On the ethics of re-naming my son

[name_f]My[/name_f] wife consulted this site multiple times a day since [name_u]January[/name_u] until the last day of [name_f]April[/name_f] on her quest to name our son.

In the end, because nothing turned out like we thought it would, my wife didn’t get to name her little boy or even hold him, and my mother in law took him home because I couldn’t keep it together.

She and the hospital staff kept asking me what his name was, and I didn’t pull through. I just know the names she liked.

I made no decision and my mother in law made it for me. There was a lot of pressure not to walk out of the hospital without a name. I was a mess, I was angry and just said “you name him”.

The name she gave our son is not a bad one, but it wasn’t even on my wife’s list of ideas.

Now my son is back home with me, and I call him baby and little boy, His name is weird to me right now… but I guess everything is weird without her.

Is this his name now? I honestly don’t know what I would name him if I was to change it. He’s going to be one month old in a week and two days, so maybe this is how things are now.


First of all, I’m so very sorry to hear about your wife :heart: You’ve been through an unbelievably traumatic time and it’s understandable that things feel weird and wrong right now. It’s definitely not too late to make a change if you want to, but nor do you need to rush into any decisions right now.

Your son is still tiny and everything is still so raw, he won’t know his name for another 6 or so months so don’t feel you need to pressure yourself into doing anything right now if you just need time and space to process everything.

I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you that I don’t think anyone would judge you for changing your son’s name now, or in a month or two, or whenever you decide to do so (if you do). In the circumstances, it’s totally understandable that the naming process was not what you’d planned and it’s also understandable that you might want your little boy’s name to have some connection to your wife. So please don’t worry about people’s reactions.

Wishing you both all the very best, whatever you decide to do.


This is definitely a challenging situation. I think that if it’s to the point where you don’t want to call him by his name, then it would probably be best to find something else. Perhaps choosing something from your wife’s list would help you connect to the name better.


Firstly I’m so sorry about your loss you have been through such a traumatic harrowing time off course this whole experience feels upside down it’s not how you pictured the start of your fatherhood journey to this little boy being. I can’t begin to understand how overwhelmed you must feel let alone doing something as huge as naming a child when the person your meant to name your child with isn’t their to help you make the right decision it’s just really sad and I’m sorry your going through this :heart:

Concerning your son he’s so tiny as @katinka said he won’t recognise his name till 6 months plus therefore potentially changing his name to a name that feels more right for you won’t have any impact on him. You could always have his current name as a middle name and a different first name that could be an idea potentially. Maybe give yourself some more time to figure what name potentially suits your son as you do have some time.

Of course I can’t make this decision for you but I’m sure whatever decision you do make in relation to his name & anything else will be the right one for you guys. I’m wishing you & son all the best in the future.


I’m sorry for your loss.

If you want, you can still change your son’s name. It’s very understandable that naming him went a bit confusing and now you are a bit unsure about it.

You could try to let the names sink in a little: his current name, the names from your wife’s list, maybe some other names that occur to you. If you think it helps, you could also talk about it with your mother in law, another family member or a friend. But in the end it’s your decision.

I hope after some time you will feel a little more tranquil, and then you could decide on his name. There is no need to rush, take your time. If you need more naming advice (or other support) you are of course always welcome here on the forum.

Wishing all the best for you and your son.

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Thank you for your understanding and good wishes.

I didn’t know that babies only begin to recognize their names at six months. That is somewhat of a relief.

Its a small window of time to think.


I’m so sorry for for your loss. I think changing his name to one of the names you had talked about with her (if it feels comfortable to you) would be a great way to include your wife in your sons life. Like others have said your son won’t recognize his name for several more months, and I’m sure everyone around you would understand.


I am so sorry for your loss and your son’s. [name_f]My[/name_f] heart aches imagining the grief you must be enduring.

I would encourage you to not feel any pressure on deciding either way right now. I can imagine you have many things on your heart right now and you have time to consider what is best for you and your son in regards to his name.

I’m curious if you have had the chance to talk with your MIL about why she chose the name she chose? Did she feel it would be a name your wife/her daughter would love? Did it have a significant meaning to their relationship? If so, I think that is something to consider as you make your decision.

I pray you have peace and comfort in the days ahead as you navigate these decisions.


I’m so sorry for your loss.

I think you have every right to change the name if you feel like it would be best for your family. Honoring your wife by using a name on her list is a beautiful idea.

If it helps, I renamed my child when she was a year and a half old. We’d had her in foster care since she was a baby and her name, given by another foster family, never felt right for her. Even at that age, it took her two weeks to answer to her new name, and she she forgot the other one shortly after. If you’re concerned about your child, I don’t think it would have any affect on him.

I wish you peace moving forward with your son.


