Category Archives: Uncategorized

Baby Boy Trude11e, Brother to Miles and Claire

Hi Swistle!

You helped us name our son and daughter, Miles Joseph and Claire Marie, and now I would love your advice one more time! We are expecting our third (and last) baby, a boy, this February. I like to talk about names all of the time, but my husband prefers that we have more “productive” conversations about them (meaning, he would rather we look at our list and actually narrow them down vs. talk about new ones “just for fun”). So, we have a list of names, and are pretty certain about a middle, but are struggling with the “being productive” part (don’t worry, I have friends who will talk names with me, and your blog fills this need too).

I had two favorite girl names that I was really excited about: Rose and Lucy. I was also excited to use my grandmother’s middle name, Maxine, as a middle name. Rose Maxine or Lucy Maxine (perfect!). But, now that I need to let those girl names go, I am focusing on the joy I will feel by honoring my dad (who died when I was a teenager) and somehow using his name for this boy.

His name was Eric, and we considered using it as a middle with our first son, Miles. However, we ended up following a long tradition of using my husband’s middle name, instead. Although I like the idea of honoring my dad by using Eric as a first name, I think I would rather keep it in the middle name spot. I also don’t love it as a first name with Miles and Claire.

Here is our list of names:

Benjamin
Thomas
Felix
Max
Eli
James
August

I like Benjamin, and would want to use a nickname like Benny or Benji. Sometimes I wonder if those are too “cutesy” but I like them. Benjamin Eric Trude11e flows well I think. Benjamin does seem much more common than Miles and Claire, though.

I like Thomas and the nickname Tom, but don’t prefer Tommy (which is funny because I just said I like Benny). Thomas Trude11e has alliteration, which I can’t decide on either.

We both like Felix (it was one of our favorites with Miles) but our families have made it clear that they hate it. We could probably push through that though.

I like Max (similar to Maxine!), but wonder if we would want a longer name like Maxwell. I think that gets tricky visually when looking at the full name with our last name: Maxwell Trude11e. Just Max, with Eric as a middle, seems a bit choppy to me. I also can’t decide if I like Miles and Max for brother names, or if they are too close.

Eli, James and August aren’t top contenders for me (though my husband really likes Eli) but they are still on our list.

Do any of these stand out for you? Are there any names that I’m missing that work well with the middle and last name? (I know we’re trying to narrow down, but…) Or sound especially good with Miles and Claire? I would love your advice! Thank you!!

 

None of the names on the list stand out to me particularly. I first thought James and August did, and they still do somewhat—but James seems a little too common with Miles and Claire, and I feel reluctant to push August when it’s not a top contender. My own favorite is Felix, but I feel reluctant to push a name your family doesn’t like.

With middle initial E and surname initial T, many first name initials will end up spelling a word: BET, GET, HET, JET, LET, MET, NET, PET, SET, VET, WET, YET. Of those, the only one that makes me uncertain is the W. I do prefer for initials not to spell things, but words like GET and SET are pretty innocuous.

I like Simon. Simon Trude11e (SET); Miles, Claire, and Simon.

Or Elliot. Elliot Trude11e (EET); Miles, Claire, and Elliot.

Or Everett. Everett Trude11e (EET); Miles, Claire, and Everett.

Or Emmett. Emmett Trude11e (EET); Miles, Claire, and Emmett.

Or Oliver. Oliver Trude11e (OET); Miles, Claire, and Oliver.

Or Louis. Louis Trude11e (LET); Miles, Claire, and Louis.

Or Edmund. Edmund Trude11e (EET); Miles, Claire, and Edmund.

Or Ian. Ian Trude11e (IET); Miles, Claire, and Ian.

Or Malcolm. Malcolm Trude11e (MET); Miles, Claire, and Malcolm.

Or Wesley. Wesley Trude11e (WET); Miles, Claire, and Wesley.

Or Reid. Reid Trude11e (RET); Miles, Claire, and Reid.

