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Grandparent Dilemmas

My Two Grandmas

By Amalah

Dear Amy,

My daughter and son-in-law had their first child almost 2 years ago and my daughter is now pregnant with her second.

She called me yesterday to tell me that since there are two grandmothers and to avoid confusion on her son’s part and baby #2, as well as their desire to not have to differentiate between the Grandma who lives in (name you place) and the Grandma who lives in another place, I should choose another name to go by and her mother-in-law would be called Grandma.

This hurts. There is no tradition in my family to be called anything other than Grandma and I’ve been referred to this way up until now. I don’t see why there would be confusion either as I had two grandmothers. Kids have figured that out for years. I’m not a step grandmother or girlfriend of her father and I don’t want to be referred to as Nana or some other option that just doesn’t mean anything to me.

I told her there’s no such tradition in the family and I didn’t want to be called G-ma and the conversation was left with the onus on me to come up with something. Of course it could be vetoed by the parents.

The only thing I can come up with that might be remotely okay is to simply wait to see what the grandkids call me. Not sure if that will fly though.

Any suggestions?
Woman formerly known as Grandma

I am going to give your daughter the benefit of the doubt here and guess that she is dealing with a crazy demanding mother-in-law who is the real force behind this request. Because yes, it’s odd to suddenly demand a change two years later, after you’ve established (and likely feel an emotional connection to)  your chosen, traditional title/name.

Also, yes, talk about a non-problem. Plenty of families use the same titles for multiple grandparents and kids manage to figure it out just fine. Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was born, but they’d both been called Grandpa by other grandchildren. When I heard stories about them, my parents would just give me some other clue or detail so I knew which one we were talking about. (And yes, sometimes it was just where they’d lived!)

As new parents, we had it easy — my parents had chosen Pop Pop and Nana well over a decade before I had children, and my first baby was my in-laws’ first grandchild, so they were free to pick Grandma and Grandpa for themselves, as that’s the tradition on their side of the family. However, if there had been overlap, I doubt it would have been a big deal —  my husband had both a Grandma Dot and a Grandma. Grandma Dot was technically named Dorothy, but they added her nickname to differentiate.

So that’s a suggestion you could make, if you have a name or nickname that’s short or easy for a small child to say, or just use the first letter of your name. Mother-in-law could do the same. Your daughter would have an easy way to differentiate to the kids (since for whatever reason that’s a problem she’s choosing to focus on right now), and then with time it’s up to the kids to decide what they’d like to go with. They might pick one nickname or initial and drop the other, or they might invent their own distinction between you two.

I have a friend who calls her grandmother “Grandma Boo,” and that simply happened because that grandma always played peek-a-boo with her as a baby/toddler and the name stuck. She’s now a Great-Grandma Boo. I think that’s pretty adorable.

And honestly, it’s not really that big of deal if you two continue on as Grandma Who Lives Here and Grandma Who Lives There. For some reason this is bothering your daughter, and she doesn’t think it’s a big deal to change up the names after two years. Maybe it’s coming from the MIL, or maybe she just had this idea and felt more comfortable approaching you about it rather than her MIL. Once you expressed your objections and dismay, I’d say she probably should have just backed off/dropped it, but since she’s asking for an alternative, think it over and see if you can find something acceptable to add to Grandma, rather than losing the name completely.

It can always be tough to figure out how hard you want to push back on these things, but hopefully if you can keep the discussions civil and out of THIS IS THE HILL I CHOOSE TO DIE ON SCREW YOU territory, this will all work out. (And eventually settle into a non-issue when the kids come up with their own nicknames/pronunciations/monikers for their two grandmas.)

Published March 9, 2015. Last updated March 12, 2018.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


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 Ama...

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 [email protected].

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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  • Tracy

    March 9, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    I had two Grandmas and two Grandpas, NBD.

    HOWEVER….we always had a spelling differentiation – one was Grandma and Grandpa, the other Gramma and Grampa.  That stopped being a thing after all the grandkids were grown, but it occasionally still pops up, especially in texts from my mom where she knows I’ll immediately know who she’s talking about.

    For awhile, about the age where my sister and I needed a way to talk about them, we added something on that described my Gramma – she was SUPER huggy, kisses, tickles, very hands on, and thus became Kissy Gramma.

