Redditor Is Frustrated Because Mother-in-Law Refuses To Spell Grandson's Name Correctly

Here's when to get mad and when to get over it when it comes to dealing with problematic behavior from family members.

Annoyed grown up daughter expressing complaints to elderly mother in law
Photo: Getty Images

My son has a short and sweet name. We spell it in a common way. His name is also commonly misspelled. I'll often receive a text or a card—even from family members—with his name spelled incorrectly. And after a year, I give up. But a parent's recent post on Reddit has caught my attention because it seems I'm not alone in my struggle. As the Redditor shared, however, her mother-in-law seems to be hell-bent on not respecting their name choice by misspelling it on purpose, a dynamic I'm pretty sure isn't what I'm experiencing on my end. Instead, I believe my family's spelling errors to be honest mistakes. Not so with this Redditor's story, which, along with hundreds of commenters, angered me even though I don't know the family.

"So, for about a year now, my MIL has been spelling my son's name incorrectly," the frustrated parent started out by sharing on Reddit. She then added, "You probably know someone who has the name. It's also spelled in the traditional way. Nothing fancy. If his name was Tyler she would be spelling it Tylur." The poster went on to say the misspelling wasn't a "huuuuuge deal," but after both she and her husband corrected the MIL multiple times, "she refuses" to change her ways. To provide even more color on the situation, the poster added that the child owns several personalized items with his name on them, which the grandma has "seen, held and commented on." The poster ended her "rant" by conceding, "I know I can't stop her, but it's driving me mad every time I text her."

So, should this parent admit defeat and throw in the monogrammed towel? According to commenters, not necessarily. Many Redditors weighed in to opine that the MIL's actions were "rude" and even "hurtful," "demeaning" and "cruel." Dozens of Redditors suggested a way to get even with the MIL along the lines of this comment: "Start misspelling her name back. What goes around comes around." But other commenters recommended that the original poster (OP) just write off the misspelling with an ironic eye roll.

Although letting go of "petty" problems is always a good practice, in this case, the OP does seem truly distraught, adding in the comments section that misspelling her son's name may be a way for her MIL to gain control in some small way, describing the grandma as "passive-aggressive" and noting she has created other issues in the family. So, since the malicious misspelling seems to truly bother the OP, it would definitely be worthwhile to address the issue head on. But it also sounds like the parents have tried this approach without resolution. "She says 'oh okay, I thought you spelled it this way.' And that's it, she never fixes the behavior!" the OP seethed.

Given the no-win situation this parent finds herself in, the bottom line is that the mom may need to just try focusing on her love for the child's name and others who support the family in a way that feels more positive and, yes, let it go. Another more aggressive approach would be to not allow the MIL to see her grandson until she gets the message, but the parents would obviously need to spend some time reflecting on whether inventive spelling is really worth such an extreme reaction.

As the OP ultimately noted in another follow-up comment, the person whose feelings on this matter are the most important is the child himself, and if he is bothered by the misspelling, then the situation may need to be escalated beyond continuously correcting the MIL.

You can gently remind and correct. You can directly address any issue you may be having with a family member. But if that person's behavior doesn't change, it's time to decide how much of a stand you want to take. Using a child's feelings as your barometer can guide next steps. Good luck out there!

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