Or Nolan. Nolan Trude11e (NET); Miles, Claire, and Nolan.

And actually I am still very inclined toward James. It IS more common, but I still like it, and I like the overall look and feel of the sibling group. James Trude11e (JET); Miles, Claire, and James.

Baby Boy Sepas, Brother to Evelyn

Hey Swistle!

I’m a long time reader, and I love, love, love baby names. So I can’t believe I’m writing to you for advice. I’m 30 weeks pregnant with our second – a boy – and I just can’t commit to a name. My name is Bridgett, my husband is Evan, and our last name is Sepas, but with a silent T in the front, and pronounced See-pahs.

We have a two year old daughter named Evelyn Claire, and her name is perfect. I told my husband while we were dating that I was having a daughter named Evelyn one day, so the day we found out she was a girl she was named. We gave her the middle name Claire because it means “light” and after years of infertility and miscarriage, she was definitely a light at the end of a dark time in our lives. Her name fits her perfectly, and hearing her say “Yevelyn” just melts my heart.

We’re due with a boy in mid January and I thought we had found the perfect name, but something won’t let me commit. The two names on our list right now are:

-Rowan Lawrence (Rowan is my favorite boy name, and Lawrence, after my beloved Grandpa that passed away)

-Luke Thomas

On paper, Luke Thomas is the perfect name for us. Why?

-My dad’s name is Luke.
-My father in law was Thomas.
-This is the first grandson born since my father-in-law passed away. (We won’t use Thomas as a first name because we already have a nephew named Thomas.)
-Luke also means “light”, just like his sister.
-Thomas is my husband’s middle name.

I think the reason I can’t get completely on board is because it’s a one syllable name. I’m so used to saying “Evelyn” 1000 times a day, and saying Luke just doesn’t have the same flow. It almost feels “blah” to me. But am I crazy? Am I not committing to the perfect name for us because of something as silly as the syllables?

I know I’m probably a little extra anxious, because our daughter was named at 18 weeks, and also because our daughter was born at 31 weeks, so if that happened with this pregnancy, I have approximately 5 days to name this baby boy!

Other names we have had on our list:

Nolan
Graham
Austin
Lawson
Grayson

I would love to hear what you and your readers think. And to get an unbiased opinion. I don’t feel like I can ask any family members because they both include family names, and that’s awkward when you go with something different.

Thanks for considering helping me!

Bridgett

 

Luke Thomas is the perfect name, but I can see how it could feel too short, especially with “Yevelyn” ringing adorably in your ears. Would it help to have the option of calling him “Luke Thomas,” so you’d have three syllables like you do with Evelyn? I do love a good double name. You wouldn’t have to call him that every time, but it gives you something longer for when you want it. There’s also the nickname L.T. And there are endearments such as Baby Luke, Lukey-Pie, Lukey-Lu, Lukey-my-Lovey, and so forth.

I don’t know if it is true for you as it is for me, but I do find boy names more blah. All of my boys have names I really, really like, but it is only my daughter’s name that DELIGHTS me. There just WEREN’T any boy names that gave me that same feeling. I had to change my goals: for girls I looked for names that delighted me, and for boys I looked for names that gave me a strong warm feeling of happy satisfaction.

I also do love Nolan from your list, but I find I feel sad to lose the Dad Namesake. One of my kids is named after my dad, and it has given me more long-term happy satisfaction than I expected—and I expected quite a bit of long-term happy satisfaction. On the other hand, another of my kids is named after a character on a TV show, and that too has given me quite a bit of long-term happy satisfaction, so I don’t feel inclined to put too much pressure on you.

