What to do if you think someone 'stole' your baby name

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK 

While scrolling through my Facebook feed a few weeks back, I stumbled across a very interesting post from a soon-to-be mum with a problem she didn't quite know how to address: another woman in her family who was also pregnant had "stolen" her baby name.

Intrigued, I decided to scroll through the few comments on the post to see exactly what she meant, and my suspicions were confirmed: the expectant mama was accusing another woman of stealing the first name she picked out for her son.

Turns out, this can really be a point of contention for parents.

Shannon Kalberg, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, CA, and an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University, told POPSUGAR that this phenomenon is uncomfortable, to say the least.

"This is a tough situation," she said. "Especially amid all the stress and excitement a person can experience during pregnancy."

Have you found yourself in this super sticky situation? Here are some things to mull over before launching into an Exorcist-level freak out.

Although your initial reaction might be to completely lose it on the thief, it might just be easier to roll with the punches. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Shannon also wants to remind parents that when push comes to shove, you really can't "steal" a baby name to begin with.

"A person cannot 'own' or 'reserve' a baby name," said Shannon. "The best thing you can do when deciding between baby names is to keep them solely between you and your partner. That way you can try your best to avoid having a relative or friend 'steal' a baby name that you have been considering for your kiddo."

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And while hindsight is certainly 20/20, keep in mind that although having your little one share a name with his cousin might seem like a big deal at first, it's rarely ever that confusing for your other family members. After all, nicknames were created for a reason. And who knows? Maybe your child might grow up to be more of a Jimmy than a John, anyway.

Plus, despite having the same moniker, they're still going to be completely different individuals: "Both children might have the same name, but they will each be their own unique selves."

We get it: picking out the perfect baby name for your bundle of joy is an extremely personal experience. After all, it's the name you're going to sing about during feedings and scream at the top of your lungs when they're late for school for the umpteenth time.

But if sharing your child's name with someone else in the family or a best friend is too much for you to bear, go with one of your backup choices instead. But Shannon cautions that parents shouldn't overthink the decision or harbour any ill-will toward the person who nabbed your top choice first.

"Let's say this situation deeply upsets a parent and they end up naming their child something different — will they really love them any less because they chose a different name?"

Believe it or not, your second cousin twice removed who you swear overheard you talking about your top baby name choices at the holiday party might not really have it out for you. In fact, she might not have heard you at all. Sometimes coincidences happen! And while it's human nature to cast a little doubt on these situations, the circumstances may be totally innocent.

This is especially important to keep in mind if the squabble is over a name that may appeal to several sets of parents in a given family.

"[Using family names] can be a very touchy subject, especially in families where carrying on the legacy of a name is treated with utmost reverence," explained Shannon. "From my professional experience, I have heard two different rules that can apply. Either the first adult child to have a baby or the eldest adult child to have a baby gets the first pick of the family names."

If you still feel like you've been truly duped and won't feel right without discussing the issue with the friend or family member, then do so. It's totally fine to start the conversation off by saying that even though it might seem irrational, your feelings are hurt nonetheless. But keep in mind you might not exactly get the answer you're looking for, so bringing it up at all should really be your very last resort.

"The hurt mother can confront her close friend or relative and let them know that this hurt her feelings," said Shannon. "She then has the option to accept their apology or accept that they may not offer one whatsoever."

She also explains that it really depends on the person who stole it in the first place. "If the fellow parent who stole the baby name is a close friend or family member, then perhaps there could be a conversation to be had about it," she said. "Again, not much will get resolved; however, it could be a chance for you to stand up for yourself. If it is an acquaintance, then I don't think there is any upside to confronting them."

Regardless of which course of action you take, parents should remember that first and foremost, sharing a name with someone really won't matter down the road. As long as your baby is healthy and happy, there's not too much else to worry about.

And Shannon agrees: "Admittedly, this situation can be very frustrating; however, this is not something you should lose sleep over."

This story originally appeared on POPSUGAR Australia, read it here.