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Teen Called ‘Disrespectful’ For Refusing To Let Parents Change His Water-Themed Legal Name

mother and son seated on a couch talking
PIKSEL/Getty Images

In my family, names are passed down within the family. We don’t have any “juniors,” but children are named after grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins.

For my name, there’s a family tradition of passing the name from grandmother to granddaughter. I’m at least the seventh granddaughter to receive my name—Amelia—from my grandmother.

Other families have different naming traditions, like using the names of Saints, deities, famous people or fictional characters.

The 1970s—at least in the United States—saw naming conventions turned on their heads.

Some parents, especially now, no longer follow any rules or traditions when it comes to naming their children. Instead, they might create a name, use unique spelling, or choose a word from another source—such as nature—as a name for their child.

But do parents who named their infant Apple or Fjord have regrets when the child gets older?

If there are regrets, do the parents have the right or responsibility to change their child’s name?

A teenager in conflict with his parents over his unusual name turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Novel_Box3156 asked:

“AITA for refusing to let my parents rename me?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My (15, male) parents gave my sister (16, female), brother (13, male), and me nature names and, more specifically, water nature names. My sister is Ocean, I’m Cove, and my brother is River.”

“They wanted our names to have a theme without being matchy with the same initial so we got our names. The story was told to us when we were little, and my parents were proud of the names they gave us.”

“Back when we were all stuck at home during lockdown, my parents started to express regret about their choices for us.”

“They actually told us over dinner one night that they wish they had given us better names and apologized for making us live with the names we were given.”

“A few months after that apology my mom and dad told us they wanted us to be Elizabeth (sister), James (me) and Michael (brother). They said since we were kids and weren’t in college yet and nobody had their license at that point it would be the best time to do it.”

“All three of us said we didn’t want to change our first names. My dad looked into whether they could do it when we said no and all answers he got pointed to a very strong no.”

“But it was also unusual to change your older kids first name so they went ahead and tried anyway, but once we were asked if we wanted different names they were told no.”

“My parents brought it up a lot to us afterward.”

“My brother asked why they wanted to name him Michael and said the name was crappy. They told him Michael was a timeless name that would age well and gave him some nickname choices.”

“He said he hated it. So they asked if he would consider Charles instead which he said was an even bigger no.”

“Our parents focused really hard on him for a while because he had asked the question about the name so they figured he was the most open.”

“So far none of us have agreed to the name change.”

“I told my parents that I know they regret the names, but we’re all used to and like our names and don’t want to go for more boring and common names.”

“My parents argued that in the future, we will regret it, and we’d have to pay for it ourselves when we’re adults, and we realize having weird names does not age well. I asked why they can’t let us get there if we ever do.”

“They said we should be thinking more of our futures, and they accused me of having a really bad attitude because I said James was as bad to me as Cove is to them now.”

“They told me to look online, and I did, and I saw a lot of hate for our names. But I told them it still didn’t change my mind.”

“I could not imagine going by a different name, and I consider the name very me.”

“I love it and I see myself always loving it. My name fits me and I feel like it always has.”

“My parents said we should respect them enough as parents to allow this and that we’re all being disrespectful.”


The OP summed up their predicament.

“I refused to let my parents rename me.”

“This is something they have been pushing for and advocating about for a few years now, and they have other names chosen for us, and maybe even backups.”

“They are my parents and I know their current opinion is pretty strongly based on what a lot of people think about our names.”

“So where I’m kinda at is it might be disrespectful to dismiss their opinion on this and refusing to comply when I know the sh*t our names get. I know my parents just want to stop negative consequences in the future.”

“Like when we’re working and stuff. I also wasn’t very nice about the name they wanted to give me.”

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 unanimously declared the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. Sounds to me like the only ones embarrassed of your names are the people who gave them to you all. Sounds like they’ve got buyer’s/birther’s remorse.”

“My mother decided to name my sisters and me after the names of various plants and trees, so I also have an unusual name, but I love it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

“Sometimes my name gets me unusual looks when I’m called at the GP’s office, but I get a lot more positive remarks towards it by far.”

“I wonder what their response would be if you said you would agree to a change of name on condition that they changed their names too because you and your siblings had collectively decided that you didn’t like them.” ~ seafactory


“I told my parents that I know they regret the names but we’re all used to and like our names and don’t want to go for more boring and common names. My parents argued.”

“This alone tells us that your parents are stupid for arguing even after you told them that. They think they have a mistake you think they haven’t.”

“Who would possibly suffer in the future by said mistake? You. So if you deny a name change, they should just shut up about it.”

“If they feel so guilty, they can make a deposit in y’all’s names and give it to you when you are 18+ to decide for yourself. This argument is stupid. You like it, period.”

“It’s they who regret it for some reason and not you. Maybe a colleague called your dad king of the sea and your mother Ursula, so they have become so sensitive and immature about this issue.” ~ Lower-Violinist-1170

“NTA, I think Cove is a badass name. Also, it’s wild to me that they just suggested names they wanted you to change to and didn’t ask you if you had a name you’d rather be called.”

“If you’re worried about the future, you could always add a more traditional middle name (which you choose), and then you’ll have the option in your professional life of going by your middle name if you prefer.” ~ Nerdy-Babygirl

“Pick out new names for them and immediately start calling dad ‘Bob’.”

“Anytime he complains, just explain to him that he doesn’t understand all of the cool nicknames he will have access to now that he is a Bob. Tell him he will get used to it.”

“And if Bob really hates it, in a few years, you can give him a new one if you change your mind.” ~ DanfromCalgary

“You have already all endured the worst years of name-taunting and grade school, and it’s only now that your parents are concerned?”

“It sounds more like they have been taunted by their peers, and instead of standing firm in their convictions, they are caving to peer pressure. Literally, the very thing children are admonished to avoid.”

“You are NTA and have my respect and admiration for standing by yours!” ~ TravellerTakesA_Trip

“NTA. Frankly, it sounds like your parents are just having some kind of weird midlife crisis.”

“100%, if you let them change your names now, then they’ll just change their minds again in a couple of years and want to change them again.” ~ Internet-Dick-Joke

“They are worried that they named their kids ridiculous sh*t out of an overblown desire to be unique … but the truth is that the names they chose are great and not cringy at all.”

“What blows my mind is not that they decided that the names should be changed, but that they were the ones who get to pick the new ones.”

“These are fully formed people now, relatively close to being legal adults. They had their shot at naming their kids, they don’t get to say ‘we get to choose your names’ at this point.”

“If anyone gets to choose, it’s the kids. And they don’t wanna.” ~ Biomax315

A parent’s opportunity to name their child is at birth, not when they’re a teenager.

At 13, 15, and 16, these siblings have already established their own identities and opinions.

To strip away their autonomy because of parental regrets isn’t doing anyone any favors.

Hopefully, soon enough, this will be all water(-themed names) under the bridge.

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.