Author Topic: *Update #53, p.4* Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name  (Read 10695 times)

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Geekychick1984

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My mother is Jewish, but my DH and I are atheists.  She wants to give my daughter, due in September, a Jewish name (a religious custom in the Jewish religion).  I don't want her to do this.  I feel like it is stomping on my beliefs, which is that we won't practice anything non-secular in my house.  I told her to me, this would be similar to my in-laws christening her without our consent (which they would never do).  She is still insisting she wants to do this, as it's the custom in her family. My daughter does not have to be present for this BTW.

Also, my DH is irritated too, as he sees this as a control thing (I can see that too - my mom likes to be in control). 

I know I can't physically stop her from doing this.  Besides repetitively letting her know that this is ticking us both off, how should I handle this?  Is it OK for me to tell her in the future when she uses the hebrew name she picked out that this is not my daughter's name, even in front of my daughter? She's already using part of the hebrew name she picked out when she talks about my daughter (i.e., the second part of the name is Leia, so my mom has been calling her princess Leia).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2013, 06:55:24 AM by Geekychick1984 »

MrTango

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2013, 02:05:37 PM »
As the mother of your child, you alone get to dictate what name goes on the child's birth certificate.  You and your DH get to teach your child her name.

Whenever your mother refers to your child by some other name, correct her immediately: "Mom, that's not her name.  Her name is [name you chose for the child]." You or your husband ought to do this every time, immediately after the incorrect name is used.

Also, I'd let her know that if she cannot respect your wishes in this regard, you will not trust her to respect your parenting decisions in other matters, and therefore she will not be allowed to babysit or have unsupervised time with your daughter.

Steve

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2013, 02:06:49 PM »
It seems like a very bad start for a grandmother to disrespect the parents' wishes even before the baby is born. You and your DH need to be on the same page here and decide how to handle it if she does trample your boundaries as she is already planning to.

I am not sure if there is an etiquette question already except the one where you correct your mother when she uses the wrong name. I personally would, and I would start now, so that when your DD is old enough to understand what is going on, it is no longer going on.



TootsNYC

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2013, 02:11:15 PM »
You say your daughter does not have to be present for her to do this--exactly how and where will she do it? Through a synagogue?

I'm guessing there's some Jewish ritual that I'm not acquainted with. Please clue us in.

If that's the case, I would say you should contact her rabbi and tell him that you are opposed to this, and that you want him to know in case your mother approaches him.

I'd be really surprised at any religious authority figure who would do something like this without a PARENT's consent. I know that none of the Christian ministers I have known would baptize a baby on the grandparents' say-so unless the grandparents were the child's legal guardians.

But I guess there are some ministers who would, bcs I've heard (here only) of its happening.

Geekychick1984

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2013, 02:13:18 PM »
Thank you for the advice.  I wasn't sure if it would be rude to call her out in front of my daughter in the future, or if I should do it in private.

Also, I wasn't sure if I was overreacting, and I appreciate the different perspectives I get on this board, as well as the advice with how to deal with things gracefully.

DH and I have talked about my mom baby-sitting, and we're with you on it - since she can't respect this decision, we're not sure how much she'll respect our boundaries in the future.

Toots, I'm not overly familiar with it either, as I wasn't raised religious, but I think my mom can do it with a synagogue.  I'm pretty sure her grandfather named me without my mom present (though at her consent). I don't know her rabbi, as she didn't actively attend synagogue while I was growing up.

NyaChan

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2013, 02:14:24 PM »
Well if there is no way to stop her from doing the "naming" (is that a ceremony or is it just her deciding to call the child by a name of her choice?) then I would keep correcting her every time she uses the incorrect name.  If your child is old enough to understand, explain to her that her name is X, not Y and that she does not need to respond if someone calls her Y.  Though honestly, if it is a persistent enough problem, I would tell the mom that if she continues to try to create this alternate name for your daughter, she will lose access to the grandchild. 

MrTango

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2013, 02:20:53 PM »
As far as the public/private correction:

The less time between the offense and the correction, the better.  It forms a stronger cause/effect relationship between the action and the consequence.

Actually, the more I think about it, the correction isn't for your mother's sake.  It's for your daughter's sake.  When she is very young, it's especially important that a consequence is immediate, as she will learn from it.  What she will hopefully learn from this particular situation is that her mom & dad will stand up for her, even if it means standing up to Grandma.

Nikko-chan

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2013, 02:22:41 PM »
I would find out who her Rabbi is, and then call them and ask them about the naming tradition, then explain what your mother is trying to do. From what I am reading, the tradition for girls takes place in synagogue with the child present. I would then explain that you do not want this happening, ever, and to not do anything if your mother approaches him with this.

darkprincess

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2013, 02:30:33 PM »
I kind of wish something like this had happened this early on with my family. This is a great way to sit down with her to talk about boundaries and trust.

You and DH can sit her down and say that you are concerned that she is not respecting you as parents and that this makes you nervous about what else she may chose not to respect about your parental authority. Tell her you really want to trust her, but the name issue is making you distrust what she may do as a grandparent. Because of this you want to go over the expectations all of you have as parents and grandparents so that their is no confusion after the baby is born. She may get upset but getting upset now before anything happens is better than everyone gets upset after something bad happens.

I know families that have had children get baptized without parental permission. Grandparents bringing kids to church when they told parents they were going for ice cream, an aunt who didn't think car seats were necessary for short trips, people giving solid food or sugar before the parents wanted, bottle feeding with formula when the parents were exclusively breastfeeding, giving babies pacifier when the parent didn't want one, taking kids to parties when parents thought they were at home babysitting, introducing PG13 movies when the parents only wanted G, etc. All of these things have caused huge problems and it is possible that if they had all talked first  and respected the parents wishes the problems could have been avoided. 
The baptism, and church attendance eventually lead to a cut off and the food issue resulted in no alone time with the kids.