    It works out.  I stay stick with Grandma, and add something before or after it, for now.  I have a co-worker that goes by Ta (pronounced Taw) with her grandkids, because that’s what the oldest one started calling her.  

  • Sheryl K

    March 9, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    What a frustrating request!  I had a Grandpa Mike and a Grandpa Sam and was never confused growing up.  

    My dad goes by Grandpa, except my daughter got confused and instead began calling him Pop-Pop, which is her other grandfather’s chosen name.  

    I’d say, let’s just see what the kids choose.  Grandma Yourfirstname would be my choice.

  • Lindsay

    March 9, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Aww, this one makes me sad. We go for the “call people what they want to be called” at my house. So sorry you might be losing your chosen name! 🙁

    As another option, growing up my grandparents went by grandma/grandpa last name. And my dad prefers the grandpa first name for himself. All the other grandparents are just grandma and grandpa though. Never would have thought that was bad. 🙁

  • Loz

    March 9, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    We have a Grandma M and a Grandma B. That works well for my kids, who are pretty young (3 and 1).  I hope you can find a name that works all around!  They will love you and have a special relationship regardless of what they call you. 🙂

  • sassy

    March 9, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Having two names might backfire on her. My in-laws are grandma and grandpa and my parents are grammy and paw paw. I don’t know if it’s because my parents are younger and a bit more hands on or just because it’s easier to say but my son (2) calls all older people Grammy and paw paw, which I know is hurtful to my mother in-law, as she’s always correcting him no I’m your grandma. It actually might be more confusing to have different names for a 2 year old. Hope you can get it worked out!

    • Cassie

      March 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm


      I had four grandmothers growing up (my dad died, my mom remarried and her parents were divorced and remarried). Two were G&G last name, and then GL (short for Grandma Firstname) and Grandma Boots (boots was her nickname). None of it was confusing. 

      My kids call my in-laws (who live nearby) Grandma & Grandpa. They call my parents Grandma Judy & Grandma Judy Grandpa (I love this). Both my dad and my FIL have the same first name, so my dad has no distinguisher. Before my youngest could pronounce grandma & grandpa he said “B-ma” and “bumpa” we tried to make bumpa stick, with no luck. 

      But, really grandma & grandpa + distinguish-er (last name, nickname) isn’t that confusing. I personally really dislike “nana” so I sympathize with the LW. 

      • Cassie

        March 9, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        Oops. Replied to the wrong comment. 

  • Tricia

    March 9, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Ouch. Seems odd to force another name onto a person just so you don’t have two Grandmas. I think I would insist on a slight change like Amalah suggests. If Grandma is an important title for you, fight for it. Grandma (last name) isn’t that big of a deal to say to your kids. 

  • Chris

    March 9, 2015 at 2:35 pm


    We somehow stumbled into using  the terms daddy-granny and mommy-granny (and daddy-granddad and mommy-granddad). Without much thinking, in fact.  

    It worked out wonderfully. Everybody loved it. 

  • Jessica

    March 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    before my two-year old was born, I asked her two grandmas if they would pick what they wanted to be called and both strongly wanted “grandma.” It is confusing for us to talk to my daughter without something a way to differentiate them, so we say grandma Jo Jo and grandma Ci Ci which are sounds from their first names. Unfortunately, my daughter has chosen her own way to distinguish between them, and that is to call one of them “big grandma.” Ugh! 

  • Michele

    March 9, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Really?  I mean, really?  My grandparents were Grandma and Grandpa.  Both sets of them.  I called them Grandma.  And Grandpa.  When talking about them, we used last names to differentiate.  But when talking TO them, we called them Grandma and Grandpa.  I think grandparents should be able to pick (unless the grandkids come up with their own fun nickname)  And if you pick Grandma, then I think Grandma should be it.

  • Stephanie

    March 9, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Wow.  I’d be hurt, too.  Seems odd to fixate on this when there’s already a 2-year-old grandkid.  I hate to advocate for sticking to your guns completely (I’m usually more likely to tell someone to back off a bit), but on this one, if it were me, I don’t think I’d back down.  My kids only have one set of grandparents, so this was never an issue for us,  but I had two grandmas and one grandpa.  We just called our grandmas “Grandma Lastname”.  No biggie.  Kids are pretty smart if we give them half a chance. 
    Maybe pregnancy hormones are a factor in this?  Or, as Amy said, over-bearing MIL?

