Already-Born Baby Boy Papadopoulos

Hi Swistle,

I’ll love you forever if you can help me name my newborn baby boy. He’s 5 days old, awfully cute, and nameless. We left the hospital without a name! I didn’t know you could do that. Officially, he’s Baby Boy Papadopoulos until we sort it out.

So, last name is Papadopoulos. My husband is Greek-American, which means we have a naming tradition to deal with. Per tradition, we are supposed to name our first born son and daughter after the father’s parents. My husband and I have differing memories of how much this was actually discussed before we got married & pregnant with our first. (He remembers bringing it up once. I’m disputing that it ever came up at all. At the very least, we had no agreement on the matter.)

We actually have a daughter and, before she was born (as in, right before!) I agreed to use his mom’s name, Eleni. It wasn’t in my top 50 list, but it’s not bad. So I agreed to it, but on the condition that I could name the next child. We’re only having two kids and I want to follow the American tradition called ‘Naming the kids whatever the hell you want and the grandparents will probably hate it but oh well you can’t please everyone.’

Still, I wanted him to at least like the name. When we found out we were having a boy, I threw out a bunch of names to him: Matthew, Miles, Milo, James, Mark, Martin, Theodore, Gregory and many more I can’t even remember now in my postpartum haze. He hemmed and hawed and shot each one down for one reason or another. He just really wants to use his dad’s name Steven.

Steven’s not a bad name. I lucked out as far as Greek daughters-in-law go. Some Greek boy names are totally unworkable. Anyway, I don’t hate Steven. I’m not in love with the phonetics of it (too many e’s) and I don’t like that there are two equally probable spellings (Steven vs. Stephen). I dislike the nickname Steve. And I’d hate to again settle for an OK name just to make the in-laws happy. Especially since we had an agreement in place this time.

On the other hand, it feels wrong to just choose a name myself. He’s hated (or claims to anyway) all of my choices. We can do the father’s name for the middle name, the Christening name. Hell, I’m even fine with the in-laws calling him Steven as a nickname. I just don’t like it enough to agree to it as a first name and not feel defeated and angry.

Please help a sleepless, emotional, postpartum mom of a nameless infant think rationally.

Many thanks


You ARE thinking rationally. It is your husband we need to fix.

1. It was decided that your children will have your husband’s family surname.
2. It was decided that your husband would get to use his naming tradition for your first child.
3. In exchange, it was decided that you would get your way on the next child’s name.

But now your husband really wants to name the child after his own dad, again following his own family’s naming tradition. Here is the problem: he has not fully, deep-down realized that is not going to happen. Instead, he is comparing every name you suggest to the name in his mind, which is his dad’s name. He is making you do all the work of finding a name he likes better—which is NOT the task at hand. The task at hand is for him to agree to one of your top choices, as last time you agreed to his.

Step one: Your husband needs to toss out the name Steven, and FULLY DEEP-DOWN UNDERSTAND that it is tossed out. It’s over. It’s not happening. The way he’s clinging to that name is directly responsible for the way the two of you are unable to name this child. He can’t really consider the other names until he reframes the decision from “Do I like this name better than my idea for the name?” to “Which of the non-Steven names do I like?”

Step two: Of the names that are at the top of your list, your husband needs to choose his favorite. I don’t believe he really does hate all your choices; I believe he is saying he hates them to force you to give in to using his father’s name, whether or not he realizes that’s what he’s doing. Make a list of your top five choices. Ten if you’re feeling generous. He may choose one. That will be the child’s name.

You say it feels wrong to just choose a name yourself, but your husband is not having a similar internal struggle: he did that very thing for your first child’s name, and now he wants to do it again for your second child’s name. You guys had a deal, and now he’s saying actually, no, he would prefer to choose both children’s names himself. Well, of COURSE he would. And so would you. But that is not the way co-parenting works. Certainly he can give final approval to the name, as you gave final approval to his choice, but you let him pick a name that was NOT EVEN IN YOUR TOP FIFTY and now it is his turn. He will honor his part of the deal or I will personally come and shake him until his teeth rattle.

