37 answers

Rude Mother-in-law

I need advice about what to do about my rude stepmother-in-law. She is controlling, rude and selfish, but will be nice to your face. Here is the latest. She and my husband's dad just got 2 black lab puppies. They named one of them the same name we had picked out if we have a boy. It was the only name my husband and I could agree on too. We are not trying at this point for another baby, but this is the name we would name our next child if we had a boy. I can't believe she did this! I've liked names for boys before, but after naming an animal that name I couldn't imagine naming my child the same name.

She has always been selfish, and will say,"I know..., but I decided to do it anyway". How do I approach her about this. It's not too late for them to change the name since they just got them a couple of days ago, but I need to act fast. Please help!!!

What can I do next?

More Answers

Sallah: Please, what does it always mean, this... this "Junior"?
Professor Henry Jones: That's his name.
[points to himself]
Professor Henry Jones: Henry Jones...
[points to Indy]
Professor Henry Jones: ...Junior.
Indiana Jones: I like "Indiana."
Professor Henry Jones: We named the *dog* Indiana.
Marcus Brody: May we go home now, please?
Sallah: The dog?
[starts laughing]
Sallah: You are named after the dog? HA HA HA...!
Indiana Jones: I've got a lot of fond memories of that dog.


I love Indiana Jones. It’s the first thing I thought of when I read this post. Name your baby whatever you want and don't worry about it. That dog will be long dead and gone long before your unborn son would even be old enough to take offence. (And I'm sure he'd never take offence. Most kids love it when things have the same name as they do. Makes them feel important!)

When dealing with spiky self-centered women I've found that the best tactic is to do what you would have done prior to their actions, or in other words, ignore them. If it bothers you THAT much, you can always alter the spelling. =)

3 moms found this helpful

Dear A.,
I am a mom and a minister. For what it is worth:
You can not change your step-mother-in-law. While she is old in age, it sounds like she is young inside. I imagine she acts young with everyone and it is not personal to you. ...This does not make her behavior less annoying or hurtful. Sometimes, for me, understanding gives me some distance.
Regarding the name: You could try to explain the situation. "___ (husband) and I are trying to have a 2nd child. It took us forever, but we finally agreed on a name, which as you know is ___. When I heard that you named your new puppy that I felt worried. ___(husband) and I would really appreciate it, if you would re-name your puppy. We know this is asking a lot, but please consider doing this for us. Thank you!" Once you tell her, she will either do it or not, but at least you tried.
We really do not know what the future has in store for us. You could end up with another daughter or a few months from now, you and your husband might discover a fabulous new name that you love even more. Or you might have to live with your "second" choice as a first name (and your favorite name as a middle name!) for a new son. Or you could have a son and decide to name him the same name. ...I imagine a little boy would think it was pretty cool to have the same name as grandma's dog. Years from now, it could even make a funny story.

The main thing right now is learning to deal with and live with a family member who is a challenge to you. I encourage you to love yourself and treasure yourself along the way!
Best wishes!

3 moms found this helpful

Maybe say something to the effect of:

"I know it sounds a little silly, but I really dont like the fact that you named your dog the name we chose for our little boy, should we ever have one. Out of respect of my feelings would you mind changing the dogs name please?"

A lot of people who appear to be selfish are just plain oblivious because no one around them takes it upon themselves to point it out.

I hate to say it but my own mother is a bit on the selfish side. I have learned over time to point it out to her as respectfully as possible. Its almost comical the things she gets offended over and holds a grudge about.

My mothers selfishness for example:

She called and asked me to go on a walk. She wont walk in my neiborhood because she "doesnt feel safe". So its a 20 min drive each way to go walking with her. I told her I had a lot to do to get ready for company, so if I came to exercise with her she, in turn, would need to come play with my kids so I could completely concentrate on my house after our walk. I drove 20 min, walked for 40 min, and when we were done she said goodbye and left. The next day she called to ask the same scenario of me. I told her I could not because she didnt follow through on her word from yesterday, and I could not spare the time and apologized. She replied, "but I wanted to go to the movies with your dad". She was mad at me for telling her "no" and didnt speak to me for the rest of the week. Now whos fault was that again....????

Its really silly, but we have to draw clear boundries in all aspects of our lives.