  • Cheryl S.

    March 9, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Huh? I think your daughter is either overthinking this WAY too hard, or she’s having some pregnancy hormone issue!
     I had  Grandma and a Grandpa on one side. And then I had Grandma on the other side.  I called them both Grandma. To distinguish them in my kid mind, I called my grandma “one grandma” in my head (because there was no grandpa on that side).  I know my cousin called her “flower grandma” because she always wore a flowered housecoat. But it was always just grandma when we were with her!  Kids are smart, this is not a mind bender for them! 🙂

  • Kerry

    March 9, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I’m guessing that the almost two year old got confused for about five seconds, and instead of realizing that almost two year olds learn very quickly and will have this whole two grandmas situation figured out in just a couple of months, your daughter shortsightedly decided to organize an entire universe around the language skills of a toddler. So I would stall. Or pick Grandma + something that will conveniently drop off any time you want it to. 

    I had Grandma and Grandma My-Dad’s-Last-Name, but when we were at Grandma My-Dad’s-Last-Names house, or when she was signing a card, she was just Grandma. It only got confusing my mom’s mom would come up in a conversation with or about my dad’s mom, because Grandma Her-Last-Name was my grandfather’s mother, and Grandma Her-First-Name just isn’t something my family does.

  • Mary

    March 9, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    My kids have 3 sets of grandparents (not including greats). My dad & stepmom elected to go w/ Nana & Papa, so that was easy, but both my mom and MIL wanted to be Grandma. We dealt with it by referring to them as Grandma Lastname and Grandma Firstname, when speaking about them, but when my kids are actually with one or the other, they just go by Grandma. It was the same when I was growing up- we referred to any of my grandparents as Grandma/Grandpa Lastname when talking about them, but when I was with them I dropped the name part, they were just Grandma/Grandpa.

  • Alisha

    March 9, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I agree with what everyone else said. It’s not confusing to do Grandma [First name]’ My dad called his grandparents “Grandp/ma [last name]” and one of the last names involved was “George.” It still makes me chuckle when he talks about “Grandma George.”

    • Ellie

      March 15, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      My grandma’s first name is Gerald. Looooong story. I always call her Gramma Gerry.

  • S

    March 9, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    So just to bring something up… The kids are going to call them whatever they hear at home. In some unfortunate circumstances I find myself and son living back with my mother-father passed. She is gramma/grandma. My sons fathers parents are divorced. My sons paternal grandfather doesn’t really have a name yet. He doesn’t see him often and grandpa just doesn’t work for us, and his wife we call by her name. His paternal grandmother is usually Grammy/nana, and her husband goes by his first name. Chances are, my son will come to call them what he hears us call them.

    And yes. My grandparents are great g&g. The paternal side is either absent or step. The step are overwhelming and crazy so he hears them go by their first name too. It is what it is.

  • leslie

    March 9, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    This is an issue? Goodness. How have we even survived as a species not having separate names?! My daughters have three grandmas and three grandpas. No one ever brought this up. They figure out who is who eventually. Grandma firstname all around. Sheesh. Any nicknames that come up are a bonus. 

  • Mary Ann

    March 9, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    In my family, the generation of children after mine is the first to go so casual as Grandma FirstName or just Grandma. It was “Your Grandma LastName” and “My Grandma LastName” when my mom was talking about her own mother and her (deceased before I was born) grandmother who had the same last name.

    My cousins and I, and even my friends, all said Grandma LastName when speaking with or about our grandmother. My mother has passed away, but when talking about her to my daughter, I refer to her as “Your Grandma LastName” by default.

    My in-laws don’t put names or pronouns with titles. It’s very confusing to me that when they say “I spoke to Uncle”, they could mean my husband’s uncle, my mother-in-law’s uncle, or my husband’s grandmother’s uncle, all of whom are alive and well and present in conversation. My husband always knows which one they mean, because he is very used to that.

    So, on that side, we are in a two Grandma situation with a mother-daughter pair. They’re both just “Grandma”, although I have to use pronouns to keep it straight. We are going with it. I assume it will make sense to our daughter just like it does to my husband.

  • Lise

    March 9, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    When my first grandchild was born, I ceded the name Grandma as the baby’s paternal grandmother was already called that by her other grandchildren. My granddaughter came up with her own name for me, Nonna, which has stuck and is what all my grandkids call me. One of them, who is now three, proudly tells people that I’m both Nonna and a grandma. In her mind, a grandparent nickname is something special.