35 thoughts on “Already-Born Baby Boy Papadopoulos

  1. Sargjo

    Obviously Swistle’s advice is spot on. I’m just here for the nomanastic challenge of compromise. You could choose a name that also means crown: Garland or Laurence/Lawrence, but like many compromised honor names it might not hit the mark. I love Laurence for you though-Eleni and Ren, Eleni and Laur. I also love the French version of Steven, Étienne, but that seems way outside of your naming style.

  2. Rose

    I kind of want to smack your husband. I know tradition and whatever, but it seems bizarre to me to have two little kids with the exact same names as your in-laws! What about your family? It would be nice to use an honor name from your side for this kiddo.

  3. Vanessa

    Maybe your husband would be ok with a new deal that when HE delivers a baby from his own body, he can name the child whatever he wants and disregard existing agreements. That would be my compromise this time, considering the deal you made after Eleni’s birth and naming.

    Good luck.

    As an aside, Eleni is a lovely name.

  4. Maggie

    Steven as the middle name seems like a fair plan. Stick to your deal! Pick a name you love, or an honor name from your parents names, and do not feel guilty. Why should one family tradition have precedent? He got his way with the firstborn, the second is yours to pick.

  5. Stephanie

    So obviously you’re right, but me just saying that doesn’t really help you when dealing with a spouse who is mentally stuck like this.

    Assuming he’s normally a great guy with a huge cultural blind spot here, perhaps it would help to show him that this is not “his name vs your name” but instead “his parents’ expectations vs honoring his commitments to his wife and marriage first”. Because that’s what it is.

  6. Jude

    Oh, I’m so angry on your behalf! Swistle is totally right; he’s simply not being fair and he needs to accept the fact that Steven will NOT be the name. I think presenting him with a few of your favorites for him to choose from is far more generous than he has been to you.
    I like all your names, but I think Milo and James are my favorites with Eleni.

  7. Renee

    @Vanessa I love that. Spot-on :-) I also think Eleni is a lovely name, but you should reach higher than ‘it’s not too bad’ with this name. It’s not only a nice idea that it should be your turn. It IS your turn. And you can choose that ‘Naming the kids whatever the hell you want and the grandparents will probably hate it but oh well you can’t please everyone’. What do you want?

    I also can’t believe your husband is putting you through this when you’re ‘sleepless, emotional, post-partum’, the only little boy you should be taking care of right now if your newborn.

    Love Swistle’s advice of course, and how about…
    1) if you’re feeling generous (and you really really do not need to) you could do a double-barrel like Miles Steven or Mark Steven or James Steven and then you just call him Miles / Mark / James.
    2) if you feel like compromising a bit less (and you still really really not need to) how about Stellan or Sterling or Everett or Stanley or Donoven….
    3) ask him to write you a list of 5 names he likes. A thoughtful list, that does not have Steven listed AT ALL. I actually think might be the way to go. Get him to do some work after you just did a hell of a lotta work. Then at least he will be involved so you don’t feel like it was all you, which is a concern for you.

    Good luck! You’re a rock star for holding firm and writing an eloquent letter at 5 days post-partum. Can’t wait to hear what little not-Steven is named!

  8. Amanda

    Like the other commenters, i am SO MAD at your husband. I understand the call of honor names and family traditions, but in the end you both have to agree, and forcing a name down your throat isn’t agreeing.

    I have a soft spot for simple first names with complex last names. So, paired with Eleni I love:

    Milo – Milo Steven Papadopoulos
    Theodore – Theodore Steven Papadopoulos
    Theo – Theo Steven Papadopoulos <—- I think this is my favorite of all
    Jack – Jack Steven Papadopoulos
    Leo – Leo Steven Papadopoulos

    Good luck with Baby Boy!

  9. TheFirstA

    OMG, Swistle is so spot-on with everything she said. I want to come with her to shake your husband! The only thing I would add is that I would also give your husband a deadline. He has X number of days to pick a name from the list you give him. If he’s still going on about hating them all, & just wants to use Steven, then you will go ahead and name the baby on your own. Otherwise, I could see him dragging this out forever, or at least until you give up and just agree to Steven because you feel like Baby Boy needs a name before he starts school.

  10. Caro

    I say, put Steven in the middle name spot, and pick what you want. He gets the name he wants, and you will too.

