The new dad is wondering if he was a jerk for blowing up at his mother-in-law.

By Maressa Brown
February 08, 2021
Advertisement

Being a brand new parent—during a pandemic, no less—is challenging enough without in-laws making the situation even worse. For a dad on Reddit, writing under the handle u/RightBabyName, a disagreement over his son's name led to a blow-up with his mother-in-law, and now, he's wondering if he made life even tougher for his wife.

The original poster (OP) shared that even before he and his wife began thinking about kids, her mom has wanted the child to be named after her dad. "Let's say the name is Sherman," wrote the OP. "It's not actually Sherman, but think of something equally... generational. Or old-fashioned, perhaps. The important thing is, from day one, I have absolutely hated the name."

An image of a baby with name tags on them.
Credit: Getty Images. Art: Jillian Sellers.

Late last year, he and his wife were over-the-moon to welcome a baby boy. But ever since they announced the baby's sex, his mother-in-law has "ramped up the Sherman campaign." The OP explained that he and his wife had given each other 10 "no questions asked rejects" when it came to names, and "obviously Sherman was the first to go." They decided on a name they both really liked, which the OP said he'd refer to as Alexander in the post.

Three months into parenthood, his MIL has been "a constant presence," which he initially saw as "a really nice thing," given all the extra help she was providing them with the baby and around the house. But over the last few weeks, she has started calling the OP's son "Sherm" or "Lil Sherm." The OP initially let it go, then got annoyed, then started to remind her to call him the right name in a joking way, and then he got "matter of fact," and all along, he was telling his wife about his "building annoyance."

He explained that they have an agreement to handle their own families, so his wife said she'd talk to her mom, but nothing changed, according to the OP. So, earlier in the day that he posted on Reddit, he couldn't help but blow up at his MIL.

"I told her how disrespectful it was to me and Alex that she continued to call him by the wrong name," wrote the OP. "That I didn't want him to be confused about his actual name. That she should call him by his real name or not come by anymore."

She reacted by saying she was just trying to help, got her things, said goodbye to the OP's wife, and left. Now, the OP and his wife are in disagreement over how he behaved. She thinks he overreacted, because "Sherm" or "Lil Sherm" is "just a nickname—no different from 'buddy' or 'pal.'" And she's upset that she's now stuck with more work that her mom had been pitching in with.

"Ultimately, I feel bad that I put my wife in this situation given she's still recovering, and maybe it really wasn't that big a deal?" asked the OP.

Redditors quickly chimed in to reassure the OP that he wasn't wrong. "Calling a child by a completely different name isn't really a nickname," wrote u/ObviouslyObsessed18. "What is she trying to accomplish with this? Sherman isn't his name, it will never be his name, did she think if she used it enough he would respond to that over his actual name? Personally, I think you should have been more direct from the beginning of her using the incorrect name, but you definitely aren't the ass****."

u/8foot10foot imagined what might happen down the road, writing, "What happens when the child eventually asks, 'Why does grandma call me Sherman?' 'Well honey, it's because she doesn't like your name, doesn't respect our decisions as your parents, and wants to call you the same name as her dad regardless of what your name actually is.'"

Some commenters pointed out that the MIL may have only been pitching in as much as she was in order to gain control of the name situation. u/LZSchneider1 wrote, "The fact that MIL walked out when you stood up to her disrespectful and controlling behavior speaks volumes about why she agreed to help in the first place."

Still others noted that the OP should have headed the situation off at the pass. u/ActivityProof wrote, "You can't ignore her the first 'two dozen times' before bringing it up to her. No wonder her and your wife didn't take it well when you lost your temper.. You allowed it initially, and now you're starting a conflict. This issue is on you for not communicating your issue with this from the onset."

It remains to be seen how the family will tackle this ongoing disagreement, but here's hoping at the very least, the OP and his wife are able to get on the same page and present a united front going forward. After all, that's what will be best for everyone involved.