Dilemma: Sister In Law using one of my daughter's names!

[name]Hi[/name] everyone :slight_smile:

I have a dilemma I wanted your advice on. I have six daughters, three of whom you lovely ladies helped me name when they were born earlier this year. My husband’s brother’s wife (our sister in law) is due with her first, a girl, in [name]December[/name]. We do not live near to each other, in fact in different countries, and see each other perhaps once/twice a year. My brother in law, her husband, has told my husband that his wife wants to name their daughter [name]Clementine[/name] which is, in fact, one of my daughter’s names. She has not mentioned this to me but according to him, she has always loved the name and is set on using it. Admittedly, we do not know each other very well simply because of the distance issue and the fact that she and my brother in law have only been together for 2 1/2 years.
I’m really upset about this, hormones making it worse, and just can’t see how she could do this. My poor husband feels caught in the middle and although he agrees that it perhaps isn’t “right” feels that the distance thing and the fact we see them very little means that it won’t be a major problem.
I just don’t know what to do and don’t feel close enough to her to say something yet can’t believe that she is going to go ahead and give her daughter the same name as one of mine. I feel like my little [name]Emme[/name] is sort of being done a dis service by me if I don’t say anything but I don’t want to cause any tension in the family or cause any problems.
Am I being unreasonable?
Sorry for such a long/jumbled post, I just feel really quite cross about this and have no idea what to do.

Many thanks for reading,

Did you see the post “Stealing a name???” in this section? Its kind of from the other person’s perspective. Although you didn’t know your sister-in-law loved this name when you chose it, she may also be feeling like she should still be able to use a long-loved name since you see each other so little and live in different countries. I noticed you call your Clementime “[name]Emme[/name]” – perhaps you could just ask that if they do use Clementime, they don’t also use the nickname [name]Emme[/name] as it would be awkward for cousins to go by the same exact name. I would consider the name off limits myself if I were her, but i don’t know her reasons for being so attached to it – if it were a long family tradition or something like that, it might make a difference.

I do know some families where cousins have the same names and its not considered a big deal. We don’t do that in my family now (not even 2nd cousins have the same name!) but when i look back through our geneology, its amazing how often some of the same names are used - sometimes even one brother would have the same middle as another brother. So perhaps your sister-in-law comes from that sort of family and therefore doesn’t think this its that big of a deal. [name]Just[/name] some thoughts . . .

As someone who has experienced the other side of this issue, I can honestly say I understand why your sister-in-law wants to name her daughter [name]Clementine[/name] despite its already being used. I’ve watched many of the names that were on my favorites list get used by relatives over the years. I never told any of them that I liked those particular names. I just figured that it was “first come first serve”, and I had no right to lay claim to them if I wasn’t going to have a baby anytime soon. But after my all time favorite boy’s name (the only one I was deadset on using) was chosen by my sister in law (she even picked out the same middle name!!!), I was reallly hurt. It didn’t seem fair at all that I would never get to use the name that I so dearly loved. I’m sure that your sister in law isn’t doing this to hurt you or trivialize your daughter’s name; she just reallly loves that name and maybe always has. If you don’t see each other often, it shouldn’t cause any real name confusion mixups, especially if she picks a different nickname. I know this is very upsetting to you now, but this might be something that you all end up laughing over later.

I never understand this a lot. I feel it as my cousins and siblings have children that there’s always a chance someone will choose a name I love, but I never see them. My mother was HUGE, back in the day, about not copying names, and I believe her name even is her name because someone my grandma is related to had a baby girl a few months earlier and named her [name]Lorraine[/name], which is what my mother was intended to be called but was not.

I think people love names! They all have what they love and have their heart set on, and then scrape around for something else when someone gets there first. It’s silly. You live in different countries, even, you probably won’t visit that often. Your children will grow up apart from one another - why save a beautiful name all to yourself? Why cause this person to “settle” for a name they don’t love as much? My mother and whoever this [name]Lorraine[/name] is never see each other, but my grandmother had to pick a different name, for what?