2 moms found this helpful

Well, A., here's my take, speaking from experience with a lot of rude people. Unfortunately, you'll never change your stepmother-in-law. She is who she is by now. Most likely she is a miserable person by nature and you know how misery loves company! So, I'm sure she feels it's her duty in life to make as many people as possible just as miserable as she is. My suggestion is to make sure she never knows how much she is getting to you, since that would only make her gleeful! I would suggest not approaching her about the name issue at all. I'm sure she would love to know it bothers you that much. I know you feel you don't want to name your child the same name as an animal, but if that truly is the only name you and your husband can agree on, there really is nothing wrong with that. Think about it...there are animals out there with your daughter's name...guaranteed. If you do have another child and it is a boy, within hours that name will seem like the most natural name in the world for him. Besides, that's a bridge you haven't even crossed, yet, so it's much too soon to stress about it now. Let me encourage you to pick your battles with your stepmother-in-law very carefully and very sparingly. Most things just aren't worth it. And that goes for any other issues with anyone else, as well. It's so much better to take the high road. My dad used to say, "In a hundred years, it won't matter". The truth is, within weeks or even days, it won't matter. Save your energy for things that really need your attention. Take care, good luck and God bless!

2 moms found this helpful

All I can say is life is way to short to be worrying about what your MIL named the dog and what you wanted to name the boy if you have one. If the dog and boy are named the same... the boy might like that.

2 moms found this helpful

I've read the other responses rather quickly, but don't think anyone else mentioned this. My first reaction when I read "step mother in law" was "what does that mean?" I actually had to think it through to realize the relationship. This brings me to the point that I wonder if part of the problem is that she feels insecure in her relationship to the family and this may be causing some of her negative responses.
It's also possible that she simply didn't think about the fact that you and your husband have planned to name a boy that name. I would gently mention to her something like "oh, did you forget that's what we were planning to name a boy if we have one? Maybe you'll want to re-consider the name of the dog. If not, I'm sure our little boy will be honored to share the name." What's the old saying... 'you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'... Be sweet in your response rather than sarcastic and it might work.

2 moms found this helpful

You are playing into her games by letting it get to you and she knows it so let it go and name your baby that name when or if you have a boy. Just because a dog has that name doesn't make it a bad name for a child in fact your boy would get a kick out of it.

1 mom found this helpful

wow, lots of different feelings on this from everyone. i definetly agree that it is weird that she knowingly named her dog your fav name. that is just weird. who does that? i know for me i would have to say something somehow. hopefully she will change it or you just say "well, i guess your dog will have the same name as our son if we have one." really, who cares and if you love the name THAT much i say stay with it and still use it. :)

1 mom found this helpful

You didn't mention this, but did your in-laws name the dog knowing that you and your husband had already chosen this name? Or was the dog-naming a coincidence? You seem to blame your MIL for something done by both in-laws. If they knew this was your planned name, then it was rude of them...both of them. If it's a coincidence, then I wouldn't create a big hullabaloo over this. They didn't mean to hurt you. Sounds like you have bigger fish to fry with a MIL like this.

First off, I would never announce a planned name to anyone...family or friends, until my baby was born. If you told your MIL that you wanted to name your future son XYZ, then you gave her ammunition to make you miserable.

