Ask Grandma Maggie

Parenting & Childcare Advice
Peggy Moss (1933-2014), also known as Grandma Maggie, penned a parenting column on this site for many years. Back by popular demand, we are republishing the column, sharing with you the best of Grandma Maggie’s parenting and childcare advice.
Unfortunately Grandma Maggie is no longer able to take questions.

Can I use the same baby name as my sister in law?

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Hi Grandma Maggie,
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I’ve loved the name Lily since I was a little girl. My husband and I were set on the name if our third child turned out to be a girl, but we had a boy. My sister-in-law named her daughter Liliana. I think it is a lovely name, but now my husband’s family says that we should not use the name Lily if we are blessed with a baby girl next year. She knew of our plans, and assured me that the little girl would go by Ana. This is not the case, however, as the family has been calling her Lily.

This may seem like a silly question, but names have such an emotional connection. I don’t want to hurt my relationship with my in-laws, but I also don’t want to choose a name that my husband and I don’t like as much. Our children do not even live in the same state at this time, so I don’t see how it would be an issue. No one can claim a name, and there are virtually no names that are entirely unique. I think there are many families who have cousins with similar names, but maybe I am wrong.

What are your thoughts on this?
Thanks.

Dear Friend,

To me this is only a problem if you make it one. I know first cousins, close in age, who have the same name. They think it’s cool. I named my first daughter the same name as my aunt used for her daughter (my cousin), who was just 2 years old at the time.

There is no copyright on names. If you have a fourth child and if it’s a girl and you still love the name, use it. If it bothers someone else, then that is their problem.

Kindest regards,
Grandma Maggie