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  1. Kids & Family

Tell Me About It: Choose baby's name based on what's best for him, not others

Q: My boyfriend of two years and I are expecting our first baby. This was unplanned, and we had both certainly intended to wait until marriage. But we're excited to be welcoming a baby boy.

The custom in my boyfriend's family is to name the firstborn son after his father. My boyfriend himself is the fourth to share the name with his paternal ancestors, and the name is beautiful, timeless and handsome, and I would love to give it to our son as a tie to his father. However, because we are not married, my boyfriend's parents have asked him NOT to use the name on this baby, but to reserve it for a baby born in wedlock.

Yes, this is absolutely as outrageous as it sounds. The reason they gave is that until we get married, they can't be sure my son will be a permanent part of their lives (they have the impression that the mother always wins out in custody battles).

In fairness, they are not insisting, just stating their strong preference as to how things should go.

We will probably get married someday. I'd like it to be soon after the baby is born; my boyfriend has a slightly more relaxed timeline. I still want to use the name and feel it would be a great honor to my son to have it, but the fact that one of his namesakes doesn't approve kind of negates the honor. So what would you do in this situation?

The Name Game

A: Do what's best for the baby. It's so much easier to decide things with that intention than it is to sort out what's right and wrong for you, for the dad, for his parents, for society, for the ancestors, for all else invested.

So picture yourself explaining to your young son — toddler by then, probably — where he got his name. Which story do you want to tell him?