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Mom Upsets Mother-In-Law By Naming Son After Fictional Character Instead Of Using Family Name

Image taken by Mayte Torres via Getty Images

People’s views across generations, specifically about how to raise children, are wildly different and difficult to predict.

For example, most parents these days have their kids learning and playing online, due to a number of factors.  Younger generations were far more into forcing their children to play outside.

Redditor THROWAWAY_AITA_1992 found herself in a conflict of values when choosing to name her child after a fictional character.  Her mother-in-law was so vehemently opposed to it, that it actually left her in a bit of a lurch for a while.

Needing objective feedback from strangers, she went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” so that she could make her choice:

“AITA For Naming my son after a fictional character?”

Our original poster, or OP, has been planning on this name for her son for awhile.

“I (27f[emale]) recently had a son, my second child (I have ‘Marie’ who is 2). My husband is ‘Joe’ (29m[ale]) and his mom, my MIL (56f). I will call my son ‘Oskar’.”

“Joe and I have kept a list of baby names since before we were married, because it is something we both unconsciously did and thought it would be cute to join our personal lists.”

“They are about 25 names long both feminine, masculine, and a few gender neutral options as well. We have never shared this list with anyone, though it’s not like we keep it a secret just it’s very personal and TBH we don’t want anyone stealing one we really like.”

“Since I was a teenager, I had a name thought out that I really loved. The name in full sounds sophisticated enough for a professional work life but there is a more childlike nickname that is unique.”

“It comes from one of my favorite book series as a kid.”

Eventually the name in question caught the eye of the soon-to-be parents.

“When Joe and I found out we were having a boy, we looked at our list to revise and add. Out of the masculine names, my husband asked me about ‘Oskar’ as he had never heard of it but liked it.”

“I told him it was very special to me and he loved it! We didn’t fully decide on Oskar’s name until later in the pregnancy but kept all naming businesses a secret.”

“This past weekend we went to see Joe’s family, who I have had a good relationship with.”

“He comes from a large Italian-American family, which can sometimes be overwhelming for me because I’m introverted, but otherwise I love hanging out with them.”

When they got there, OP found out her mother-in-law was not pleased.

“Anyways, my MIL had apparently been talking to my husband’s side of the family about how I ‘manipulated’ Joe out of choosing a family name.”

“Joe never mentioned a family name to me, and was the one to point out Oskar from the list, so I was taken aback.”

“MIL somehow got the impression we were going to be naming our son ‘Charles,’ which is Joe’s middle name, and goes back a few generations paternally.”

“MIL also mentioned that Oskar will be bullied at school for his ‘unusual’ name, and that I am TA for naming him such a weird name and cheating them out of a family legacy (note, Joe has two younger sisters and an older brother who has two daughters).”

“I had been within earshot of countless demeaning conversations, but this is the first time she confronted me directly, at the dinner table.”

OP decided to say something.

“I am very non confrontational, but I feel like I could be TA here: I said calmly, ‘I am sorry MIL I never knew Charles was a family name. To be honest, Oskar is a very special name to me that I loved since childhood, and is more important to me than the name Charles’.” 

“She let out a gasp and I felt bad instantly, I didn’t want to say that the name wasn’t important, but at the same time I don’t feel like I should apologize because I still love Oskar.”

“Joe tried to cover my tracks and we left early.”

“We are being flooded with calls saying I need to change Oskar’s name. I am thinking of caving and just changing his middle name.”

“So, AITA?”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

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

People agreed that OP’s mother-in-law should mind her own business.

“NTA – your child’s name is the choice of your husband and yourself.”

“Your MIL is being TA for being so insistent and making rude comments because you two have chosen not to use that name.”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t have said Oskar is more important than Charles, but she’s being ridiculous. She had her children and named her children and now it’s your family’s turn to do the same.”

“How does your husband feel about the middle name being Charles – does he even care?”-No-Policy-4095

“NTA. Considering I came up with a kid named Gandalf. Kids can find a reason to bully no matter what, and honestly, that name is about average in terms of bully potential.”

“He is going to outlive you and your MIL, give him a name that will let him remember you, not your MIL. A name is the first gift you give to your child; don’t let anyone steal it from you or him.”-Guardian-Boy

“NTA, you were respectful in your reply and clear that this history was not mentioned to you (and it seems like not important to your husband.)”