  11. JMV

    Omg! This is like divorce-able level of craziness your husband is sinking towards. Does he want to be married to tradition or to you? Yes, to the handing him a list of five names with no Steven and telling him to give you a decision before a certain time. He is being nuts here. Also, this is all just framing to the in-laws anyway. The kid will have both Steven and the surname!!!!!!!

  12. Trudee

    I think your husband is being very selfish and childish. You had an agreement. The end. Personally, I would just choose the name I wanted and tell him that was it. I MIGHT say Steven could be the middle name if he accepts the name I’d choosen with no more fuss or fight. But I also hate rewarding disrespectful behaviour, so I’m on the fence abouy that one. If you’re having a good day, you could let him choose from two finalists but five seems like too many. I know you want him to like it but, if he’s being this stubborn about it, he’ll never be on board the way you want him to be. Is there someone who could be your advocate on this? I feel like you shouldn’t have to deal with this postpartum. Have a friend or family member bring him around to his senses. Good luck and congrats on your new baby!

  13. Jd

    I would not give an inch- first name you love and I would make baby boys middle from YOUR SIDE OF THE FAMILY. I’d discuss with your husband how he is ignoring your feelings and your family.
    There are six names between two kids (first middle last times two) and he has chosen 4 of the 6. Seriously. At this point I’d pick your favorite and fill out the form and tell him he has two hours to pick from your list or you are sending in the form as is.

    I’d only compromise if baby boy is named Stephen YOURMAIDENLASTNAME.

    I love Milo BTW.

  14. Jd

    PS the inlaws know by now you don’t want to name the baby Stephen (pretty obvs when you didn’t announce the name right away). If they are not upset and going on about traditional you by now I expect that they won’t say anything at all when you announce baby Milo yourdads Papadopoulus to the world. I wouldn’t worry about them, if they were going to have feelings hurt it’s already done and they have moved on or weren’t expecting you to continue the tradition.

  15. Evie

    Ooh ooh I’m actually Greek American!

    Even in Greece now, it’s totally common for one child to be named after dad’s parent and the next to be named after mom’s. Greek Americans can sometimes (a lot of times, actually) can be kind of stuck in old ways.

    And Steven isn’t even Greek! I’d shy away from Milo Papadopoulos though, because it reminds me of Milo Yiannopoulos.

  16. Chase

    Not to add fuel to the fire because I agree with Swistle that it’s not your husband’s baby to name, but what would Greek tradition be if there was already a boy named Steven? Or if Baby # 2 was a girl? Would you just pick another random name or does it continue to follow the family tree up to Great Grandparents, etc? Maybe there’s another name up the family tree that you might like better than Steven and your husband would still feel like he’s following tradition?

  17. onelittletwolittle

    I have always regretted not being a little more assertive with the baby-name decisions. Be assertive. You don’t have to be the only one who compromises. He can compromise, too. It’s not your problem that he doesn’t want to or doesn’t like to. You have compromised and have been gracious. It’s his turn, whether he steps up to it or not.

    This is a situation that I’d go MyFavoriteName Steven HisLastName.
    Or even MyFavoriteName MyFavoriteMySideoftheFamily Name Steven HisLastName.
    I think I would most definitely put Steven in there somewhere to demonstrate that I’m not interested in freezing out his opinion/desires.

  18. Evie

    If it was a second little girl, she would be named LW’s mother’s name. If there was another little Steven, it makes no difference. I myself am one of three Evangelia Lastname among my first cousins.

    Have you ever seen the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where everyone is named Nick? One of the few true to life aspects of the movie.

    After reading through the other comments, I almost feel compelled to defend LW’s husband. This is really, really entrenches in our culture, guys. I don’t even think twice about it, although I have encountered incredulity from my non Greek friends. My own two daughters are both named after their grandmothers. My SIL is pregnant with a girl who likely will have the same first and last name as my younger. Literally does not bother me at all.

    1. Megan

      But it bothers her…..which is why it’s an issue. If it doesn’t bother you and it’s your culture, great! If it does bother you, and you’re the one pushing out the baby, then you should have a say. Just because you marry someone doesn’t mean you automatically agree to everything within their culture that they believe in, especially when it affects you and your shared children.

