in ,

Grieving Mom Irate After Pregnant Sister Rejects Family Tradition Of Naming Baby After Late Son

woman in hospital bed holding newborn baby
Jill Lehmann Photography/Getty Images

Baby names seem to be another topic rife with drama. Everyone has an opinion and no trouble voicing it.

It’s not just conflict between the parents of the child either. Extended family and even friends get involved in the fray.

Family naming traditions, when to reuse or not reuse a name and personal preferences can cause hurt feelings and outright animosity.

A mom-to-be found herself and her husband at odds with her family over the middle name for her unborn child. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Redditor TechnicianFearless56 asked:

“AITA for ending a family naming tradition by not giving my son my late nephew’s name as his middle name even though my sister has said she wants me to?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My family have always had this tradition where the first child born after the loss of someone in the family gets the late family member’s name as their middle name.”

“My sister and I both have those middle names. Hers is Patricia after a cousin of our mom’s and mine is Denise after my dad’s aunt.”

“Almost a year ago my sister lost her 2 day old son, Philip. He was the last family member we lost and it was a huge, earth shattering blow for our family.”

“I found out I was pregnant a few months ago. I waited a while to tell anyone and my sister was the first person we told, privately.”

“When I told her she said it would be nice to have some positive news to focus on and she wanted me to continue the tradition our family keeps and give my baby, if a boy, the middle name Philip.”

“She was so happy about the idea. It surprised me a lot. I would have figured she would not be okay with it. But she wanted it.”

“The problem is my husband and I do not want to continue with the tradition. We do not want to give our son the middle name Philip.”

“The name isn’t one either of us likes or would ever pick ourselves… We have not announced the sex of our baby yet but my husband and I know we are expecting a boy.”

“My family were saying how amazing it will be if my baby is a boy and Philip’s name can be carried on… I suggested they wait until we announce the sex and the name before jumping to conclusions.”

“They asked why and I said we were thinking of not continuing with the tradition. My family, and by that I mean my parents mostly, were really upset.”

“My sister was the worst though. She asked why I wouldn’t want to honor Philip and why it was him the tradition was getting broken on.”

“She asked if I saw him as meaning so little and I said no, of course not. Then she asked if it was his name and we didn’t like it.”

“She said she really hoped it wasn’t that. I said we just didn’t feel like the tradition was something we wanted to continue.”

“The decision has brought up a lot of bad feelings and my sister is especially angry and thinks I’m being insensitive and showing how little I care for my nephew. I feel terrible.”

“She’s so angry at me and my parents are unhappy as well. My husband hates them for putting this pressure on us.”

“He said we should be allowed to name our son what we want and we should not be obliged to use a certain name. I never wanted to be an a**hole but my family believes I am.”


The OP added:

“I was never fully committed to continuing with it. To me there were always negatives in it.”

“But it’s a big factor now considering my husband doesn’t like the name either.”

“It was known I didn’t really want to continue it. But I think my family assumed that over time I would grow to love the tradition like they do.”

The OP summed up their dilemma.

“I am ending a family tradition and not giving my son my late nephew’s middle name despite my sister wanting me to.”

“I know how much this means to my family and especially my sister and I can’t help but feel like I am doing the wrong thing and causing them more pain after we all suffered a loss, but especially my sister.”

“I wish it wouldn’t be a fight. But I also know my husband would be unhappy if we use the name just to keep my family happy.”

“We have both also considered if someone else in the family passes before we have a second child and we’re then obligated to keep doing it.”

“My sister loves the tradition. We were always different on where we stood with it. But I think the tradition plays into why for her in a huge way.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The majority of Redditors agreed the expectant parents were not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. You and your husband have the right to name your child whatever you want. However, your family also has the right to be hurt. Not only is this a tradition, but it’s a tradition that honors people the family has lost.”

