You be the judge: is my wife being too picky with our baby’s name? | Relationships


The prosecution: Ameen

We had a shortlist of baby names, but my wife has thrown one of them out for no good reason

Our baby is due next February but we’ve already disagreed on lots of names. There were times when I said, “No, this name reminds me of this person I don’t like” or my wife, Naila, said the same. Naila knows the sex of the baby whereas I don’t, but we finally made a shortlist of both boys’ and girls’ names to keep things exciting. I was happy with it.

We recently went for a scan and afterwards Naila changed her mind about one name. She said a friend told her this particular name reminded her of a famous musician who makes terrible music, and that the child might get bullied.

I got really defensive right there in the hospital. The name is associated with one of the greatest conquerors in Islam, our religion. I like it. It’s crazy to discount it for such a silly reason. But she didn’t budge and we both had to take some time to cool down. We had a silent walk home.

A name is very important in Islam: it’s something that remains with a person beyond their life. We believe that on the day of judgment, God will call you to him, so you want to be proud to stand up and answer. Naila and I agreed that we don’t want a name that sounds lovely in Arabic but has a silly meaning in English. Until our disagreement I thought the shortlisted names we had agreed on together were perfect. Naila was wrong to throw it out of the window without discussion.

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We hadn’t argued about baby names before this but I know Naila is finding it difficult to choose. I think she’s feeling anxious about becoming a mum.

Every name is a risk. Six months down the line there could be someone out there with the same name as our baby who commits the crime of the century. The important thing is that our child has their own identity and their own legacy. We both need to sit down and talk about it rather than discounting each other’s ideas. And Naila needs to stop giving other people power over her name choices.

The defence: Naila

I just want the best start in life for my kid, and I don’t want them to be bullied for their name

We both want an Arabic name for our baby and added the name of a famous Islamic warrior to our list. But I soon remembered this was also the name of a really annoying guy I once went to school with. My friend also reminded me that it’s the name of a famous musician who I think makes really terrible music.

After the scan that day I told my husband this name was off the list. Ameen is usually very laid-back and we had decided all the other names without any debate, but when I blacklisted this one, he got annoyed quickly and said that my reasons for striking off the name weren’t “big” enough.

He said: “Why do you care so much about the musician or what people think? It’s a beautiful name from a notable Islamic figure with a great history.”

But of course I care. I want the best start in life for my kid: I don’t want them to get bullied. Things got heated between us and people started looking at us arguing in the hospital. I told him that I had a bad feeling about the name and that I didn’t want to compromise.

In an Islamic partnership, your child’s name doesn’t have to be Arabic or from the Qur’an, but we wanted one. There’s an emphasis on giving your child a good name that they can live up to. And since we’re raising the child here, we want to ensure the English translation doesn’t mean something awful.

But every name that I loved before I became pregnant I can’t seem to stick with now. I’m finding it really hard to imagine my unborn child and my anxiety has been in overdrive, although finding out the sex of the baby has helped.

If I change my mind about a name, that really should be it. I know what it’s like to be made fun of because of your name – I’ve seen it happen with my siblings.

We need a name we both love. He will just have to set his heart on a different boy’s name, if indeed that is what we are having.

The jury of Guardian readers

Is Naila being too picky about the baby’s name?

You agreed a list of names you were both happy with; now you’re having some pre-birth wobbles in relation to one particular name. It wasn’t ideal for Naila to announce her change of mind unilaterally, but she has every right to do that – and for Ameen to respect her wishes.
John, 72

It’s clear and understandable that there are strong feelings on both sides. However, Naila is right, not picky. You need a name you both love. Whatever your reasoning is now, it won’t matter: you’ll know what name feels right when you meet your new baby.
Ryan, 34

Naila isn’t being too picky. She’s rightly concerned that whatever name you choose works across cultures. It’s too easy to lose your identity when pregnant. This is one very clear way to demonstrate at a critical point that Naila still has a voice in your marriage.
Clare, 57

No, Naila is not being too picky with your baby’s name – certainly no more than Ameen. Both of the parents seem to be overthinking the whole thing. Wait until the baby is born and then decide.
Joan, 73

Let go of the name, move on and find one that works for you both. Differences in opinion will continue when you are parents. There will be other times when you feel very strongly about something and have to find a compromise.
Amy, 47

You be the judge

So now you can be the judge, click on the poll below to tell us: is Naila being too picky with the baby’s name? We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.

The poll closes November 11, 9am GMT

Last week’s result

Last week, we asked if Isaac should stop telling his girlfriend Nyala, how to drive.

22% of you said no – Isaac is innocent
78% of you said yes – Isaac is guilty


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