Choosing a grandmother or grandfather nickname is just the first step in establishing a healthy habit of respect and communication between parents and grandparents.
It took me by surprise when one of my readers admitted that she hated the grandma nickname her daughter-in-law had chosen for her. She shared that she was afraid to rock the boat, so she just accepted it despite her discomfort.
I was so sad for her: sad that she should feel so powerless in something so personal. And I was a little confused, too. Was it common for the parent’s to choose the grandparent’s nickname? I thought that part of the fun of becoming a grandparent was figuring out what you wanted to be called!
So I did a little poll and discovered that over 10% of the grandparents who responded have a name that the parents chose. Luckily, most of them are fine with it.
One follower, Andrea, said she had some input, suggesting a name she liked but letting the parents make the final choice.
Christie said her grandchild’s parents gave her a few options, and once the baby started talking, they agreed on the right name. “I just did not want Meemaw, that was my only rule!”
In both of these cases, though the grandmothers didn’t make the final choice, they were included in the decision process. That wasn’t how it happened with Connie, who was told that the baby would call her…Connie. She was crushed not to be allowed to be called Nana, as she’d always imagined. She was also more than a little taken aback by the idea of being called her first name by her grandchild.
Most parents, however, feel it’s up to the grandparents to choose—with the possibility of parental veto if it makes them uncomfortable. Parents have told stories about grandmothers who want to be called Momma, or who choose a name they feel is ridiculous and then get upset when they refuse to use it. One parent said the name her father-in-law wanted to be called was the name of her own grandfather, with whom she had a complicated and unpleasant relationship. Her father-in-law was more than happy to choose a name without any negative baggage.
Like everything else, the only time it is a problem is when parents or grandparents don’t feel they can talk to one another about the subject. Connie was afraid that if she kicked up a fuss, her daughter-in-law would cut her off before the baby even arrived. One new mom said her own mother insists on a name she finds so silly that she’s never been able to bring herself to say it out loud. Instead of having a conversation together, both of these families have defaulted to “Don’t talk about it (and maybe it will go away).”
Choosing a grandmother or grandfather nickname is just the first step in establishing a healthy habit of respect and communication between parents and grandparents. Smart grandparents will say, “I’d like to be called ______, but I’d like to know what you think.” And smart parents will ask the grandparents what they’d like to be called.
If you are still trying to find the perfect nickname, have you downloaded our list of 242 Grandmother Names? It’s got lots of ideas, plus tips on finding the right one for you!
For what it’s worth, I completely agree with the mom who vetoed “Momma”, but I’m less sure about vetoing a name just because you think it’s ridiculous. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!