Hi Duana!

I’ve been reading your column for years and we love the name of our first child, Lillian Stuckey.

Lillian is getting a sibling! Little Person #2’s sex is unknown.

I had names chosen for the eventual #2. They were the middle names of my husband’s parents, holding extra meaning for my husband’s family because my father-in-law passed away before I met him. But I have a pretty… challenging sister-in-law (husband’s brother’s wife). She is manipulative, cunning, and kind of The Worst.

I made the grave mistake of telling her my Chosen Names early in the early aughts before I knew to be on high alert at all times with her. I wish your book were around eight years ago, I never would have uttered a peep. Not shockingly, she used my Chosen Names (F/M family names) for the middle names of her children (sigh). She claims she didn’t take them because they’re not being used as first names. Come on, she totally did. Sister-in-Law sh-t.

So, do we charge ahead and name Little Person #2’s first name as one of the Chosen Names that are now being used by his/her cousin? I can just see the smug attitude of Sister-in-Law whichever way we choose to go. Insert eye roll here. Or, do I let them go and start over?

If I start over, for girls I love Zinnia, Veruca, and Celeste. For boys I love Beck, Lucas, and Declan.

I do like the hard “c” within a boy’s name to go with Stuckey.

However, there are a LOT of names in the family that start with a hard “C" or a “K" so those are out.

Hubby wants to say “to hell with it” and name them the Chosen Names but I am admittedly bitter/annoyed and am not sure I can get past the name-snagging by She Who Must Not be Named.

What say you? Thank you for your help!

So I’m doing a binge-listen of the Go Pirates podcast which is itself a binge rewatch-and-recap of Veronica Mars, and it’s delicious overall, but I’m uncomfortable with this one part: they have a segment in it called “You Aughta Know” which calls out all the very 2004 things about the show, and it makes me feel… a wee tad embarrassed of being old. That is, I’m sure nobody’s innocent in this regard, but just for full disclosure, in the early aughts, I exclusively wore synthetic fibers. I thought that reading message boards on my massive Dell Inspiron desktop was the same thing as doing my homework, and I still hadn’t completely divorced myself from bottled ‘hard cocktails’. You can mock me on Instagram @Duanataha because I deserve it. 

But I bring all this up because the early aughts were a long, long time ago. Even eight years ago is a long time ago, and there were people I was not at all aware were going to be in my extended family who now live there, and some others I was pretty sure were going to be kicking around who aren’t. I guess my point is, you can let yourself… and mayyyybe her… off the hook for having not fully committed to memory how important these names were to you. I still might have wanted to call a child ‘Crispian’ back then. 

I mean, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you told her early and often that you wanted these names, and maybe you were in the family first and promised your husband’s family that the names would live another day, and feel like she jacked you in this regard. I’m sure this is not her only offense, and in-law sh-t is delicious, who are we kidding. I am happy to give you the benefit of the doubt and concur, by virtue of this move, that your sister-in-law probably is manipulative, cunning, and kind of The Worst. We’re there with you. 


This is not really about her. This is about your future little Lillian’s sibling. And about what name you really want for them, and how it’s going to feel for you to not give them the names you always thought about, just because they are languishing on your niece and nephew’s birth certificate. As a parent, I know you’d do anything for your children, so I guess the question is, would you withstand a week or so of comments from her about how it’s “So nice the girls/boys get to share the name, in a way” in order for your kid to have the name you always wanted for them?  

This will be mitigated according to personal circumstance, in particular, how often you see the cousins as well as the Sister-In-Law, and how much using the names is going to feel like a nod to the actual people they came from. 

I will say that often when people write to me and I know they’re going to use the names they’re asking about anyway, they don’t have a lot of viable alternatives. The fact that you do doesn’t mean you don’t still love your parents-in-law’s names, but maybe that you are bothered enough by this to have gone shopping. 

In particular, Lillian and Zinnia tickles me, though it is quite floral, and I LOVE Veruca and hope you use it. Other names in this vein are some of my perennial (sorry) favourites Veronica or Zelda or Phaedra, and you could also be happy with Francesca or Claudia or Juliet.  Where boys are concerned, I like Declan and Lucas, and think you could also enjoy something like Prescott with Lillian, or Malcolm, or maybe Cedric, because it starts with an ‘s’ sound, could slip under the radar of your hard C-sound rule? 

Honestly, though, you said she was going to be smug either way, which makes me think this has become a real big bone of contention between you. So if this is partly about getting her on her back foot (and I am not criticizing that very noble move!) then what’s going to get her goat the most? Can you use your in-laws first names rather than their middles? Use those as middle names? Can you go further back in the family tree? This is petty as all hell of course, but that’s what we’re talking about here, right? 

Well, partly. We’re also talking about an actual kid who will be walking around with this name long after this wound stops stinging quite so much – so make sure you choose what really works best for them, and for you, because you’re gonna be saying it a lot for the next whole generation. 

Let us know!