You may have spent so much time pouring over top baby name lists and books and googling the best baby names. You've finally chosen one that goes with your surname, that has a meaning you would love to represent your child. You're so excited that you have even started enrolling your child into your local childcare, proudly announcing the name in discussions with staff.
Then when you announce it to your family, you are slapped with disappointed remarks, negative criticism about the chosen name, and unsolicited suggestions for 'better' names.
This can be upsetting, as you put so much effort into choosing a name that you finally like. No matter how much you don't want it to, their opinion does affect you, as they will be seeing and spending much time with your child as they grow. If you are firm on the name you have decided on, we hope these suggestions can help you handle family that don't like your baby's name.
How do you respond?
People may ask with disgust why you chose the name or say, "Oh, it sounds like a boy's name!" or “Oh, it’s too long!”. hey may ask why you didn't choose something else and you may even receive a facial response that says it all.
Dr Tracey Zielinski, a Clinical Psychologist and Author, says it’s important for parents to realise that the names they choose for their kids are their business and theirs alone. “If family let you know that they don't like the name you chose, you might politely let them know that the name is not going to change and that in time they will get used to it. In fact, in time, they may even come to like it.
“You can also let your family know that you've given the name a lot of thought and it is really special to you. Ask them to please respect your decision.”
You can respond with positivity and a smile, show you are firm about your decision, and stand your ground about your choice in name. You can tell them that you like it. Saying, for example, "I love the sound and the meaning of it and think it will be great."
If you chose the name because you like its meaning, you could tell them the meaning and that this was the reasoning behind it. However, avoid over explaining, as you don't need to defend your baby name decision.
You could also validate their concerns by letting them know, for example, "I can see you're having a hard time coming to terms with this name." Other helpful phrases may include, “I understand this may not feel right for you, but it feels right for me." "I'm comfortable with my choice, and I'd appreciate it if you'd understand that."
Then move on and avoid discussing it again.
Consider their advice
Consider their advice, whether they have a point and have raised a valid issue with the name you may have yet to realise. For example, is the name too hard to pronounce? Does it wrongly clash with your surname? Have they pointed out how the name sounds like something your child may get teased about in the playground? You could even tell them, "I'll think about it." At least this way, you are letting them know you will consider their advice, even if you may not change the name.
Trust your instincts
Try to avoid letting anyone sway you from the decision you have made on your chosen name. If you change it to please your family, you may end up feeling regret and resentment towards them.
People may dislike the name based on personal experiences. They may have been bullied in high school by someone with that name. It could be the same name as an ex of theirs. However, this is not your problem to deal with. Most important is that you are happy with the name you have chosen for your child to carry with them throughout their life. There can be many personal reasons for your choice of name that others won't understand, so it's important to stand by this.
Remind yourself why you chose it. For example, the name could be a friend you are honouring or the name of a special place to you, something that others may not ever be able to understand. It may seem odd to others, but it is unique to you and will likely feel special to your child when you explain to them why you chose it.
Acknowledging this is important so you don't let others' biases and opinions influence your baby name decision.
Share the name after birth
You could wait until your baby is born before telling your family the name. This may save you angst and prevent you from being swayed by others' reactions—telling them before birth gives them room to object and influence your decision.
Waiting until birth to share the name can also build suspense and excitement for a family in waiting to hear the name.
Finally, when the baby finally arrives, your family will be so smitten with the baby that the dramas over the name may slowly fade away in the background. Your family may also feel the name suits them once they see the baby.
Consider the source of opinion
If this is a family member constantly serving you unwanted advice or criticism, recognise this. Let this be even more reason not to regard their advice or take it to heart.
Wait for it to grow on people
Be patient, as it may grow on them.
They may not like it at first because they are thinking about how hard it will be to say the name.
It may help to explain exactly how you pronounce it and practise saying it with them.
Speak to supportive friends or family
If it is causing you stress, speaking about this unwanted advice with your trusted friends or family who you know support your name decision may be helpful.
Don’t forget that you can always use the Huggies Baby Name Generator to your advantage to help you come up with interesting combinations based on your desire for meanings or initials. With thousands of names to choose from, be inspired by popular, unique and original baby names.
Written by Tracey Cheung, April 2023. Tracey is a freelance writer with particular interest in writing about topics that promote health and wellness in the community. As a mother she has personal experience in writing content that helps other parents.
Last Published* February, 2024
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.