Baby Girl, Sister to Persephone

Dear Swistle,

We are in desperate need of help. We have a four year old daughter with a perfect name; Persephone Jane. We call her Effie, but love PJ as a nickname option if she chooses, too. Some of the many reasons we love her name: the nod to my Greek heritage; the badass myth (she rules hell!); the fact that all four “e”s make a different sound; the fact that it’s obviously very different, but has a reference point; and four syllables plus one syllable just rolls nicely. Unfortunately, we’ve set our bar way too high and are having a lot of trouble naming our second daughter and last child, due in late January. If she had been a boy, we’d have used Sullivan. We’ve had that boy name locked since we were dating but aren’t fond of the female nicknames for it. So far in the running are Ophelia (Ollie) and Delphinia (Finnie). We are a Matt and Jenny born in the 80s, so we want a name that isn’t on the top of any list. I’d love something in the same vein as Persephone, hence our top two choices, but we’re just not sold one way or another. We also love Comisa (Ozzy). I actually love Cossie but I know people will say it Cozzy so I’d rather just go Ozzy) and Coredelise (Lisey). We’ve mentioned Desdemona (Desi) but I don’t love the nickname. We love the nickname Lisey (lie-zee) but aren’t in love with any of the full-length names for it (Lisette, Liesel, Melissa, etc.). When naming Effie, we actually loved the nickname and worked backwards from there, after having dismissed Persephone originally for her being a villain in a terrifying Stephen King novel but then thinking better of it. As for a middle name, we’re currently thinking Lynn in honor of my aunt but aren’t 100% on it. Jane was initially just a toss-in; something simple to counteract the enormity of Persephone and give her a less crazy option if she wanted it later and we liked the J initial for nickname possibilities, but it ended up being absolutely perfect. I can only hope we’ll luck into the same situation again. We’re not afraid of crazy, clearly, and I’ve even tossed out Polemistis, which isn’t even a name but rather just the Greek work for warrior. We’re raising one fearless feminist and can’t wait to start on our second.

I’m sorry I’ve written you a novel. I’m so grateful for any help you can offer – I’m starting to seriously worry and that’s causing anxiety over the whole idea of having a second child. Really, what was I thinking?!

Jenny

 

I vote for Hermione. I think that name should be WAY more popular than it is, but perhaps we just need to wait a few years for all those Harry-Potter-in-their-formative-years kids to start having children. More options:

Amaryllis (I think you could get Lisey from this)
Anastasia
Andromeda
Appollonia
Ariadne
Artemisia
Athena
Calliope/Kalliopi
Cleopatra
Cordelia
Diana (Wonder Woman as well as a goddess)
Emerald
Hyacinth
Lilith
Lorelei
Lysandra (could get Lisey from this)
Magdalena
Minerva
Morrigan
Nightingale
Octavia
Olympia
Phaedra
Sapphire
Seraphina (might be too similar in sound to Persephone)
Sophronia (in The Five Little Peppers, the nickname is Phronsie, which I LOVE)
Valentina

Some sources for further browsing:

Women Warriors in folklore
Women in Greek mythology
23 Incredible Goddesses Who Kicked Patriarchy’s Ass
The Dangerous Woman Project
Roman Deities

Baby Girl Tuber

Hello Swistle!

Long time reader, first time writer!

Before we were married, my husband and I agreed on a couple of things as far as naming our children went: 1) Middle names would be meaningful/honorific names, as both of our middle names are family names; 2) First names would be their own, and have little/no tie to family members, unless it was absolutely something we loved; and 3) My family names would take slight precedence, since I added on/go by his surname and, with three sisters and only female cousins on my father’s side, my surname will likely not be continuing on. My husband told me soon after that he would actually prefer that we use my two grandmothers’ names as middle names for any daughters, since he considers them his grandmothers too, and loves them very much.

That leads to now. I’m elated to write that I’m pregnant with my first child, a little girl! First girl for either side of our family in 15 years. My much-adored grandmother, Patricia “Pat,” passed away unexpectedly only a few months before I became pregnant, so middle name is a no-brainer, non-negotiable for us. We also don’t like changing the names, so using Patrice or some other variant is a no. We briefly considered using Anne, her middle name, but it doesn’t feel as special or connected to her.

