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Don’t Call Me Grandma

Mar23

by

Dear All-Knowing Amalah,

I (unlike everyone else, it seems) get along wonderfully with my MIL-it’s my own mother that is the problem. I am her only child and she must have everything HER! WAY! ONLY! even though I have a college degree and am happily married and own my own house…but this is a battle I have been dealing with since I was about 12, and only tangentially related to why I am writing you.

My husband and I have been training our dog to know everyone’s names in the family (for health issues, long other unrelated story), and we decided it would be easier to train him on grandparent names than teach him their regular names and then have to retrain him whenever we have a child. I jokingly told my parents and in-laws that the dog was their ‘grand-puppy’ and what did they want him to call them etc. My in-laws (who are super-dog-loving people) thought it was adorable and told us their preferred “grandparent name.”

My mother, on the other hand, promptly announced that she would NEVER. IN. HER. LIFE. be called anything like “Grandma” or “Gami” or “Nana” or whatever. I was startled by this, as she loves children and I always assumed she would be happy to be a grandparent. She said she was too young, and any children I have will call her “Aunt.”

Now, I’m pretty relaxed about a lot of things, but there is no way my children are going to call their grandmother “Aunt” anything. My family is confusing enough for a child without trying to figure out why they call their mom’s mom “aunt.” I know a lot of kids make up their own names for their grandparents, and I’m happy to go with whatever our future children call her, but you have to call the grandparents something before the kid can talk, right?

Also, I’m sorry, but the woman is 60 years old (don’t tell!). She doesn’t have one foot in the grave or anything, but she’s not exactly a spring chicken either. So I suppose my question is…how should I approach this? Should I just ignore it until there is a real child, and not some phantom-future-child-potential? It seems kind of silly to make such a fuss over what we call her to the dog, but I’m afraid that it will only get worse when there is a real baby involved.

Thanks,
Name-Challenged

IG. NORE. For now. I certainly understand (and sympathize with) the fact that you and your mother have a difficult history, but this really sounds like a case where both of you are maybe creating problems for yourselves. You both are kind of making a Big Deal over something that really isn’t. At least not yet.

The dog is not her grandchild, so I actually understand why she doesn’t want to be referred to as “grandma” around…a dog. She might love children, but isn’t so much of a “dog person” as your in-laws so your request struck her as strange, and something she just isn’t that into. (Note that while we love our pets, my husband and I were never the sort to refer to ourselves as “mommy” and “daddy” — except occasionally, jokingly —  in front of them before we had actual children. While I know plenty of completely sane, non-bonkers pet owners who do that, it just wasn’t for us. To each their own!)

Obviously, her reaction was completely over-the-top: A simple “yeah, I’m not so into that, please teach the dog my given name, thanks” would have been sufficient. Is she perhaps a bit of drama queen, about other things too? But I guess…I just can’t take her pronouncement that she’s honestly going to expect her grandchildren to call her “Aunt Whatever” that seriously. Or at least weigh it as a Serious Issue That Must Be Seriously Dealt With Now Because SERIOUS.

Because once you have a baby, you have my full permission to tell her that’s completely unacceptable and you aren’t going to confuse your child that way. The end! You’ll be the one referring to the grandparents by their titles more than they will, most likely, and can teach your child to call them whatever you want. (And even then, you may end up surprised: Ezra calls my mother-in-law Honey, despite never hearing her called anything but Grandma.) (AND IT’S SO ADORABLE.)

For now, I wonder if she’s just trying to get a rise out of you, or thought your request was ridiculous (or a joke) and decided to respond in kind. Or maybe she’s just having a belated mid-life crisis and got angry that you were trying to prematurely “age” her even more. (Not that I think that’s what you were doing! Just trying to get in the mind of someone who immediately jumps to the worst conclusion, a little bit.)

If I were you, I would respond to her crazy proclamation with little more than an eyeroll and move on. Hit the mental snooze button on this battle. It sounds like your relationship is difficult enough, without making a big federal case out of this particular weirdness. Teach the dog her actual name, and your in-laws’ their chosen grandparent names. Make everybody as happy as possible, for now.

And if in a year or two or three you get pregnant and your mother’s bizarre proclamation continues? Go ahead and keep on ignoring it. Instead of Aunt Whatever, refer to her as Grandma Whatever. Sorry, Mom, no deal. Either come up with an appropriate option yourself (like some toddler-tongue-friendly play on her name?), or deal with being called Grandma, because we’re not doing the aunt thing. No and nope.

Hopefully, when we’re talking about a Real Live Human Grandchild, she’ll be a bit more open and accepting of her role as loving grandmother. The dog may be an apple but your actual child will be an orange, and her reaction will be a little less…fruitcake, if you know what I mean.

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/ThinkStock

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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69 Responses to “Don’t Call Me Grandma”

  1. I have a Grandma Toody (dad’s mom) and a Mom Phyll (mom’s mom).  *shrugs*

    the funny part is that my mom was (and still is!) really annoyed that her mother didn’t want to be called “grandma”.  I could care less and my kids call their great-grandmothers by the names *I* grew up with.

