Help with Name Remorse

Our son, Nicholas Michael is 11 weeks old and I find myself constantly thinking of the other names that were on our list. I have read about how it can be difficult to let go of the other names but I honestly find myself obsessing about it. To make matters even worse... my FIL wants to call him Mikey. My FIL and my husband are both Michael and it was obviously on the list but my husband wanted to give him his own identity and not name him the 3rd. I'm just having such a difficult time feeling 100% content with Nicholas' name because of all the above. Please help! Also, I want to create a good nickname besides Nick or Nico... any suggestions??? I am thinking creating a good nickname for him would help me with my name remorse. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance! 


March 17, 2017 6:46 PM

Nicholas has long been on my faves list, so I love your name choice. That said, I can see why you may be having doubts. I feel like maybe your FIL would back off on the whole Mikey thing if he had something else to call his little grandson. Maybe Cole or Coley? That would also give you something to call him (also, FWIW, I adore the nickname Cole for Nicholas!).

March 17, 2017 6:51 PM

Col/Colin is the traditional nickname for Nicholas.  Also in Dutch and German: Klaas and Klaus.

March 21, 2017 10:12 PM

Thank you for your advice!

March 17, 2017 8:47 PM

Cole is one of my favourite Nicholas nickname options. My cousin didn't plan this ahead of time, but she ended up calling her son Nicholas "Nickel". It just sort of happened naturally as she got to know him.

There have been a few threads recently that have dealt with the issue of relatives using nicknames that the parents don't like. I don't know how much it bothers you that your father-in-law is commandeering the nickname, but I can imagine that it's certainly not helping you bond with the name you've chosen.

The good news is that your husband is on your side! He didn't want to name your son Michael, so as a team you can create a united front against Mikey. Without being rude or getting defensive, you can counter his Mikey use with a firm statement that that is not his name. (Someone like Emily.ei who has had to deal with a similar situation might be able to provide a more specific script.) You wanted him to have his own name and your FIL can't take that away from him. And if you decide that it's okay and let him call him Mikey, your son won't be confused or feel like it's a statement that his actual first name isn't good enough. It will be the special nickname that his grandfather uses so that the two of them match. Kids are really flexible that way.

I also want to encourage you and tell you that, although it feels like it is, 11 weeks is not very long at all. Kids grow into their names, and names evolve to fit the kid. When my daughter was born, we tried using a preselected nickname, but it never felt right. I would cringe when someone uttered the name, even though I was the one who initially told them to use it! Well, that nickname evolved into a shortened form, and then when she learned to speak, she shortened her name a different way, and that's the nickname that's stuck. I never would have come up with it, but this nickname feels like her in ways that the other simply never did. 

Give it time and try not to put too much pressure on yourself -- or on the name. You, your son, and his name will grow together. Nicholas Michael is a great name! It offers lots of nicknames o suit different personalities and I'm sure that it will serve your son well throughout the different stages of his life. 

March 21, 2017 10:25 PM

Hi Karyn,  thank you for your advice.  So a few weeks ago, we were on FT and he called him Mikey in front of my daughter. I corrected him and then he wanted to correct me. Yes that's right. He was trying to correct me about my sons name in front of my daughter. I got so upset I sent him a text  during the conversation in hopes that he would receive it &.  And I stated that his grandson's name is Nicholas and not Mikey. I told him it upsets me and confuses my daughter. He didn't care. There have been several  incidences since then where he insists on his nickname and no one is going to make him change. I am beyond upset with my in-laws. They have no respect. They do not care to honor our wishes and it has greatly affected our relationship. We are at a point now where I truly want nothing to do with them. I didn't mention in my original post that when we were in the hospital deciding between two names, they sent us a text of THEIR top favorite names and told us our son doesn't look or act like a Nicholas. I am beyond disappointed in them and do not know how I will ever forgive them for the grief they have caused me and my husband. They should be supportive whether we want to name our son this name or that name. All they have done is poison us with their negativity since our son was born. 

March 19, 2017 11:02 PM

Congratulations on your baby!  Nicholas is such a handsome name.  I agree with the previous poster that names can take a while to click with the baby and nicknames also can take a while to emerge.  Sometimes "the baby" or various assorted nonesense names come more naturally in the early months. Some nicknames seem to fit older children better and sometimes nicknames that seemed unappealing initially end up clicking in the end.  For example, my nearly 9 year old has cycled through several nicknames and currently answers to an embarrasing number of appelations where as no-nickname has clicked for my nearly 3 year old son.  