“Keep in mind how rarely a middle name is actually used. Is this something you are willing to create a fight over? (As you say your husband ‘hates’ your family for putting so much pressure on the name.)” ~ aj_alva

“NTA – it may be a tradition for your family, but it’s not for your partner. This baby is both yours and your partners, so it’s up to you both how you go about naming your child.”

“I understand your family’s feelings, but these expectations that someone else who had nothing to do with deciding these traditions will just go with it also seem too one-sided.” ~ RefrigeratorFun4676

“NTA There’s a saying that traditions are peer pressure from the dead.” ~ shammy_dammy

Some felt strongly the OP was the a**hole (YTA) and explained why in great detail.

YTA. Look, some traditions are stupid. A lot of out-dated, bigoted, and even dangerous ideas and activities are carried on through tradition, passed down from a time when people thought and behaved in very different ways.”

“That’s obviously a bad thing, and such traditions should be identified and uprooted. But tradition as a concept is an important part of any culture, whether that culture is a religion, a country, or just a single family lineage.”

“It’s a shared experience that’s unique to its adherents, and can strengthen one’s sense of familiarity and belonging with others who partake in it.”

“If a group follows a certain tradition for long enough, then that tradition can come to be an identifier of that group. At that point, rejection of the tradition can often be interpreted as rejection of the group itself.”

“So. If you use Philip as a middle name, it will help your sister in her grief for her son. It will help her heal. It will create a stronger connection between the two of you, and among the family itself.”

“On the other hand, you don’t really like the name.

“If you don’t name the kid Philip, your sister will be devastated. Your family will consider it a rejection of a core value that is deeply important to them.”

“They might distance themselves from you, not as an overt punishment meant to manipulate, but because they genuinely don’t like you as much. The middle name you choose for him instead might be stupid.”

“On the other hand, you’ll like the name you pick better.”

“Even giving your side more weight because you’re the parent, I don’t see how you win this one. It’s a MIDDLE name. Just give him two. One you like, one for your sister.”

“Also, have you considered that your son might like the name Philip a lot? And if he doesn’t…he can change it?” ~ Nerethi

“YTA. It’s a middle name which no one ever uses, cheer up your sister who’s grieving and honor YOUR nephew.”

“You have the perfect way to honor him and I feel like any other sane person I know would beg to honor their nephew if they had this beautiful tradition in their family.”

“Why lie and hurt everyone in your family over a middle name?”

“I mean if your family was horrible to you growing up and you have minimal contact with them, then f’k tradition, but you seem to have a good relationship with your sister, and I feel soo bad that your true colors only showed during one of the darkest things that could happen to a mother (your sister).”

“I hope you have a change of heart because you sound super selfish. My condolences to your sister.” ~ mrmillan323

While others felt there were a lot of hurt feelings, but no a**holes here.

“NAH. Look, you get to name your kid whatever you want, but your sister is entitled to her feelings, and she will NEVER be able to fully believe that your choice to break with tradition isn’t some sort of slight of her or the 2-day old baby she lost.”

“That kind of thing is going to hurt her for the rest of her life. If you want her to feel less hurt by it, you could start by explaining why (say) you never wanted to carry on that tradition, and it isn’t about her.”

“But even if you do, she’s entitled to her feelings.”

“In short, it’s your choice, but your choice has consequences.” ~ nylonvest

“I’d probably just give my kid the middle name too. How often do most people ever really use their middle names? I know some people choose to, but that would be their kid’s choice after they get older anyway.”

“That being said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the OP not wanting to continue the tradition if they don’t want to, and there’s nothing wrong with the family being disappointed by OP’s decision. NAH.” ~ ryazaki

“NAH. You do not ever have to follow tradition if your heart isn’t in it.”

“That said, if Phillip had been my baby, this would genuinely break my heart. So I don’t blame her for an emotional reaction.” ~ cb1977007

Hopefully the baby is a girl, and the OP can avoid the issue completely.

Otherwise, it doesn’t sound like there’s any path forward where someone won’t be upset.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.