I do not know why her mother chose this name for him. It is the name of a Biblical character whose mother died in childbirth…

I’m not saying this is the reason why she chose the name. Her mother is a woman of faith and knows her Bible very well. There is no doubt that she is also aware of this, but chances are she just liked the name. [name_f]My[/name_f] wife and her brother have simple names that most [name_f]English[/name_f] speakers would find familiar, like the one she gave our son.

[name_m]Even[/name_m] if it wasn’t the reason why the name was chosen… I don’t like that little factoid. As seamless as the name is, I know the story and it bothers me.


If we are thinking of the same person in Scripture then I would second your guessing that she just liked the name…It’s rather high on the charts. And where I can only imagine how the weight of loss was weighing in everyone. But it might not hurt to figure out what she was thinking when picking that name at some point when you try to figure this all out. Because maybe when you do you’ll figure out if you want it as his name or maybe as part of his name. [name_u]Or[/name_u] not at all. That being said I would just let yourself take whatever time it is you need to figure out the name your son should have. I personally love the idea of utilizing your wife’s list of ideas. That would be such a great way to connect them.

I am so incredibly sorry for the loss of your wife and mother to your precious one. Please know us Berries are here to help however we can :blue_heart:


I am familiar with this Scripture that you’re referring to, of the mother passing and the naming of the son. While I can imagine (and hope) she gave your son this specific name because she liked it, I empathize with how this specific name could cause you to feel when you hear or say it.

Knowing this, I would likely encourage you to change your son’s name. It is a beautiful name, but no one would want you to be reminded of your grief time and time again when you hear his name.

I pray your MIL is understanding & gracious and accepts the change is likely best for both you & your son. I also pray you land on a name that you feel honors your wife and brings you comfort.

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I’m so sorry for your loss and heartache :heart: Thank you for trusting our community with your story. You’re always welcome here.

I believe your babe is young enough that changing his name won’t matter. Yes, it may cause some drama with your MIL, but perhaps she’ll come to realise that this is something you need to do to honour your wife. Name regret is real, and you shouldn’t have to live with that on top of everything else in your life at the moment. Naming is very personal and it creates connection. I think naming your little one a name you know your wife loved will help you bond with him after the trauma and grief.

Sending you a hug and positive wishes for this difficult journey. :heart:


[name_f]My[/name_f] deepest sympathies for your loss. I cannot imagine what you are going through at this time, and my heart grieves with you.

I have known parents who have experienced name regret and changed the name of their child for reasons ranging from the traumatic to the frivolous, so please know that it is entirely within the realm of normal and ethical to be considering a name change, regardless of the reason.

After hearing your story, there are several things you said that I will say back to you: you did not have any input in choosing your son’s name; the name chosen was not one of the options on your wife’s list; the Biblical character’s mother died in childbirth, and this association makes you uncomfortable. I think each one of these facts individually would be a very reasonable motivation for a name change, and when taken together, I think it’s only natural that you would be considering this option. If you will pardon my humble, personal opinion, you and your child deserve a name that has meaning to the both of you, preferably a meaning rooted in joy and connection to each other and to your wife, rather than something that is so closely associated with the trauma of her loss.

At the same time, I also want to reiterate what other Berries have said above - you have time. Legally speaking, for the first year of life, the process of altering the birth certificate is fairly straightforward, just some paperwork and a small filing fee. Developmentally speaking, your child will not recognize his name for several months yet, and even up until the two year mark, he should adjust fairly quickly. Please let yourself take all the time you need.

I think I speak for the community when I say that if you do choose to reopen the search for your son’s name, we would gladly offer our assistance with navigating that process. You are more than welcome to any help we can provide.

Sending you and your son my love. :purple_heart:


I am sorry to hear the loss of your wife. In the Biblical story the father renamed his son from the mother’s chosen name with a sad meaning into something much happier for him (the father). Maybe you MIL was trying to be helpful in this regard.

I think the best gift you could give your son is the gift of a name chosen by his mother (or preferably one you both liked on her list). Apart from giving your son life, giving the baby a name his mother liked is the only gift she ever will give him.

If you like a different version of the name your MIL gave him, perhaps you could pick two names from your list and give the baby a third name from Grandma’s choice, I will use Nathan as an example. Nathan means God’s gift, but you could go to Nathaniel or Jonathan… This way you all may be happy. Remember Grandma is also grieving the loss of her daughter, . It is a very sad situation. However, I would choose the new name as soon as possible. My children knew their names quite early. Choosing the new name will help in a new (and difficult) beginning.

Thank you for your messages of support and sympathy.

I am going to think about it for a while, as many of you suggested, and think on what will serve him better in the future.

Once again, thank you for your care and support.