I agree with others, you cannot say "I called it" when it coming to naming. Life is too short to let this drive you crazy. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear A.,
What a bummer.
I guess there are only two things you can do. One is to say to your mother-in-law how very much you love the name she gave the puppy...in fact that was the name you and your husband had picked out for your next baby if it's a boy. You can say you really had your hearts set on that name and wish she could come up with another equally great name for the dog. Or...you can just assume that she will be stubborn and not change the name out of spite, especially since you had it picked out. If you do have another child, think of a different name. If it did indeed turn out to be a boy.
I suffered a miscarriage at 6 months pregnant which was devastating. The baby already had a name. Not long after that, my sister had a kid and dang if she didn't name him that name. I thought it was pretty insensitive, but that was 16 years ago and I got over it.
I guess her punishment is HER mother-in-law! LOL.
Talk about controlling, rude and selfish! Oh my goodness. She's not even always nice to people's faces. And she never knows when to shut up. She seems to think she is a little bit better than the rest of us, but she can't even be polite half the time. For instance, we were all at a huge holiday family wing-ding and she proceeded to start running her gossip mouth about how nobody really knew who the father of so and so's kid was...and the kid was standing right there and heard it. We all heard it. On another occasion at a big family function right after a cousin's parent had passed away, she looked her right in the face and said, "You know....I never really did like your mother very much. She was always very quiet and I took that to mean that she preferred to be distant and haughty." Well, it drove the woman to tears, pissed everybody off and just about caused world war 3. At what was supposed to be a nice family function. As a result, she is not invited to anything the cousin is invited to and vice versa because the cousin swears she never wants within 1,000 miles of her ever again. She has hurt and offended so many people that little by little, the group of people who will tolerate her is shrinking. Or they'll say, "We'll come over, but you call and tell us when she leaves". Her own son can barely stand her and doesn't have much to say. Oddly, her husband, who is the step in-law, is an absolute joy and everyone adores him. He's kind and thoughtful and makes a point of being gracious to everyone.
Even if she is confronted and is told...please watch what you say because you hurt and offend people, she just denies ever saying it, even if 50 people clearly heard her. She wants to run everybody's business, she wants in the middle of everybody's business and she wants to gossip about everybody's business. Even right in front of them. So....she doesn't get invited around much anymore in order to keep peace in the family because she is the only one that seems to be missing a sensitivity chip.
Like I said, you can ask for her to change the puppy's name, but don't be surprised if she says no. She used the name first, you're not even pregnant yet, why should she have to change it? *That's how a truly selfish person would rationalize it. You can't be rational with irrational people, so you might just have to let this one go.
If you do talk to her about it though, let us know how it turns out. Is your husband willing to say something to her? She might listen better if it came from him. I don't know.
Anyway, sorry....it sounds like you have a long road of figuring out how to deal with her.
I wish you the very best of luck.

I really do.

1 mom found this helpful

My stepfather (and my mom) named my half-brother the same name as his mother's dog (a chihuahua, even!). It's a nice name; I think it was the name of a famous athlete and I always figured my brother and the dog were both named for the athlete. At the time, no one was really bothered, I don't think my brother ever cared, and now, 35 years later, the dog is long dead, & pretty much forgotten, and my brother has a nice name. Hope it all works out!

1 mom found this helpful

Don't let that stop you. Detach. Name your boy the name you picked out anyway. The dog will die long before your son grows up and in the long run, no one will ever remember. Do what you want regardless of what she does.

1 mom found this helpful

I can totally relate in regards to having a rude mother-in-law but I have to say that since you are not pregnant and you may not even have a boy you cannot "call a name". I have a lot of friends who were pregnant at the same time a lot of people like the same names so who ever had their baby first got first pick. You cannot control other people.

To alot of people dogs are like childeren.

I agree that is seriously annoying but why go through the trouble now of making a big deal about it when ultimately this may never be a problem. I had a friend who tried to call a boy name when she had just had a daughter and who knows if she will ever have a son. While I and some other friends were pregnant she tried to tell us that "Collin" was her name - seriously get over yourself.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, You can't change the rudeness of someone, but you can change how you accept the situation. A suggestion might be to love that little puppy with your chosen name, so much so that you befriend him as your own. Also, give him a sweet nickname that he responds to when you address him. Become best friends with that little puppy that you call by a very sweet nickname. Then let every one else deal with whatever comes up for them. You end up with a wonderful friend that will wag his tail for you every time you see each other. "Wag more, bark less....:)"

1 mom found this helpful

Choose your battles wisely. I am sure that this incident with the name bothered you, but if you really like a name, then it really shouldn't matter who or what might have it as well. With my last pregnancy my husband and I decided on a name and then found out that my brother and his wife were thinking of the same name if they had a son. We ended up having twin girls, but had already decided that we would still use the same name for a boy before we found out we were having two girls. It wasn't a big deal. I am sure if you have a son and you name him what ever the name is, you will look at him as your son and not her dog. I would think that maybe this is something to let slide by. Whether she did it intentionally to irritate you, it really isn't a big enough issue to get into it with her. And I do not have a good mother-in-law situation either. But have only had to really get into it with her once in our almost 15 year relationship. Most of the time I would communicate with my husband and if serious enough he would talk to her. There have been many more little things that I have had to let slide in order to keep a healthy relationship with my husband and a tolerable relationship with his mother.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,

