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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

Am I being a bad parent... by giving my child a family name I really don't like?

Three experts have their say on this week’s reader dilemma.

EACH WEEK, WE hear from a reader who can’t figure out what to do about a tricky parenting situation. To get a balanced take on the dilemma, we ask three Irish parenting experts to weigh in.

Choosing a name for your baby can be a long and complicated process or, for some people, an easy decision that’s made before your bundle of joy is even born. 

This week, one parent is torn over whether she should give her child a name that’s been passed through her family for generations – even though she really doesn’t like it.

Have a parenting dilemma you’re struggling with? Let us know anonymously here and we’ll share it with our panel of experts.

This week’s dilemma

I’m pregnant with my first child and we know that it’s a boy. I’m over the moon and so excited for his arrival, but there’s I’m feeling under pressure to give him a family name that’s been passed down for three generations in my family. The thing is, I really don’t like the name. It’s old fashioned, difficult to spell and I just don’t like it. However, I really feel like I’ve to stick with it because it’s a big part of our family and my parents regularly say how excited they are for the name to be passed down, after there not being any boys among the other grandchildren yet. Am I being unreasonable to give my child a name I don’t like, just to please my family?

What the experts have to say…

I don’t think you are being unreasonable to want to please your family. Firstly congratulations, expecting your first child is a very exciting time. I do understand the predicament you are in. If you find it too hard to talk directly to your parents about it I suggest you consider approaching a family member you feel comfortable talking to, who is also close to your parents and put it to them about using this traditional name as your baby boy’s second name, like planting the seed with them as such!

Lots of parents take this as an alternative option; both of our boys have each of their grandad’s names as their second name. It’s important that you are happy and excited about what you choose with no regrets. Welcoming a new baby into the family is such a wonderful time for everyone including the grandparents. The chances are that once your little boy arrives, you’ll all be so in love it’ll be all forgotten about!

- Aoife Lee, Parent Coach at

Yes, you are being unreasonable. Of course you want to please your family, but a mum’s job is also to decide what is best for her own growing family. Your son will need a name that suits him and you. If you feel the traditional name is not right, then it probably isn’t. When a family name is important, usually the best way to achieve a balance is to use it as a middle name. However, sometimes it’s only when you finally get to meet your baby that you find the right name for him, so don’t rush! Good luck: I struggled for 40 days with one of mine!

- Krysia Lynch, Maternity Care Expert at

Yes, you’re being unreasonable. Choosing a name for your child is a very special experience between you and your partner only. It’s wrong of your parents to presume that you’ll give him the name that’s been passed down for generations. Does your partner not have a say in this at all? Have you told your parents how you feel about this?

My wife is Polish and we chose Polish first names for our three kids. Yes, my family found it difficult to pronounce the names at first but this didn’t factor in our decision because we picked names that we liked. Pressure from other family members should not influence your decision. I would suggest, in the nicest possible way, letting your parents know that this family name hasn’t made the short list. The sooner your parents are aware of this, the better for every one involved.

Brian Purcell, Occupational Therapist.

So what’s the final tally? Is this reader being unreasonable?

Yes – 2

No – 1

Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Have a parenting question you want answered? Let us know anonymously in our survey here or email us on and we’ll put it to the experts.

More: Am I being a bad parent… by leaving my six-month-old to ‘cry it out’?

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