Fighting over Names

Updated on July 25, 2016
H.B. asks from Modesto, CA
23 answers

My best friend and I have started fighting over naming my son. I am 27 weeks pregnant with my 4th biological son. I named each of my earlier sons when they were born or after (changing my mind after I met them). My friend has been with me, as close as a spouse, through this pregnancy and has taken a strong interest - even vetoing names I was trying out. I am ok with this. But now, she's gotten mad at me and I need a way to tell her to back off and let me be.

I am considering naming my son after my father. I have a love-hate relationship with my dad for abusive reasons that have been resolved (but means we'll never be very close). Right now he has cancer and it seems like an appropriate thing to do, since I don't have any "favorite" names - I feel like I used up all the names I really liked with my first 3 sons. The problem is two things: I feel uncomfortable saying the name because of personal history between me and my dad. And, he has three sons and five grandsons and wouldn't let anyone name a kid after him (told them not to), so I'd be doing it subversively against his wishes.

My friend knows all this. But I had a conversation with her about how I was thinking about doing it anyway. The fight between us started when she told me she she wanted to tell her mom the name so she can get something monogrammed for me for my baby shower. I reminded her that, first we're not telling anyone the name before he's born because I'm tired of the number of people (family, etc) who hate the names I pick. And second, I'm not settled - and knowing my pattern, I might change the name at the last minute. She told me that I keep going back on my word (as in, I keep changing my mind about the names), and that I'm the only mother she knows that waits until the kid is born to name it. I responded that I thought it was unreasonable for her to push me to choose a name - I still have 3 months left in this pregnancy and anything can happen from here to then.

My husband agrees with me that we should give whatever name some time to settle and make sure it really works for us, and waiting until later to announce a true decision is appropriate. My friend is really mad because she has created a "naming" game for the shower with the plan to announce it then, and the monogram issue. Her accusations about me being "weird" and going back on my word (as in changing my mind) really hurt me (of course I'm emotional).

Any suggestions for how to talk to her about this? Without saying, it's not your choice or your business? (She's been there helping me pick names for each of my other kids, and I don't want her to not be involved, just to let me have time to do my own process.)

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So What Happened?

I just want to say thanks for the responses. So many great ideas about the name. The name being considered is Richard - my mom named my brother Arick (A-Rick) as a derivation. I could look into doing something like that.

As for my friend, I am reading loud and clear that firm boundaries is in order. She and I are very close, and we do bicker like sisters. But this isn't the first time I have heard it said that she is a bully. We have a long (20+ year) pattern of this. That's something for me to work on and deal with, one step at a time. I also realize that she has certain expectations (that are hers), that are clouding this issue. I want to respect her own issues - as her friend - but she really needs to respect mine as well.

I greatly appreciate learning that I'm not the only one who prefers to wait until I meet the kid before calling him something. It seems much more logical to me than to name a child before they even get here. I'm so glad I'm not the only one.


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answers from Dallas on

She's being completely unreasonable. I didn't have a name for my son until the month before he was born. You're not being over motional about it. She's being a brat. She can ditch the damn naming game. It's not about her. She's not being a good friend right now. I don't know what to tell her. Maybe just don't bother bringing it up again. If she does, just reinforce, "my husband and I have decided to wait".

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answers from Portland on

Really, why is it her business? I would kindly tell her that I would not talk about names anymore. I would add this is not up for discussion and if she continues, walk away or hang up the phone which is a natural consequence. Don't give a reason. If you do it'll start another fight. When we give reasons for our decisions and the other person disagrees, we give them something to argue about.

Really, why does she think her opinion carries more weight than yours and your husbands? And why have you allowed yourself get sucked into arguments? You are only responsible for your feelings. You want the subject of names dropped. Make it happen. How she feels is her choice.

Re: the monogram. She can buy the object and take it to be monogrammed later. Feels to me that your friend is making your pregnancy all about her. It is not! You need to do what you and your husband want to do.

You didn't ask about giving your baby your father's name. I did not see any good reason to do that. The name makes you uncomfortable. Your father doesn't want any child named after him, so why are you considering it? Perhaps you're thinking that it's the right thing to do because many families use relatives names.