    However, we have a “name” situation going on where my mom only wants to be known only as “Grandma” and doesn’t like that my kids call her “Grandma FirstName”. Unfortunately, my kids have 5 grandmas (thanks to divorces and great-grandparents).  I refuse to confuse my kids and everyone gets called by Grandma and their first name.

    In the end, they are MY kids…. MY rules.  My mom had plenty of time to mess up the parenting game.  Now it is my turn!  ;-D

    • -k- Mar 26 at 4:55 pm Reply Reply

      Eesh. I’m currently pregnant and my MIL wants to be “Mommy [Her Name]“.. which, frankly, weirds me out. (When we told her about the pregnancy, she said she’d been having dreams of a little boy who didn’t want anything to do with anyone but her.. errr..) I think there are some places where that’s normal (?), but I don’t know if I’m going to be able to give her that one. I’m liking your ‘my kids, my rules’ approach.. ;)

  2. M Mar 23 at 12:12 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with the ignore, especially where kids will be involved you SO don’t want to borrow trouble when you know it’ll come your way anyway.

    Keep in mind that a) your future child will come up with something cute in the process of learning names and b) when your mom realizes the baby is asking for her by name, it won’t matter WHAT the name is.

    In trying to teach my 16 month old to say “Grammy,” he got as far as “Meem” and decided that’s as far as he would go. She loves it because it’s HER name. Something similar will surely happen in your case, all you need to do is give your future kid a name- starting point and see what they do with it.

  3. Jennyroo Mar 23 at 12:17 pm Reply Reply

    I went through this with my father in law…. only it wasn’t over a dog! I was pregnant with my first baby. My husband and I were both 29 years old and had been married for 5 years. Father in law was 56. He said, and I quote, “I’m too young to be a grandpa. The baby can call me Uncle Kenny.” I was furious. I remember saying to my husband that the baby doesn’t have to call him ANYTHING, if he doesn’t want to be a grandfather then I can happily just leave him out of it. Of course by the time the baby was born, everything was fine. He had adjusted to the idea of being a grandfather, and all is well. And no, the baby doesn’t call him Uncle Kenny! :)

  4. Gwen Mar 23 at 1:06 pm Reply Reply

    My son, who is currently 4 months old, is the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Their ages range from 47-53. They are very young grandparents. My mother was the only person who didn’t want to be called “grandma” because of the negative connotation that is associated with the name because of my paternal grandmother. (She has cause a lot of problems in my family and hasnt spoken to my mother in years) Instead my mom searched for “trendy grandmother names”. It took her a few months to pick the one she wanted but she finally settled on “Ami” similar to the french name for friend. Maybe you suggest that your own mother search for a trendy name. There are so  many sites on the internet with lists. I hope this is helpful!

    • The gold digger Mar 31 at 2:54 pm Reply Reply

      My friend Kim is only 50 and just became a grandmother. She is thrilled and is “Granma” to the baby. Her ex-husband, however, is not so happy. He doesn’t want to be called “Grandpa.” His solution? “The kid can call me ‘Dude.'”

  5. Natalie Mar 23 at 1:06 pm Reply Reply

    I have the same problem with my mom as well. Except she wanted to be called something completely different that grandma or grannie. Turns out my son calls her grandmother. But I will say my mom is still strong willed and it’s her way or no way is just as dominate as it was before my son was born as it is now. I will say you have within your mommy right to stand your ground and just tell your mom like it is and if she’s not willing to deal with it you’ll bring the baby over at your convenience and not hers, and if yours ends up being months or longer well she’ll change her tune. I’ve had to lay down the law many times and in the long run it’s good to have boundaries.

  6. Sarah Mar 23 at 1:10 pm Reply Reply

    I see what you did there with the apples, oranges and fruitcake. Good one.

  7. Jeannie Mar 23 at 1:13 pm Reply Reply

    I agree. My mom wasn’t even a “young” grandma (she was over 60 by the time she had a first grandchild) and she didn’t like “Granny” which is what our family traditionally calls grandmothers. So she went with “Gran” instead, which is now “Grand” with the kids which I think is kind of amusing. My MIL on the other hand LOVES being “Grandma” so … I’m betting your mom will come around OR you guys can figure something out when there’s a baby involved. In the meantime, let it go.

  8. HereWeGoAJen Mar 23 at 1:13 pm Reply Reply

    My mom had the same reaction to being called Grandma. We all rolled our eyes and when my daughter was born, my mom kept chanting “say CiCi!” (Her name starts with a C, I don’t know why she doubled it.) Everyone else called her Grandma in front of the baby. My daughter learned to talk, said Grandma in her little baby voice and my mom has forgotten she ever wanted to be called anything else.

  9. Kathryn Mar 23 at 1:14 pm Reply Reply

    My grandfather had dementia at the end of his life, and would sign cards to us as “Uncle Harold”. I pretty sure it wasn’t motivated by wanted to feel young, as my cousins didn’t get the same treatment. My mother was not impressed!

