One of the earliest big decisions a parent will have to make for their child is the name they will give them.
Like all of the other big decisions, the people around them will be full of opinions, some positive and some negative, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
While Redditor HumanSquare7970 was pretty certain that his parents would not like the names he had chosen for his twin children, he didn’t expect them to dislike them as much as they did.
But when they attempted to abandon the names entirely, the Original Poster (OP) realized he had a much bigger problem on his hands than he originally thought.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my parents that my wife and I do not want them renaming our children and won’t encourage the use of the ‘nicknames’ they gave them?”
The OP put a lot of work with his wife into the naming of their children.
“My wife and I welcomed twins in November. We struggled to have children for a long time (9 years) and had our twins via IVF.”
“It was a long battle to have our babies, and when we chose their names, it was something we not only took seriously but poured a lot of love into because we knew they would be the only children we would name.”
“We chose the first names Ezra and Esme for the twins. Their middle names are more uncommon, so we won’t share them.”
“But what I will say is part of what went into the choice for these names was the length.”
“Growing up, I had a long last name (10 letters), and my parents gave me very formal and lengthy first and middle names (Frederick Lawrence), and I always found my name very stuffy and old-fashioned.”
“I go by a nickname derived from my middle name now. I also took my wife’s much simpler last name when we married.”
The OP’s parents pushed back against the names they had selected.
“So we announced the name of our twins when they were a day old.”
“When we announced the names, we were aware my parents might not be in love with them, but I stupidly believed the twins being born would be enough of a deterrent for a negative comment.”
“About a week after they were born, my parents asked what kind of names they had and how could we give them such juvenile and incomplete names.”
“I told them they were neither of those things, and they needed to be careful about how they spoke about their grandchildren’s names.”
The OP’s parents took their disagreement a monumental step forward.
“I thought they had listened, but then in January, they started calling them Winifred and Douglas.”
“At first, we weren’t positive they were talking about the twins, but then we were celebrating my niece’s 10th birthday, and my parents directly addressed my daughter as Winifred; I knew it was them they were talking to.”
“I told them those were not their names.”
“They said those were nicknames they had given them, and everyone has a nickname, that it’s not like we gave them names that could lend themselves to nicknames.”
“I said Ezzie and Essie if they really wanted nicknames.”
“They ignored me, and they continued to use the ‘nicknames.'”
Limited contact was the next step.
“So we decided not to be around because, on top of that, they were telling my siblings that the names they had chosen were better for my children. My siblings thought they were crazy.”
“My parents tried to see the kids a few times since, and I always told them no.”
“They asked why, and I told them they do not get to see our children if all they can do is insult their names.”
“My parents accused me of trying to control them and said nicknames are a part of life.”
“I told them what they had done wasn’t giving a nickname. It was renaming my children in their own heads, and my wife and I do not want them renaming them.”
“I also said we will not further encourage the use of the ‘nicknames’ they gave them.”
“My parents said if I had stuck to the family way of naming babies, none of this would be happening, and they said I was being unfair to them.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were concerned about the grandparents’ potentially malicious involvement.
“This screams of entitlement. It’s the whole, ‘I’m the parent, you’re the child, argument.’ They still see you as their property; therefore, your children are their property by proxy.”
“My maternal grandmother did it to her eldest grandchild; the kid had an extremely blunt streak and let her know it wasn’t appreciated with a very obvious, ‘that’s not my name!’ by the time she was three.” – Street-Week-380
“If they wanted long names for their own heads, why go with giving them completely different names? They could just call them their ACTUAL names and pretend TO THEMSELVES that those are nicknames for Esmeralda and Ezekiah or something.”
“Then they can not complain AND not confuse the kids. But the most important part of this would be if they could keep it to their own imagination, which I don’t think they could do.” – adventuresinnonsense
“NTA. Your parents sound like narcissists. They are bullying you.” – sourgreg
“NTA. The names you and your wife chose are lovely. Your parents are way out of line, disrespectful and controlling, and good for you for standing up to them.” – BoudicaTheArtist
“My grandmother did for my daughter. She didn’t like the name I picked and told me so (she wasn’t mean or hateful about it, just honest). My daughter LOVED it when she was old enough to grasp that she had a name that her great-grandmother had just for her, it was their special thing.”