However, Patricia is not exactly the easiest middle name to work with. I am waffling between trying to find something that sounds GREAT with Patricia (that we also LOVE), and saying “forget it!” and just using what we love regardless of how it sounds. I know, realistically, that most people won’t be familiar with their friends/co-workers/acquaintances middle names, so it’s probably more important to focus on how the first sounds with the surname, but I am a Name Nerd, capital-Ns, and it’s proving more difficult than I’d have hoped. I tend to like a lot of longer names that end in -a or -ia, and visually it’s very unappealing to me to repeat that, even if it sounds okay aloud. Add to that, a lot of other names I like end in S or R sounds, and our surname is Swiss-German, sounds kind of like “tuber” with a hard Z/S, so some of the combinations run into each other or just sound so clunky… I’m just a little stuck. I am even thinking about throwing Rule #3 out and using Patricia as a first name, but I am also having a hard time with that, because I’m not crazy about the nicknames, and losing her is still very fresh, and my husband’s best friend is a male “Pat.”

I would LOVE some new suggestions, or just your thoughts on our favorite names. I feel like I’ve seen everything and still none of these feel like a great fit. Right now we are calling the baby Potato (get it? Tuber?).

Our names so far are:

Antonia

Ariadne

Coral

Eve

Florence

Francine

Frida

Gloria

Gwendolyn

Harriet

Imogen

Ingrid

Iris

Juliet

Juniper

Lilac

Lucille

Marigold

Minerva

Nadine

Opal

Phoebe

Roxanne

Sabrina

Tabitha

Veronica

 

Names that have been vetoed because they are too popular, a close relation, or my husband dislikes:

Amelia

Cleo (he says it’s too Miss Cleo)

Clementine

Cordelia

Bernadette

Dahlia

Edith

Fern

Hazel

Ione

Josephine

Lavender

Luna

Margot

Paloma (initials PP–my husband hasn’t said anything so far about Phoebe, and yes, he knows how it’s spelled, but he HATES these initials. Do you think this is a problem? I’m torn.)

Pearl (initials PP)

Persephone (PP)

Ramona

Rose and all Rose variations (hurts my heart because Rosemary was one of my favorites, but I understand my husband’s reasons)

Ruby

Winifred

Winter

Violet

My husband has a well-known, Hebrew/Biblical name that has no nicknames. I have a long, feminine, ancient Greek/Roman name with a million nicknames, and I go by a unisex nickname with most people. We tend to like nature names and older, well-known names, that are either long with easy, intuitive nicknames, or have few/no possible nicknames (just like our names). We slightly prefer the versatility of nicknames, but it’s not a necessity. Had this baby been a boy, my front-runners were Fox, Adam, Ignatius, and Malcolm, with about 25 other options waiting in the wings. We plan on hopefully having three to four kids, and, if we have another girl, her middle name will be Olive.

Thanks in advance for any input!

Mama Tuber

 

I first zeroed in on Minerva: it’s very high on my own Sorry I Can’t Use It list, and I just love it, and I think it’s great with Patricia. But I love it less with the surname; I think it’s the repeated -er- sound: Minerva Tuber. My tongue twists around it.

It’s hard for me to narrow down the list because I think such a large percentage of them are really good (especially since I don’t share your dislike of the look of two names in a row ending in -a), but some that seem particularly good to me are Florence, Gwendolyn, Marigold, and Sabrina. And I’d bring Cordelia, Josephine, and Winifred back from the veto list, if I had that power.

Harriet Tuber brings Harriet Tubman to mind, but that’s a very positive association and also I’m not sure if your surname actually begins with Tub-.

I too avoid P.P. initials. They’re not out of the question, and I can imagine loving a name so much I would consider them—but since you are planning more children, I would save the P names for when you’re not using a middle name starting with P.

