5/9/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

Grandmom is very unhappy about her grandson’s name and is unsure whether she should say something to the new parents of the baby. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say in this edition of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy:

My youngest daughter recently gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby boy (our fourth grandchild but first grandson).

I am having difficulty with the baby grandson’s name that the parents chose.

His first name, “Louis,” is after the baby’s father, and a family name – so he is the fourth male to be named that. I find it confusing and paternalistic but otherwise I like the name. It’s our grandson’s middle name I’m having the most difficulty with.

His middle name, “Randall,” is my husband’s middle name, and it was his father’s name.

I know my daughter is honoring her father by giving the baby his middle name. What she doesn’t know is that my husband does not have one happy or warm memory of his father that he has ever shared (his father has been deceased for many years).

My husband is very guarded with his words and feelings – but the things he has shared point to a cold and emotionally abusive father.

I didn’t know beforehand what our grandson’s name was going to be and so couldn’t discuss it with my daughter and her husband.

Is this something I just need to get over? I feel sick when I think about it, and wish my beautiful grandson had his own name.

Upset Grandma

Dear Upset:

Grandmom and grandson laughing. photo by Peter Mayer, Dreamstime. Grandmom is very unhappy about her new grandson’s name and is unsure whether she should say something to the parents. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say in this edition of “Ask Amy.”

Your beautiful grandson does have his own name. And he shares a middle name with his wonderful grandfather.

Naming a male child after his father, grandfather, etc., is the very essence of “paternalistic,” in that it is a legacy of “paterfamilias” – a father-figure. I fail to see anything “confusing” – or negative – about this.

My own family has a very long and unbroken line of women named “Emily.” Is this “maternalistic”? Yes. Confusing? (Not to us.)

Does your husband loathe his middle name, “Randall,” because it was his father’s name? Has your husband ever expressed to you that he wishes he had a different middle name? (It doesn’t sound as if you’ve discussed how he feels about this name’s impact on his own identity.)

I wish you could see this as a tribute to your husband, versus honoring a challenging history that only you and your husband seem to know about (your daughter seems unaware).

With this generation, your grandson will reclaim this name, continue to shine it up (your husband started the process), and restore its legacy.

That seems like a very good thing for everyone.

Yes, I think you should embrace this choice for your grandson’s name. And even if you can’t embrace it, this is the parents’ choice to make.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from grandparenting to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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