Uncle Joseph remains in every generation for a century? Of course, parents would love to share their joy, but not at the risk of negative feedback.
Can We Really Blame Parents?
After all, they receive all kinds of unsolicited advice regarding everything from colic to college. Parents pore themselves over volumes of baby names, picking apart thousands of meanings one by one. Let’s not forget spelling, pronunciation, what it says to the world, and how his or her initials might read in all the ways. The effort can prove exhaustive, only to have to double down in defense.
Choose a popular name, and she’ll share it with five other Ashlyn’s in her Pre-K class. Choose an obscure one, and she might curse you forever. Ysatis. Beautiful, French–and she’s doomed to repeating herself to every teacher, classmate, mom, camp leader, and doctor’s office for the rest of her life. I can’t speak for other countries, but this certainly rings true in the U.S., at least (where most folks don’t even try beyond Kimberly or Susan). It’s not my experience, just my observation. By the way, it’s EE-suh-tees. She was a patient whose name I researched in advance, sending her into shock when I pronounced it correctly! Oh, it’s the little things in life, right? We owe it to our patients to make an effort. And to many of you, that effort means a lot.
On the contrary, maybe Mom dreamed her whole life of naming her little boy Darrin. Dad made a solemn vow to Grandpa Isaac on his death bed. But with Kelley for a surname, see the dilemma? No one wants her son to be a DIK. Names are a big deal. When parents finally agree, they don’t need someone to point out it also belongs to a murdering dictator or family nemesis. Don’t parents worry about enough?
The baby-name backlash can be fierce. And parents reserve the right to exercise caution if they gauge potential ill-effects from the fam! The real argument is why anyone argues over entitlement at all for what should only be considered a joyous occasion. And who really cares after the chubby-cheeked, long-awaited addition finally makes his or her grand entrance? When Baby’s health and preparing for the little prince’s or princess’ arrival becomes all-consuming for parents, only the same should matter to everyone else. The chosen name bestowed on your grandchild marks only the beginning of the millions of decisions parents must make on behalf of their children–don’t let your secret name become PITA. No grandma really wants to be a Pain In The Ass.
So, comment below if you have an opinion or experience with this subject or email me here.
To share or not to share . . . that is the question!
Thanks for reading!