Everyone gets a new identity and you can choose yours – What will be your grandparent name?
Finally the moment arrives and your first grandbaby enters your world. You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker that says, “If I’d known grandchildren were so much fun, I would have had them first.” Ask any grandparent. They’ll echo that sentiment. Ready or not, that little someone is about to change your life—in big ways.
Honor the name the parents chose
When it comes to names, the safest approach is not to suggest them unless you’re asked. It’s the parents’ responsibility to decide. Let them choose without any pressure. After all, family names might seem too old-fashioned or favor one relative over another.
On the other hand, current “fad” names might be too prolific by the time the baby is born. It’s impossible to please everyone. So, when the new parents choose a name, accept it not only without criticism, but rather with compliment. Chances are that many hours of thought and compromise have been invested in their decision.
Honor the baby’s unique attributes
To foster positive feelings, start immediately to make the child part of the family. Call him (or her) by his given name or the parents’ chosen nickname. Terms of endearment, however well intended, might confuse him. Soon he will respond to hearing his own name and develop his own personality. Refer to the baby as “he” or “she,” not “it.” Avoid “baby talk,” but rather speak in simple sentences using adult words so he will learn to talk properly.
All babies are individuals, not carbon copies of their parents—or grandparents. Remarking on “Grandma’s eyes” or “Uncle Jim’s chin” might appear to exclude the other side of the family. It’s a natural inclination, but one that can alienate other family members.
Who do you want to be?
One question that seems to pop up in every family is “What will the baby call you?” Sure, your grandchild can’t even speak yet. But how many ways can you say “grandma” or “grandpa”? Especially today, when great-grandparents often are still alive, and there might be step-grandparents as well, there might not be enough names to go around. (See grandparent nicknames here.)
If you have other grandchildren, you might request that all use the same name. Then again, that name may already refer to one of the other grandparents. You can state a preference, but don’t be surprised if the parents call you something else around the child, or if the child coins his own name for you. The important thing is that, whatever name that precious grandbaby calls you, he or she grows to love you.