You need to use a name that is comfortable for you and your husband. You will live with the name the rest of your life and so will your baby. I would not name a child after a relative who has not been kind to me, if for no other reason, than my child may think poorly of himself as he learns I do not feel happy about this person. You would be setting up your father as a role model for your son. "I have his name. Am I like him?"

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answers from Miami on

Lots of problems here. Your friend has too much power in your relationship. It's not her place to demand a name. Stop talking about it with her. It's a surprise that you're having a shower after this many kids is, but you don't owe her a "game" or a monogram.

Another problem. You would sidle a CHILD with an abusive father's name just because he's dying? That's wrong to do to the child. Another problem- your father doesn't want children named after him. You are passive-aggressively going to do it anyway. Your excuse that "it's an appropriate thing to do" is just as unfair to your child as it is to name him after an abuser.

As much as your friend has "issues", you do too and you should work these out with a therapist rather than treating your child like this so you can thumb your nose at your father.

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answers from Atlanta on

Darn, I thought it was the pregnant woman who was supposed to be emotional and unpredictable, not her non-pregnant friends! (I'm saying that as a joke. You are not being excessively emotional; your friend is.)

I do think your friend has crossed some boundaries in this situation and needs to be kindly-but-firmly escorted back to her side of the river. It's unfortunate that she is disappointed because she built up a scenario with a naming game and monograms, however that scenario is HERS, not something you asked her to do. This situation is a really good occasion for sorting out what actions you need to take for YOU and what things are her responsibility for her to deal with. In my view, her feelings and expectations are HER responsibility, and she is the one who needs to deal with them. My suggestion for talking to her would be to remind her that with each of your previous three children, you ended up calling him a different name than you had planned. Tell her that history is likely to repeat itself this time, and it therefore makes no sense to announce a name at a shower and get things with a monogram beforehand. Also, you and your husband simply have not decided on the name yet (which is true!), so you cannot share the name with her mother anyway.

If you want to find a middle ground, perhaps she can still do a name game with possible names and just not have a 'name reveal' at the end. If she and her mother want to give you something with a monogram, they can give a raincheck for it to be made after the baby is born and named. The gift doesn't have to be rejected; it just won't happen in the timeframe she is envisioning now.

With regards to picking your child's name, I do think you should NOT name him after your father for two reasons. Your father has always said he doesn't want a grandchild named after him, and assuming he will still be alive when your son is born, he will know that you did so despite his stated opposition. I don't think that is a good surprise and might well cause unnecessary conflict. Also, if you have any discomfort with saying his name, I strongly advise against giving it to your son. We wanted to give my daughter a name to honor my mother's side of the family, however I did not want to use my grandmother's name because she was an admirable but rather difficult woman and I would not have been comfortable calling my child that name. We picked another name which started with the same letter and let it be known in the family that it was in honor of my grandmother and my great-grandmother (both of whom had names starting with M). Perhaps you and your husband can find a name which starts with the same letter as your father's name, and that way you can honor him without the unwanted associations?

Good luck with it!

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answers from Honolulu on

I believe that your friend has inserted herself, or that you have allowed her to become inserted, in your marriage and in your childbirth experiences in a way that is very inappropriate.

It's perfectly fine, and normal, to get friends' opinions about names. It's perfectly fine, and normal, to wait until the baby is born to look at the baby and say "you definitely look like a [Michael or Josiah or Amelia or Elizabeth Ann] so even though we had other names picked out, these just sound right" or "he looks just like Uncle Samuel so that's what we'll call him" or even to give it a few hours.

However, what your friend is doing is not fine, and it's not normal. To be angry about this, to insist that a name be chosen and revealed, to want to monogram things in advance, to plan naming games, to be THAT involved that a fight develops, well, that's unhealthy and wrong. Sometimes, a friend assumes an inappropriate role in a relationship. Sometimes it's because of that person's insistence, or lack of a personal life, or just the extreme desire to micromanage other people's lives. Sometimes it starts innocently, and it just snowballs, and before you know it, that person is just too close. It's time to close up the boundaries. This is not something that a female friend should have control over. Input, sure. Anger and control, no. It's as though you had a burglary, and you ended up feeding the burglar and inviting him to stay in the guest room.