“At 2.5/3 years old, my kid would correct anyone else for even shortening her actual name and be pretty assertive about people using her full name, but with my grandmother, she’d snuggle up to her and say, ‘I’m your Cynthia.’ That’s the actual name my grandmother used, not even close to her actual name, they aren’t even related in any language to each other, but that was their thing.”
“We lost my grandmother when my daughter was 6, and a decade later, she still has cards and such addressed to Cynthia in my grandmother’s handwriting and says she’s naming her daughter that if she has a girl.”
“But none of this was malicious. It was more of a family inside joke. Two stubborn women having a battle of wills and the littlest stubborn person picking the winner.”
“If my daughter had insisted, it would have ended with that, but she ran with it, embraced it, and still has lovely memories of being special because she’s the only great ‘named’ by my grandmother.” – lisa_37743
Others pointed out that it shouldn’t be so difficult to respect someone’s choice of names.
“When my son was born, and we named him, whenever someone would call him a nickname (which is an annoyingly popular trend where I live) or pronounce the name wrong, my parents would keep correcting the person until they got annoyed and left or said the name right.”
“Their reason is that it is very easy for the kid to memorize his name wrong if we let people call him whatever, and it happened to kids my mom took care of when she was a teacher. My wife and I were actually very happy my parents did that cause my wife has a hard time calling out people, and I would join my parents on the correcting.” – DoctorBoomeranger
“My older sister and BIL (brother-in-law) named their older son something that has a very easy and obvious nickname. Think Benjamin, with the obvious nicknames of Ben or Benny. They made it clear when they revealed the name at the baby shower that they did NOT want anyone to use that nickname for him until and unless he decided he wanted to be called it.”
“Everyone has respected it as far as I am aware of, and Nephew 1 has given no indications so far that he wants to be called by the nickname.”
“Similarly, our grandfather attempted to call my older sister by a nickname when she was little (she also has a name that has a very obvious nickname to it). My sister hated it, so my parents put their foot down and told him not to call her that unless she was okay with it. Since she wasn’t, he never called her the nickname again and always used her full name.”
“I never understand these people who insist on calling someone by something they hate, or that is not their name.” – Stylishbutitsillegal
“How… what…? You can’t turn Robert into Zachary. That’s not a nickname. That’s a whole fricking other name.”
“I would ‘not further encourage’ the fake names. I wouldn’t let it happen again. If they say it on the phone, end the call. If they say it on a visit, pack up and leave.”
“If you want to be petty, now only give your parents personalized gifts: ‘Ezra loves Nana’ mug, ‘Esme loves her Grandpa’ tee, ‘#1 Grandparents to Ezra and Esme’ hand towels. Keychains, mouse pads, beach towels… But I’m petty.”
“Names are important. If your twins want to someday change their names, fine. Not the grandparents. You went through so much to have your babes. And congratulations! NTA.” – GatorSweet
“Also, a suggestion: Buy the babies some dolls or teddies or something and call THEM Winnifred and Douglas.”
“Then whenever they mention those names in front of other people, say something like, ‘No, silly, Winnifred is Ezra’s teddy bear’s name!’ or if they ask to do something like hold the babies (using the ‘nicknames’), you can hand them the toys and say, ‘You asked for Douglas and Winnifred, here you go!'” – CuckooPint
“Longer names that don’t even match the first names ARE NOT nicknames. Would they prefer to be called grandma and grandpa or birth giver of father and sperm donor of father? It’s just as rude and nonsensical. But at least that way would be truer.”
“Short names do not need longer nicknames, and while they may adopt some nicknames later on based on hobbies and interests, a regular name is not the same category at all. Ezra and Esme are beautiful names, and congrats to you and your wife.”
“How can you see your child suffering to have a baby and then focus on ruining their experience just because you think you’re just that much better of a parent is beyond me.”
“You have a set a great rule (albeit, shouldn’t be necessary), but I hope you follow through on it, or these grandparents are going to lose two grandkids for the price of one idiotic grievance.” – Environmental_Belt22
Though the subReddit could understand someone not liking a name that their family member chose for their newborn baby, they could not otherwise get behind disrespecting someone’s name by either making comments about it or changing it entirely as if to hide it.
Hopefully, the OP could discuss this with the family further and find some way to make the names special, like creating family merchandise with the names on them, to help them all move beyond this.