Dear Grandparenting: I find it difficult to stop myself from unloading on my daughter about how she named my grandchildren. There’s a right way and a wrong way. The right way is to pass along family names, a connection with all the generations that went before.

Family names are especially pleasing to grandparents. My older daughter Paris did it right. She gave her boy the first name Edward after my father, and her daughter’s middle name is Margaret, which is my much beloved sister’s name. How hard is that?

My youngest wasn’t paying attention. She forgot about our side of the family when the names were passed out. She had a better idea — stupid celebrity names like Madonna and Sly (thanks to Sly Stallone). I’m in a real burn over this. Maybe you can give me a fresh perspective? — Bridget Sanders, Columbus, Ohio

Dear Bridget: We’re inclined to remain flexible about the business of family names. There’s nothing wrong with honoring one’s ancestry of course, but it seems unrealistic to expect the world to conform to your idea of a proper name, much less wish it on their newborn.

That’s not to say names don’t matter. A 2012 New Zealand study found children with unusual, hard-to-pronounce names are more likely to be perceived as dangerous or risky. Other studies report that bizarre names can adversely impact one’s career.

But that hasn’t stopped parents from endeavoring to come up with unique baby names. According to federal government data, the most popular 2020 names for males are Oliver, Liam, Theodore and Ethan in descending order. For females, it’s Amelia, Charlotte, Aurora and Violet.


Bette Moore from Fishkill, New York, asked grandson Trip why he kept talking about “scary things” like snakes and porcupines.

“I just like them,” said Trip. “My dad says lots of boys like wildlife.”

Bette didn’t miss a beat. “Sweetie, you’re about all the wildlife this grandmother can handle.”

Send questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285.