  10. heidikins Mar 23 at 1:48 pm Reply Reply

    I called my grandparents Grandma LastName and Grandpa Surname. But my nieces and nephews call most of their grandparents by their first names. Grandma Patty, Grandpa Ron, etc. However, they call my Mom “Miss Gretel.” She–for whatever reason–stopped answering to Mom when my sibs and I were in high school. So, to get her attention, we started calling her by her first name. It worked and we still call her Miss Gretel. I think it’s adorable when my tiny little niece says it, my Mom wanted to be called G.G. (Gigi), but no one ever caught on to that. Shrug. Very few people have control of the nicknames they receive.

    xox

  11. Molly Mar 23 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

    My mother didn’t want a typical grandma name because it made her feel old so my son calls her Maggie. Her name is Margaret but she’s always been Peg and wished she’d been Maggie. You can pick a cute grandma name without it sounding to old!

  12. Olivia Mar 23 at 2:05 pm Reply Reply

    It sounds like this doesn’t need to be a big deal now. I’d wait until I was actually pregnant and then ask mom what she would like to be called OTHER than Aunt Firstname.

    Even then, there’s no guarantee she will get called what she wants since kids often make up their own names. My daughter occasionally calls me Babe because I call her that sometimes. The funniest is when she calls her dad by his firstname. My husband falls asleep in front of the tv all the time, and I always say, “Wake up, Firstname”. Well, now when I tell her to wake up daddy, she gets right in his face and yells, “Wake up, Firstname!” It’s so darn cute.

  13. VG Mar 23 at 2:23 pm Reply Reply

    Definitely do as Amalah says – IG. NORE.
    There’s something underlying going on with your Mom (60 yrs old and all) and that’s for her to deal with. Her projections of fearing the aging process shouldn’t make you anxious about what your future child will refer to her as. When the time comes, you refer to her as _______ and go from there. Plus your future child will come up with his/her own version of the name.
    I never thought I would use other monikers for “Mom-Mom” but it happened. My mom is Nanna and my MIL is GiGi. To each their own! Have fun with your dog :)

  14. The Tutugirl Mar 23 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    When I was very little, I was convinced my grandmother’s name was “Mary”, even though it was something completely different.  I insisted on calling her that for YEARS before anyone could tell me otherwise.  Even now, I refer to her as Grandmary.  Your child will come up with their own name for your mother.  

  15. Cristin Mar 23 at 2:49 pm Reply Reply

    I would totally start calling her Aunt Grandma!

    • Angela Mar 23 at 6:13 pm Reply Reply

      hilarious!

    • Candace Mar 24 at 9:07 am Reply Reply

      Hahahah! :)

    • Jadzia@Toddlerisms Mar 24 at 4:32 pm Reply Reply

      That is SOOOO passive aggressive.  I love it!

      Seriously, I think it is an “ignore” situation right now, but hoo boy you are probably going to have your hands full with “auntie” when you have a human baby.  I think this “don’t call me GRANDMA” thing is a Baby Boomer thing–not wanting to get old.

      I think we should BE so lucky as to have children in our lives who want to call us Grandma.  I just had my (probably) last baby at age 40.  I may very well have grandchildren whom I will never meet, and that gives me a sad.  Food for thought.

      • Amy Mar 24 at 10:22 pm Reply Reply

        Jadzia, I just had my first (hopefully not last) baby at 40, and the same thing has occurred to me re: the chances that I may never meet my grandchildren. Gives me a sad, indeed.

        • tasterspoon Mar 26 at 1:54 pm Reply Reply

          You know what was super sad, when my mother (72) realized she probably wasn’t going to see my daughter (age 1) get married. It totally hadn’t occurred to her.

  16. lolismum Mar 23 at 2:56 pm Reply Reply

     By the way, children sometimes make up their own name for their grandparents. My MIL is  called NannyAndJimmy because Jimmy was the cat she owned a while back. The cat has been dead for at least 5 years, yet she is still NannyAndJimmy even though there is no Jimmy. My younger one never even met Jimmy. Amy is right, ignore, move onto bigger, better battles.

  17. Julia Mar 23 at 3:20 pm Reply Reply

    My mom also did not want to be called “grandma” or any variation, so she searched Google and came up with “Morai” (prenounced mo-ree). Apparently, it is gaelic for grandma?? I don’t know… I’m hoping my little one will eventually come up with something cute that we can say instead ;)

  18. Bethany Mar 23 at 3:25 pm Reply Reply

    I had complete intentions of having my parents, step parents, and grandparents called Grandma or Grandpa first name. Once my son could talk, he kind of chose a nickname for all of them. Grammy and Papa, Bepaw and Memaw, GiGi and Marsh, and one set of Grandma and Grandpa (but he doesn’t use their first names!) My sisters are Brynn and Breanna and he called them Tito and Nina. He calls me Mommy Kay. Kay is my middle name, but no one ever calls me by it. So it may all end up as something completely out of your control. It all comes out in the wash. I think being called Aunt whatever sounds ridiculous and confusing, but maybe she’ll get it together before you have a baby.

