Tsoris for grand­par­ents over chil­dren’s baby name choices

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY LIANNE KOLIRIN

AL­MOST ONE in five grand­par­ents — 19 per cent — ad­mit to hat­ing, or hav­ing pre­vi­ously hated, the name cho­sen for their grand­child.

A new sur­vey, car­ried out by Mum­snet and sis­ter site Gransnet, has re­vealed a cat­a­logue of rea­sons for the dis­ap­proval in­clud­ing: it’s too old­fash­ioned, it’s too un­con­ven­tional or it doesn’t fol­low tra­di­tion.

But more than a third of par­ents (38 per cent) feel the choice is none of the grand­par­ents’ busi­ness, with six per cent of par­ents say­ing they fell out with their own par­ents over the name.

And when grand­par­ents were first told the new baby’s name, three per cent of par­ents said the first re­sponse was laugh­ter, while one in 10 grand­par­ents sim­ply said: “What?”

One Jewish grand­mother who re­acted sim­i­larly was Dawn War­ren, a 62-yearold from Bore­ham­wood who has two granddaughters, Emmy and Mar­ley and two grand­sons, Seth and Jor­dan.

“They’re all very sweet and very dif­fer­ent but when I first heard Mar­ley’s name I was just like ‘wow’. It was such a com­pletely dif­fer­ent name and made me think of Bob Mar­ley. I wasn’t dis­ap­pointed but try ex­plain­ing that to my own mum, who’s now 89. She was like ‘ooh, what’s that?’. I’m used to it now be­cause she’s an in­cred­i­ble kid and it re­ally does suit her. ”

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, one in 10

grand­par­ents were an­noyed that the par­ents had not fol­lowed fam­ily cus­tom. This can be com­pli­cated among Ashke­nazi Jews, where tra­di­tion dic­tates ba­bies be named af­ter dead rel­a­tives.

When Vic­to­ria Cookson an­nounced her baby’s name, her mother-in-law was de­lighted as his mid­dle name was that of her late hus­band. But oth­ers were less im­pressed with his first name: Jesse.

Mrs Cookson, 36, said: “When I told my granny Jesse’s name she said: ‘We used to call some­one a ‘Jesse’ as an in­sult’.”

Glo­ria McEvoy re­calls a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence af­ter her son, now 50, was born.

She said: “When I told my bubba we were go­ing to name our son Adam, she said: ‘Do you have to? I don’t like th­ese mod­ern Amer­i­can names!’”

In an at­tempt to avoid us­ing the hated name, nine per cent of grand­par­ents use no name at all when they re­fer to their grand­child, the sur­vey showed.

Lisa David­son Oren, orig­i­nally from Glas­gow, has first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence. Mrs Oren’s hus­band Yaniv is Is­raeli and they live with their three chil­dren — Ariel, 12, Mika, 10 and Itai, eight — in Jerusalem.

She told the JC: “My grandma thought my youngest’s name was ridicu­lous and re­fused to ad­dress him with it. He was only a baby when she died in 2010 so she got away with us­ing no name at all.”

Four per cent of grand­par­ents felt the

names their chil­dren had cho­sen were too dif­fi­cult to pro­nounce. That fig­ure could be con­sid­er­ably higher in the Jewish com­mu­nity, where many look to Is­rael for in­spi­ra­tion.

Orig­i­nally from Lon­don, Dr Joel Blaiberg lives in New Jer­sey with his Bri­tish wife Deb­o­rah and their four chil­dren.

Dr Blaiberg, 45, said: “My mum was re­ally con­cerned when I told them that I wasn’t in­ter­ested in giv­ing my kids sep­a­rate English and Jewish names like me and my sib­lings have.”

He and his wife opted for two He­brew names for each child — Talia Rivka, Ei­tan Seth, Ilan Zvi and Yael Leah.

Dr Blaiberg said: “My mother was con­vinced I had be­come mega-frum (I cer­tainly had not!), but it was more the fact that she was con­cerned whether she could pro­nounce them.

“It’s not an is­sue now, though we some­times have a good laugh about it.”

Mar­lene Sugarman, from Chig­well, Es­sex, has five grand­chil­dren aged be­tween 19 months and 23.

“They are my life,” she said. “The name doesn’t mat­ter at all. It be­comes won­der­ful once given to a grand­child, what­ever it is.”

The Blaibergs chose He­brew names

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