What to Do About Conflict Over a Grandparent Name

Multiplicity of Grandparents Can Making Choosing Names Difficult

So you’re going to be a grandparent! One of the joyful decisions ahead of you involves choosing your grandparent name. Like many rites of passage, this one presents some perils and pitfalls. Learn about some of the conflicts that can arise around the issue of grandparent names.

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You and Another Grandparent Choose the Same Grandparent Name

Two grandmothers, one name -- a recipe for disaster!. Photo © Image Source | Photodisc | Getty Images

Seniority has its privileges. If the other grandparent already has grandchildren who use the chosen name, you may have to give it up. First, consider keeping the same name and adding your given name, last name or initial to it. If you think that would be too confusing, look through my list of grandmother names or grandfather names and see if something else strikes your fancy. If the other grandparent doesn’t already have grandchildren, then the name should go to the grandparent who “called” it first. That’s a very good reason not to wait for the arrival of your grandchild to decide upon your grandparent name.

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Grandparents Pick Out Names That Are Too Similar

You’ve picked out a grandparent name, but it is very close to a name chosen by another grandparent. Perhaps you want to be called Gram, and the other grandmother has chosen Gran. This is a difficult situation for your future grandchild, who is not going to be the most skilled vocalist at first. If your chosen name is really important to you, stay with it. Otherwise look for something that is more easily distinguished from your child’s other grandparent.

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Your Children Don't Like Your Grandparent Name

You are thrilled with your choice of a grandparent name, but your children don’t like it. Basically, it is a grandparent’s right to decide upon a name, just as it is the parents' right to name their baby. You have the right to stick to your first choice. On the other hand, you may get your grandparenting career off to a better start if you are willing to compromise. This is especially true if you've chosen a really offbeat name or if the parents-to-be have a reasonably valid objection. Some parents, for example, don't like grandmother names that sound too much like parent names, such as MomMom or Mummi, one of the Finnish names for grandmother.

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Your Grandchild Chooses a Different Grandparent Name

You picked out your grandparent name, but your grandchild calls you something different. Perhaps you picked out Grammy, but your grandchild insists on calling you Gummy. Usually, this is a matter of childish lack of articulation, and with patience, you can train the grandchild to call you by your chosen name. A good portion of the time, grandparents are so enamored of their grandchild that they adopt whatever the grandchild calls them. Quite a few on my list of favorite nicknames were bestowed upon a grandparent by a grandchild. Still, you can insist on your chosen name if you like.

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You've Changed Your Mind!

You picked out your grandparent name, but now you have found something you like better. Lauren Charpio, the author of You Can Call Me Hoppa, is a staunch advocate of grandparents changing their names at any point. You may find that it’s not easy to change the habits of your grandchildren and their parents. If you feel strongly about it, however, give it a shot!

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You Want to Break With Tradition

Your family has a traditional name, but you don’t like it. Just because your mother was a Mimi, and her mother was a Mimi—that doesn’t mean that you have to choose the same name. In fact, if the great-grandmothers are still living, it will be less confusing if you don’t. Don’t be afraid to make your own choices.

Whatever name you decide upon, use it a lot before the baby arrives, so that it flows trippingly from your tongue. Otherwise, you may revert to your family’s traditional name when the sight of that wonderful newborn grandchild has you half-addled. That’s what happened to me! I intended to be a Nana ​but ended up with our family's traditional Grannie.