I live in Eastern Europe and in my country we have a common practice of naming baby boys the same name as the father's father. While generally not an issue, I have entered a serious relationship and though we are not planing to have kids in the foreseeable future my father has started to apply a lot of pressure for us to have a kid and specifically naming the kid in his name, saying things like: oh "When are you planning for little Borat to be around?" or even directly asking "You are naming your potential kid Borat, right?" on numerous occasions. (Name changed for privacy and comedy reasons)

I don't mind the "When are you going to provide me with a grandchild?" part but my SO is not from the same country so she doesn't follow the same naming tradition and generally I don't think naming a kid (even a hypothetical one) should be a one person decision. I have discussed this with my SO, but since my opinion is that I don't want to honor the traditon her responce was something like "Ok, good" and it was not discussed further.

Up till now I have been deflecting by asking him to not put the cart before the horse and jokes like "Ah if it passes through 2 forms of contraception, we will call it Chuck Norris or Superman" but I feel I should address the issue sooner rather than later and preferably in a way that wouldn't turn into a huge fight. I expect my father to have an issue with that as he is more of a traditionalist, I am his only son, and he wouldn't want his name to "die off".

To sum it up, how can I explain to my father that I wouldn't want to name my future kid with his name without causing a conflict?

  • 3
    Normally it's a good idea to get positive feedback from the edits you make in the sandbox before posting the question to main, to make sure that you have actually addressed the concerns of the commentators and that your edits haven't created any new issues.
    – sphennings
    Jul 25, 2018 at 20:14

4 Answers 4


Try very hard not to have this conversation at all before this hypothetical person is born. It is an argument that will never end, he can always come back at you to get you to reconsider, and on and on until you give in. Whereas once a baby is born, they're named, and that's that. It would be rare for him to push for you to change the name once the deed is done. Grandparents tend to fall in love with little babies and forgive their parents many sins. I know we had 3 different grandparents advocating for and against various names while my children were gestating, but the topic was never raised again once they arrived and got names.

Other reasons for waiting to have the argument include the possibility you will never actually have a boy, meaning you and your father never need to agree on a name, or that you will but with a different SO to whom this tradition is super important, meaning you end up doing it your father's way after all. But these are low-probability cases. The main reason is that you can't settle the argument until you have a son, so if you have it at all you will have it regularly until the boy arrives, and that's pointless.

So, how do you not have the argument? You answer the underlying question instead of the question you were literally asked.

When are you planning for little Borat to be around?

Dad, I don't know the gender or the name of the baby we're not planning to have right now. I will be sure to let you know when I have news!

(Big smile. Giving him that news will be great, won't it?)

You are naming your potential kid Borat, right?

I know that's the obvious choice if you were naming the baby we're not planning to have right now. [SO] and I will talk about names if and when we actually have a child together.

If he pushes,

Dad, I know in your day the names were basically chosen for you, but it's not like that now. I don't want to get into a hypothetical argument about someone who may never happen. When I need to name a boy, his mother and I will have to make that choice.

It may be appropriate to reassure him about your position on tradition in general: to list three or four things you love to do now or will be sure to do when you're a parent. And to reassure him about how vital his role will be in this hypothetical person's life. If there are specific things you remember your father doing with you, talking about how you look forward to his doing those things with your possible future son (and/or daughter!) can take the sting out of your refusal to confirm that you will do as he wants on the name decision.

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    At first, I thought postponing the "argument" until a boy was born was ducking the issue, but by the end of your answer, especially the "if a boy is born" part, I've changed my mind. If a non-traditional name is going to cause an argument/resentment, it's probably least bad when it's a fait accompli rather than (re)hashing it every year or two ahead of any boy. And as you say, a grandparent's joy over the baby may cancel it out by then.
    – TripeHound
    Jul 26, 2018 at 14:11
  • @TripeHound I think "ducking" the issue is the entire point. It's none of the OP's father's business, so ducking the issue is the appropriate thing to do—simply don't discuss it with him.
    – user428517
    Jul 26, 2018 at 17:15

My family had a similar tradition, but on my mother's side. So much so, that my mother got stuck with a feminine version of the name, because my maternal grandparents had no sons. Let's just say it was Borat-ina, for the purposes of this answer. I only narrowly escaped the name because my father wouldn't stand for it...

Probably not surprising that both of my brothers caught a lot of pressure to continue this tradition when they were fathering children. From the experience of watching all of this play out, I can point to a middle of the road compromise. And an inter-generational one at that.

Consider using the traditional name as a middle name, or failing that, consider a middle name that's still meaningful to the family.

One of my brothers carries my father's first name as a middle name, and the other caries my maternal grandfather's name as a middle name, and one of my nieces got saddled with the Borat-ina middle name.

Just trying to say that there are ways to keep a tradition alive, even if it skips a generation, or is altered a bit. Using the traditional name as a middle name, is a way to nod to the tradition while not naming your kid something that you aren't comfortable with.

As for having that conversation, I think Kate Gregory nailed it pretty well. Don't bother until you have to. A simple:

We'll worry about names when there's a kid to be named

... should work just fine.

The middle name option is just a way to compromise and pass along a family tradition in a way that you, your family, and your future partner may be more comfortable with.


I think you should rationalize this a bit differently with your father:

Dad it doesn't matter what we name the child.

What matters is that he gets to know you, respect you, and love you. If and when my SO and I decide to have a child, that's what I want for him.

I only knew one of my grandfathers. I have wonderful memories of him. Is that what really matters?

And Dad, you know we might only have girls.... ;-)


I applaud the fact that you're taking responsibility for dealing with your family, instead of trying to deflect to your SO. Cheers for that.

I don't see how you avoid a direct confrontation, but you can try to avoid making it confrontational. I would start with a lot of love and respect for your father by explicitly stating it to him. And then I'd just come out and say that the naming tradition isn't one you plan to carry on when you make your family.

I would begin by saying that it's not a particularly important tradition for you (avoid putting this on your SO - that can only create future tension between your father and her). Be prepared for him to be upset and to want to argue about it, but I would stick to a rote answer "Dad, I love you and respect you more than I can express, but I can't go down this path." I don't know your father and his tendencies, but don't let him turn this personal or let him goad you into a fight. This isn't about "being right", it's about firmly asserting your position as a father in your own right.

Having said all that, perhaps you and your SO might discuss your father's name as a middle name. I'm American, so that's common for us, but I don't know if it's an option for you. Perhaps your little one could be named Ontamu Borat Smith, or something. That way you're paying homage to your culture and your father, while establishing the fact that you're forging a new path in your future family.

Clearly, this option should be discussed with your SO, first.

  • 1
    Thank you for the answer. We don't choose the middle name of kids here, it is automatically the name of the father. The tradition kinda causes all males in a family to be called either Ontamu Borat Smith or Borat Ontamu Smith. You make some good points and I will consider them
    – Ontamu
    Jul 25, 2018 at 21:04

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