  19. BMR Mar 23 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

    I’m expecting my first, and my parents are going to be very young grandparents (44 and 47). The idea of being ‘Grandma’ did freak my mom out a little. I gave her a few months of letting it sink in until I asked what they wanted to be called and her response was basically “call us Grandma and Grandpa and they’ll start calling us whatever they want eventually. ” My in laws have names from the older grand kids, so we’ll just call them that.  They can ask to be called whatever they want, but that doesn’t mean the kid will call them that! 

    I would fight that battle when it’s time for human grand babies. What the dog knows her as is just not worth it. 

    • Jadzia@Toddlerisms Mar 24 at 4:34 pm Reply Reply

      My BFF from high school made her mother a 34-year-old grandma.  (You read that right:  my friend was 19, and her mom had had her at age 15.)  I think it MIGHT be a little unsettling to be “Grandma” before you hit 35!

  20. Melissa Mar 23 at 5:19 pm Reply Reply

    Agreed, this is not an issue until there is actually a grandchild.

    However, my mother had a similar reaction. She was totally pressuring me to have kids, but couldnt bear the thought of being called Granny or Nana. At one point she told me the baby could call her Kate. My sister and I laughed so hard, I actually felt bad. But seriously, her name is Kathy. No one calls her Kate. She eventually settled on Grams. Only time will tell if my son will actually call her that.

  21. Becky Mar 23 at 5:58 pm Reply Reply

    I genuinely don’t see what the big deal is. Call people what they want to be called. If your mom wants the grandkids to call her “Aunt”, so what? As someone else said, it’ll turn into Auntie Grandma soon enough (or something else totally separate, like Mimi).

  22. My mother was the same way about the traditional grandparent names. Before I had our first child, she decided she wanted to be called “Grandmere” because it was “more elegant” — but we are NOT FRENCH so it was a bit weird.

    When the baby arrived, she totally fell in love — and into grandparent mode. She is now called “Lulu” which is what her nieces and nephews have always called her, and it’s perfect. Grandparent-y but not anything that makes her feel old.

  23. amanda Mar 23 at 7:29 pm Reply Reply

    My mother has a sstrong aversion to the nickname “Mimi” (bad family history) and has requested that wwe try to dissuade our daughter from using it.  we are trying for “Abu” but baby may change it!

  24. Antje Mar 23 at 8:50 pm Reply Reply

    I completely agree with every word of Amalah’s advice.

    When we got pregnant, we asked my in-laws over a family dinner (so SIL and BIL, who don’t have kids yet, could add their two cents) what they wanted to be called.  You see, we were going to let them pick their grandparent names.

    My MIL said, “I think I just want the baby to call me Helen” (her name).  All four of us (me, DH, SIL, BIL) immediately said, “NO.  NOT HAPPENING.”  And that was the end of them picking their own names.  They became Oma & Opa, as per our Germanic heritage.  Sometimes they refer to themselves as Oma H and Opa G (their initials), and that’s fine too.

  25. MM Mar 23 at 9:28 pm Reply Reply

    My mother is fine being called Grandma, but at age 65, refuses to obtain a ‘Senior Citizen’ discount card for the train. It’s vanity and a bit ridiculous if you ask me because she travels on them regularly. She also regularly tells me stories about men flirting with her and compliments she receives on her looks. It can be infuriating but at the end of the day it is her problem.

  26. AU Mar 24 at 12:05 am Reply Reply

    I had the opposite problem.  My MIL insisted on asking how her “granddog” was doing and calling herself Grammy.  It freaked me out a little because me and my husband had only been married like 3-4 months and not thinking about kids (though they soon followed), and it’s a DOG.  I was so relieved my parents didn’t play along.  They did get used to the role when it came along as I’m sure your mom will too.  I should say that we got married young (19) and our parents are 20 and 21 years older than us so they should not have been “ready” for grand kids.  In the end my in laws stuck with Grammy and Grampy and my parents have changed a few times as they’ve accepted being YOUNG grandparents.  My mom is NayNay, a play on her name and Nana and my dad is Opaw a play on old papaw (a joke) and of course German.  So i guess where I was going with that is give your mom a break it is just a dog and dogs are very smart, I’m sure yours will be able to re-learn a name when it comes time. 

    • Ashley Mar 27 at 11:26 am Reply Reply

      My MIL is doing this with our dog right now, and it’s a little ridiculous. She has a bumper sticker on her car that says “My grandkid is a dog.”

      We love our dog, and I’d feel differently if we asked her to do this and she obliged… but to just start referring to our pet as her grandkid? A little loopy, in my opinion. (She refers to her own dog as my husband’s sister. So when we go to her house, we walk in, and she says to the dog “Your brother is here!” Ummmmm? And she is mostly normal otherwise!)

  27. Erica Douglas Mar 24 at 1:36 pm Reply Reply

    To tell my in-laws that we were going to have a baby, we gave MIL a card that said, “Happy birthday, Grandma!” 

    She asked if the card was from our cats. We said no. 