I know as much as its hard to sometimes, I just try to make the choice to take the high road. Even though she may or may not of done this on purpose, how you react to it is completely up to you. If you love the name, don't let anyone stop you from naming your child that name~ Remember there are thousands of people with the same name and it really doesn't effect us that much. My name for instance is a VERY common dog name. I have met several people who have named their dog M.-- it doesn't bother me. As far as her selfishness goes---be clear on your boundaries, your family rules etc. and let them be known. She doesn't have to agree with everything you do and vise versa. So my advice to you is to try and let it go, it sounds like she is the type of person who wouldn't understand or be sympathetic to others needs.---


1 mom found this helpful

Pick your battles carefully (if you must battle). What makes you think you have exclusive rights to a name? I once named a dog (beautiful chocolate lab) after a person that I love. (STEVE) It was meant as an endearment and everyone liked it because you don’t run into many dogs named Steve.

Sounds like you don’t like your father-in-law’s wife and perhaps she does not like you. Do you think you might be a bit “controlling?” Have you ever been rude to others? Since you both (hopefully), have two or three things in common; meaning, your husband, your daughter and your father-in-law, you should both be nicer to each other.

Why don’t you tell your in-laws that you love the dogs name and IF you ever have a boy, you will use the name too.


1 mom found this helpful

What a drag! People can be such a bummer sometimes BUT, I would say to let this go! I completley agree with some of the other advice about picking battles and just letting this one pass. I named my baby Sofia (sofi) knowing Oprah had a well-known dog named Sophie :-). Just for one example, I'm sure. As others said before, if you love the name, don't let their dog name stop you...dogs don't live anywhere near as long as our children do. We have a weird name issue with our family about the boy name we loved (bad memories from COlumbine shooting stuff) but we would still choose that name if our second turns out to be a boy because it is our child. Each person has their own identity and personality that no one else (human or critter) can take away from.

Be strong but remember, some battles jsut aren't worth it...consider the source and know her for the brat she is...and, unfortunately, probably will be. Just keep her at more of a distance and on a "doesn't neessarily need to know anything" basis in the future.
Take care,

Dont say anything to her now! She's just waiting for it probably. If you happen to have a boy next time just use the name you both agreed on and like. When you get pregnant just keep telling everyone you havent decided on a name. If your step-mother-in-law brings it up after the baby is born just say "Oh, I forgot that you named your dog that. Oops!". Don't worry about the kid having the same name as an animal. My daughter has the same name as a certain Princess-ogre from Shrek and I dont mind a bit!

Sometimes acting passive and not paying attention to petty antics of the other person is the way to go. When they realize they can't get a rise out of you they give up trying to antagonize you. I've had a lot of experience with this in my family and its worked well.

Lighten up. How nice that the family (and your daughter) will have a familiar name everyone knows when and if you have a son. They will love their baby dogs and you will get used to hearing the name as they train him. Meanwhile, keep looking and another name or two for a son might sound better.

Oh A.- I am so sorry. What an ordeal. FIrst and foremost, you need the support of your husband on this one. YOu told them in confidence that this was the ONE NAME you and your husband had chosen for your son. It is disrespectful of her to say "I know and did it anyway" to not only you, but her own son and soon to be grandson. No if's, and's, or but's, that dogs name will be changed. And if she won't, then you have decided on a new name and refuse to tell it to her because she cannot be trusted. My current boss is exactly this way. FOrtunately, I can look for new work. But a new mother in law is not in the stars for you. Have you gone on the web? I know it's tough looking for a new name, but there are thousands of sites out there that have cultural names (which are amazing, by the way) and have some really great options for traditional, culture specific, and non traditional names.
But you and your husband must be able to confront your MIL on this one and let her know that these kinds of actions are not only unacceptable, but detrimental to your relationship and her future relationship with her grandson. And there is no need for her to behave this way.
Yuck. I am so sorry for such a frustrating situation. Good luck and all my prayers.

This woman has no heart! How evil-minded and selfish. I say name your baby the name you wanted and cut her out of your lives! How could someone purposely do something mean spirited to someone who is about to have a baby. Your lives will be better off without them. Family or not!