The only way to handle this is to be honest. It ISN'T her choice and it ISN'T her business. You will need to tell her to respect your choice. Tell her you value her friendship but she will not have executive decision making privileges about what - and when - you name your son.

As for your dad's name, I respect your situation. Is there any way you could find a variation of your dad's name? If his name is James, for example, could you call your son Jameson, or Jamie, or Jeremiah, or Jacob? You can look up a name online and google variations of the name.

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answers from San Antonio on

My cousin had a name all picked out and as soon as she saw her daughter she knew it was the wrong name. She changed it on the spot.

Sometimes the name just doesn't fit the child.

I actually thought it was your spouse that you were fighting with....arguing with a friend like this is kinda over the top and weird. It is your baby and your prerogative to name him with your husband.

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answers from Atlanta on

ADDED: I would NOT name my child after a person who has given me bad memories. That would be a constant reminder for me. Sorry.

Your friend has overstepped her boundaries. The hard part is going to be putting her back in the barn now that the barn doors have been opened and she's out.

This will be hard. You need to tell her that you really appreciate her but you need her to back off and let you breathe and figure this out on your own with your husband.

Congratulations on the newest baby!! I have 4 boys!! Welcome to the club! :)

Oh yeah! Tyler and I didn't name our boys until they were born and we saw them. We tossed names around but didn't choose until we saw them.

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answers from Phoenix on

I guess I'm confused. On one hand you say she has been there with you in "helping pick names for each of my other kids" but then you say "I might change the name at the last minute" and that has been your "pattern".

So my point is, even though she has had input with the 3 other kids, in the end you still pick the name you want anyway no matter what her input has been. So why is this even an issue?

Just TELL her you are not decided on the name, won't be discussing it further with anyone besides your husband and there will NOT be any "name the baby" games or references to a name at the shower. Just flat out put it out there. I mean, do you really need this stress over something that shouldn't even be an issue? Good luck.

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answers from Las Vegas on

I've also settled on a name after seeing my baby. My husband wanted one name, and I was thinking of another. I waited until I saw my son, and it ended up being the name my husband wanted. So, all that to say that you are NOT doing anything that is unusual.

Your friend, no matter how close and how long you've known her, is WAY overstepping boundaries here, and you're letting her.

It doesn't matter if she's been there for you for years and years through your pregnancies and naming of your other children. NONE OF THAT gives her permission to badger and harass you, or be disrespectful toward you and your husband, and that's exactly what she is doing right now.

There are only about a million and one other games she can choose for the shower, so you might suggest she start picking one of them that doesn't involve your name choices. As for the monogramming issue, again, that means nothing in the scheme of things. If your friend and her mom can't wait until after the baby is born and given his name, and they want to get all twisted about it, let them. Don't give it another thought.

"Sarah, I appreciate your input, but Joe and I have decided to wait until the baby is born to decide on his name." End of story. Don't engage in any further discussion about it. She'll just have to work through her feelings on her own. This is the last thing you should be worrying about as you prepare to welcome a new member to your family.

As for naming your baby after your dad, I want to direct you back to your own words to consider this more fully: "I feel uncomfortable saying the name because of personal history between me and my dad." Do you want to feel uncomfortable EVERY time you say your son's name? How do you think that might impact the way you see/feel about/bond with your new son? You should not name your child out of guilt or sad feelings about your father's medical condition.

The only reason you should give your son any particular name is because YOU and YOUR HUSBAND think it fits him.

Congratulations and hope you have a safe delivery.

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answers from Santa Fe on

No offense, but your friend sounds obnoxious. Just tell her that no she should definitely not do a naming game at the baby shower so that is ruled out. And tell her no she will not know the name beforehand because you may change your mind after you meet the baby. By the way, I had several friends who did this. Baby had no name for about a week while they got to know him/her and then decided. My SIL didn't even have a name list when her second child was born and then she spontaneously came up with a name right after my niece was born! You are not weird. Your friend however is weirdly controlling.

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answers from Amarillo on

ETA: As per your SWH, 20 years is a long time to have a friend like this in your life. I am surprised your husband puts up with her and her actions. She is like the third party in a two party marriage. We all know where Diana and Charles and Carmela ended up.

