Ask Liann: Dealing with Baby Name Criticism

How do you handle your family or friends criticizing the baby names you love? Liann has some advice —

Other than finding that one perfect name for your impending bundle of joy, possibly the most frustrating part of naming is sharing your most favorite and oh-so-personal choice with someone you trust, only to receive the dreaded “Ugh!” response in one of its variations. Because that’s what you really need when you’re trying to decide what another human being will be called for its entire life, right?

It doesn’t help that you’ve actually put a lot of thought into it, and love it, and just know it’s the right name – so when you’re mother/brother/best friend/whoever comes back with some negative comment, it hurts. And as much as you know that it’s your decision in the end, it can be hard to forget about their opinions.

Unfortunately you cannot control the opinions of others or will them to love a name as much as you do. If you are afraid of getting this reaction, then the best decision might be to not share your choices at all.  Of course this means that you also won’t receive any positive feedback beforehand, but you will be spared the negative. And people are much less likely to offer a negative opinion of a name when they’re looking at the new baby it belongs to. Not always, but I think it takes a special kind of person to insult a newborn — don’t you?

If you have already shared your name choices and got that unexpected negative comment, I first want to say I’m sorry. I don’t understand why family and friends — and sometimes even strangers — feel it’s acceptable to offer any other opinion than, “Oh, what a nice name.” If you’re sharing it, it’s obviously something YOU like, and that should be respected. However, if you find yourself in this position, you have some decisions to make:

1. How much does this person's opinion mean to you?

2. Is it worth giving up a name you love? (Once the baby arrives, the distaste often disappears, sometimes instantly and sometimes over time. People usually grow to love a name because it belongs to your special child.)

3. Are you prepared to continue searching for another name that you love as much?

These questions can take time to answer, so think on it. You might find that their opinions eat away at your love for a name. Or it could go the other way — with you trying to find a new name, only to keep coming back to your original choice.

All that matters is that you (and your partner) love it. I firmly believe that a parent's love for a name trumps any criticism.

So go with your gut on this decision.

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Read more about Liann and Early Mama’s baby name column.