Since this is your husband's mother he needs to talk to her. If she insists on keeping the name then if you ever agree upon another name and do have another baby, don't even tell her until after the baby is born and it is on the birth certificate. This may not stop her from naming another animal after it, but then you'll know for sure that she is doing it to spite you.

Good luck.

My mother in law is kind of the same. The only thing you can do is either ignore her behavior and set limits or let her win by letting her get to you. When my MIL would play her games I would not go over to her house. Since I was not going my kids were not going and my husband also was not. My husband supported this and let his mother know that as long as she was going to be rude and manipulative he was going to support his wife in not being exposed to the hurtful behavior. That seems to work and after 5 years of marriage the relation ship with my MIL is not perfect but it is tolerable. Good Luck.

I can not fully understand how you feel, but I am on flip-side of the issue. My cousin, who lives far away and I only see for funerals; her husband is named Andrew. My husband and I went through every baby name book printed and agreed on Andrew. My cousin has never said a word and it is only awkward when everyone is together for a said funeral and adults are telling my Andrew what to do. I knew ahead of time that was my cousin's name, but i love it and i wasn't going to change it.

If you have a boy name him what you want, because if you don't, you will blame her forever for making you change it and you might not LOVE the new name you pick out for your son. But whatever you do don't include her in the plan and ask your hubby not to share it either.

It sounds as if we have the same mother in law! It felt so good to me to know that others shared in my position and that I was not crazy. Hopefully your husband supports you and sees what his step mom is doing. I know people say to talk to the mother in law or to have your husband do it, but sometimes that doesn't change a thing...especially if they think they are doing nothing wrong!
I suppose my advice is the same advice I need to take myself-talk to her, state your position and then realize you can't make someone change. I know it is easier said than done and starting the conversation will be the problem. You have the right to feel the way you feel and you need to vocalize it (again, I need to take my advice). I realized that I get so mad at my mother in law and she probably doesn't even recognize that she is bothering me. It could be the same in your case.
I don't think you need to let things go or let them roll off your back if it involves your family. Do what is right for you. You can't control her selfish behavior, but you do not need to let it control you (even if she is family!)

I am so sorry for you! I would name my child what I wanted and give him a nick name. For sure the dog will not be around as long as your son and if you "give in" it just sets even more president for her to be cruel. I assume you live close (or in the same town?), limiting your visits to your house (no dog) would also be beneficial. Also, it has been my experience (and trust me I have been around a long time), two wrongs do not make a right but stick to your guns and keep you friends close and your enemies closer! Good luck - Nana

I think maybe it's a bit selfish of you to think you can "own" a name. It's like you're saying I called it you can't ever use it for anything. She had something to name, you don't. The fact that maybe you may one day have a boy someday, so she cant use the name. It doesn't sound like she's being selfish at all. I don't see why your kids name can't be the same as the dog anyway. We tried for a boy, we got 5 girls.

Your husband needs to talk to his father. This is his family and it is his responsibility to do the talking. Your father in law has a say in the naming here too. If you talk to the step-mother in law you probably won't get anywhere. She is not connected to this family and does not care as much.

I think you need to really reflect on what bothers you first. Is it the simple fact that she took the name before you could use it? Or do you really think that hearing it over and over again to reference a dog will ruin the name for you? If it's the former, let it go. I had a friend who did the same thing with her cat, but by the time I had my daughter, her cat was no where near the front of my brain and the name was OK for me. It's not like another child, who you'd be writing birthday cards to, so they're not equal in my mind. OK, your mother-in-law sucks for her rudeness and selfishness, but one animal doesn't have to rival your future child. But if you really think that hearing the name in that context will ruin it for you, if you really genuinely don't think you can ever get over it, then speaking your mind is in order here. Something along the lines of "hearing you use that name for a dog will ruin it for me, please consider changing it for my sake. if you can't, I will only be using the generic DOG to ask about your pet."
Good luck, sorry she's such a pill!

It is interesting to me how us women end up at the center of these conflicts. Your Father-in-Law and his wife picked the name for the dog. First, you and your husband need to decide if it is worth addressing. You guys know what kind of intrusions his parents are likely to make into your life. (Past actions predict future actions) If this is the most important conflict you think that you are going to have with them in the next three months, sit with your husband and decide what some possible solutions to this problem are. I know you want them to change the name, but try to think of some other ideas that are acceptable to you. Then let your husband talk to his dad. Then be prepared to accept the compromise that they come to. If your husband does not want to address this, you are going to have to let it go. These are his family relationships before they are yours, so he gets the final word on it.