Look at where you are in life as a family (husband/wife and kids) and see if there are other people out there that have a better fit and let this person go. As we age or grow up, we change or should change our outlook on life and our friends. Perhaps the season for this friendship is coming to a close. You stated that "I want to respect her own issues - as a friend - but she really needs to respect mine as well." That's not going to happen any time soon.

You are a big girl now with a family to consider as a first priority. You are not responsible for her happiness. She has stepped over so many boundaries and could possibly ruin your marriage if she is involved any longer. Can she support your and your kids if something were to happen your husband? I don't think so.

ORIGINAL: I have to go with Elena B and Wild Woman on this one.

The way I read it, I thought that your friend was your spouse in this relationship. She is too damn involved. Yes, it was nice for her to be there for the other three but this fourth is still yours. If she really wants to do all this, perhaps she should have her own baby. I know I am not being nice but it is your business when and what you name your son. You have told her your past history and she needs to abide by it. Not her baby, not her choice of name. You are probably hormonal but that is part of being pregnant but I don't think so on this one. Speak to her firmly and set up some very firm boundaries and stick to them. You might need to take a break from each other for a bit to get back your focus of how this relationship will continue in the future as you just might part ways and become distant if it not done. She needs to stop bullying you into doing something you are not ready to do.

As for naming after dad, go with initials but a different name to honor him. That way you respect his wish not to have a child named after him for whatever reasoning he has.

Good luck with both situations. May your have a healthy and speedy delivery with no complications. May your dad's time on earth be filled with joy and peace.

Keep us updated.

the other S.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Simply say "Yes, I guess I'm a little different than most people, but I won't decide until I see him. I know that's inconvenient, and I'm sorry for that. It's just how I am."

I DON'T think you are different or unusual in this at all. But sometimes it's easier to prevent an argument by simply agreeing with the other person on something trivial (because who cares if your decision is "weird" or not) - and then stick to your guns on the important issue.

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answers from San Francisco on

Wow she sounds super immature, and way too involved. There are a thousand baby shower games that don't involve names and monogrammed gifts can come after the baby is born. We always had two or three names picked out, of each sex (that's right, we didn't even find out the sex!) and I didn't care what anyone else, except for my husband, thought of my choices.
I think you just tell her to leave it alone, and that you don't want to discuss it any more.

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answers from Santa Fe on

I would not like a name for my son that is related to a bad experience. Dad or not. Your son will carry always that kind of emotional bond you have with your dad and your son deserves better to be born with a name that relates to him only and a new start into his bright future.

About your friend. How can you shell out so much time for her (and her drama) with 3 son's, husband and soon new baby? I think you should focus more on you, husband and family. It's healthier and keeps you happier.

Congratulation on your pregnancy.

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answers from Norfolk on

It really is best not to discuss this with anyone but your husband.
Next time the topic comes up with anybody you don't want to discuss it with just tell them you're overwhelmed and need to just think about it without going over it out loud.
It's your baby.
You name him/her and send out announcements after the birth.
Veto the naming game for the shower.
I really don't know anyone who gets worked up over monograms these days.
Your friend is getting WAY TOO involved in your pregnancy.
She needs to back off.
If she tells you "Well nobody else does this" - just say
"Good. I'm unique and quite happy to be different that way!".
She should take a step back and get a new hobby to fill out some of her spare time.

My husband and I had it down to a few names but couldn't decide which to go with.
Once our son was born we saw what he looked like - and his name just seemed obvious - and it definitely fits him perfectly.

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answers from Portland on

Definitely a boundary issue. My best friend and sisters are very close to me - but my husband and I are private and mindful of what we keep to ourselves. Baby names etc. were our business. I may have ran our ideas past them, but they certainly had no say in vetoing them.

If she has a history of bullying or feeling entitled, then it's even more important you don't allow her to overstep.

You just say that you feel pressured at the moment, you'd appreciate it if she respected yours and your husband's decision to name the baby after the birth.

