General Etiquette > Family and Children

Using someone else's name for "Grandmother"?

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LifeOnPluto:
Background:

When I was born, my grandmother decided that she wanted to be called "Yiayia". For those who don't know, "Yiayia" is the Greek word for "grandmother." My grandmother herself was not Greek, but she had a special affection for Greece. She had made several trips to Greece in her younger days, and loved Greek poetry and Greek music and Greek food. Before she met my grandfather, she even had a Greek boyfriend for a short while!

So my younger brother and I (her only grandchildren) grew up calling her "Yiayia". This was a break from tradition. In our extended family, all the women had traditionally became either "Granny" or "Nan" when becoming a grandmother.

Yiayia held a very special place in our family. She was loved and respected by everyone. When Yiayia passed away five years ago, her funeral was very well attended.

Current Issue:

Yiayia's niece (who is my father's first cousin - let's call her "Cousin Anne") is becoming a grandmother for the first time. Her son (that's my second cousin) and his wife are having a baby in a few weeks. This baby will be the first of the "next generation" (hope that makes sense).

Cousin Anne has just announced to the family that when the baby is born, she will be known as "Yiayia". She did not give any explanation for this, except some vague, offhand, comment about how "Granny" and "Nan" are boring names.

My parents have not said anything to Cousin Anne, but privately they are rather cross and upset. They believe that it's somewhat insensitive of Cousin Anne to appropriate the name "Yiayia" like that. My father in particular feels: "there is only one Yiayia in this family, and that was [my late grandmother's name]".

Now, I'm guessing this is probably a situation akin to "baby name 'stealing' ". It's annoying, and can be upsetting, but technically it's not rude at all, and Cousin Anne has the perfect right to use the name 'Yiayia" if she wishes. My parents have no intention of expressing their true feelings to Cousin Anne, and I think this is the right thing for them to do.

But I thought I'd throw it open to eHell. What do you think? Is Cousin Anne rude or insensitive for wanting to be known as "Yiayia"? If so, should my parents say anything to her?

Redsoil:
I wonder if she saw how wonderful your Yiayia was, and wanted to be that type of Grandmother?   She could well see the name as inspirational, and be using it as a living tribute.  I can certainly understand the stab of hurt (and bewilderment) it would bring to your family, though. Maybe a slight twist could be given to how the name is pronounced, so it's not actually "using" your special name for your grandmother?  Just a thought, and obviously would be tricky to discuss, especially if you're not close to the cousin. 

Redsoil:
Or maybe even, when congratulating her on achieving her new status, mention how nice it isthat tere are so many different names one can use for Grandma. 

"Isn't it great that there are so many variations on Grandma to use?  I know Yiayia chose her name becasue she loved Greece and had visited there so many times.  I know other countries use names like Oma, babo, Maymay, Bibi etc."  Maybe she'll "click" with one of the alternate names?  Possibly worth a try either in person, via email/Facebook etc.

A list t check, or maybe send on the link, if her main thing is that "Grandma" is boring.  http://www.grandparents.com/family-and-relationships/grandparent-names/grandparent-names

kckgirl:

--- Quote from: LifeOnPluto on May 12, 2013, 03:17:35 AM ---Yiayia's niece (who is my father's first cousin - let's call her "Cousin Anne") is becoming a grandmother for the first time. Her son (that's my second cousin) and his wife are having a baby in a few weeks. This baby will be the first of the "next generation" (hope that makes sense).

Cousin Anne has just announced to the family that when the baby is born, she will be known as "Yiayia". She did not give any explanation for this, except some vague, offhand, comment about how "Granny" and "Nan" are boring names.

My parents have not said anything to Cousin Anne, but privately they are rather cross and upset. They believe that it's somewhat insensitive of Cousin Anne to appropriate the name "Yiayia" like that. My father in particular feels: "there is only one Yiayia in this family, and that was [my late grandmother's name]".

Now, I'm guessing this is probably a situation akin to "baby name 'stealing' ". It's annoying, and can be upsetting, but technically it's not rude at all, and Cousin Anne has the perfect right to use the name 'Yiayia" if she wishes. My parents have no intention of expressing their true feelings to Cousin Anne, and I think this is the right thing for them to do.

But I thought I'd throw it open to eHell. What do you think? Is Cousin Anne rude or insensitive for wanting to be known as "Yiayia"? If so, should my parents say anything to her?
--- End quote ---

I see absolutely nothing to be cross or upset about. Your mother can be "Yiayia" too, as well as every other grandmother in the family if they want. Cousin Anne is definitely not rude or insensitive. We would very quickly run out of names if every single grandmother in a family had to choose a different name for her grandchildren to call her. Your parents have made a wise choice to say nothing.

PeterM:

--- Quote from: LifeOnPluto on May 12, 2013, 03:17:35 AM ---Background:

When I was born, my grandmother decided that she wanted to be called "Yiayia". For those who don't know, "Yiayia" is the Greek word for "grandmother."

--- End quote ---

For me, this means it's not a name at all. It's just another word for "grandmother." Literally. I don't see anything offensive about using it as such, especially given that the only rational reason I can see for Ylayia's niece to want to do so is to honor her memory and strive to live up to the example she set.

You say that traditionally in your family grandmothers are known as "Granny" or "Nan." Why isn't that tradition considered offensive to the first women known by those terms? Maybe some of your ancestors thought it was, before the tradition became established. This could easily be the beginning of a new traditional name in your family. I can understand why your parents aren't crazy about it, and they certainly have every right to feel that way. But I honestly can't see any way this was intended as a slight, so focusing on the intention behind the decision might help them accept it.

All the grandkids in our family called my grandfather Papa. It wasn't a traditional term, as far as I know. When my nephew/brother (don't ask) was born, my father lobbied hard to be called Papa, and it worked. I can't imagine any of his brothers or sisters being upset about that, but if they were they made the same decision your parents did and have never said anything. I think that's by far the wisest course in this situation, if they can't bring themselves to accept or even support the new Ylayia's choice.

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