March 21, 2017 10:26 PM

 Thank you so much for your advice 

March 20, 2017 7:38 AM

I really like Karyn's suggestion of Nickel, but also agree that Cole and Colin are good nicknames that offer a different sound.

One thing that really worked for me for enforcing a nickname was to get my siblings on board. My mom spent 5 months calling my baby by her name (to be fair), instead of the nickname I had picked out for her to use. The fact that my sister exclusively used the nickname (which is very different from the name), really helped make it sound more normal to my mom, who has now adopted it too.

So if your father-in-law is stuck on Mikey, does your husband have a brother or sister who can come in and cheerfully say "Hi Cole! Googahgoogah-GAH!" I see no reason why grandpa shouldn't use Mikey, if you don't mind, but it would be good to get other things circulating so that it doesn't become the default nickname for everyone.

I agree with Karyn too, though, that 11 weeks is a short time although it feels like a long time. My daughter didn't "feel" like any of her names for months...she's now 8 months old and feels like her name, her nickname, her middle name, and a host of other organic nicknames and diminutives.

March 21, 2017 10:27 PM

 Thank you Emily. Nickel and Nicky are my faves so far! :-)

March 20, 2017 11:40 AM

Is there a specific name on your list that you are regretting, or is it just that you aren't comfortable with Nicholas yet and anything seems better?

If it's the former, and you really feel that a different name is *him*, then you may want to investigate the ins-and-outs of actually changing his name (it's not as hard as it seems, and some people who have come to this board have done it). After you figure out the logistics, you and your husband can decide if the hassle would be worth it to you.

If, though, there isn't a specific name that's calling to you and it's more that you just haven't fully gotten comfortable with this name, then I do think this will get better with time.

For nicknames, I think Cole is a great suggestion of an intuitive name with a very different feel. If you want a "compromise" nickname for Grandpa, Nike (rhymes with Mikey) is really cute, and may be appropriate if he ends up very fleet-footed in the future (Nike was a Greek goddess, but I don't think that should present a problem in today's world). 

March 21, 2017 10:42 PM

Legally changing his name is not an option. 

I actually love the name Nicholas but there are times I'm not content with it.  I am almost positive it is because of the problems we are having with my father-in-law.  The only other name that I do think about is  Michael George Which are our fathers. My father has passed away. We agreed on Nicholas Michael because my husband wanted our son to be named after him but to also have his own identity. I find myself thinking that if we had just named him Michael George, we wouldn't be having these issues. I know that sounds crazy because why would I choose that name just to make them happy. But in a sense, if I did,  I would be honoring my father as well and he would be Mikey. But since we did not go that route and chose Nicholas, that's the name we want him to go by or a nickname that strands from Nicholas. When I hear my FIL call him Mikey, it's like he's telling us why didn't we give him Michael as his first name. Another thing to point out is he's not doing it in an endearing manner, he's doing it to upset us and admitted it to my Mother. He actually told her that  because he knows it upsets us he's going to do it even more and no one will make him change his nickname for him. 

March 21, 2017 11:03 PM

Oy. Your FIL sounds like a piece of work. Would it help to feign ignorance and ask "who is Mikey?" every time he uses it? You know, real over-the-top Southern-lady "bless his heart"-style "I'm sorry, it's probably lack of sleep, but who is Mikey?" If he replies "your son", keep up the oozing-fake-charm polite-to-a-fault "I'm so sorry, the birth announcement must have been confusingly written. Again, we can only plead lack of sleep. Our son's name is actually Nicholas, and we call him [insert nickname here] for short." If you can, get everybody in the family in on it - never acknowledge that he's doing it on purpose, instead coming up with increasingly-polite ways to repeat "our son's name is Nicholas, unless we have a son we don't know about".

March 22, 2017 12:45 AM

Great suggestion. I will try that out and hope he backs off!

Thank you so much for your help!!!

March 22, 2017 3:58 AM

I will just echo that your father-in-law sounds extra "special." What is it with men that they are obsessed with having their sprogs named after them? Not that there's anything wrong with passing down names, but it's not the way you or his son chose to do it!