  28. Leah Mar 24 at 3:34 pm Reply Reply

    Kind of feel like this might be a baby boomer thing. Since I was a TEENAGER my mom insisted that when the time came, she would not be called Grandma, Nana, Buela, Gam, or anything else remotely grandmother related. She wants to be called “Babs.” Babs. As in Buster Bunny and company. (At least that’s what always comes to my mind.)

    My child will call her whatever he calls her. She can call herself whatever she wants but kind of feel like the name will be chosen for her by my munchkins. I agree. Don’t stress about it.

  29. Jenn T. Mar 24 at 4:53 pm Reply Reply

    My parents were YOUNG when we made them grandparents (Dad was 44, Mom C. was 36, Stepdad was 48, Mom L. was 40). They were fine being called Grandma and Grandpa, but for my moms, it was pretty funny seeing them called Grandma so young! They all have nicknames, because between divorce, etc. they had 3 set of grandparents and 8 sets of great-grandparents! They called my Dad and Mom C. “Grandma and grandpa on the hill” because of where they live. Guess they can’t move!

  30. Francesca Mar 24 at 6:41 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t quite get the whole “how dare you choose that particular name for yourself, after I asked you to choose a name for yourself?!” thing, but to each their own =) It sounds like a stressful relationship, so the letter-writer should do whatever she needs to to maintain her patience with ‘Aunt’!

    My mother’s father has always been Grandpa to all his grandchildren except my brother, who calls him Helen. (Grandpa’s first name is Alan, and my brother clearly misheard adults calling him that.) My partner’s dad is Grumpy to his step-grandchildren, as they already have grandfathers, and will be the same to his first grandchild (which I will be birthing shortly – HOPEFULLY TOMORROW kind of shortly).

    • tasterspoon Mar 26 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

      Congratulations!!

      It’s petty, but my husband’s dad irritates me no end by signing cards “Grampa” (because it’s misspelled, dammit!) but I can hardly complain. Maybe I’ll start secretly calling him “Grumpy,” because he totally is and it’s adorable.

      • GJ Mar 28 at 9:48 am Reply Reply

        Ha, tasterspoon, I totally get the irritation on the misspelled name! My in-laws want to be called Maw-maw and Paw-paw because that’s what their older grandkids call them, but they spell it Mama and Papa which…is wrong on a few levels!

        “Mama” is the name my baby calls ME (it took nearly two years for him to call me Mama, so I’m a wee bit possessive of it!), and when he started to say it, my FIL tried to point to his grandma (or Maw-Maw) and say “There she is.” I told him not to confuse the child.

        But yes, back to the spelling, I know it’s passive aggressive, but I always address cards to them as Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw because seriously, that’s how it should be spelled. I mean, think of the band who sang “California Dreamin'”–they were not the Maw-Maws and the Paw-Paws!

  31. abby Mar 24 at 8:28 pm Reply Reply

    My mom wanted to be Grandma, my Grandma was already Grandma and we found it very hard to have a conversation and figure out who all we were all talking about. So my mom (becky) became Beautiful Becky or B.B. for short. It’s perfect and we all love it. Names come along when you need them. My new problem is that MIL has always been called Gramm. I think that’s fine but we are now prego with Baby Number 3 and our favorite name is Graham. Do we make her rename herself (4 grandkids later) or just come up with a new baby name. Only 4.5 months to decide!!

    • VG Mar 26 at 12:37 pm Reply Reply

      Name your child what you like. It’s your kid. He may have a different name for her when he’s old enough to talk :)

  32. Grammy Mar 25 at 5:19 am Reply Reply

    Oh, gosh. I just don’t get why anybody isn’t just thrilled to be called some kind of honorarium that connotes their grandparenthood. I thought I would never get to be a grandmother because my son isn’t married and he’s in his mid-forties, and my daughter sailed past her tenth wedding anniversary with no offspring and no mention that any were being considered. Then, she and her husband decided to become parents, and did so when they’d been married about 12 years.

    Because I’m my daughter’s stepmother (I’ve had her since she was five, and her “real mother” didn’t have much time or anything to contribute to her life until she’d been married several years) I chose “Grammy” as my grandmother name, figuring the two natural grandmothers should get first shot at “Grandma”. The paternal grandmother is called “Grandma Firstname” as is the custom in that family. I’ve never heard anyone refer to the distant (by geography as well as other ways) other maternal grandmother as anything relating to our grandson — only as “my mother”.

    Except when my grandson began to talk (he’s not yet three) he had a real hard time with the beginning consonants, and he called me “Mammy”. That made me laugh out loud, and I told everyone I was fine with being Mammy if that’s what he wanted. He has since refined it to “Mimi”, and now that’s what everyone calls me. If he changes it again somewhere along the line, that’ll be fine, too. The fact that there is this person who is currently, and possible will always be, the only person on earth who gets to call me this odd name that signifies I’m this special person to him, is good enough to delight me every time I hear him call my name, whatever it is.

    • Sara Mar 25 at 6:05 am Reply Reply

      I love this post. What a great grandmother!

