Friday, October 25, 2013

Dislike Of Name Drives Wedge Between Mother And Daughter

Dear Tazi:

My mother saddled me with a name I hate. I know it was my great-great-grandmother’s name, but “Mildred” is very old-fashioned sounding and makes me sound like I am eighty and not eighteen.  In high school I always went by my first initial, “M” and people thought my name was “Em” and that it was short for “Emily”.  Only people who had known me since I was a little kid knew I was really “Millie” (to them) and “Mildred” (to my Mom) and thankfully they kept quiet about it. I guess it’s because they had embarrassing secrets, too.
I moved away to college this year and everyone here knows me as “Em”. My mother recently came up for Parents Weekend and was very upset over this fact, and insisted on referring to me as “Mildred” the entire weekend, which confused people. When she said she was “Mildred’s Mom” nobody knew who she was talking about and she would get upset with me all over again.

Before she left for home on Sunday we had a huge fight over my name with Mom telling me how important my name was to her and that I should value it. I told her that I never knew my great-great-grandma Mildred and that the name may be important to her but it means nothing to me; that I have been “Em” for years now and that I would legally change it if she continues to give me [guff] about it. Obviously, Mom left in tears and I was left feeling like a jerk.

Tazi, short of taking on a name I hate is there any way to build a bridge between me and my Mom on this issue?


Dear “Em”:

A person’s name is something deeply personal to them, so to not like it can make for misery. My official name is King Nebuchadnezzar, and even though I love my name it is far too formal for everyday use so I go by “Tazi”, which fits me quite well! I can still humble others with a glance from my tower of Power, and that is what matters to me! Since you feel that Mildred does not fit you it is very reasonable that you would prefer to go by your first initial. Point to you on this one!

"King Nebuchadnezzar" on his throne

Obviously, Mildred is a name that is very important to your Mom; otherwise, she would never have graced you with this name. Her great-grandmother must have been someone very special to her! Point to Mom on this one!

You allude to the idea that your great-grandmother Mildred died before you were born and say that her name “means nothing” to you. Have you ever thought to ask your mother what made Granny Mildred such a special person? Maybe she was a suffragette in the fight for women’s rights; maybe she was a war widow who raised seven kids on her own; maybe she was just a sweet, little old woman who baked cookies every time her grandchildren came for a visit. The compromise you seek can be found in asking your Mom why her great-grandmother was such a special woman.

Once you understand the meaning behind your name, you might not mind it so much. In the meantime, I suggest you allow your mom to call you Mildred, since she is going to do it anyway. In return, ask that she respect your wish to be called “Em” among your friends.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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