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Mom-To-Be Balks After MIL Demands Baby Not Share A Name With Daughter’s Old School Bully

Pregnant woman deciding baby names
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CW: Suicide. 

“What’s in a name?”

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”

We hear you, Shakespeare, but what if a name is a deep connection to something not sweet at all, and the mere mention of it inflicts painful memories rooted in childhood trauma?

And what if you had the power to ensure a person isn’t reminded of his or her suffering simply by choosing a different name for your unborn child?

A woman on Reddit is upset after her mother-in-law demands she change the name she picked for her unborn child because it is the name of her sister-in-law’s school bully, so she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit to seek feedback from fellow Redditors.

Redditor asked:

“WIBTA (Would I be the a**hole) for not wanting to change my babies name?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I’m 8 months pregnant, and have been purposefully holding off on revealing my babies name and gender but since it’s so close me and my husband invited invited my parents, his and his sister Ashley who’s 17.”

“Dinner was going great until we announce we’re having a boy and naming him Shawn.”

That’s when things took a turn.

“My in laws got a little quiet for a moment before my MIL asked if there was any other options we’d considered.”

“We took forever to pick a name, Shawn is the only one we could agree on.”

Then, OP found out why they weren’t too fond of the name.

“MIL told us that that’s the name of Ashley’s old bully who tormented her heavily in school and online during 2020-2021 and it got so bad she switched schools.”

“It got a awkward after that, there wasn’t much else to say and dinner ended quickly after.”

“My MIL texted me and my husband again to again ask us to find a new name for Ashley’s sake.”

“Would I be the a**hole for not wanting to change it?”

“We were only able to agree on it a few weeks ago.”

“EDIT: we didn’t know that was the name of Ashley’s bully until my mil told us at dinner, we didn’t know before hand and pick it anyway”

OP has offered the following explanation for why she thinks she might be the a**hole:

“The name we chose is the name of my sister in law’s bully.”

“I might be the a**hole because I don’t want to go through the trouble of choosing a new name”

In the comments, OP also revealed the bullying “was bad enough [Ashley] tried to take her own life which is what pushed my in laws to have her switch schools.”

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

Redditors decided the OP was the a**hole.


“Usually I’d be on your side, but you commented that the bullying ‘was bad enough she tried to take her own life.'”

“I mean you do have right to name your kid whatever, but why would you want to do this to a family member?” – NotLostForWords


“Your poor sister-in-law is a child who almost took her own life over this bullying, and you want to remind her of it constantly?”

“It’s not like it’s even a special name to you, it’s just one that you could agree on.”

“I guarantee there is at least one other name you could find that you both like.”

“Act like the adults in this situation and do better.” – fauxrain

“It’s not malicious when you chose it.”

“But knowing what you know now, would make it malicious.”

“There are millions of names, I’d pick another or YTA” – autumnflowers13

“YTA because it was bad enough your SIL tried to take her own life.”

“Having grace for those we love isn’t a bad thing.” – Eyekc3YTA

“Husband should be more considerate of his sister’s feelings.”

“The world may bring lots of Shawns into Ashley’s life, but her own family should have her back.”

“Some bells just can’t really be easily un-rung.” – Crafty-Terminal-42

“YWBTA – Solely for the fact that she tried to take her life over this.”

“Obviously she can’t avoid every Shawn out there, but she should at least feel safe and at peace around her family.” – Tricky-Temporary-777

“Ugh, the dumbest spelling of the name, even. YTA”

“There are millions of names out there, and you have no particular attachment to this one other than we could both agree on it.'”

“That’s a terrible reason to stick on a completely basic name.” – JimJam4603

“Given the extent of trauma your SIL experienced, I think YWBTA if you stick with that name.”

“The baby is not born yet. You and your husband agreed on Shawn, so agree on another.”

“Shane maybe?” – CMR7X

“I was going to say N A H, which is usually my opinion on baby name posts because it’s a very personal thing.”