I am sorry you are feeling annoyed over this, but I don’t think she should be robbed of the beautiful task of naming her child a name she has in mind for it. I know some people just consider names off-limits if it is already used, but that’s not something everyone worries too hard about. They are just focused on their own pregnancy and their own list and names they love on that list. It’s not spite or ignorance or bad manners to want your child to have a name that’s good. Period. I don’t think people should be forced by some arbitrary custom to cross names they “can’t use” off their list, if they love the name and want their child to grow up having that name. It’s easy for people who love too many names to think, just pick something else. This is like saying your husband’s brother’s wife can’t have pink flowers at her wedding because you had pink flowers at yours.

I would advise you to speak to your sister-in-law about this matter directly. But perhaps wait a little while until you are less upset about it and feel more capable of communicating calmly and without anger.

When you are ready to do that, I would tell her that you would prefer her not to use [name]Clementine[/name] for her child since her child’s cousin (your daughter) already has that name, and you really wanted your daughter to have a distinct name within the family. But I would add that you understand that you don’t “own” the name, and she of course has every right to use it, etc, etc. I would tell her that if she does decide to use the name [name]Clementine[/name], you will understand her choice and accept it, only that you hope she doesn’t, and you wanted to let her know how you felt about it before it was “a done deal”. You could also request (as another poster suggested) that should she ultimately name her daughter [name]Clementine[/name], you would her to choose a different nn from your daughter’s so that the 2 cousins will at least have distinct nicknames.

That’s really the best you can do. I think you will feel better knowing you have expressed your feelings honestly and openly. But be prepared to let it go and not get angry about it after you have done so. Your chances of changing her mind may be slim. I do think you have the right to let your sister-in-law know about your emotional response to her choice as long as you don’t let it interfere with your relationship in the long run, and as long as you can do so calmly. It’s also critical that you tell her that you intend not to let this disagreement over names get in the way of your family relationships.

If you don’t think you will be able to stay calm and show empathy for her position, then I wouldn’t bother to speak to her at all (until if and when you are able to do so…)

Good luck!

I can see that you’re honestly really upset about this. I don’t want to seem unsympathetic to you, because I would probably feel the same thing about having someone in my family use one of my children’s names.

HOWEVER - I really don’t think you should say anything about this. I think you should let it go. Maybe your [name]SIL[/name] has had her heart set on [name]Clementine[/name] for years, and was upset when she heard that you had used it. [name]How[/name] would you have felt if she had called you up demanding that you choose something else because it’s “her” name?

You said yourself, they live in an entirely different country. You would likely see them once a year, if that. The odds that she would also use the same nn for her daughter that you do are very low. Two cousins having the same name is not that bad. Your daughter might even be excited to grow up and find out her cousin shares her name - it could make them feel closer to each other, somehow.

I think that if you have this conversation with her, it will only cause bad feelings. It just isn’t worth it.

It’s interesting that the posters are giving you a lot of different ideas about how to respond to your cousin. I think it’s because every family is different, so we all offer the response that we would have for our own families.
I think that since you don’t know your cousin very well, it’s better not to say anything. She obviously is not thinking about your feelings, so maybe she is kind of thoughtless, and talking to her might make matters worse.
I remember when we had our son [name]Peter[/name], my cousin [name]Jean[/name] told me after he was born and named that if she ever had a son, she was going to name him [name]Peter[/name]. I was taken aback, but I didn’t show it. Since her brother is named [name]Peter[/name], she planned to name her son after him. I just thought, well, I guess it would be okay since [name]Jean[/name] is such a recluse, I will probably not see her very often. But [name]Jean[/name] never had any children. Her sister [name]Ann[/name] had two children [name]Matthew[/name] and [name]Jane[/name], and once they were born and named, I thought of their first and middle names as off-limits. [name]Jane[/name] was born before my daughter [name]Laura[/name] was born. [name]Jane[/name] was one of my favorite names, and my cousin [name]Ann[/name] stole the middle name that I was thinking of for my daughter - [name]Alexandra[/name]. I shouldn’t have told her about it.
All we can control is our own behavior. We can’t force other people to have good manners. Then we can feel proud of ourselves for being polite and kind even if others acted thoughtlessly.

Someone brought up this subject only a few days ago on nameberry, and this question comes up time and time again.