AvidReader

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2013, 02:35:38 PM »
Not to worry, your mother can call your child anything she wants.  Please keep in mind that it is you and DH who have the pleasure, privilege and responsibility of completing the paperwork for the birth certificate which will identify the baby's official name according to the state.  Congrats on your soon-to-be new baby! 

Our DS's name is Joseph.  When he was young, one of our adult friends used "Joey."  My response was a neutral, "A joey is a kangaroo, his name is Joseph."  It stopped.

After your DD's birth, if your DM refers to your DD as "Precious One" rather than her given name of "Little Angel," just wait a beat and say, "Oh, are you speaking of "Little Angel?"  In saying yes to you, she will be acknowledging that your baby's name is indeed "Little Angel." 
Over time, I can imagine the scene....your DM will call for "Precious One's" attention, and your DD will turn to you and say outloud in front of everybody, "Why does Grandma keep calling me 'Precious One'?  My name is 'Little Angel!'"

shygirl

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2013, 02:37:44 PM »
My parents tried to name my son something I had not named him.  I gave him a name which included a first name, middle name and last name.  The middle name is my father's name, and as far as I'm concerned, his Indian name.  (I am Indian, although my husband is not.)

For some strange reason, my parents didn't like this, and gave him another Indian name.  I was okay with them using it for formal situations, like when we had a traditional party for my son when he was around 9 months old.  But initially, they just used it ALL THE TIME.  Whenever we talked on the phone (we live far away from each other), they would ask after my son using the name they gave him.  I let it go for a few months, and then asked my mom why they didn't call my son by his actual name.  My mom asked what I meant.  I said "you're not using his real name...you're using the name YOU gave him which is not his name".  My mom hung up on me real quick, but they stopped using that name. 

It was easy for me because we don't actually see my parents that often, only 2 or 3 times a year.  Otherwise, we skype or talk on the phone.  If you'll actually be spending a lot of time with your mom, I would simply correct her.  It could be awkward, but honestly...grandparents don't have any right to name a child, unless they were specifically asked.

SamiHami

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2013, 02:41:50 PM »
"Mom, why do you insist on giving her a Jewish name when she isn't Jewish? You know we are atheists."

"Mom, you've made it clear that you don't respect us as her parents. We are concerned you will take her to a synagogue for the naming ritual behind our backs. Because of that we have decided that you will never be allowed to take her without one of us present."

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

Zizi-K

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2013, 02:42:34 PM »
I'm Jewish, and what your mother proposes to do would be very odd in my (conservative) synagogue. Boys have a bris (circumcision ritual, usually involves some prayer, the circumcision, and a celebratory luncheon), and girls have a naming. Children are given a Hebrew name, which is used when they participate in services. You have to be 'called up' to read the Torah or participate in other ways, and the Hebrew name is used for such an occasion. Kids are generally not referred to by their Hebrew names at any other time.

I have never attended a naming where the child was present, and I don't think that most synagogues would do such a thing. It's supposed to be a joyous celebratory event, and is a kind of a first introduction of the child into the community. It makes little sense to have one without the child present, or without the child's parents present. It's not a baptism, in that there is no 'saving of the soul' aspect to a naming, nor is there any 'this child is definitely Jewish!' claim about the ceremony. (Jews believe that a child born to a Jewish mother is Jewish, so most Jews would consider your child Jewish 'by birth.' The naming has no bearing on that.)

What your mother proposes to do is odd, and I doubt any synagogue would do it. I would simply state that you are not religious, and your child has no need for a Hebrew name. From there on out, I would simply ignore your mom when she brings it up.

Shoo

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2013, 02:47:06 PM »
I'd say let your mother do whatever she wants.  It won't make a bit of difference.  What you and your husband name your child is all that matters.

The bigger issue here, I think, is how you're going to handle your mother in the future.  If she can't even respect what you've chosen to name your child, she's probably not going to respect your rules or standards for the child.  She sounds like trouble, to me, and the sooner you lay down the law with her, the better, IMO.  This is not the time to be the obedient child yourself.  You're an adult now and YOU get to make the rules.

NyaChan

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Re: Mother wants to give my baby a Jewish Name
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2013, 02:50:26 PM »
I'm Jewish, and what your mother proposes to do would be very odd in my (conservative) synagogue. Boys have a bris (circumcision ritual, usually involves some prayer, the circumcision, and a celebratory luncheon), and girls have a naming. Children are given a Hebrew name, which is used when they participate in services. You have to be 'called up' to read the Torah or participate in other ways, and the Hebrew name is used for such an occasion. Kids are generally not referred to by their Hebrew names at any other time.

I have never attended a naming where the child was present, and I don't think that most synagogues would do such a thing. It's supposed to be a joyous celebratory event, and is a kind of a first introduction of the child into the community. It makes little sense to have one without the child present, or without the child's parents present. It's not a baptism, in that there is no 'saving of the soul' aspect to a naming, nor is there any 'this child is definitely Jewish!' claim about the ceremony. (Jews believe that a child born to a Jewish mother is Jewish, so most Jews would consider your child Jewish 'by birth.' The naming has no bearing on that.)

What your mother proposes to do is odd, and I doubt any synagogue would do it. I would simply state that you are not religious, and your child has no need for a Hebrew name. From there on out, I would simply ignore your mom when she brings it up.

Since you seem to have a deeper knowledge on the subject, I thought I'd ask -  would parents or grandparents get congratulated at this event at all?  I'm wondering if this desire to name the child stems from OP's mom's desire to get the same spotlight moment on her family and herself as her friends have gotten when their children/grandchildren were named.