      1. Evie

        Just saw this and I agree with you. At the very least, it was incredibly thoughtless of the husband not to convey to LW how important the name was before getting pregnant.

  19. Matti

    100% agree with Swistle here. If he’d wanted to 100% follow Greek traditions, he should have married somebody who was also Greek. But, as he didn’t, he needs to see that your culture is EQUALLY VALID in its own culture and traditions.
    I also agree that the in laws probably already realized that you don’t want to use Steven. And, that using an honor name from your side of the family (if there’s one you like/want to use) would be the easiest way to work around the potential for THEIR hard feelings. NOT your husband’s feelings. He is being selfish, and stubborn. Assuming these are not usual qualities on his part, I would hope that he comes around to your view point very quickly now that the baby is here and you just put the list of the top three contenders in front of him at breakfast and tell him he must choose by dinner.

  20. Evie

    Agreed that if it was that important to him, he should have married a Greek/Greek American or else had an explicit discussion of his expectations BEFORE even having children. I just wanted to try to convey that even though this naming tradition seems odd or even negative to those outside of the culture, to us it is completely normal and common sensical.

    Btw, our first daughter has my mother’s name, not my husband’s. He is from Greece and I was born here.

  21. Andrea

    Sorry husband, but if I were you I would choose my favorite name (in its entirety) and tell your husband the name then proceed to call baby that and never look back. Hubby and I named eight children together and some were easy and some were hard, and I understand compromise, but you have ALREADY COMPROMISED ENOUGH. The end.

    (Although, I still feel guilty about one name that I put my foot down on–but he’d gotten his way with one of the others that I still sort of regret giving in to, so we’re equal.)

  22. FE

    I know nothing of Greek culture (or American either – I’m from Australia), but many people have a first name that they don’t use and instead go by their middle name or an unrelated nickname. Could this be a compromise? Perhaps if you were to talk to your husband from the perspective of keeping with tradition and naming him Steven … but what other name do we both like, that could be his middle name and also his name for everyday use. Maybe he would be more open to contributing to the baby naming discussion this way. And the grandparents can still call him Steven (because that IS his name), but you can introduce his as “______” – a name you both love. I just think it’s worth a try.

    1. Eli

      My FIL *hates* his first name and goes by his second. He’s Irish born but been a US citizen since his boys were babies.

  23. Clare

    My friend went through the same thing. Her mother in law refused to use the baby’s (lovely and very Greek) name for weeks after she was born. She did compromise on other things though and did the confinement and full wedding worthy Christening with dips that have put her kid off water for months. While I usually go guns blazing for the mother, I can see both sides in this case. It sounds like there’s going to be hurt feelings no matter what name your sweet boy has, it would be nice if your husband recognised your feelings and not just those associated with him and his family/wider community. A nice olive branch could be suggesting a name with Greek roots that you also like. Good luck!

  24. Clare

    Also, when my partner was just shooting down names without coming up with any real contenders I told him what I wanted to name the baby (George) and told him it was his job to come up with something we both liked better. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t come up with anything else so George he became (a good Greek name may I add).

  25. Jd

    I must admit I think the LW already gave the olive branch when she agreed to daughters name in exchange for naming #2. I see no reason to have Steven be the middle. If husband had been gracious and there was no other middle LW wanted Steven would have been a nice gesture. But at this point using Steven is not compromise but a sacrifice.

  26. Maree

    Hugs to you mama.
    I was never good at asserting myself post partum, sleep deprivation plus hormones makes me desperate to please everyone.

    Don’t rush to name baby, use whatever time you are legally entitled to. In many cultures baby goes by a nn for ages.

    I do think it is important that you both like the name but few children have a name that is either parent’s first choice. Maybe if you can work out where your line us (S as first but use his middle, S as middle, variation of S, no S at all) and then put that to hubby as non-negotiable. Working within those parameters what names do you both like?

    Could you try one of those swipe left/right apps to get a list of choices out of him? If you went through and did a list and so does he you could see if there’s any overlap?

    Good luck and congratulations on bub’s arrival. Enjoy your baby.

    Ps – Estevan is a great name and the nn could be Van or Vinnie which is super retro cool


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