I would take Ruby off the list: to my ear the almost-rhyme is a little comical with the surname. Ruby Tuber. I would remove Juniper Tuber for similar reasons. (Luna Tuber and Winter Tuber are already off the list, or else I would remove them as well.)

I doubt I will be adding anything you haven’t already considered, but here are a few that came to mind when I was looking at other names on your list:

Felicity
Fiona
Genevieve
Georgia
Henrietta
Maxine
Millicent
Simone

I notice you have some groups of names on the lists that, if you were to use one name from the group, it’s possible you’d feel it ruled out using others in the group. For example, if you used one color name (Violet, Lavender, Lilac, Hazel, Coral, etc.), would that mean you would not want to use any of the others? If you used one plant name (Iris, Juniper, Lilac, Marigold, Dahlia, Fern, Hazel, etc.), would that rule out the others for you? If you used Opal, would that rule out Pearl? It is good to think through such things ahead of time, so you can be sure you’re choosing your top choice from any group that would be eliminated once one name was chosen.

Baby Naming Issue: We Want Our Son Called by a Nickname, But Someone Keeps Using His Given Name

My name problem is a little different.

My son is named after his father, who is named after his, who is named after his. In other words, my husband is Robert III and my son is Robert IV.

My husband went by Bobby when I met him, but now likes to go by Robert or Rob. This is because it’s kind of a tradition for the Dad to go from Bobby to Robert once they have a son, that way the son can now be called Bobby. It honestly doesn’t really matter to me what my son is called, but it’s very important to my husband.

So, the issue is with my step-mother. She never had kids of her own and spends a lot of time with my son. She never thought she’d have grandchildren, so the fact that my son thinks of her the same as my mother is a big deal I think. She’s a nice lady, a bit high-strung and can’t seem to ever sit down, but nice. When she has my son, she fills every minute with different activities.

She has always called my son Robert though. It really bothers my husband. She gets ornamates made for my family and my brothers at Christmas time. My sons character always has “Robert” on it and my husbands is “Bobby”. This is what bothers him the most. He really likes the idea of the ornaments, but doesn’t want to use them because of this issue.

Shas texted me and said “what’s Robert doing?” I reply that he’s working, she’ll reply that she meant the other one, so I say something like “oh Bobby isn’t doing anything.” I know that sounds passive aggressive, but she is VERY sensitive. One time, as a child, I got in severe trouble because I made her cry. How did I do that? I didn’t say hi back to her when she walked by one morning. I was eating… my mouth was full and I tried to do the head nod thing, but she got her feelings hurt and I got yelled at. Because of this, we usually try to go through my dad for any issues. I try to talk to her about them, but I also always try to make it light-hearted because of her sensitivity.

So, I’ve told my dad about the issue a couple times. He now calls my son Bobby and husband Robert, but she doesn’t. (Meanwhile, her family still calls my son “Baby Bobby” which drives my little guy crazy because he’s now 5. Even the kids call him that, but I digress.)

To top it off, I recently had a baby girl. I’ve always wanted a girl named Charlie. My husband wanted it to be a nickname just in case she doesn’t like it and that was fine with me. So her name is Charlotte, but we literally never use that. It’s Charlie to everyone. Except to my step-mother, again. She always calls her Charlotte. I’ll call her Charlie and then it seems like my step-mom will make sure to use Charlotte right after.

I’m not sure what to do. I’m non-confrontational in general, but it’s even worse with her. I got in trouble for hurting her feelings more times than I can count as a child. I’m sure I deserved it sometimes. But this is a woman who started full-on sobbing because my dad brought the cat to their new house first and not the dog. He was going back to get the dog that same day.

Anyway, this is so long! Is it really a big enough deal to risk an altercation? Please advise if you can and thanks for your time.

 

This is tricky. This is very, very tricky. I have been thinking about this since you wrote over a week ago, and I am not yet settled in my mind on an answer.

