DEAR AMY: My wife and I are expecting our first child, and we know we will be having a boy.
I am the eldest son from my father. I was named after his father, according to tradition. The expectation is that I will name my son after my father.
My father’s first name is rather long, and he has gone by a nickname his entire life. I have used a nickname, too. It’s easier.
Am I required to name my first son after my father? With the first and last name, our son will have 22 characters in his name. Honestly, I would rather give him a simple name, derived from my father’s name. I’d even shorten my son’s last name to make it easier for him.
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Spelling out a long last name and then being asked, “How do you pronounce that?” is not a favorite pastime for me. I’m worried that my father may be offended, and my siblings have been playing with his head, saying that I “have to” name my son after him.
My wife and I have discussed this, and as parents we will do what is best for our child. But how do I deal with the potential backlash from my siblings and my father?
DEAR FATHER-TO-BE: My major piece of advice is that if you go the traditional route, you should either choose to change/shorten your child’s first name OR the last name, but don’t do both.
You and your wife have the right to choose whatever name you want – from your family, her family – or mine. Being the family’s first grandchild will soften a hard-hearted relative. If you and your father both use a nickname, perhaps you can name your son that nickname as his “official” first name. Let your father know beforehand – but not necessarily your siblings, because – really it’s none of their beeswax at this point.
You and your wife will have to be on the same page and resolute about this. Do your best to be in charge and good-humored about this decision. This is your child and this is the first of many decisions you will make on his behalf.
DEAR AMY: My daughter is a sophomore at one of the top 10 universities in the country.
Two years ago, when she started school, she was thinking of a double major in math and Spanish.
Now she has decided to quit math as a major and major in Spanish. As a matter of fact, Amy, she doesn’t even know what she wants to do with her life.
This is killing me, because she is a smart student and with all the time and money we are spending, she is not going to get anywhere she deserves after four years.
She even made it onto the dean’s list last year, despite the fact that she didn’t like some of the courses she took.
Is there any way I can help her?
DEAR DESPERATE: You seem determined to create and perpetuate a problem where none exists.
Your daughter is majoring in Spanish at a prestigious university.
She is getting great grades.
She isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life.
In short, your daughter is basically exactly where she should be. Did you know what you wanted to do at her age? Most people don’t.
Your hard-earned money is being spent on your daughter’s education, and she is getting an education. Your investment should not require that she announce her life-plan to you at the ripe old age of 20.
My main suggestion is not for your daughter but for you: If you pressure her and degrade her choices, she may find a way to repay your generosity by dropping out and/or landing back home after graduation, with no discernible plans or priorities.
In short: Stop helping.
DEAR AMY: “Chairchick” uses a wheelchair and doesn’t like it when people offer to pray for her.
I am a pastor who has used a wheelchair for the past 13 years. I, too, have had well-meaning people offer to pray for me, and other, not-so-well-meaning people infer that perhaps I hadn’t prayed hard enough, or that my faith wasn’t strong enough. To all I respond, “Can’t you see my wings?” My wheelchair has been a gift. With it I am able to leave my house and rejoin the world. We are all an accident or diagnosis away from a wheelchair.
DEAR D: Amen to that.
Email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com.