    Amy’s suggestion of adding to Grandma is great. The parents might call you Grandma First Name to the children, but when you’re with them, the little ones will probably just call you Grandma. Or, if you pick something easy to say, the grandbabies will learn to say your name earlier than they could pronounce Grandma.

    If you have a close, loving relationship with your grandchildren, in their minds your name will be just as infused with love and warmth as the name Grandma is in yours. Having a different name won’t make you any less of a grandma. But I’m sorry that you feel hurt. Navigating relationships with adult children can be difficult.

  • Anna

    March 9, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    My mom always wanted to be Granny, and my Inlaws were already Grandma and Grandpa (for the record my niece and nephew have 2 Grandmas and 2 Grandpas and differentiate by last name. ) However when my son learned to talk he christened my mom “Readie” because she loves to read to him. So Readie and Grandpa and Grandma H and Grandpa H it is. My kiddo is only 2 and has zero problem figuring out who we are talking about or with. This woman’s daughter needs to relax and trust that her kids will be able to figure it out.

  • Hope

    March 9, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    My parents are divorced and remarried, so our daughter has a wealth of grandparents. We let them all pick their own titles. The grandmas are all something different (my mom is the only grandma, and I think she likes that) and the grandpas are all… Grandpa. Our daughter is only two and it’s never been confusing for her. 

    This seems like a weird thing for your daughter to fixate over. It also seems like sormething really hurtful for her to do, with little benefit to her and your grandkids. I’m sure she doesn’t realize she’s sending a very odd message that sort of implies that you’re not the grandma. Hopefully, she’ll come to her senses. 

    This is one of the few letters where I’m really hoping that there will be a follow up letter!

  • Margaret

    March 9, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    I’m with everyone else that this is a non-issue, but oddly enough I’ve been in a similar situation.
    An ex-bf and I were planning to have kids and we talked about our parents names. He thought having two ‘Oma’s’ (Dutch/German for grandmother) would be too confusing, and wanted his mother to be Oma and my mother to be Oma Last Name. He just didn’t have the ability to understand that no grandmother had a stronger claim to the name. So who knows, perhaps it’s not the MIL behind it — maybe it’s the husband!

  • Sonya

    March 9, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with it.  I always had a Nanna and Grandma (never had Grandfathers who were still alive).  Now my children do too.  I had to ask my mother-in-law to become Grandma as the children were already used to my mother as being Nanna.  Her other Grandchildren call her Nanna.  No big deal.  We all know who we are talking about.  Who cares?!  No big deal.

  • Elizabeth

    March 9, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    I have 2 sets of grandparents and always called them Grandma and Papa Last Name. Never had a problem knowing who was who. Now I have a 3 year old, and he is lucky to have 2 sets of grandparents and 3 sets of great-grandparents. We use variations of Grandma first or last name, Grandpa/Papa first or last name. Kids are smart. They figure it out.
    Also, I liked what someone else said about the pregnancy hormones. And maybe there is something else going on? For example… My MIL had a different name that she wanted to go by. We’ll use Nana for the story… Before my some was born, she said she wanted to be Nana. Because Nana was easier to say, and I think my mom actually liked it, we called both Grandmas “Nana.” When my little guy was about 9 months old, my SIL decided to tell me that I was a bad person, that I intentionally did malicious things, and that my MIL was so upset about who I was as a person that she couldn’t even tolerate being around me. The next time we saw my parents I abruptly said we would no longer refer to my mother as a Nana and going forward she would be “Grandma.” Once I explained why, and that after what happened, the term Nana made me sick to my stomach, she was totally on board. Now he has 4 Grandmas and 1 Nana and it’s not a problem at all!! Talk to her because there could be more to the story!!!

  • Bernice

    March 9, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    I would refer to my two nans in conversation (so as to differentiate between the two) by their last names ie. Nanna T__ and Nanna P____. But always just called them nan or nanna to their faces. This seems like the strangest request!

  • Robin

    March 10, 2015 at 12:00 am

    So can’t you can call yourself whatever you want, regardless?  When I talk to my kids, I refer to my inlaws differently from how they refer to themselves.  Because I grew up with a Grandma Alice and a Grandpa Dave, I call my inlays Grandma FirstName and Grandpa FirstName.  They refer to themselves as Gramma and Pop.  I don’t like those names (misspellings BUG!) so I don’t use them when I talk to my kids.  But it has never been an issue.  Neither of us asks the other to change.

