Dilemma: my daughter wants to change her name

Jo Brand / 14 February 2017

A reader's daughter wants to change her name, but her family do not support it. Read agony aunt Jo Brand's advice.

Dilemma: my daughter has given herself a new Christian name

Our 50 year old daughter decided to change her Christian name last year. Her birth name is short, and although it is a little unusual it has not caused a problem before.

When I told my friends and family about my daughter’s new name they were shocked, and none of them want to start using her new name. Her grandmother, who is 94, was shocked to find her Christmas card signed with her new name. Her two boys, my grandsons, say they cannot understand why she is doing it but it doesn’t affect them.

My daughter says that since she moved to London and started to meet new people they would always start asking about her name and discussing it, which she got tired of. To me it would make more sense if she only used her new name with the people she meets in London.

I texted her (she hasn’t answered calls) to thank her for the Christmas cards and said I respect her wishes to do this but I would like her to allow her family to be able to continue with the name we know. Is it unreasonable to request that she keeps her new name in London?

Jo Brand's advice

Blimey, this is a tricky one. Let’s start with the general family reaction to your daughter changing her name at the age of 50. Firstly you say her original name ‘has not caused a problem before.’ I’m not sure you could possibly know this… maybe your daughter has hated it for years and has not told you for fear of upsetting you.

You have mustered the support of family and friends and your daughter’s Grandmother to back your case, but even though these people may be upset, ultimately it is not their decision.

One’s name is very personal and enduring and it may well be that, as your daughter has struck out for pastures new, she wants to see herself as someone different. This seems understandable to me.

It seems sad to fall out over this and perhaps you need to take a step back from this emotionally.

If you had a name you never liked which always became a discussion point when you met people, you might well feel the same.

I have a friend who swapped his middle name with his first name and perhaps this may be the way forward: that you suggest she keeps the name you gave her as her middle name and then when the two worlds clash, as they inevitably will, that will be a way of getting round it.

Please don’t be too harsh on your daughter…you cannot make yourself love something that you simply don’t. I think your grandsons have the right idea. They don’t understand, but are prepared to accept it. Maybe you could take a leaf out of their very pragmatic book for the sake of good relations. Life is too short!

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