“But honestly soft YTA after finding out Ashley tried to take her own life.”

“You still have time to think of something else, and if you decide to go through with this your baby’s relationship with Ashley is going to be tainted with a trauma that will never go away, whether it ever gets brought up again or not.”

“People don’t try to take their own lives because someone has been annoying. Clearly Shawn was doing some awful things to her, and if you don’t care about that then go ahead with the name, but it sounds like there will always be some resentment attached to it now” – comarri

“YTA, is it that hard to come up with another name when I’m sure there millions of of different names you could pick , out of respect why would you not want to change it after knowing, that fact alone personally at least would make me want to change it , if your old enough to get pregnant you should be mature enough to actually have a sit down witb your mil and come up with a solution instead of hoping on reddits AITA trying to get validation instead of being an adult talking about it.”

“It amazes me that grown adults come to Reddit instead of ACTUALLY solving the problem with the people your telling us about.”

“Grow up. Life’s sh*t and tough , so is it for the rest of us and you complaining about changing the name ?”

“Yeah definitely ATA” – HeavyHoney9826

“YTA OP surely you can have some compassion.”

“Shawn can’t be the only name you like.”

“You can name yoru child what you want but just know that ‘Shawn’ will be triggering for SIL so you will be creating a real family issue over a name.”

“This isn’t a situation about people trying to impose their will. This is about trauma.”

“Does your husband even like his sister or does he like the name more than his sibling?” -Shoddy-Teach3981

“Personally I would change it.”

“The baby hasn’t been born, you seem to both have a good relationship with Ashley so…why hurt her and risk the relationship between your child and her?”

“I’m gonna have to say YTA because your attitude in the comments just seems callous to me.” -happybanana134


“There are so many names out there, it would be unnecessarily cold to continue to use ‘Shawn.'”

“You and your husband are grown ups, about to be parents, it shouldn’t be too hard to find multiple names you agree on.” – Ok_Albatross8909


“Clearly it wasn’t malicious when you picked the name but based on your comments that the bullying was so severe that your SIL tried to take her life. I think you’d have to be a pretty awful person to dig your heels in and stick to that name under the circumstances.”

“Not only will your son be a constant reminder of someone who terrorized her but she’s almost certainly going to struggle with the guilt of associating her nephew that it seems like she already adores with someone who made her life so bad that she tried to end it.”

“Your son will also now be a point of tension in the family because it seems very likely that your MIL and FIL will resent you for choosing to do something harmful towards their daughter rather than pick a new name and that resentment could even affect the relationship your son will have with his grandparents.” – ChupacabraCommander

“YTA and so is your husband.”

“You should consider what this name choice will say to Ashley and your husband’s parents.”

“It says that you don’t really care if Ashley is uncomfortable around her nephew for the rest of their lives.”

“That you don’t have any problem with reminding your husband’s younger sister of the torment she went through over and over and over again so long as you don’t have to go through the process of choosing a different name.”

“So selfish.”

“It also likely means that Ashley will be distant from you, your husband, and your child.”

“Don’t expect her to be super involved or ever want to babysit or anything like that when you’re so happy to name your child after her abuser.”

“I honestly can’t believe your husband would even consider that name moving forward…I would never knowingly inflict pain on either of my sisters. The name would be ruined for me the minute I knew someone with that name had hurt my sister so much.” – Misty2484

Given the name has no sentimental meaning to the soon-to-be parents it shouldn’t be too difficult to let it go, especially considering the distress it could potentially cause Ashley.

Hopefully, the couple will be able to agree on another name (even though OP claimed picking the name Shawn “took forever”) in an effort to not only ease tensions with the family but to ensure Ashley doesn’t have to be constantly reminded of her painful experiences.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

Written by AB Keith

AB Keith is an educator turned roadtripper who is currently teaching virtually while touring the USA. Her dream is to visit all the national parks and create a series of nonfiction children's books about NP adventures through the eyes of her dog, Backpack Benny.