I actually think smoothing this over is a job for your husband, as it's his parents causing the uproar. Maybe he can sit his dad down and say "we passed on Michael as a middle name because we want you to feel honoured -- our son is always going to have that Michael in his name and that's a connection he'll always have to our direct line. But we also wanted him to have a name that's all his, and that's what we've given him. Mama0318 and I already have enough to do, learning how to be parents and looking after a newborn. I know it seems silly but the name thing is stressing us out... could you just call him Nicky/Nickel/Cole/Colin please?"

But again, YOU should not have to do this; it's your husband's task.

March 22, 2017 11:47 AM

Emily - he is so extra special. I just don't even know what to do at this point. My husband has gotten into it with him several times and said exactly what you suggested and he won't stop.  I specifically told him I didn't want him to confuse my daughter as this is a fragile time for her because she's getting to know her brother and I don't want her confused about what his name is or what she should call him. We just had her fifth birthday last weekend and they showed up an hour and a half late.  He calls my daughter over to him and says… Where is Mikey?   My daughter got so upset she told him grandpa that's not his name his name is Nicholas stop calling him Mikey! we of course spoke to her to teach her not to yell at her elders but that we were proud of her for sticking up for her brother.  Do you see how messy this is getting?  We should not have to be going through this I can't even believe how selfish he is being.  And to  make things even worse, her grandmother goes up to her and explained to her that this is a special nickname from her grandfather to her brother… Basically trying to justify the nickname Mikey when my daughter specifically knows that we have advised against the name. 



March 22, 2017 11:49 AM

Also, I am trying to reply to Plus One below but it keeps calling it spam any idea how to get rid of this flag? 

March 22, 2017 11:58 AM

If you can't figure out what set of characters is triggering it ("etc" is one we've identified), send the text you want to post (along with your username and the thread title) to bnwmod at gmail dot com and one of us moderators will post it for you.

March 22, 2017 12:14 PM

Thank you very much! That's exactly what it was.

March 22, 2017 2:17 PM

At this point, the name isn't even the issue, it's how disrespectful and downright cruel.

In my opinion, deflecting the real problem and making it about "confusing your older daughter" isn't helping. Had he been doing it hightheartedly, trying to wear you down until you accepted his choice of nickname, it might have, but it's gone WAY past that point. Confusing a four year old can easily be brushed off by an adult, since kids are really good to adapting. This is about you being respected as a parent.

We've often suggested to people who have interfering parents/parents-in-law to tell them, "You had your chance to name your children. This is our child and our choice." This applies here, too, but what I suspect will be the response is something like, "Yeah, but this is just a special nickname I'm giving him." Would he have liked it if his parent/parent-in-law had insisted on calling his child a name that he didn't approve of? (And this isn't just disapproval, but a name that you considered and actively decided against.)

This is between you and your husband and him. I'd suggest taking the lead and leaving your daughter out of it and then insisting that he do the same. If your FIL simply had a different nickname for your son, that would not be confusing to your daughter. ("Why does Grandpa call Nicholas 'Mikey'?" "That's just his special nickname for him." "Oh, okay.") What's confusing and distressing is the stress she sees in you, caused by someone she loves, and being used as a pawn in his game.

March 23, 2017 12:54 PM

I agree with this advice! 

I am reminded a little bit by the naming situation on Jane the Virgin, where the son is Mateo Gloriano Rogelio Solano Villanueva. Solano is the father's surname, Villanueva is the mother's surname. (It was a masterful name to honor lots of people: Mateo was picked to honor the dead husband of the great-grandmother, who was very involved in raising the mother. Gloriano is to honor the grandmother, who used it as the mother's middle name (I think because she loved Gloria Estefan). Rogelio the grandfather who only recently learned he had had a daughter.) The part that is relevant here is that the grandfather, upon learning that he is honored by a second middle name, is so touched and moved that he thereafter calls his grandson "Matelio", as a contraction from Mateo and Rogelio. It's sweet and endearing as a special nickname for one grandparent, rather than annoying, because of the intent behind it and in the manner which it is done. 