  • Sorelle

    March 10, 2015 at 4:00 am

    That sucks! My MIL chose Grammy which she loves and so do the grandkids. The other grandparents are Grandma firstname and there’s just one grandpa 🙂 
    The only thing I can assure you with is that now at 4 my daughter knows who her grandparents are and loves them madly based on their level of involvement in her life

  • Katie

    March 10, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Kids will decide for themselves anyway so I don’t see the big deal. My mom wanted to be “Nonna” but my 4 year old son calls her “Nana”. My 2 year old daughter calls her “Nina”. She’s still pushing for “Nonna” with my infant nephew but we’ll see what he settles on. Honestly I don’t think she cares (she was just thrilled when they started calling her by a name). 

  • Al

    March 10, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I agree that it’s an unfair request, and I don’t know the larger family dynamics. But as a mom of a toddler with another on the way and a full-time job, honestly I find myself getting hung up on all kinds of silly stuff. Lack of sleep, a hard pregnancy, work stress, and household stress will do that! If you give your daughter the benefit of the doubt (pressure from spouse or mil–but again, I don’t know the dynamics) and just go with the request, then at least you get to choose a name. Here are some less-cutesy names that I’ve heard: Gran, Gram, Granny (despite the old lady connotations, I love Granny!), Ma, Gigi, first initial of first name, etc.

    For what it’s worth, my family always did the Grandma X/Grandma Y distinguisher, while my husband’s family used cutesie names. We asked our parents what they wanted to be called before our first child was born (we didn’t mind duplication–just wanted to follow their preferences), and they reversed tradition! His went with traditional names, and mine went oddball. And it seemed weird for about a minute, but now it works.

    Regardless of what you decide, good luck with all this, and congrats on the new grandkid on the way. Those grandkids will love you no matter what they call you, and your daughter will (hopefully) appreciate your flexibility.

  • Kate

    March 10, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    This happened when my brother and his wife had the first grandchild–her mom refused to share the nickname Nana with my mom, even though that was also our family’s tradition. She graciously accepted Grandma without a fight. Now my son is starting to talk, and even though we’ve dutifully called her Grandma his entire life to keep consistent with his cousins, when he says her name, it sounds an awful lot like Nana… 

  • Stephanie Michele

    March 10, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    My grandmother, who I called Mimi, passed away right before we found out I was pregnant with my first (as in mere days before). I was extremely close to her and was devastated when she died. My MIL was called Mimi by her one other grandchild, but the thought of my kids calling anyone but my Mimi by that name was incrediblly painful. My husband could tell and asked her to pick a different name. She protested briefly at first, but then quickly agreed.

    Honestly, I might be able to tolerate it now, but it would still be hard. I’ll forever be grateful she was so generous.

    All that to say, maybe something else is going on here? Regardless, I hope everything works out for everyone involved! I’m sure it’s a really painful situation.

  • kate

    March 10, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    She may find that no matter how hard she tries, the kid is going to call Grandma whatever they want and that’s that. Especially at the age of 2+.

    My mother wanted to be Grandma, and it so happens that she became Nana because thats how it came out of my son’s mouth the first time, and it stuck. If we suddenly insisted he call her Grandma, he would have no idea who we were talking about haha.
    Similarly, my grandmother wanted to be Granny and she was Nanny. “Poppy” wanted to be “Grandpa”. My mother’s grandmother wanted to be “Grandma Dorothy” and she got “Bakadodie”. Point is, kids will call them what they want to/are capable of calling them. Not worth a battle.

    • Feisty Harriet

      March 11, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Um, “Bakadodie” is completely adorable. Love. 🙂


  • Brenna

    March 11, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Yeah, no. Something else is up and it isn’t because her kids have two “Grandmas”.

    I grew up with two Grannys (insert first name for clarity if necessary) and two aunts with the same name. We used their middle names – problem solved.

    My kids have two Nanas. Both were already Nana by the time we got married, so we knew we had to work around it. My 3 year old manages just fine. She will occasionally tell my mother “I’m just going to call you Nana (mil’s name).” That’s when I step in and gently remind her that we should call this Nana “Nana (her own name)”. She’ll get it someday and a little guidance and a sense of humor goes a loooong way in getting there.

