Reader Q&A: An Unwanted Nickname

You called me what?!?!?

You called me what?!?!?

Today’s reader Q&A comes from Elizabeth who picked a wonderfully unique name for her daughter, Philomena.

Unfortunately, she didn’t realize a possible nickname that has been picked up by some of her relatives.

When relatives start using a nickname for your child that you don’t like, how can you get them to stop?

Watch below to find out.

Readers: Do you have any other suggestions for avoiding unwanted nicknames?

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  1. Allison says:

    We had the same issue with our Fiona, too–people calling her FiFi. As we pointed out, that’s a poodle, not a person. We don’t have issues with it anymore because most people call her Fiona or as we do, Fi (pronounced “Fee”), as her namesake in many ways is Fiona Glenanne from Burn Notice, who also mostly goes by Fi. We got unexpected nicknames from her friends, though, which have been amusing–tots who simply couldn’t say her name: to Elijah, she’s “Phona,” to Dean, “Nona,” and others, “Ona.” For awhile, I was “Baby Ona’s Mommy.” Yeah, I answer to that.

    • Fiona referred to herself as “Fona” until one day I noticed she learned how to say “Fee-oh-an”. That was a bittersweet moment. And then Paul started calling her “Ona” until he too also learned to say “Fee-oh-na”.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Angela,

    Thank you so much for your comments! I appreciate the time you took to share your advice and personal experiences. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who’s dealt with this situation!
    I told my daughter’s grandfather that a filly is a horse, and then decided to leave it there for the time being and let him decide what to do with the information. I think I was making the mistake of getting too upset over the nickname, and as you mentioned, that is not an effective way to solve the problem.
    I especially appreciate the point you made about how parents can have the greatest amount of influence on their children. It may take a while for the nickname the fall by the wayside, but my husband and I are hopeful that if we always call her “Philomena” at home and tell our daughter why we chose this special name for her, that will be what she’ll choose to go by. We will try to positive approach instead of the negative one!
    I also want to thank you for the comment about not rejecting a lovely name because of possible nicknames. We have just discovered #2 is on the way and I was considering removing our top pick, Agnes, another name I’ve loved for years, from the list as I fear grandfather will call her “Aggie.” Thanks to your encouragement, I’ve decided to agree with my husband that what other people might call our children is not a consideration in what we choose to name them!

    Thank you so much!

    • Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your question!

      I think you took the right path with grandfather. Family dynamics can be very tricky.

      Congratulations on #2!

      I agree with your husband–you can’t control what other people will call your children so you might as well name them (and call them) whatever you like.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Thank you again for your advice! Now we are having fun talking over names for #2. I have always loved unique names – probably because my parents had 8 kids and named 6 of them after relatives. I always thought that was so boring and planned to do things differently when my turn came!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    PS – Philomena’s 2-year-old cousin calls her “Phil-u-no-nena.” We all think that’s precious and can’t wait to see what she’ll call herself when she starts talking!

  4. I loved seeing this post. My daughter is named Campbell and the only other thing we call her occasional is Cam. My dad was calling her Campy but I told him to stop and he has. But I now have friends who call her Camby which makes my skin crawl. I don’t love Cammy but I prefer it to either of those. Trying to figure out if/when to use this advice…

  5. Jennifer R. says:

    You can’t control what other people do, so I don’t really see the point in being bent out of shape about something as harmless as a nickname 🙂

    Then again, I happen to fall on the opposite end of the spectrum and love nicknames. I am a Jennifer and was always fond of having Jenny, Jen, and Jenna as my name. There was a phase when I wanted to only be Jennifer, or another when I was only Jen. But now as an adult, I really don’t care as long as the nickname is used out of love. And usually that is the case – the feeling that you are on more informal terms and can call that person something special. That is what I think the grandfather is doing here. Philomena is a beautiful name, but it is also 4 long syllables and on the formal side for a small child, so I totally understand the interest of others in calling her a nickname.

    If you can tolerate one of the nicknames for it – Phil, Philly, Philla, Minnie, or Mena, I think that could help to direct some of this towards a nickname you are comfortable with. In the end, your daughter will end up deciding what she will tolerate answering to, and she may just prefer the nicknames. 🙂

    There are really no nickname-proof names. Jane can become Janie. Ben because Benny. Jake randomly is called Skip… so just don’t stress over it! Philomena is a beautiful name and you guys can call her that exclusively.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Jennifer, thanks for your input! I know I do need to work on not getting bent out of shape over others’ actions! It would make my life a lot less stressful in so many ways. 🙂 Probably that is the main thing that bothered me; while I dislike the nickname and feel it’s ugly, I have to admit I’m really more upset by the fact that the grandfather is going against our wishes after we stated them clearly. But, you are right, it is basically a harmless issue! Though it’s tough, I’m trying to just ignore it and remind myself it’s not a big deal when I do get annoyed over it. Thanks for your comments!


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