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AIBU for not wanting nana to be called mama?

(107 Posts)
Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:10:10


I would love advice from you lovely grandmothers and especially mother in laws!
But I want to add, I AM Persian and this is not norm in how I grew up or how my cousins and friends did.
My maternal grandmother was Naneh Joon && my Paternal was Bibi Joon.


So for some while now my mil has been calling herself mama to my dd. Her daughters children all call her mama, apparently the eldest picked it up from mil children while mil was providing childcare daily and nobody stopped it, mil encouraged it so their mum is “mummy” and grandma is “mama”

I wasn’t actually aware of this until few months ago, as sil lives in another country but visits once every two months for a few days, and her youngest children only started talking 6 months ago. But she has been “mama” to sil eldest for around 9 years now and obviously the two youngest (3,2) have copied their elder brother.

So when she was calling herself mama I was taken back! I did confront her straight away and she just smiled and said “okay, well I’m sure dd will choose whatever name she feels fit to call me” so I thought , phew that wasn’t too bad.
However the next visit every other word coming out her mouth was mama, my husband told me to stay quiet but now my dd has just turned one, he did tell his mum to quit it. She didn’t take it kindly, we went through all the names she should be expected to called, but she just sat there crying that she’s “mama”

Dh stayed firm in his words and now she doesn’t call herself mama anymore however yesterday sil was here for her bi monthly visit and mil as soon as dh left the room was like “KIDS LETS TEACH the baby EVERYONES NAMES” and she had the kids chanting mama a million times to her, I thought hmm this must be so my dd hears them and learns who “she is”

My sister in law pulled me to the side quietly and said she thinks I’m being unreasonable for not going along with her children and that I’m being difficult ?

But I just don’t like it, I’ll be honest, I think it’s because when we visit she try’s to be play mummy. And combined with “oh my daughter” it’s too much, and when sil went for an errand, I heard her refer to herself to sil children not just as mama! But mummy and mum aswell”. Sil dd said to her “no you’re mama, mummy’s gone shops” and she goes “ohhh my dear daughter, it means the same thing!”
So she is trying to blur the lines? And I worry because she may FaceTime them everyday but she sees us like twice a week!

Am I being unreasonable for not going along with sil children? Or am I in my own right? And what tips can I do to make sure dd (dear daughter) doesn’t copy her uncles?
I can’t believe this is even an issue!
And it’s not cultural because I’m from the culture! But maybe it’s a new thing happening?

Summerlove Sun 09-Jun-19 18:51:36

If it’s upsetting you, then it’s a problem.

The fact that your MIL seems to be “doubling down” vs accepting Nana, is a real issue of disrespect for you.

Your husband needs to tell her again. Just keep correcting her every single time.

I’d be seeing her less often though. People who don’t respect me as a parent/mother, didn’t get the benefit of my family.

Callistemon Sun 09-Jun-19 18:53:34

"Mama", as well as 'mother', also means 'a mature woman', notanan

eg 'a matriarch'

trisher Sun 09-Jun-19 18:57:59

I'd go with the Persian "Naneh" as well. Just explain that you want your children to have some knowledge of your language and culture. You could teach some Farsi words as well. Then when your DD get older she can teach her cousins (and see how your sil likes that!)

MamaCaz Sun 09-Jun-19 19:24:25

While I can see the OP's point to some extent, I don't think that anyone else, even the child's parents, should dictate to the grandmother that she accept a name that she doesn't want to be called, as a lot of people seem to be suggesting!

agnurse Sun 09-Jun-19 20:10:51

She wants to be called a name that is only appropriate for the child's mother, and refuses to show respect for the OP.

I'd suggest that if she doesn't start changing her attitude, she may have to be content with being called Grandma Who We Don't See.

Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 21:34:16

What annoys me is tonight, I told her, what about mama and her first name and my dd will only be able to say mama anyway for a while! But it wasn’t good enough.
Btw my dd is 14 months old now and she calls me mama exclusively like she doesn’t babble it to anyone and she will go “that isn’t mama! That’s Hawa, mummy Hawa!” So it’s ok to call me mummy first name lol.
She’s so difficult

Hithere Sun 09-Jun-19 21:49:28

You are not BU.