    I wish the letter writer luck tackling this and getting to the root of the problem.

  • liz

    March 11, 2015 at 11:54 am

    All my grandmothers were grandma: Grandma Hilda, Grandma Sylvia, Grandma Ruth, and Grandma Irene. All my grandfathers were grandpa: Grandpa John, Grandpa Jack, Grandpa Phillip, and Grandpa Harvey.

    My son’s grandparents are slightly different: All my parents are grandma or grandpa, my husband’s mom is Grandy (her choice).

    My cousins on my dad’s side all called their grandparents Bubbe and Zaide, I don’t know why we didn’t, but we didn’t, even tho my mom called her grandmothers Bubbe.

    So I’m dittoing what others have said. Say you’d like to stick with Grandma, and add your name or a nickname or an endearment on the end.

  • Elaine

    March 11, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    My child has a Nonna, two Mom Moms and three Pop Pops (plus the Greats: Mimi, Great Grandmom, Nana & Pop Pop– bringing us to four living Pop Pops). I won’t lie, I worry that my MIL will be called “other Mom Mom” because she lives far away and SMIL will get to be the primary Mom Mom, but we try to head that off by saying “Mom Mom in Place.”

    My hill to die on, though, is when my FIL calls my father “Pop Pop Two.” It just seems so mean-spirited. I think he think’s it’s funny, it’s just not. 

  • Dawn

    March 11, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Growing up we have Grandma and Grandpa Last name for each grandparent. Not confusing in the slightest. My kids picked their own names for my parents – as did all of my sisters’ kids so my mom is Grandma, Nana, and Mom-Mom. My Dad is Dada, Pop-Pop and Bop-Bop. We tried to ‘train’ by using the names I had grown up with and yeah, that didn’t work. Shrugs. We know who everyone is. On my husband’s side, all the grandparent names were strongly established when my guys came along so we just encouraged them to use the names already in play. 

    Kids are pretty smart so your daughter needs to lighten up just a bit. Good luck.

  • Feisty Harriet

    March 11, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Honestly, I think the kids will do whatever they want, especially as they get older. My mother prefers to be called GiGi, but not a single grandchild calls her that, they call her Miss G—– (first name), which is what her children call her. (Yes, I call my mother by her first name, whatever.) My nieces and nephews call my father different things. To some he’s Lurch–his childhood nickname and what I call him–to some he’s Grandpa R— (first name), to some he’s Pop Pop, and to one he’s Grandpa Sweetheart. My husband’s parents are Grandma First Name and Grandma Last Name to both their children and their grandchildren. I called my maternal grandparents Grandma and Grandpa Last Name, and I called my paternal grandparents Bub and Famp, which became their nicknames when the oldest grandchildren couldn’t quite say G’s and R’s and Granny became Bubby and Grandpa became Fampa.

    Honestly, MOST people have at least two sets of grandparents, and calling them all simply “Grandma and Grandpa” has not resulted in mass confusion for anyone.

  • Sarah

    March 11, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    I grew up with a Gramma and  Grannie (but both Grandpa’s were just that, no distinction).

    My kids call my parents Gramma and Grandpa, my husbands parents are Gramma and Papa (but their choosing, there is also a Mama who is their paternal great grandmother in the mix).

    When confused, they clarify Papa’s Gramma or Grandpa’s Gramma (although Papa’s Gramma is also at times referred to ‘Old Gramma’ – oops!).

  • pbblythe

    March 12, 2015 at 9:39 am

    We gave the grandparents a chance before the baby came to choose the name the first grandchild would call them. One got a little squirrelly with it (make it blue, no bleu, no bloo, no blooey – whatever, just tell me how you want me to spell it). We’ve got the spectrum from traditional to choose your literary reference. My husband and I vetoed one or two (no, your grandkid isn’t calling you your first name, try again; that one sounds too much like mommy, try again). The variety of names is WONDERFUL for us, because kiddo knows these appellations very well. The only issue we’ve had is the one who can’t decide how to spell it. Bonus, the grands love getting stuff with their special name on it, because they know it’s just for them.
    The thing I don’t understand is daughter asking OP to change after two years. I have to go with the notion that she’s getting in law pressure, or that she’s having some issues with everyone being Grandma. I’d suggest that OP either pick something she’s cool with and go with it, or that she gently push back and see if she can just be Grandma Name instead of a different appellation.