“I’d recommend if you’re getting inundated with calls and texts to simply state that Oskar’s name is not up for discussion and move on to another topic.”

“If the family does not move on then excuse yourself and say you won’t be discussing Oskar’s name but to let you know when they’re available for a friendly chat like usual.”-AuntieArchitect

“NTA. Naming your child after a fictional character known for his intelligence, problem solving skills, quiet bravery and intense empathy is a gift.”

“I did cave prior to my son’s birth to a paternal family naming convention and honestly, I regret it deeply.”

“His first name means very little to me and his middle is my favorite boy’s name of all time I picked just for him.”

“No one calls him by his first name and then we have the hassle of no one knowing out of five dudes named that who people are talking about. Sigh. Stand strong, friend.”-bettegreene

People reminded OP she and her husband were fully in control of all name choices.

“NTA. How dare you name your child! You are supposed to consult with ALLLLL the family members first! Aren’t people exhausting?”

“You and your husband have a right to choose your son’s name absolutely. Didn’t his parents pick his name?”

“If your husband really wants to pass along Charles then by all means add it as a middle name. But don’t give up this very rare and precious opportunity to choose a meaningful name for your child!”-IllustriousPomelo152

“NTA.  Names that will penalize your son later in life would make you TA. Like all of the Anakins put there. Who is going to hire Anakin?”

“Your real question isn’t if you’re TA for naming your son after a fictional character. Your real question is if you’re TA for not naming your child what your mother-in-law wanted.”

“No, you are not. If she wants to name children, she should have her own. The fine folks at r/justnomil know what you’re going through.”-muffiewrites

“NTA Your MIL really has no say in what you name your child. As long a you and your SO are on the same page, you are good.”

“Also, having seen the real name, it’s not so bad. I don’t think many people are going to connect it with the fictional source and tease him. It’s just a little bit of an unusual name. I see no issue.”-PMyra

“NTA Charles can’t be more important to you than it is to Joe. You didn’t know it was a family name and Joe knew but didn’t care to use it.”

“He chose Oskar off your list. Redirect MIL to take this up with Joe. His mother, his problem. And do not change your son’s name.”-Narrow_Map4950

And OP’s mother-in-law really should keep her thoughts to herself.

“NTA – you’re the parents you get to choose the name(s). As for being bullied at school for having an unusual name, kids will bully any kid for anything.”

“Unusual name? Get bullied. Common name? Kid gets bullied. Curly hair? Kid gets bullied. Mom cuts your hair? Bullied. Too fat or too thin? Kid get bullied.”

“Parents can’t afford expensive clothes? Kid gets bullied. Show up to school with designer clothes? Yup, you’re gonna get bullied. Ignore the nay Sayers.”

“Give the child a name you and your husband both agree on, and shower your child with love.”-Old_Fart_on_pogie

“NTA, absolutely. Your husband needs to step up and put his mother in her place. If she’s been sniping at you like this, then he needs to do more to protect you from these abusive attacks.”

“If he cannot get her to behave, and the rest of the family backs her, then I’d seriously consider whether you want to spend time with them.”-Bergenia1

“NTA and do not give in. Your husband should have told you if the name was important (guess not!) and should tell his family to bug off.”

“I myself named my daughter after a literary character in a Shakespeare play. Still did it even though Disney used it for one of their princesses.”

“Taught my daughter from day one who she was really named for, LOL.”-Avocadosarecool2000

“NTA, MIL needs to stay in her lane or she is getting hit by this Semi Truck. My kid is named after a Norse god who is incredibly good at destroying her enemies.”

“My response to comments on her name is we gave her a good strong name so she will turn out to be a strong female leader. It may sound unusual for someone in the US but oh well.”-Neptune3434

Having a child with an unusual name might be hard, but it also shows that your baby really means something extra special to you; and that you chose something that you loved a little bit extra to give to the being in the world you will be most responsible for taking care of.

Hopefully OP sticks to her choice.

Written by Mike Walsh

Mike is a writer, dancer, actor, and singer who recently graduated with his MFA from Columbia University. Mike's daily ambitions are to meet new dogs and make new puns on a daily basis. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mikerowavables.