In general, in GENERAL, I think the parents are the bosses of the child’s name until the child is old enough to be boss of it. If you have a James and you want him called Jamie, I am here for the discussion on how we get a relative to stop calling him Jimmy.

But in nearly all the situations I can think of, there is ALSO the option of using the child’s actual given name. That is, it seems like parents are usually more like “If you’re going to use a nickname, this is our chosen one,” and not “You may ONLY use the nickname and you may NOT use the given name.” James and Jamie, but not Jimmy; Elizabeth and Libby, but not Beth.

Here is a situation I could think of where this was not the case, and it is has some overlap with yours. The parents were using an honor name they absolutely didn’t want to use, consisting of names they hated, so they asked that the child be called something completely different. That is, the child’s name was something like Egbert Leslie Johnson IV, and the parents could not find anything within that name that they could stand to have their child called, so they asked that he be called Jason. In that case, if a relative were insisting on calling him Egbert and then saying with faux innocence “But that’s his given name! YOU named him that name!,” I would be ready to throw down. This is what stops me from saying to you that the child’s legal given name really should be one of his name options.

Also, reading your letter, it really sounds as if your step-mom must be doing this on purpose at this point. I know you don’t want to upset her, but it’s time to either let the whole thing go or else dial things up. Hints are not working, either because she is genuinely that clueless or because she is deliberately leaning on the benefit of the doubt in order to go against what you want. If she asks how Robert is doing, and you say he’s at work, and she says, “Oh, I mean the other one,” it doesn’t seem to be working to say “Oh, Bobby’s playing with blocks.” It’s time for “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you meant Bobby: we never call him Robert. My husband’s family’s tradition is that the dad goes by Robert and the child goes by Bobby. We’re really not calling him Robert at all.” You’d say it pleasantly, so very pleasantly.

If she responds to the escalation and says, “But it’s his naaaaaaame!,” you’d say, “Oh, I know! But we’re using the nickname. That’s the tradition in their family, so that’s how we’re doing it.” Lean on this tradition concept. Lean on the “Despite other possible ways of doing this, this is how WE are doing this” concept.

If she gives you ornaments that are mis-labeled, swap them if possible. That is, unless she got a Rockette ornament with “Bobby” on it and a My Sixth Christmas ornament with “Robert” on it, just…swap them. The Robert one is your husband’s. The Bobby one is your son’s. Or, since your husband once went by Bobby and the plan is for your son to one day go by Robert, you could say that the two ornaments belong jointly to the two of them, representing the two versions of their name that they will both use in their lifetimes (assuming your son chooses to follow this tradition).

If swapping/sharing won’t work, you have a few options. You can decline to put them up, without comment. You can put them up and not make a big deal about it, the way you might for any other well-intentioned gifting mistake (for example, if she got your husband a golf-themed ornament and he doesn’t even play golf). If your husband went by Bobby for several decades, perhaps he already has ornaments personalized with “Bobby” and can add these to that batch; your son can think of his “Robert” ornaments as being customized for the time after his first son is born or, more simply, as just being customized with his full/formal name instead of with his nickname. Or you can address it with her around November: “In previous years you’ve had such wonderful ornaments made for us. We LOVE this idea and we really treasure them. In case you’re planning to do it again this year, I wanted to mention that in my husband’s family it’s tradition for the father to go by Rob/Robert as soon as he has a son, and for the son to go by Bobby. So Rob’s should say Robert or Rob, and Bobby’s should say Bobby.” You say it pleasantly and informatively, as if it’s the first time you’ve told her.

The follow-up is this: You start calling her on it EVERY SINGLE TIME. When she asks how Robert is, you correct her every single time. When she says, “Hi, Robert!” to him in your presence, you say “Oh, Linda, remember we only call him Bobby”—every single time. You say it as if you are a very pleasant voice-recording that can’t be annoyed by having the replay button hit again and again and again. You say it as if the concern here is that perhaps your step-mother is getting senile, and you are filled with compassion for her sad plight and don’t want to make her feel bad about it by letting her know you’ve already told her this a hundred times.