  • nora1

    March 12, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    charlie and the chocolate factory! grandpa george, grandma georgina, grandma josephine, grandpa joe! easy egalitarian and sweet.

  • Lauren

    March 13, 2015 at 11:20 am

    The “different names” can backfire too! Our son was not the first grandchild on either side, so we had to go with what each set of our parents was called by the other kids….Unfortunately that turned out to be “Mimi and Poppy” for one set and “Mema and Papa” for the other. Try getting a toddler to wrap his head around that when he’s starting to talk. Between Mama, Mema and Mimi, even I get tongue tied!!!!

  • Kari

    March 13, 2015 at 2:54 pm

     In Norway we have it easy – in addition to grandma and grandpa (bestemor and bestefar), we have “mormor” and “morfar” (literally mom-mom and mom-dad) and “farmor” and “farfar” (dad-mom and dad-dad). Yet my kid somehow ended up calling my mother-in-law “Bobbo” and my mom “Mommo”. She’s only 1,5, so we’ll see if the names change. 

    But I agree with everyone else, it sounds like she’s being badgered by her mother-in-law or is super-stressed about something else, because this is a complete non-issue – the kids will figure it out just fine. I suggest trying to talk to her again when you’re both calm, and sort of gently ask her what the real problem is. Or you can just wait it out and go with whatever name your grandkids give you 😉 

  • Rebecca

    March 13, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I hated calling my grandparents “grandma/grandpa last name” becasue the last names were long and cumbersome. So I did ask my mom and MIL to pick different names so I didn’t have to tack on a first or last name. I think my mom was a little hurt at first from just me asking, but has grown to love being a Nana. And luckily there wasn’t a conflict over the choice of names. 🙂

  • Chris

    March 14, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    My mother, Luann, decided when I was pregnant with my  first child that she wanted to be called Lulu by her grandchildren. I never saw it as a big deal or odd request.
    She has been a fabulous grandmother. And now that the grandchildren are older(30s) and my mother is ill with Parkinson’s the name is special,original and so my mother!

  • Jenn

    March 15, 2015 at 1:59 am

    My dad’s parents were Grandma and Grandpa ‘last name’, my mom’s were Grandma and Grandpa Beans. I have no idea where the Beans came from, but I just called them all grandma and grandpa. My nieces and nephew do the same… I don’t even know that they distinguish by last names in all actuality.

  • Kim too

    March 15, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I agree, add your name on the back.  I grew up with a Grandma (dad’s side) and a Nana (mom’s side.  Side note: it constantly surprises me how popular Nana is now, because she was the only one I ever knew growing up. I am old, though.) But I guess my cousin must have had more than one grandma, because half the time we called her Grandma Betty, and the other day, I found myself distinguishing her from my mom (Grandy) with her first name.
    The only confusion I have is that my father asked to be called Papa, which is what I called his late father.  And he lives near his mom, so it can be a bit jarring for me to say we’re going to visit Grandma and Papa. But  it’s what he wants to be called, we roll with it.

    And hey, one person’s “cutesy, ugh” is another person’s cultural heritage, yo. My great-grandmother was ‘Lita, so my grandmother was Nana, pronounced Nahnah. As I will be when it comes time, because it will be an honor name for me.

  • KW

    March 16, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Just adding to the overwhelming consensus that should hopefully help you and your daughter reach an understanding. I had two grandma/grandpa sets growing up. I addressed them each as “grandma” when with them and called my mom’s mom Grandma First Name and my dad’s mom was Grandma Last Name (don’t know why, it’s just how it turned out) when I was talking about them. My kids do pretty much the same thing, we tried to get my oldest to call my Mom, “Gaga” at first, but even though he knows we’re talking about her when we call her that, he never calls her that himself. He sticks with Grandma and it never confuses anyone. Every now and them we ask for clarification, “which Grandma?” and he responds. It is definitely NBD.

  • Kristie

    March 16, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    It is funny to me to read how many people called both sets of grandparents the same thing growing up. I had a Grandmother and Granddaddy and a Grandma and Grandpa. My husband called both sets the same thing, and I always thought that would have been confusing. When we had kids, I was determined that their grandparents would have different names. I just planned for them to call my parents Grandmother and Granddaddy since that is what my maternal grandparents had been called. That was hard for my dad, because he didn’t see himself as a Granddaddy. When my first son came along, he started calling my dad “Granddad” and both my father and I love it. These things often have a way of working themselves out.

