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It can be a shock when people dislike your child's name. Even if people don't openly criticize it, sometimes a blank look speaks volumes. "It took me and my husband a long time to come up with a name, and it hurts that my mom doesn't like it," says one our site parent. Below are tips to help you deal with others' rude behavior.
Ask yourself: Do people's reactions bother you because you love your baby's name and wish they did too? Or are they tapping into your own misgivings? (If that's the case, find out what you can do about your baby name regret.)
If you just wish they liked the name as much as you do, remember the reasons you chose it – whether it's a reminder of a special place, to honor a loved one, or simply because you and your partner love the way it sounds. Remind yourself that other people's negative opinions don't change your attachment to the name.
As psychologist and relationship expert Dale Atkins puts it, "Fully embrace the name yourself, so that you can feel strong in the face of criticism."
Be prepared to accept that when it comes to baby names, not everyone will love every name. "People – particularly relatives – take liberties with how they respond," says Atkins. "You don't have to get angry or defensive. Just get ready."
According to a our site survey, one-third of parents confess to secretly hating a friend's or relative's name choice.
Some simply dislike familiar names: "Using an extremely common name is like branding your kid," one mom tells us. Others loathe unusual names. "Off-the-wall names are a detriment to the child," another mom says.
And sometimes people have personal issues with certain names. "My goddaughter's name is the same as my neighbor's dog from when I was growing up, so it just feels like a dog's name to me," one woman says.
Sometimes friends and family just need time to get used to a name.
"Even if you don't like someone else's name choice, it usually grows on you," one mom says. "Who am I to judge?" asks another. "I've observed that no matter how strange or common a name is, children make it their own."
So hang in there, and hopefully your loved ones will come around.
With unusual names, laying a little groundwork may avoid some of those blank stares or harsh comments. "When someone asks your baby's name, start off by saying something like, 'It's an unusual name and we love it, but it can be hard to remember at first.' This gives people a nanosecond to prepare, which can be very helpful," Atkins says.
Be willing to take the high road
If someone says something rude, express your feelings, but don't engage in debate. For example, if your aunt says you're setting your child up to be bullied, don't waste time arguing about whether that's true. Instead, just say something like, "I know the name is unusual, but we love it and want our child to love it. Please respect our choice."
As difficult as it is, says Atkins, try to keep your voice even and calm. "Remember that people often fear things that are different," Atkins says. By adopting a matter-of-fact, peaceful attitude, you can help them be more accepting.
Where to go next:
- 8 baby-naming pitfalls
- Baby names inspired by Olympians