If she has a problem with that - listen to her, say you understand, but that's not your concern. If she has issues, they are hers alone. You can listen, but don't take them on. Not sure why you've allowed her to become spouse like. That's not healthy for your friendship or your marriage.

My kids' middle names are from loved ones. They light up when we share stories about these people because they were so loved and admired. I've not heard of someone naming a child after someone who had abused them. I realize it's in the past and you've had some closure (which is wonderful). But obviously you still have issues regarding the name - so why put that on you, and your child? Plenty of names. I agree - take the time to go over ideas with just your husband.

We had several picked out but waited for the birth to decide with our kids. My name was changed after a few days - my parents felt I didn't look like what they'd picked out for me. So you're not the only ones :)

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answers from Kansas City on

We didnt tell anyone our kids' names before they were born. They had pre-born nicknames. Our daughter was Leia and our son was Archie. There's no need for everyone to know the name until its on the birth certificate.

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answers from Washington DC on

show her this message, H..

Tell her you appreciate that she is there for you, your husband and your son's. however, this is YOUR child, not hers.

When we named our two boys? It was funny. My husband is Russian. So he wanted something like Boris or something like that. We ended up naming him after my husband's grandfather and my father. When that name came out? My son started kicking my belly. We knew that was it.

Our second son? We had tossed names around - again - he was pushing for Boris. I think just to get me riled up! and we didn't name him until we saw him.

Please breathe. Remind your friend that you love her and want her around and her input. but please, don't take over.

Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Just tell her while you cherish her involvement in your children's lives, you and your husband need some space for the just the 2 of you, on naming this baby. Ask her if she would please choose other games for your shower because you are still taking in a lot of considerations on names right now. If she is a true friend, she will back down. We are talking about a shower game here. An even that lasts for maybe 10-20 minutes. Your baby will have his name for his lifetime is your friend wants monogrammed can wait, or does not need to be done. Honestly your friend is NOT seeing the big picture here.

Also, I'm really not understanding why you are considering a name you have trouble even saying. That just doesn't make any sense to me. Why don't you ask your father's opinion about names? Tell him you are struggling with ideas for this baby. You already know his opinion on his own name being used. Maybe he has a favorite relative or family name, personal hero, favorite character, or some other meaningful suggestions. That way, there may be a way you can honor him (if you do get a good idea from him) without using his own name. If that goes nowhere, you and your hubby have some more thought to put into it.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think you need to tell your friend that she needs to keep the monogrammed gift for after the baby is born.

Many people bring a gift to the shower AND then they bring a gift to the hospital too. She's around all the time and can give the little one the gift even when he's a month old.

I think she just wants to unveil the name at the shower and take your thunder.

As for naming your child after your dad. It sounds like you're doing it for the wrong reasons. You're doing it to annoy and piss him off. He doesn't want anyone named after him but yet you're thinking of doing it anyway. So that seems a little passive aggressive.

I hated my parents and my daughter refused to name any of her kids after either of them. I supported her in that decision.

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answers from Chicago on

Is she the more dominant one in your long term relationship? I have a bestie whom I got to know when I was fresh out of graduate school and she was a sophisticated professional with 10 years up on me. I followed her every judgement as if they were law. Fastforward a couple of decades, and her expectation is that I will still follow her every judgement as if it were law. We've gone through periods of not speaking, then renewing, then not speaking. Each not speaking period is preceded by my not taking her advice. Relationships are like a dance..some are waltzes where you are always touching, others are jitterbugs...! They make life interesting!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

YOUR kid, YOUR decision as to what and when to name him.
Your friend's plans for shower games and monogrammed nappies are not your problem to deal with.



answers from Seattle on

I think you just need to gently let her know that parents often announce the name and the gender of the child after they are born. We did that with our 2nd child and decided not to announce the name and chose not to find out his gender until he was born. It was fun for us to do it differently the second time. Just let her know you are still deciding and that in the long run, it won't matter if something is monogramed or not. I know a couple of my family member and friends were slightly annoyed with me too, but I brushed it off. They are planners and really wanted to know. I really wanted to experience meeting him or her and getting that wonderful surprise... "It's a boy!"

As long as she respects your wishes, it can't hurt to talk about names with her, but remind her that you won't decide until you see him. Congratulations!

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