      • Grammy Mar 25 at 6:05 pm Reply Reply

        Oh, my. Thank you for the flattery. I’m years away from becoming a great-grandmother, but my goal is to live long enough for someone to have to learn that mouthful, too. 8^)

        I think my experience of being a mother to someone who has never called me Mama, or Mom, or anything other than my first name, is why it feels so good to hear my grandson (and his mother) refer to me by my special grandma name, whatever it is. Maybe other moms take it for granted, but stepmothers don’t.

  33. Rachel Mar 25 at 1:58 pm Reply Reply

    I’m insanely curious as to how you are training your dog to know people’s names.  You must have a smart dog (and an insane amount of patience!)

    • flwolff Mar 26 at 1:57 pm Reply Reply

      Rachel,
      It’s a form of free-shape training, & really isn’t that different from how you ‘train’ a baby to recognize different names. Here’s how we have done it:
      We taught him to identify a toy, i.e. ‘ball.’ Basically, say ball! whenever you give it to him, throw it, he gives it to you, etc, until you can say “where’s your ball?” and he can identify the ball.

      Next is “bring me the ball,” which is also part of most regular training schools, and if you have a dog who likes to fetch, you don’t even have to teach this step.

      I then pointed to my husband and said “bring the ball to Daddy.” Repeat & reward until he figured it out, then use “Daddy” in other contexts, like “where is Daddy?” etc. Very similar to games you play with young toddlers.

      The first person is the hardest to teach-once the dog understands the concept, it is fairly easy to apply different names to everyone. 

      The reason we are doing this (aside from fun party tricks) is for health reasons. Some people in my family have trouble walking, and fall down a lot. As our dog seems to always be nearby when there is a fall, even if there isn’t another person nearby, we thought it would be a good idea to train him to get a specific person in case of an accident.

      Thanks for all the advice-ignoring is surely the best way to go, but certainly isn’t the easiest. Anyone who has a rocky relationship with their mother can understand that, I’m sure.

  34. Heather Mar 26 at 9:24 am Reply Reply

    My g-gma’s name was Bijie. My aunt, when learning her grandma’s name, couldn’t say Grandma. She would call her “G” and when leaving would say, “bye G.” For whatever reason, it stuck. Bijie, who lived to be 104, had that name for most of her adult life. She even signed cards that way. The kids usually always choose!

  35. Natalie Mar 26 at 12:41 pm Reply Reply

    My mom always called her parents “Mother and Daddy” and her grandparents “Mom and Pop”. So that was kinda confusing for me growing up.
    But, I think generally the kid gets to choose, and if they’re any kind of interested grandma at all they won’t mind being called whatever!

    I too would like to know how you are training your dog to know people’s names!

  36. sarah Mar 26 at 1:18 pm Reply Reply

    I grew up calling my grandmother by her first name (as did everyone) since she didn’t like the idea of being called grandma… it really wasn’t a big deal.

  37. tasterspoon Mar 26 at 1:47 pm Reply Reply

    If the OP is concerned that the future child may end up inventing his/her own name for the grandma anyway, it doesn’t make much difference now as far as the dog is concerned, does it?

    I haven’t read through the comments yet, but I assume it will be full of grandparents called something other than Grandma Moses. I don’t see how this is confusing to a child at all, although I guess the anticipated concern is that “Aunt” in particular is misleading because it mischaracterizes the relationship? But if it’s presented as part of her name, “your grandmother, Aunt Sarah,” I have a hard time imagining the child who wouldn’t get used to that.

    Shortly after my brother and I came along, my father’s mother sent a card with a cartoon clipping with a distinguished couple at a cocktail party, wherein the woman dryly informs her husband, “My name is Dolores, not ‘Grandma.'” Nothing about it was ever said within the family, but from then on the whole family called my grandparents by their first names. No big. (My dad now wants my daughter to call him “Sir” so I torture him by addressing him as Peepaw, which we all think is hilarious, in front of her. She’s only a year old. I suspect it will shake out that he gets his first name.)

    Another thought. There’s something to be said for addressing other adults by their real names, even when kids are present (who may know them as something else). It just seems respectul. My father never spoke to my mother directly using anything other her name. To us kids he would reference “your mother,” never “Mommy,” because that wasn’t her name, to him. Kids can figure it out.

    I understand the big concern now is consistency in front of the dog, but then why not call your mother what you call her and continue to do so post-child?

  38. flwolff Mar 26 at 2:15 pm Reply Reply

    One thing I forgot about the dog-training-

    If you bring your dog to other people’s houses, tell them where you are going. I’m sure Amalah is very familiar with this procedure, as well as anyone with children who don’t do well with change.

    When I get my dog’s harness & leash out, he knows we are going somewhere. I tell him, “We’re going to see {insert name here}!” and hook him up & in the car. While we are driving, I talk about the people we are going to see. If they have a dog, I mention their dog’s name as well. Very similar to how children are more likely to remember another child at a party than an adult, dogs tend to remember other dogs’ names better than people names. (This is probably because you talk to all the dogs at once, so they are all paying attention).