The conversation after the birth was, "you named him after ME?" "It's in there, but we're just calling him Mateo." "We'll see how nicknames develop, though. Matelio, perhaps?" -- and then everyone proceeds to call him Mateo, except for Rogelio, who calls him Matelio, and it's funny and sweet and not confusing for anyone. 

Likewise, I think it *could* be sweet and endearing for grandpa Michael to call young Nicholas Michael "Mikey" (or perhaps "Nike" like the athletic shoe, as a Nicky/Mikey mashup), but it depends entirely on how it's being done, and here it is being done in an emotionally tonedeaf and hurtful way, rather than in a loving and supportive way. I would try to address the root issues of the disrespect as much as possible.


March 21, 2017 3:24 PM

You're getting great advice on the name. As someone who didn't chose until after birth once, I can tell you it took a long, long time to feel like it was real and fit. Having family using a different name, and one actively chosen against, would make that process so much harder. A name never before considered popped into my head as what the child looked like and I still sometimes see that spark and think of that name, somewhat like a nickname but only for that look. I did come to love and accept the name chosen as well.

I want to mention the possibility that it could have nothing to do with the name, but could be hormones. Are you experiencing any postpartum anxiety or depression? Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, bleary, and dragging can be normal adjustment, but when you can't seem to feel like anything fits or belongs, it can be more. There's a lot that has to change to nourish life outside the womb after being inside for so long and it isn't uncommon that our bodies don't get every facet of that adjustment on the textbook schedule. If you are feeling like this about other things, too, then please bring it up with your husband and your midwife/OB/care provider.

Nicholas Michael, with Michael being after dad and grandpa, is a fantastic name. Did you feel pressured into choosing it? Did you not like it but give in? Do you have an antagonistic relationship with your FIL that you find the namesake grating when they interact? Is it really the lack of acceptance of your parenting choice to not repeat Michael as the given name that is so difficult? Maybe seperating out the issue from the name itself could help you decide how to move forward.

Some Nicholas nicknames:
Sinter / Santa / Good Saint Nick

March 22, 2017 12:12 PM

Thank you so much for your response and advice. Can you please read my responses above. Would love for you to get the full picture and see what you think as I answered some of your questions above.  You bring up valid points regarding hormones. It very well could be my hormones that are enhancing things a bit. So when I laugh, I laugh hard. When I cry, I cry hard as well. But I haven't had much anxiety. Maybe a little depression after realizing that my in laws do not care about my feelings or have respect for me as a mother  or as a mother of their grandchildren.   This was a very hard pill to swallow and is such a great disappointment to me.  I come from a very family oriented background.   My family and my husbands family are both very large and very close.  I have always bragged about how I have the most amazing in-laws.  I was always so thankful that we had a great relationship.  So this was a loss for me. I am getting over it though. It feels like a break up.  I just don't know how to handle things going forward with them. I don't want to keep their grandchildren from them but I also will not tolerate him purposely trying to push my buttons.  Mind you I have no idea where this behavior has come from.   I have been nothing short of a perfect DIL to them. 

March 22, 2017 12:22 PM

Is there a possibility that your father-in-law honestly thinks he's just being funny? (Or endearing, or some other mostly-positive adjective?) If you've always been nice to him, maybe he's just being utterly blind to how deeply he's offending you, and continues to think that your complaints are just for form's sake. (Have you broken down in tears in front of him yet? Some men, it takes that sort of clue-by-four for social cues to penetrate.)

March 22, 2017 3:11 PM

Or, at the grimmer end of the spectrum, is it possible that this is an early sign of some mental changes?

Changes in personality, including the kind of thing you're describing, can be an early symptom of Alzheimer's and some other forms of dementia. If your FIL genuinely forgets that the name isn't Mikey, being called on it would be very likely to trigger a defensive and even aggressive response.

Of course, it could just be that he's generally a jerk, but if that hasn't manifested before this I would watch out for other possible symptoms.

March 22, 2017 1:24 PM

You've gotten such great advice from everyone. I just wanted to chime in as a fellow "name remorse" person. We had a hard time choosing a name for one of our kids and even though my husband said I could make the final decision, I eventually chose his favorite name (Mary) and not mine (Abigail). His favorite name isn't a name I ever cared for much, but he has loved it forever. Each daughter we named, he would suggest "Mary?" and I would veto it.

