Parents have all kinds of incredible experiences ahead of them when they decide to have a child.
Easily one of the very biggest early decisions they will have is the name of their child, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
But Redditor LightningStr had concerns about the name her cousin had chosen for her baby.
When no one else was willing to talk about the issue with her cousin, the Original Poster (OP) decided to take matters into her own hands.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for raining on my cousin’s parade regarding the name she picked out for her baby?”
The OP wasn’t sure what to do when she heard her cousin’s chosen baby name.
“My cousin Stephanie and I are really more friends than relatives. An important note is that she’s not really online much, so can be out of the loop on certain memes and jokes in internet culture, and tbh, doesn’t really understand the concept of viral internet references or how they work.”
“Stephanie is pregnant and just found out it’s going to be a girl.”
“About a week ago, she told a gathering of her best girlfriends that she was going to name her daughter Karen.”
“The room instantly went cold, but after an awkward silence, everyone else politely said it was lovely. I couldn’t bring myself to respond at all.”
“Later in the evening, when Stephanie was out of the room, everyone was immediately like, ‘OMG, that poor kid,’ and ‘Why would she pick Karen of all names?!'”
“I was uncomfortable with this conversation, given that everyone had been so positive about the name to her face.”
The OP decided to speak to her cousin about her concerns.
“I thought more about it over the next couple of days and just felt really weird about the whole thing.”
“The name is really loaded, to the point it could be detrimental to the baby, and Stephanie had no idea of the connotations to make an informed decision.”
“So a couple of days later, I tentatively brought it up. I told her I was so excited for the baby, and just wanted her to have all available information when picking a name.”
“I then started to explain that Karen has some negative connotations and has become sort of an internet joke to describe a specific kind of entitled middle-aged woman.”
“Stephanie instantly was furious and started talking over me, saying, ‘Why are you saying this?! This is so mean!'”
“I was really surprised by her reaction (it felt very, very out of character), so I immediately stopped and said, ‘I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I just wanted to tell you something I thought you might not know.'”
“She replied, ‘That’s the name I picked for my daughter. And you think I picked it as some kind of joke?! I don’t understand why you’d say something so hurtful.'”
“When she said that, I felt like it signaled that she didn’t really understand what I was trying to tell her, so after agonizing for a second about whether to press the issue even though she was so angry, I felt like in for a penny, in for a pound, and since she was already mad, I wanted her to at least understand what I was trying to explain to her.”
“I googled ‘Karen know your meme’ on my phone and tried to show her the screen of results while saying, ‘Look, I’m just saying that there’s more meaning to the name than you may realize.'”
“She stood up, pushed my phone away, and shouted, ‘Wow!’ She then stormed out of my home and drove away.”
The family started lashing out at the OP.
“My aunt and mom have been berating me all week because Stephanie told them that I made fun of her baby’s name.”
“Stephanie has not spoken to me or responded to my texts since.”
“I can take a hint, and I’m not going to broach a topic again that caused so much distress, but I keep going back and forth on whether I was TA here by bringing it up in the first place.”
The OP also wanted to clarify her motivation.
“I definitely was not trying to tell Stephanie to not name her daughter Karen. I just wanted her to make the decision either way knowing the connotations since I’d want someone to do the same for me if I picked a baby name with cultural baggage I wasn’t aware of.”
“I realize now I handled it poorly and was hurtful to Stephanie in the process, but I just wanted to be clear that I wasn’t actively trying to talk her out of the name. I just didn’t want her to be blindsided if it came up later.”
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 felt the OP was too worried about the memes sticking around.
“YTA. You really think it’s going to matter when this kid’s older? It’s a meme.”
“I seriously doubt a meme is going to have any bearing on this kid’s life at all.”
“Oh, and for anyone pregnant or planning to have kids, this is why you don’t reveal the name until they’re born. Someone’s always got something stupid to say, no matter what.” – eatondread
“Internet memes come and go in a flash, I think OP is massively exaggerating the likelihood that the associations will stick around.” – fruskydekke
“That meme’s basically dead everywhere but Reddit at this point so far as I can see.” – RC_Josta
“It’s actually a really pretty name, which is why so many girls were given it in the 1960s. It’s like Kara or Karly.”
“Names are in fashion, then go out of fashion as the people with those names get older and are associated with aunts and great-aunts. Max and Sadie were laughable old folks names, until that generation was gone, and then suddenly they became new and fresh and cool.”
“The same is happening with Karen. Linda is probably on the way back, too.” – ThaneofCawdorr
“Not to mention that internet memes are isolated to a certain subculture of people. I seriously doubt eight out of ten people would go to that meme upon hearing the name Karen.” – alexispinpgh
Others said the OP was not the AH as she was only trying to help.
“Whether it will matter when the kid is older has no bearing on the issue. The mom-to-be can easily choose to ignore an internet meme, but she should be grateful that somebody told her of the potential implications, particularly since it wasn’t just OP who got this but everybody who was there.”
“OP didn’t say something stupid along the lines of, ‘I don’t like the name Karen, so name her something else,’ but just informed her. NTA by a long shot, she shouldn’t have freaked out.” – ioannas
“NTA. I would want to know! It’s a hard situation you’re in because if she found out later she’d be angry that you didn’t tell her. People get very sensitive over things like this because, of course, it’s a big deal. I think telling her was right.” – Fuzzy-Goat
“NTA. While, yes she’s picked out a name and is set on it, blah blah blah. If you approached it like you stated, I don’t think you did anything worth that type of reaction.”
“That being said, I’ve been pregnant four times and pregnant women can be pretty emotional and reactive. I say explain to your mother what happened and just thought she may want to know what others were saying, that you weren’t doing it to be spiteful etc. Give her space to cool off and then just move past it.” – RiotGirl420
Some encouraged others to not announce their baby names for this exact reason.
“We’ve never revealed our baby names, and it’s actually worked out for the better.”
“We did mention we were considering our daughter’s name and everyone gave their opinion. To which we were able to say, ‘except it doesn’t matter what you think, but thanks for playing!'” – StopDoingThisAgain
“It’s common knowledge on baby bumps to never tell the name for that reason. Everyone has their own opinion and it gets old fast.” – thelumpybunny
“This is the exact reason my cousin refused to tell anyone what name she’d picked out for her kids until they were born. People feel weird complaining about a kid’s name once it’s been born, so that is definitely the way to go.”
“(Well, she did ask her younger brother if she could use a variation on his name, so naturally now he jokes that she named her kid after him).” – feed_me_ramen
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.
“I have been properly schooled, and I accept my judgment that I was TA here.”
“Stephanie and I have a history of being extremely open and honest with each other (I was the maid of honor at her wedding, which we planned on being the case from a young age, and we always joked as teenagers that part of my duties would include talking her out of the marriage if the groom she picked sucked), and so maybe I was too flippant with approaching this topic due to our history and was unempathetic in underestimating how much she was already invested in the name she chose for her future daughter.”
“I admit I’m a bit frustrated that Stephanie still doesn’t understand what I was trying to tell her (she still thinks I was making some kind of weird, cruel joke accusing her of picking the name as a joke), but I have messaged her a sincere apology that she accepted, and I will never speak of this again, to Stephanie or Baby Karen.”
“I’ll also stand up for Stephanie if her other friends s**t-talk the name around me again. If they’re not willing to voice their thoughts to Stephanie directly, they need to not say the kinds of things they were saying behind her back.”
While the subReddit could understand the OP had her cousin’s baby name choices at heart, they were more divided about how the OP handled the situation. Some thought the OP was only trying to do the right thing, while others thought the OP was giving the power of social media far too much credit.