My advice is don’t be upset, be happy that this relative has the good taste that you do, it is not an insult for her to want the same name.

[name]Even[/name] if they lived next door to you what would it matter if the girls had the same name I think it would make the bond between the girls all the stronger.

So, don’t go down the line of ‘that’s my name and you can’t use it’. Of course she can so look at it in a positive rather than negative way.

And take this opportunity not to put distance between your families but to bring them closer together.

(I suspect your husband doesn’t mind one way or another but wants to support you.)

My mother used to aggravate me sometimes when she said ‘laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone’ but I always knew she was right, so don’t let this ‘problem’ fester let it go and be happy.

I think you have every right to be upset! I understand being disappointed that someone close to you has chosen a name that you loved and wanted to use yourself, but when this happens, you CHOOSE SOMETHING [name]ELSE[/name]!!! It happened to me, and with people not nearly as close as siblings/in law! My little girl is due in just over a month and two girlfriends, one of whom I rarely talk to, both chose names for their daughters that were on our short list (fn+mn combos–and not even very common names–it was amazing), so now they are OUT of the running because I just think that’s kind of lame. Yes, we were disappointed, but that’s life, they had their kids first. I do not have a great solution for you, if your husband does not feel comfortable talking to them about it then that leaves you in a difficult position, but I wanted to validate your feelings that this totally SUCKS!

One thought… are the grandparents, your husband and his brother’s parents, aware that they are going to have TWO grandchildren with the same name? In my experience, the grandparents would be more than happy to raise very vocal objections to this! If your [name]SIL[/name] is already announcing her plans to use the name, then maybe the grandparents would know about it too (if they are still in the picture and involved, my apologies if they aren’t). I know my parents would freak if someone were about to use the same name for their new grandchild as one they already had. I’m trying to avoid talking to my folks about names, but any time it comes up in conversation and a name is mentioned that belongs to even one of my distant cousins, and I have MANY, my mom comments that ‘we already have a ______,’ implying that that is out of the question! Annoying, yes, but maybe in this case the grandparents could come through for you! :slight_smile:

Again, I’m so sorry you’re going through this, I would be totally offended and angry too!

I honestly don’t know what to advise, because as someone else said, every family is different. I do think that if I were her, even in another country, I wouldn’t use the same name for first cousins. But although it’s very vexing, I don’t think it does a disservice to your daughter.

This isn’t the same thing, but one of the cousins (third or fourth) in my generation had a daughter a couple of years ago and used my name. Of course, by then I was in my late twenties, so it’s not like there could be confusion. For a second when I heard I thought “hey, that’s my name!” but then I just felt complimented that someone else loved my name enough to use it. I haven’t met the little girl yet, but I think I’d feel a special connection with her. My point is, even though it’s different, I agree with the poster who said your daughter may actually be excited to meet another [name]Clementine[/name] in her family, it may make her feel special. So while I can understand you feeling upset for yourself, I don’t think you need to feel upset for your daughter, if that helps at all!

your anger and frustration are very understandable. However, I agree with those who say that you should not bring this up. The best thing to do is to let time go by, and hopefully you will come to see it as not that much of a problem. It may seem like that isn’t likely now, but you know what they say about time and all wounds…

I especially think that this won’t be such a big problem if they do end up having different nicknames. Two cousins/grandchildren named [name]Emmie[/name] (BTW I love that nickname) and [name]Clem[/name] or something won’t be a problem.

In my culture, we have a tradition to name children after a deceased relative, especially if he or she was particularly prominent. A friend of mine is the grandson of a prominent rabbi who died in the holocaust. He has a son, a brother, at least one nephew, and multiple cousins all with the same name (first, middle, & last). I don’t know how they keep them all straight, but I’m sure they do.

good luck.


That is a good point, [name]Steve[/name]. If two cousins share the same ancestors and one is the first to name their child after a particular patriarchal or matriarchal figure, is that off-limits too? Am I not allowed to love my grandparents and honor them by name as my cousin has just because he started a family sooner?