Our daughter is 5 now and for a long time I had twinges of regret. I still love Abigail, it would have fit better with the sibs, it is a name from our family tree. I was worried because it was extremely popular in our area but wouldn't you know it, none of my daughter's classmates so far has been named Abigail or anything close to it. 

A few things helped when I start obsessing: 1) I remembered that I would have had name remorse whichever name we chose, because it was so hard to choose!  2) My husband still really really loves the name Mary and that matters, along with all the other reasons to love the name that we talked about when we picked it 3) The older my daughter got, the more her name seems to suit her.

So my advice would be to keep reminding yourself of all the reasons you chose the name Nicholas. You had good reasons and those reasons are still true.

I can see why FIL makes this harder. But even if the worst happens and he never stops calling your son "Mikey," it takes a lot more than one grandpa to make a nickname "stick." Could be your son forgets to answer to that name, or even asks him to stop at some point. Or, it could turn out to be a special thing that only grandpa gets to do that makes the grandpa/grandson bond extra strong, and that could be a good result. 

It's not nice of your FIL to go against your clearly stated wishes. :( 


March 22, 2017 1:29 PM

I knew someone who had a similar experience to yours. His mother hated his son's name so she called him exclusively by the name that she had wanted him to be named. Eventually, he took her aside and told her that if she wanted to be a part of her grandchild's life, she would have to accept what his name is. She stopped calling him by her alternate name, but still doesn't call him by his name (she calls him sweetie, or honey, or stuff like that). It's not great, but it's a situation everyone could live with. I think the important part in this was that he was the one who told his mother, rather than his wife doing it. The threat of jeapordizing a relationship with a grandchild carries more weight when your child is telling you rather than your daughter-in-law.

Regardless, I'm sorry you're going through this. I hope the situation resolves as soon as possible!

By EVie
March 23, 2017 12:32 PM

I'll share my somewhat-similar story, in case it helps to know you're not completely alone... My son is named Thomas, after my deceased father, who generally went by Tom and was called Tommy as a child. I was open to both those nicknames, but my husband was absolutely adamant that he disliked Tommy, so I agreed that we wouldn't use it. Well, after he was born and we shared the name, my FIL announced that he had discovered that one of his ancestors (grandmother, I think) at some point in her life, in some context, went by the name Tommy (though it was completely unrelated to her real name). So he decided that our "Tommy" was also referencing her (um, no, we didn't even know that, and you already got your middle name as the middle name and your surname as the surname, the first name is from my side of the family, kthx. Not that I actually said that, but I was sure thinking it). For a long time, he and my MIL (who believes all little boys should have nicknames, and still comments "such formal little boys!" about Thomas and my nephew, who also goes by his full name) referred to him as "Tommy." The difference in our situation, though, is that I didn't really care that much, but my husband did--he persisted in correcting them, and they eventually got the message. It helps that Thomas (almost 4) is now very, very definite about his name, and he will indignantly correct anyone who tries to call him anything but Thomas.

April 26, 2017 7:25 AM

 Thank you all so much for your help! I have an update on the situation.  I took your advice and sat down with my father-in-law and mother-in-law along with my husband. We had a very long discussion about all the issues that have been brewing up to this point.  It was a very successful conversation. There were some high points, there were some low points. But at the end of the conversation, we hugged it out and he said he loves me very much. Which is a lot for him... he doesn't really show emotion. Since that conversation, we have seen them multiple times and he is calling our son Nicholas.  <3

April 26, 2017 7:29 AM

 I also no longer have name remorse. I think it was just all the issues that took place that caused me to second-guess myself. He is definitely Nicholas. <3

April 26, 2017 9:19 AM

Thank you so much for the update... It's great to know that talking it out has had such a positive effect. Pleased for you and your family and little Nicholas. Does he have a new nickname out of this, or is he sticking with the full name?

April 26, 2017 9:53 AM

Yes, thank you SO much for that update. I'm so happy that being upfront about the difficulties was productive, helped mend the relationship, and left you feeling confident about his name. It's a great name and I'm sure that it's going to serve him well throughout the different stages and facets of his life!

May 4, 2017 1:36 AM

Just wanted  add.. he is only 11 weeks old and if you really feel bad about the name choice then you can change it. It would be a distant memory very soon.., no one will even remember. Just wanted to offer that idea to you also.  :) x