  • Missie

    March 16, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    My brothers are much older than me, so when they started having kids, my parents became GranGran and Papa Jim. My inlaws only had one grandchild before we had our son, and they wanted to go by Grammi Firstname and Papa Firstname. Theirs have been shortened over time to go by Grammi and Papa. My kids know who is who, but it is no big thing. My kids occasionally call my mom Grandma, esp if their friends are around. Same with my inlaws. But the cutest thing ever? When my hub’s grandparents heard they were becoming great grandparents for the first time, we asked them what they wanted to be called. Grandpa pipes up with, “I want to be called Super Grandpa.” So that’s what they became, Super Grandpa and Super Grandma. We would shorten it to “the Supers” if we were referring to them in conversation. “We are going over to the Supers…the Supers are coming for dinner.”  

    Tell your daughter that her kids can refer to you as Super Grandma and watch her reaction! Ha! 

    • meg

      March 18, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      this could NOT be cuter

  • Elizabeth

    March 20, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I’m going to take a stab in the dark and suggest that the LW’s daughter is feeling anxious about going from 1 to 2 kids and is grasping for ways to add control and order to her life.

    I’d be hurt, too, of course. I bet LW feels like she’s getting demoted. Growing up, my maternal grandmother was YumYum, so named by my older cousins because she always snuck us kids candy. It stuck and it suited her perfectly. My daughter called my Dad “Pop pop” for no apparent reason and it suited him, too. An organic solution may come up.

  • RB

    March 20, 2015 at 9:52 am

    My kids have two Nana’s! Nana Ann, and Nana Beverly, they have shortened them to be Nana A and Nana B, which sounds kind of funny and vaguely like a clinical assignment, but it works for us. *hugs* I hope the two of you can resolve it, just remember even if they end up calling you something you did not choose, they will love you just the same.

  • Christine

    April 20, 2015 at 12:12 am

    Wow. Thank you all so much for your input. All great advice. 
    I’m happy to report that problem is solved! I waited until I was less sensitive about the issue and then told her that it was an honour for me to be called Grandma.. I felt it was something I’d earned and it was special to me. I also asked her to think about how she’d feel if she weren’t caledl Mommy for some reason. I reiterated that I have been Grandma for two years and it felt like I was given something special and it was then pulled away. She understood. I asked why me and not other Grandma and she told me she didn’t want to ask the other one. Uh huh.  But anyway she said it made sense to her because she’d only want to be Mommy (which of course will change in all likelihood to Mom) but I guess sometimes it takes a walk in someone else’s shoes to understand. There will be two Grandmas unless the kids come up with something that’s adorable as they grow. And yes, the hormones kick in big time for her!
    Thanks so much.  Great site. Great advice. 🙂 

    • Isabel Kallman

      Isabel Kallman

      April 20, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Thanks for reporting back with the great resolution. Happy to hear that it all worked out. And thanks so much for the kind words. 🙂

  • Brigitte

    April 23, 2015 at 2:13 am

    When we got pregnant with the first grandchild, we brought up the question at a family dinner with our siblings in case they wanted a say in what their future kids would be calling them.  MIL thought for a moment and then said, “I think I just want them to call me [firstname].”  All of us siblings looked at each other and said, “Nevermind, you don’t get to choose.  You will be called Oma, end of story.”  (That’s in line with family tradition.)

    My kids now have Oma & Opa, and Grandma & Grandpa.  They mostly keep them straight but sometimes call Oma Grandma, etc. anyway.

    Growing up, my little brother decided to differentiate between our two Grandmas by calling them “Grandma with the blue couch” and “Grandma with the orange couch” 🙂

  • Mel

    March 6, 2016 at 12:49 am

    This is pretty funny for me as I have the opposite problem – both our unborn child’s gandmothers are claiming they are “too young” to be called grandma (they’re both in their late 60s), and so we’ve been told we have to come up with better options!

    So far my MIL is already nanny to our niece and nephew, but my mother is being difficult over the whole naming issue. Two grandmas sounds easier than a nanny and a “well I’m not being called grandma so don’t even think about it”!