What if you have already chosen a name and bestowed it, because you loved it and thought it a good choice, only to find out your husband’s brother’s newish wife in another country has always planned to use the name - and perhaps this is a family name of some importance to her? Maybe that is not the case here, but if [name]Clementine[/name] was her grandmother, would you say she can’t use the name that’s dear to her, just because you were chronologically first able to use the name?

I think being chronologically first to use a good name is not a stake on anything. It may not be that easy for her to find another name she loves, as it is for people around here. It is the same on the other hand, if she got there first on a name you were set on, it’s easy to think you could just find another name, but I see some threads here - sometimes when a name is off-limits (when a spouse disagrees, or it’s your own name, or you found out your great-grandma wasn’t that nice and you don’t want to name your baby after her anymore, or you are trying hard not to copy your family and circle of friends, etc.), finding something just as good is not easy. I’m not sure where the idea comes from that this is a competition, just because there are a lot of names to choose from.

Take unintended, unimportant duplications in stride
“It would be as ridiculous to insist that [name]Jane[/name] change her choice at the eleventh hour as it would be to deny her own son the name just so it wouldn”t duplicate that of a cousin he”d see, at best, once a year.”

Not that this in-law minds you using the name ahead of her, although you don’t know - maybe momentarily distraught herself on the announcement of your births that a name she had in mind was used, but she is obviously not concerned (and perceived as inconsiderate for it) for the long-term to give up on it altogether, for it is a good name and she would like her daughter to have it.

Ultimately, this should be about the children… and they will love having the same name. I had named my son [name]Griffin[/name], and my sister (who had a son a year later than me) agonized over what to do, because she had always wanted to name her son [name]Finley[/name]. She was sick with worry that we would both have children we called “[name]Finn[/name]” , and that I would be so angry she had “stolen” my name. In truth, I thought it was great.

Like you, we live far apart, so it’s not like there’s any confusion in the family. And, most importantly, the boys [name]LOVE[/name] it. They seem to feel a special, almost magical connection to each other. This is such a blessing, because they are far apart and I always wanted my children to have a sense of family, and cousins who they could turn to for help.

I bet this will let your little [name]Clementine[/name] feel especially close to her little cousin [name]Clementine[/name] – a nice thought since they will grow up so far from each other, and since the adults in the family are somewhat disconnected. [name]How[/name] nice for them to feel this little connection.

I’m really sorry that your sister-n-law will be using [name]Clementine[/name] (I just love your baby girl’s name), and I think it’s totally understandable that this isn’t exactly great news to you.

In the end, though, I agree that it may be best not to say anything now. As you said, you live very far apart and see each other only a few times a year, so if she does use [name]Clementine[/name], it’s not as if the two little Clementines will be bumping into each other every day.

If I were your sister-in-law, I would never use your little girl’s name, but she obviously doesn’t see the issue from my point of view. (I’m guessing you wouldn’t have used the name if she had used it first, either.)

I’ve come to realize that even though we can’t control what other people do or say to us in life, we can control how we react to other people’s words and actions, and that’s pretty empowering. Your sister-in-law loves [name]Clementine[/name] and wants to use it, and sadly, even though we can love certain names, we can never truly own them.

So, you can either say something to her, potentially starting an issue with a woman who obviously could care less that [name]Clementine[/name] is your daughter’s name, or you can just let it go, accepting that some people do insensitive things, and feel flattered that she loves the lovely name you chose for your baby girl.

In the end, you need to do what’s right for you, and what you feel is necessary to feel at peace with the issue.

I hope you’re doing well, [name]Gracie[/name], and the same goes for your children! :slight_smile:

Best wishes on whatever you decide to do! :slight_smile:

I guess the one thing I would add to the excellent advice you’ve already received is the question of whether there are any cultural differences between you and your sister-in-law? (Seeing as how she lives in another country, this could be quite likely.) If so, do you understand the different cultural expectations and modes of communication used in this other culture? Would it be culturally appropriate for your sister-in-law to bring up the name issue with you? Alternatively, might your sister-in-law’s cultural background lead her to assume that you had no problem with the name issue UNLESS you were the one to bring it up with her? Or would she find it strange that you brought it up at all? Since you don’t seem to know her well, this could be a very difficult quandary for you. Is there anyone who could mediate for you? (probably it wouldn’t be good to put your husband in that situation, but perhaps another more distant family member could broach the subject with her for you (& feel out the situation a bit more before you decide what to say, if anything.)