If you happen to have a boy somewhere down the road, you should name him whatever you want. My in-laws named one of their dogs a name that I have always adored and wanted if we were to have another girl. They didn't know it and I figured that it doesn't matter to me... I love the name and the child will be around much longer than the dog. And I guess I'd just explain it, if it ever came up, that it's something that happens from time to time... people give their dogs people names sometimes. Dogs are like family and they chose a special name for their loved one and I chose a special name for mine, it just happens to be the same.

But I agree with Page... I'd probably remind her that if you ever have a boy it's the name you plan to chose for him. Hopefully she'll envision what that will be like when you all come to visit.

Don't stress. Ultimately she's going to do what she wants and in the interest of keeping things amicable with the grandparents try not to make a huge deal about it. I get that it chaps your hide, but save your energy for your lovely family and do whatever you want down the road... and my vote is give him the name you chose!

You don't mention your husband's reaction to this...is he fine with it? Is this a stepmom he grew up with, or one he acquired in his adult years? (it might impact his comfort level in standing up to her). Does your stepfather condone this choice knowing that you want this name for your future child? I'm not clear as to why YOU are the one who must confront your stepmother-in-law. Bottom line, they need to know that regardless of their choices, that name WILL be the one you use...whether they wish to duplicate it by giving it to their dog as well is something THEY will simply have to explain to their grandson when he is old enough to ask!

Wow!.. hhhmmm.. I would say try talking to her first and let her know how you feel, but at the same time If it's a name that you really love then use it. Pick your battles, don't waiste your energy on something negative. How does your husband feel about this?

Look at it this way, you say she took the name from you that you were going to use for your future boy, IF YOU HAVE ONE.. but the name you chose is someone else in the word's name too.. so what difference does it make?.. I do understand that she did it on purpose to be spitefull and selfish, but what can you do about it?.. Either, ask her to change it, if she choose not too then change your name or keep it. I know people who's name is the same as an animal, doesnt' matter who chose the name first. Just talk to your husband about it, let him know how it's really bothering you and this isnt' the firt time she has done something like this. You might have to give her a over dose of distance, tought love, but stil be loving and respectful to her because that is his mother.

Hope this helps.. My prayers are with you.


A. ~ I think that this is something that you need to let you man handle. It is HIS mother. I hope that he feels the same way that you do about this. If he does not, then the battle is lost! I really don't think that this is something that you should be taking on. If it was your mother, then I would say that you should handle it, but since it is his mother, I think that he should handle it. I am positive that my husband would call his mother up and tell her she better change that name, and what the hell was she thinking! I hope that all works out for you guys! Good Luck, sounds like you have a "Monster" in Law! - Okay so after reading some of the responses, I realized this is his Step Mother - yikes - what a predicament - I still think that he should be the one to handle the situation. If he doesn't feel comfortable approaching her, he needs to approach his father......

I'm sorry that this is upsetting you. It takes awhile to figure out the "mother in law" relationship dynamic. I used to feel like an outsider while getting annoyed at my MIL. When my father in law died, my husband announced that his mom was going to live with us. It was a rough road at first. I have learned lots......That she will never stop being a mother to her son. I've also learned that she loves the grandkids more than anyone on this earth. Sometimes she drives me nuts(and vica versa). Is there anyway that you can get to know her more and share the granddaughter with her and become a loving family unit? It is difficult for everyone. Love is the most important thing. Give love and it will come back 100%. My mother in law is funny...yours can be too!!!!! She digs your taste in names...take this as a compliment! Black Labs deserve great names. I have a black lab and he is the best pet I have ever loved!!! I know that he will live up to your name.

If she knew that was the name you wanted for your child that was pretty bitchy of her. However, go ahead and use the name for your kid anyway. I don't think it matters if a dog has the same name. Lots of other people/creatures probably have that name also.

You could just tell her that is the name you are going to use for your son, and if she keeps it, well, she does. I think she'll be the one feeling awkward after a while when her beloved grandson has the same name as her dog.

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