Her insistence on being called mama and her reaction to your chat with her are huge red flags.

You and your dh pick the name you choose for her. If she does not like it, too bad so sad

Bibbity Sun 09-Jun-19 21:58:06

OP. Stop negotiating. You don’t need to negotiate because only one of you had power. That’s you.

You tell MIL that she will not be Mama. She can either decide her own name or you will decide. End of discussion.

Momof3 Sun 09-Jun-19 22:33:37

Lucky girl the circumstances are very different the Mother in law is actively trying to encourage her grandchildren to call her “Mama”.

My children call me Mama because I am their Mama I would certainly
not be impressed be impressed if my mother or mother in law decided to be known as Mama too. I lost my first boy nearly lost my 2nd and had to have surgery to prevent losing my 4th after a missed miscarriage in-between, I’ve earned the right to be the one and only Mama.

I really don’t think it would take much effort on yours or your husbands part to encourage your grandchildren to call you Nana and Grandad.

Momof3 Sun 09-Jun-19 22:35:07

The Mama is now the matriarch of her family.

Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 23:03:32

And also, most toddlers can’t say grandma yet. My niece called my mum, mama, but my mum didn’t then be like “oh she can’t say grandma let me call myself mama oooo she picked it “ she still called herself grandma and low and behold, my niece calls her grandma, took her around 6 months to grasp the “GR” sound.

My sil kid never called her mama because of this, my sil actively encouraged naneh but unfortunately free childcare is never free and mil kept reinforcing that mama was her

Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 23:04:53

That’s why I’m so against it, because mil orchestrated it from the very beginning with first GS to get what she wanted, she refuses to even use the term grand child, she will say “my son, my daughter” I think she’s conscious about being elder and stuff but it’s just so weird, I can’t wait for my daughter to be older and be like “I’m not your daughter” it’s just soooo jarring !

stevenk Mon 10-Jun-19 04:12:41

Hawa93, It's only a name. A famous Monk once said words are what we use to TRY and communicate. They are just words. He also said "don't cause yourself suffering over words" "you are only given a name so people can talk about you when your not there.

Nansnet Mon 10-Jun-19 06:07:28

My son's MiL spent months trying to decide what she wanted to be called (personally, I don't see why it should be such a big deal). Initially, 'mama' was her first choice, that was until all her friends gave her strange looks, as everyone said that was the name for a child's mummy! She now goes by grandma, but I guess she'll be called whatever our GD can manage to say when she learns to talk! If that turns out to mama, then so be it, but everyone else refers to her as grandma. I do think that grandparents have a right to be called by a name that they choose, and not by a name they're not happy with. However, I do think most people would agree that 'mama' is thought to be another name for mummy, unless a child simply can't say grandma and it comes out as mama naturally, that can't be helped. I personally wouldn't have wanted my kids to call my mother, or MiL, 'mama' by choice, and would simply have told them so, and told them to choose another name themselves that they are happy with, and if grandchild can't say it properly, and it comes out as something else, then that's fine. I would't really stress about it. Just tell her she can't choose mama, and then you and your husband continue to reinforce whatever name she chooses when you refer to her in front of your child.

GracesGranMK3 Mon 10-Jun-19 06:09:49

The monk may have been famous but he, fairly obviously, didn't have a MIL.

I wouldn't like this and the idea that she calls them son and daughter is a bit weird.

I don't know how you sort it out other than just correcting the poor child. If she says mama just say "yes dear, nana" and she will get the message. Don't tell her she is wrong -it's confusing enough as it is.

NfkDumpling Mon 10-Jun-19 06:47:48

Am I right Hawa, that your MiL wants to be called Mama - which is what your DD calls you - and thinks that your DD should call you Mummy Hawa?!! No way!! You’re her mama!

And she refers to her DGC as her DC? It sounds as if your MiL has problems acknowledging her age.

I would stick to calling her Naneh to your DD. It’s a lovely name and there’s no reason why your child shouldn’t call her GM by a different name to the other GC.

