My granddaughter was named after a Disney villain – what should I do?

Dear Newsweek, My son and his wife recently had a new baby girl who is now a month old. They kept the name a secret until the baby was born, which was fine. However, when I found out the name, I was speechless.

They named the baby Cruella, presumably after the villain 101 Dalmatians Movie. Since the name basically means evil, cruel or devil, I found it very inappropriate. I went to a baby name forum and asked for advice. I got about 20 replies saying it was a cruel joke to give a child that name and shouldn’t be chosen. The new parents really like this name and don’t seem to care.

The new parents know that I have problems with the name. My wife and sister have the same problem. We don’t want to tell our friends the real name and tell them the baby’s name is “Ella”. We’re embarrassed to give you the real name. The new parents are still very fond of the name and said they don’t want us to name the baby Ella.

They say almost everyone else they talk to likes the name. Like nurses, friends and colleagues. Could there be a generation gap between Baby Boomers and Gen-X or maybe I’m exaggerating but if it were a boy would it be almost like naming the baby Dracula or something like that?

Bob, New Jersey

Newsweek’s “What should I do?” offers readers expert advice. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know at We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work, and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

Here is an archive image of a proud father and grandfather holding a newborn baby. A Newsweek reader has revealed he was “stunned” by the name of his son’s daughter.
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It is more important to have a positive influence on your grandchild

Ruth E. Freeman, Founder and President of Peace at Home Parenting Solutions.

One of the greatest challenges of being a grandparent is accepting the choices made by our adult children, even when we think they might negatively impact our grandchildren. You might want to start by asking your son what he loves about this name and why he chose it. When we disagree with others, it is best to try to understand things from the other’s point of view.

After you’ve taken the time to carefully understand this decision from his son’s perspective, you could use an “I” statement — perhaps something like, “I worry about how other people, especially other children, are treating a girl named after a famous novel female villain.”

Beyond that, if you want a loving relationship with your son and grandchild, you need to step back and learn some acceptance. You can decide on a nickname, but on the whole it is important to show complete acceptance and enjoyment of this child. That’s what grandparents are best at and this child, like all children, really deserves it.

An important part of serenity is accepting things we cannot change, and that is the biggest challenge here. The best way to protect your granddaughter is to have a positive relationship with her and her parents.

Grandparents cannot name their grandchildren, it would be wise not to say anything

Pennsylvanian Dr. Darren Aboyoun is a licensed psychotherapist with 20 years of experience.

When grandparents are present, children have fewer emotional problems and are less likely to behave negatively. You can have a very positive impact on his granddaughter’s life and become better all around if you focus on what you can control and let go of what you cannot. Grandparents can be in a very difficult position when they feel that their children will give a grandchild a name that is not good for them. Is it reasonable for grandparents to question their adult children’s choice of names? Or do they not know the prospects and experiences of the parents-to-be?

It’s probably wise not to say anything unless you have serious concerns that the name will make life difficult for the grandchild. Will it really? Or is it just something that needs to be considered along with so many other things? If you’re really concerned, come out with sincere curiosity first to make sure you understand why your kids are focusing on this name. Maybe it has a real meaning to her that you don’t know. How did you choose this name? What do they love about it? What are you thinking about? What do they hope you name the baby? What might the baby name you when it grows up? Before you voice concerns about the name, share your excitement about the positives. You may find that there is really nothing to worry about. And if so, make sure you see the positives even when voicing your concerns. My granddaughter was named after a Disney villain – what should I do?

Rick Schindler

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