5 DON’Ts to Grandchild Name Selections – ie: Back-Off!

5 DON’Ts to Grandchild Name Selections – ie: Back-Off!

I’m a Grandma of 11, going on 12, so I have a bit of experience in the “Grandchild Name Business” thing — and believe me when I offer that but for cultural/religious traditions, naming a child really is NOBODY’S BUSINESS but the parents’ business.

And I’m giving this above statement a big Period – Amen – Back the Heck Off!

A child’s name is the child’s First Great Gift. The naming process often takes time, taking into consideration all kinds of things to include: both parents’ agreement on the choice; cultural/religious traditions; family significance/history; trendy/popular/inventive/unique vs traditional/classic; names of siblings; the sound/rhythm of the full name – first, middle, last.

But anyway, as a grandparent, as much as we may wish to become involved in this gift-giving of a name, I highly recommend the Back-Off stance. Of course, we may be asked our opinions or possibly to dig up some family history, but that gift of a name is everything that represents the parents, and the final choice is something to celebrate – every single baby, every single time.

Don’t be guilty as charged of the following 5 Don’ts. Your grandchild’s name is a forever gift and your disappointment or dislike of a name is a forever memory.

I’ll jump right in here to Don’t #1:

Don’t say, “Well, I wouldn’t choose that name.”  Duly noted. There is nothing to add to this. There is nothing to discuss. You don’t like the name. Period. Amen. This is forever. Keep in mind that if you are discussing grandchild names, you have a child of your own. YOU named that child. You had your choice/choices and opportunity/opportunities to pick your perfect child name or names. If the grandchild’s name choice is Branch, don’t go out on that wouldn’t choose that name limb because there’s no place to go but down. Celebrate the grandness of the tree!

Don’t #2:

Don’t say, “Well, I’ve never heard that one.” Um. This is like the grimace and then the, “WHAT?” to a creative, adventurous, unique name choice. As a grandparent with lots of grandparent friends, I’ve heard some pretty choice discussions about grandchild name choices that usually begin with, “In our day…,” implying that our generation had the lock on “traditional” names and the way things should be done. So if the grandchild’s name is Lock, unlock your inhibitions and the “what will people think” mode of thinking. Celebrate the grandness of the key!

Don’t #3:

Don’t say, “Well, he/she will be one of a hundred in school.” OK. Your best friend, your sister, your co-worker, the clerk at the coffee shop, your physician’s receptionist, your mailman, your mother’s friend and your neighbor each have a child, grandchild or great- grandchild with this name selection. But it’s the child who’s unique to this name, not the name that’s unique to the child. Each child brings history and personality and style to a name, even if that name is shared among dozens/hundreds/thousands. So if the grandchild’s name is #1 on the 2015 Top 25 List of Names, celebrate who he/she is… celebrate the grandness that your grandchild brings to the name! 

Don’t #4:

Don’t say, “Well, he/she will hate it.” Wowza. Is it possible that you’ve crawled into the very soul and psyche of that unborn grandchild? I have a little personal story to share on this particular Don’t. Back in 1977, when my husband Barry and I were expecting a child, we searched a baby name book of thousands of names. Barry didn’t get further than the A’s for a baby girl name ~ Audrey. I loved the name, too, but over the months of my pregnancy, I began to fall prey to the name naysayers – the relatives, co-workers, friends who’d taken on (as many do) unsolicited personal interest and communication that our baby name was open to universal discussion (we never did settle on a boy name). Criticisms galore came pouring in, most of this variety: SHE WILL HATE HER NAME. All caps for realism. UHHHH, SHE WILL HATE THE NAME AUDREY. Yep, all caps for the emphasis. IT’S AN OLD LADY NAME. HOPE IT’S A BOY. Gotta love those name naysayers with all of their naysaying nastiness. Anyway, AUDREY was named AUDREY and from the moment she knew her name, she LOVED (emphasis, here) her name. Audrey is 37 years old now and still LOVES her name. I thank God every day that I didn’t cave to this DON’T of baby name criticisms and critiques. Celebrate the grandness of that “old lady or old man name” and the grandness of its history.

Don’t #5:

Don’t Offer Unsolicited Name Choices. Unless specifically asked, I repeat, Don’t Offer Unsolicited Name Choices. This is right up there with selecting a spouse for your child. Well, kind of. But really, living with a child’s name is a lifetime choice, and that choice is as thought-provoking and significant as any choice ever made. Time, love, history, energy, discussion, maybe even disagreement, sometimes truce, oftentimes compromise go into choosing a child’s name. Grandparent choices (and remember that there are often 4 of these voices) can be toxic tosses into the mix. Yes, I do acknowledge that love is a big part of these grandparent name offers, but the parents of the grandchild are often struggling to make everyone happy already; and “dismissing” your choices may be one more part of that struggle. Celebrate the grandness of the name selection process, rather than creating a cauldron of unwanted choices.


A child’s name is the child’s First Great Gift.

As a grandparent, celebrate the grand gift of the child AND the child’s name.

*As I mentioned above, my husband (aka Pop-up) and I are excitedly expecting our 12th grandchild, a baby girl to add to our 3 granddaughters and 8 grandsons now ranging in age from 22 months to 14 years. Each grandchild is a beautiful being and all embody great love, incredibly different personalities, talents and interests; and each fits his/her grand and meaningful name to perfection…

Taylor Jane
Madison Davis
Andrew Barry
Jacob Adam
William Tillman
Alexander Dimitri
Benjamin Barry David
Henry Matthew
Dylan Joseph
Victoria Florence Margaret
Brian Timothy, Jr.
… and the newest baby girl isn’t definitively named as of yet, but her middle name is Sharon and I am honored beyond words!

I do happen to have my daughter Jane’s (expectant Mama) copy of The Baby Name Wizard in my possession… and although I love perusing this magical book, I DO take my own DON’T advice.

This Grandma Backs the Heck Off! Period. Amen.



About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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