I’m Nanny Og by the way. DC decided on that for some reason. Two DGC call me Nanny and two call me Nana. Not so different. I’m proud to be a grandmother and love to say Child of my Child. It’s a privilege a lot of women don’t have and I value it.

MawBroonsback Mon 10-Jun-19 07:36:25

Stick to your guns!
You’re her mum, what you say goes. Never mind what others call her - just hang on in there.

BradfordLass72 Mon 10-Jun-19 08:04:48

I agree that you should insist. It's your child and you and your husband call the shots. He needs to have another firm word and not give in to any emotional blackmail which entails tears. He also needs to make it clear that if his child is coached, behind his back, he'll be very unhappy.

This is a lady who doesn't want to admit she's getting old; nor does she like people standing up to her. Used to getting her own way, she'll try every trick in the book to make sure she wins.

But to me, the main issue isn't names, it's disrespect of you and a hidden (or maybe not so hidden) rivalry, she wants you to know she's still in charge. She isn't.

Try to get it settled now before your child is confused that one person insists she be called 'Mama' and you insist she's Naneh.

Of course you could always teach your little one to call her اژدها باستان that would be fun!! grin

SirChenjin Mon 10-Jun-19 08:21:49

This is a very blatant attempt by your MIL to assert her position as the matriarch of the family, with you accepting her demands without question - or at least, without success should you ever question her.

You've every right to refuse to bow down to her and to make it very clear to her that unless she desists from this nonsense immediately she will no longer be welcome in your home. Naneh is a great solution as it reinforces the importance of your culture in your DCs. Seriously - what gives with some women that they think they can behave like that?!

Luckygirl Mon 10-Jun-19 08:41:17

I really do think there is a lot to be said for laughing this off and not engaging in the discussion directly. It is going to be a perpetual thorn in your side for years to come.

Make a joke when she starts on about it: "Are you afraid of getting old or something?"; "Was being Mum once not enough for you?"; etc.

I hate to think of spending years agonising and fighting over this. She's potty - my MIL was seriously potty, but I just let her craziness wash by me - she did not live with us, so I did not have to bite my tongue much. When the children grew a bit they too could see she was nuts and used to raise an eyebrow to me when she was here - your child will do the same one day. Your child knows you are Mum.

Niobe Mon 10-Jun-19 09:16:10

I was 'Mum' to my boys and my mother was 'Mama' to them but I can't remember how that came about. No one objected or found it strange. When my nephews were born they just followed suit and called her Mama too. With my own grandson I will let him decide what he calls me as he learns to talk.

crazyH Mon 10-Jun-19 09:35:54

What a lot of aggro about a name. I know I am still a bit miffed bcos my exhusband's wife is called 'Nana', same title as I have. She is not their blood relative and so, I felt hurt. I thought my sons could have insisted on her being called something else like 'grandma'. Interestingly, the kids of one of my my sons call their mum's mum, "Ma". My d.i.l. is very close to her mother and I suppose decided to give her mum that honour. It's all water under the bridge now. Names have been established. No point getting hot under the collar. You just feel you are bottom of the pecking order.
'Don't worry Hawa, it will come out in the wash, so to speak.

SirChenjin Mon 10-Jun-19 10:28:12

It's not just a name though - this MIL is deliberately undermining her DIL and pushing for a name that the OP and her DH have said that they don't want her to impose on their family.

Dee1012 Mon 10-Jun-19 10:41:00

But I just don’t like it, I’ll be honest, I think it’s because when we visit she try’s to be play mummy. And combined with “oh my daughter” it’s too much, and when sil went for an errand, I heard her refer to herself to sil children not just as mama! But mummy and mum aswell”.
This was the part that I could see caused you concern.
Personally, I'd just reinforce what name you want used and try to ignore what the rest of your family do...all families have their own way of doing things, in mine, we never used aunt / uncle, it was first names only. My grandparents were Nanny Sarah / Grandad John etc.
Your family, your choice!

Daddima Mon 10-Jun-19 11:57:24

I know a lot of families in the Glasgow area where the granny is called Maw, often ‘ my wee Maw’.