You also train Bobby to correct her. It has to be with politeness beyond reproach, but if he has a strong preference about what he’s called, he’s old enough to learn the polite way to make his preference known.

I suggest handing off almost all of this work/training to your husband. Not only is he the one this all matters to, but it sounds as if there is a history here that means we need to be realistic about the practicality of suggesting you repeatedly correct your step-mother’s behavior. And I may be utterly wrong here, but when I have encountered people like your step-mother in my life, I’ve found they tend to take a gentle correction from a man WAY BETTER than the same gentle correction from a woman; same thing with non-relatives over relatives. If she begins to work up a fit, you can shrug sympathetically and say, “Oh, Linda, I know! It’s not something that seems like a big deal to me either! But it IS a big deal to Rob, and we’re going with his family traditions on this one.” If you have access to a running joke about something that is done YOUR family’s way (and even better if it’s HER special way of doing something), this is the place to put it: “After all, he gave in to our family on what’s REALLY important: leaving the skins in the mashed potatoes.”

If she throws a fit, this is yet another level removed from being within my area of expertise, but certainly at this point you are an adult and she can’t get you in trouble anymore. You don’t have to do things her way, or apologize to her when you choose not to do things her way. You can ignore her reactions. …Well, I mean, theoretically you can ignore her: I know these things are never so easy when applied to real people and real relationships. But there is room here to say, “I’m really sorry it upsets you, but this is still how we’re doing the names” and “I understand you prefer the name Robert, but we have decided that he will be called Bobby for now.” You’d say the same if she got your dad or another family member to bring you the problem: “I’m really sorry it upsets Linda, but these are the names we’ve decided to use.” Say it with a little bit of bafflement, as you would if she were INSISTING that the whole family join her in getting you to buy Bobby blue sneakers instead of white.

Or, and I do think you should consider this possibility: Don’t do any of this, especially if it doesn’t bother your son to be called Robert. (DOES it bother him to be called Robert?) Let her do what she’s doing. Resign yourself to the idea that she will always use your children’s given names rather than the preferred nicknames. As a Coping Thought, think of it as if these were her own special pet names for your kids. Stop trying to work on her: when she asks you how Robert is, answer the question you know she means. Try to think of it as an opportunity to enjoy another facet of the names, one that you don’t hear as often. See if your husband can come to peace with the idea that his family’s naming tradition does not need to be followed by every member of the extended family; and that just as he might have old friends who still call him Bobby, his son might have people in his life who call him Robert ahead of schedule. (This will have a side benefit of allowing room for your son to go by Rob or Robbie or Robert later on if he prefers it, even if he has not yet had a son.)

One issue that makes me inclined to either let it go or at least go very, very easy on your step-mother is that you’ve been letting her do this for five full years. When parents have a strong preference about a child’s name, this preference needs to be set firmly and immediately, from the very start. Instead, we’re talking about five years of established behavior, and with someone who is very involved in your son’s life. To you and your husband, it may feel as if she’s ignored five years of your requests; to her, she may feel as if this is the first time you’re telling her.

In fact, it may work in your favor that you recently had another baby: you can do it from the start this time, and piggyback the other naming issue onto it. You have already thoroughly learned that hints don’t work, so from the very start it should be, “Oh—we are ONLY calling her Charlie—just like we’re only calling her brother Bobby. We only put Charlotte on the birth certificate in case she wants something more formal later.” Then every time your step-mom says Charlotte, you say “Oh—remember, we are only calling her Charlie.” EVERY TIME.

If this doesn’t work, you will need to decide how far you are willing (and/or how far it is worth it) to escalate this. The next step would have to be even more direct and probably less pleasant (“Please stop calling her Charlotte; we are only calling her Charlie” or “Is there something we could do to help you remember to call him Bobby?”), and not everyone can do that, or wants to.