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ASK AMY

Grandson’s name causes angst for grandma

Q. My youngest daughter recently gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby boy (our fourth grandchild but first grandson).

I am having difficulty with the baby’s chosen name. His first name, “Louis,” is after the baby’s father, and a family name, so he is the fourth male to be named that. I find it confusing and paternalistic but otherwise I like the name. It’s our grandson’s middle name I’m having the most difficulty with.

His middle name, “Randall,” is my husband’s middle name, and it was his father’s name. I know my daughter is honoring her father by giving the baby his middle name. What she doesn’t know is that my husband does not have one happy or warm memory of his father that he has ever shared (his father has been deceased for many years).

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My husband is very guarded with his words and feelings, but the things he has shared point to a cold and emotionally abusive father. I didn’t know beforehand what the middle name of the baby was going to be, so couldn’t discuss it with my daughter and her husband.

Is this something I just need to get over? I feel sick when I think about it, and wish my beautiful grandson had his own name.

UPSET GRANDMA

A. Your beautiful grandson does have his own name. And he shares a middle name with his wonderful grandfather.

Naming a male child after his father, grandfather, etc., is the very essence of “paternalistic,” in that it is a legacy of “paterfamilias” — a father figure. I fail to see anything “confusing” — or negative — about this.

My own family has a very long and unbroken line of women named “Emily.” Is this “maternalistic”? Yes. Confusing? (Not to us.)

Does your husband loathe his middle name, “Randall,” because it was his father’s name? Has your husband ever expressed to you that he wishes he had a different middle name? (It doesn’t sound as if you’ve discussed how he feels about this name’s impact on his own identity.)

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I wish you could see this as a tribute to your husband, versus honoring a challenging history that only you and your husband seem to know about (your daughter seems unaware).

With this generation, your grandson will reclaim this name, continue to shine it up (your husband started the process), and restore its legacy. That seems like a very good thing for everyone.

Yes, I think you should embrace this choice. And even if you can’t, this is the parents’ choice to make.


Q. I’m wondering if you could give me some advice about my marriage.

I have been with my husband for 22 years. We have five children together, ages 20, 17, 14, 12, and 4 months. I recently found out that my husband was messing around with a 25-year-old woman at his job. I was so hurt because we had just had our baby.

I confronted him about it and, of course, he denied it, but I already knew it was true because I had seen text messages on his phone. I told him that if he continues to work there, we will have issues, and of course he is still employed there.

I’m wondering: What I should do?

HURT

A. If your husband wants to try to restore his relationship to you, he should admit to this, and start the process of trying to regain your trust by behaving differently.

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When couples are earnestly trying to reconnect, rebuild their relationship, and restore trust, they generally embark on a challenging process that involves a lot of effort and a lot of change. If the affair partner is a colleague, then, yes, changing jobs would be part of this process.

However, reading between the lines here, I sense that your husband isn’t eager or ready to make big changes.

Marriage counseling would help both of you to talk about this, versus you making accusations and issuing ultimatums, with him denying and ignoring. If he won’t attend, you should go by yourself.


Q. “HO Scale” wrote to you about a model train set that had become an awkward item from childhood that the father was trying to give to the adult son. I loved your suggestion that the two men visit, set up the train, and get it running one time before perhaps selling the set online.

BIG FAN

A. That idea was something of a cinematic fantasy on my part. I hope they do it.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@amydickinson.com.