Thank you all for such well thought out replies, I really appreciate it and I am certainly considering each and every one :slight_smile:
To clear up a few things, my [name]SIL[/name] lives in a different country in the UK at the moment, so not hugely far apart. We are all from the same area initially and so there are no cultural differences as such. When my girls were born, she did not comment much on any of the names we chose and so I really did have no idea that she loved [name]Clementine[/name] so much. As far as I am aware, she has no “family” reason for using the name she just really loves it. And so do I. I personally would not have chosen the name if her little one had been born first, no matter how much I adored it. Had I been her, I would maybe have spoken to her about loving the name so much and told her I planned on using it. I think the thing that got me is the fact that she is just going to go ahead and do it, without even mentioning it to me. However, we are all different in this world and I know that she would not do this in a malicious way. It must be difficult for her but perhaps I would have appreciated more a call/email from her just letting me know, instead of hearing from my husband and [name]MIL[/name] who turned up at our house with a huge bee in her bonnet! :slight_smile:
I should be happy that she loves the name as much as I do and you know, I will make it a positive for [name]Emme[/name], how lucky she is to have a cousin share her name :slight_smile: Thank you all for allowing me to see that it can indeed, be a positive thing for my daughter.
My [name]MIL[/name] is outraged by the news that she will have “two Clementines” and although I have asked her not to say anything negative to my [name]SIL[/name], she is not one for keeping quiet so I am worried she will “confront” her, even though I have not. The other thing is that there has always been the option of them moving back to near us and my [name]MIL[/name] seems to think that if they did that then under no circumstance should she call her baby [name]Clementine[/name]. She is also very concerned about the fact that they will have the same second name, obviously as my husband and hers are brothers so they will in fact, have the same full name. My daughter’s full name is [name]Clementine[/name] [name]Jane[/name] J-------. We tend not to use her middle name often though but hopefully my [name]SIL[/name] will give her little one an entirely different sounding middle name to separate them slightly.
After reading all of your replies, I am seeing sense and particularly enjoyed reading [name]Susan[/name] and [name]Jill[/name]'s replies saying that although we cannot control what others do, we can control our reactions- something which I often tell my own children and my pupils in school. However, in my haze of emotions I really couldn’t think straight so thank you all for that :slight_smile: Thus, I won’t say anything to her and when their little one is born I will be just as delighted and excited as I was when my other nieces were born :slight_smile:
Many thanks for taking the time to reply, you all really have helped me to see more clearly. I didn’t feel like I could talk much to my poor husband about it as he is, as someone said, wanting to be supportive of me but also really, is such an easy going and lovely guy, sees no issue with it.

Thank you again :slight_smile:
[name]Gracie[/name] and [name]Emme[/name] who will be lucky to grow up with such a wonderul bond with her little cousin and who is clearly aware of all the hilarity surrounding her as she has woken up earlier than usual before her sisters and is currently cuddling in my arms :slight_smile:

I’m so glad that you were able to find some words to give you some peace of mind. Please know that you’re among friends, and we understand how you feel.

I’m sorry that your sister-in-law chose not to inform you of her decision, which I think would have been nice. She’s obviously on a different wavelength, but that’s a reflection of her character, not yours. Try to keep your head held high.

I hope you can take heart in the knowledge that because your [name]Clementine[/name] will always be older than her cousin, [name]Clementine[/name], [name]Jr[/name]., it will always be obvious that it was your sister-in-law who was inspired by your great taste, and not the other way around. :slight_smile:

As for the middle name, I can’t imagine that she would name her baby [name]Clementine[/name] [name]Jane[/name], too, but if she does, I’ll be the first to send you a special-edition “I’M WITH STUPID” T-shirt for you to wear when you’re with your sister-in-law. :slight_smile:

If it’s possible, I’d love to be reminded of your children’s lovely names. If I recall correctly, I think there was a [name]Florence[/name] or an [name]Ivy[/name]?

Take care! :slight_smile: