Answers to Your Questions About Grandparent Names

Most Questions Revolve Around 'Who Decides?'

grandparent names
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Everyone knows that names aren't really important. A rose by any other name, etc. But still, when parents learn that they are becoming grandparents, choosing a grandparent name is the first task that comes to mind. And it's a more complicated business than one might expect.

Learn answers to the questions grandparents ask most often about their grandparent names.

Who Picks My Grandparent Name?

You do, of course, but with two major caveats.

The first is that your child and his or her partner have veto rights. If they absolutely hate the name you have chosen, you should move on to your second choice, and possibly your third. The second qualifier is that grandchildren have a way of modifying or even rejecting the name that you have chosen. You can accept the name they give you or stick to your choice and hope they will fall in line eventually.

What If the Expectant Parents Want to Choose?

In this case, it's up to do to decide. If the parents-to-be are convinced that you should be called by a certain name, it may not be worth the possible ill feelings to oppose them, especially considering how many grandparent names end up being changed or modified. On the other hand, if you absolutely hate the name they have chosen, try to work out a compromise.

In families with multiple grandparents, including great-grandparents and step-grandparents, parents sometimes feel that they need to manage the whole process, so that each grandparent has a unique name.

That's understandable, although it's usually not necessary. Grandchildren will develop their own ways of differentiating between their various grandparents.

Can I Have More Than One Name?

If you are blessed with a multitude of grandchildren, chances are that they won't all call you exactly the same thing.

Often grandchildren use variants or even come up with their own nicknames for grandparents, and that's no big deal. Asian grandparents are often given different names depending upon whether they are the maternal or the paternal grandparents, so grandparents who have grandchildren through a son and through a daughter will have two different names.

Do Step-Grandparents Get to Pick a Name?

Many step-grandparents are most comfortable going by their first names. Those who are longstanding members of the family, however, often feel entitled to a grandparent name. In this case, it is probably best to seek input from the parents-to-be. Many compromise by blending a grandparent name and a first name, such as Grammy Sue or Nana Jane. If there is a biological grandparent still in the picture, it's diplomatic to avoid names that are similar to the one chosen by the biological grandparent.

What About Names That Sound Like a Parent's Name?

Some names are used as both parent and grandparent names, such as Pop. Sometimes such names take on a modifier, such as Big Mama. Some parents are opposed to such names as they see them as a sign that the grandparents may be ignoring boundaries and taking on the parental role.

If you like a name that falls into this category, be direct: "What do you think about Pop? Does it sound too much like a father instead of a grandfather?" And then respect the parents' wishes.

Can I Choose a Grandparent Name From Another Country?

You can choose a name of any flavor that you like. Among ethnic grandmother names, the Italian Nonna and the German Oma are among the most popular. The most popular ethnic names for grandfathers seem to be the ones that sound a bit like Papa: the German Opa, the Flemish Boompa and the Greek Papu. Spellings may vary. If you choose a name that is unrelated to your own heritage, you may be asked about your choice occasionally, but a simple explanation should suffice: "I picked it because I like the way it sounds."

What If Two Grandparents Choose the Same Name?

If you are a new grandparent and the other grandparent already has grandchildren, don't choose the same name that the other grandparent uses.

It may be okay if you choose the same name but add your first name to it or otherwise modify it.

If it is the first grandchild for both, the name should go to the person who calls it first, but it's not worth a rift in the family. If the other party is unwilling to concede, find another name. Many grandparents end up with names that are different from their original choices, and usually they are perfectly happy with the end results.

Shouldn't I Stick to My Family Tradition?

If grandparents in your family traditionally use a particular name, and you like that name, go for it. But if the name is unavailable, if you dislike it or if the parents-to-be aren't on board, choose a different name. Many grandparents find that they like their own choices even more than their traditional family names. Traditions are wonderful, but sometimes we grant them more weight than they deserve.

Can I Change my Grandparent Name?

Certainly you can change your mind. The process can be simple or complicated, depending upon how long you've been a grandparent. As with most family interactions, it's best to ask the opinion of the rest of the family rather than making the decision and revealing it to them. Other family members may think of some complications that didn't occur to you.

Should This Feel Like an Important Decision?

Some grandparents-to-be regard name-choosing as an important decision, perhaps because they feel it is a reflection of the grandparenting role they want to play.  Generally speaking, grandmothers worry more about choosing a name than grandfathers do.

The name itself may not be as important as the interaction between family members as a name is chosen.The process of choosing a grandparent name can reveal a lot about what the future holds in terms of family relationships. But the bottom line is that your grandparent name isn't nearly as important as your grandparent game. Getting to bond with that grandchild is the most important thing.