    For Example: When we are going to visit my best friend & her roommate, I say the following to my dog:
    “Indiana, guess what! We are going to visit Cheyanne & Sarah!” (here he tilts his head and looks at me like, what?) I then put on his harness & leash, and put him in the car.
    “Do you want to go see Fiero (their dog)?” He knows their dog’s name, so he gets pretty excited. “That’s right! We’re going to see Fiero, Cheyanne & Sarah!” And so on. Now if it’s a very short car ride, I might talk about them most of the way there. Otherwise, when we get to their neighborhood, I start up again.
    “We’re almost there, Indiana! We’re going to see Fiero!” etc etc.
    When we arrive, as he greets each person I say their name like so: “Say hello to Sarah!” or “Where is Cheyanne, Indy? Go find her!”

    I hope this helps anyone who is interested in this kind of training!

  39. Dawn Mar 26 at 4:24 pm Reply Reply

    The kids will end up choosing for the most part. My one sister and BIL insisted that my parents be called ‘Mom Mom’ and ‘Pop Pop’. We never addressed any of our grandparents like that so I have no clue where it came from. My mom is still ‘Mom Mom’ to them but my dad has morphed to ‘Bop Bop’ thanks to adorable toddler pronunciation.

    We started by calling my folks Grandma LastName and Grandpa LastName like I had with my grandparents growing up but my daughter started calling all of the grandparents Nana and Dada. Now my folks remain Nana and Dada to my kids, my MIL and stepfather in law are Grandma and Grandpa Roger and my FIL and stepmother in law and Grandad and Grandmom Yvonne. The in-laws names were pretty set as there are older cousins on my husband’s side.

    I’m sure that my sister was sure that all the kids would call my parents the names that they had designated but lo it did not work out that way. Their daughter is the oldest by a week. Yeah, that means jack squat. So my mom goes by 3 different names: Grandma, Nana and Mom Mom. Now there is a woman to feel sorry for.

  40. liz Mar 26 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    My MIL wanted to be Grandy.

    My husband didn’t want our son to call her husband, (who she married about 12 years ago, a few years after my FIL died) Grandpa and her husband didn’t want to be called that either, so he’s Papa FirstName. Which is handy since his first name is the same as my dad’s first name and HE wanted to be called Grandpa!!!

    Can I suggest as alternatives, Bubbe (bubbie) or Oma or Ema or Mitzi?

    • flwolff Mar 26 at 5:13 pm Reply Reply

      Liz-
      Mitzi might be good-“Bubbe” & “Oma” still sound ‘old’ so I’m betting they’re out. Also, I’m thinking my step-mom would want to be “Oma” since that’s what I call her mother. My grandmother’s name is Emma-so that one is out too.

      Mimi maybe? 

  41. Missie Mar 26 at 5:57 pm Reply Reply

    My brothers are 10 and 12 years older than me. When they started having kids, my mom decided she didn’t want to be “Grandma” whatever because it reminded her of her mom and MIL. So she picked GranGran. My oldest niece is 32 and all the kids still call her GranGran to this day. My dad was Papa Jim. 

    My inlaws decided when my SIL was pregnant that they didn’t want “Grandma and Grampa” either….so they are Grammi Mel and Papa Rich, or just Papa. 

    Now my FIL’s parents, my husband’s grandparents? Are hilarious. They decided that in all the sea of grandparents and greats, they wanted to stand out. So they? Are Super Grandma and Super Grampa. When we speak of them in together, they are just The Supers. “The Supers called and want to have us over for Easter.” It is Awesome. 

    My kids easily know who it is we are talking about at any given time. There is no confusion….except for my poor husband. He can’t keep anyone’s names straight. ;) 

  42. Kari Weber Mar 26 at 7:39 pm Reply Reply

    When my first was young, he started saying “Hon”… we couldn’t figure out what he was talking about! Finally, one day my dad walked into the room, and my son yelled out “Hon!” and reached up for him. We got it then, he had heard my mom refer to my dad that way… “Hon, will you get my coffee? Hon, will you bring in the paper?” and had figured that was my dad’s name.  I so wanted it to stick, and we used it for a while… about a year or so later, he started using Grampa more… (I know it is misspelled, but that is how it SOUNDS!) eventually, Hon disappeared completely.
    Since my dad passed in February, some of my favorite memories are of my son calling him by this special and unique name and how PROUD my dad was that he had that special moniker. I couldn’t have ever picked something that produced the pride of being named by his first grandchild.

    I say, let it go for now and train your dog with your mom’s given name. Training might be challenging later, but you will just be changing the one name. It sounds like you have a lot of other battles on deck, this is one to avoid.

    • Kari Weber Mar 26 at 7:40 pm Reply Reply

      On a totally different note!
      My brother is Chris, my husband is Chris, and we have a good friend that we refer to as Uncle… yep! his name is Chris.
      Try telling your child a story with all THAT and having them keep it straight!

      • tasterspoon Mar 27 at 1:07 pm Reply Reply

        My daughter has THREE Uncle Mikes. I insisted that they choose variants, lest they be “Mike the Elder” and “Mike the Lesser” or “Fat Mike” and “Thin Mike.” Middle Mike is screwed.

  43. Kim Mar 26 at 8:35 pm Reply Reply

    Huh. And here I thought I just talked to my dog a lot. Didn’t know I was doing fancy training.

    My grandfather was young (and vain, as he still is at 90) and didn;t want to be called Grandpa. My grandmother was Nana, he became Nono, and that was just who he was and is. By the time my cousin, who is 25 years younger than I am, he was ready to be called Grandpa, and it was just… weird. I mean, I was an adult, but I have to admit it felt a bit inequitable to me. Plus, after 25 years, his name was pretty well established. My kids call him Nono.

    • flwolff Mar 26 at 9:47 pm Reply Reply

      People often don’t think about how much your dog listens to you. They are like children-they listen & learn even when you aren’t teaching. That’s why when you spoil dogs (or children!) it quickly spirals out of control.

  44. Kristen W. Mar 26 at 11:54 pm Reply Reply

    My dad insisted (and still does, this issued has not died) on being called G-Dawg. Yup, how unique! Unfortantely, my son is severely speech delayed and hasn’t said much of any grandpa-ish term, but hopefully my dad won’t push for G-Dawg when the poor kid can barely eek out “gampa”….

  45. Erika Mar 27 at 10:18 am Reply Reply

    My mom and I have a totally weird history too. She is paranoid about being aged prematurely and insists that my 3 children call her “Mimi”. I guess that is generic enough that she doesn’t feel that people immdiately know she is their grandmother. I think personally that it’s close enough to “Mama” and she hopes people think she is their mother when they are out. I don’t ever (ever ever ever) go anywhere with her, so there is no confusion there. (She is great with my kids, but she and I do not get along at all and so we just try to stay away from each other as much as possible). Totally weird and dysfunctional? Yep. But it works for us.

  46. Nerwal Mar 27 at 8:38 pm Reply Reply

    My mom and I have a similar issue I’m choosing to ignore and adopt and wait and see attitude for; she wants to be called Gigi. That would normally be fine, except that I grew up with a step grandmother (her step mother) for most of my youth that was called that. In my family each grandparent has a unique name; granny, nanaw, etc so to me Gigi is that person – not my mother. It may sound weird, but I hate it and call her Grandma even though I know she doesn’t like it… I’m waiting to see what my kids call her and will take it from there. Its passive aggressive of me, but after explaining how I didn’t like it, she didn’t really care and wants to be called that anyway. 

  47. AmyRenee Mar 28 at 4:41 pm Reply Reply

    all grandparents in my sons world are Grandma & Grandpa Lastname when referring to them or needing to distinguish, or just Grandma & Grandpa when only one set is there. I don’t get the idea that kids need a “special” name for each set, after all, I have 11 different “Uncles” and I’ve never heard anyone suggesting Uncles each need a special nickname. I think the idea of calling your mom “Aunt” is silly, but I also see her point of not wanting to be called Grandma to a dog.

    On a separate but related note, my husband’s only aunt declared that “Great Aunts are old ladies and I am not an old lady” therefore she has named herself “Super Aunt Barb” which we think is cute and use occasionally, but we tend to just stick with “Aunt” for all the great aunts

  48. I agree ~ Ignore. Being 60 isn’t having one foot in the grave. It’s more like being in the prime of your life for most boomers. This is her issue. She’s the one who will be missing out. She is the one who needs to come to terms with the honor the name “grandma” affords her.

    My nephew calls me Auntie Paul. She has morphed who I am, her aunt, and my DH name into one. It was cute in the beginning but now, I want to be known as who I am. I like hearing my name being called. I know it will happen when it happens. I assume the same thing will happen in this “grandmother’s” case too. Ignore and focus on the bigger things like, REST! LOL!

  49. Melanie Apr 18 at 3:09 pm Reply Reply

    This hits so close to home. My MIL is overbearing at the best of times… my fiance is her ONLY son *pause for impact*. She has decided she would like to be called ‘Nana’… which I am not comfortable with, because I have a Nana… a very amazing Nana and she shouldn’t have to share her name with anyone… especially my MIL. I explained my concerns and she said ‘Fine, the child can call me by my first name than’. Really? That’s not confusing at all!! Although I learned two brilliant things… ONE not to worry about it until I am actually WITH child… and TWO my kids will figure something out when the time comes…

    I can’t wait to see what it is.

  50. No Nonsense Mom Apr 30 at 4:24 am Reply Reply

    When our first child was born, my Hispanic mother-in-law flat out refused to be called by any sort of grandmother name because she thought she was too young, plus she liked overstepping her authority and pretending to be everybody’s Mama. She was already getting away with this by making her other grand kids call her “Mami” or mama. Well, I can be as unreasonable as the next person; I am my children’s only mother and I taught them to call her by a polite and formal Spanish term for “Grandmother”. No discussion; she had to learn to deal with it.

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