What's in a Name?
As children of the fifties and sixties become grandparents, many are choosing unusual monikers. Names like Grandma and Grandpa are still most popular, but names reflecting personalities, interests, and heritage are on the rise.
When expectant parents begin compiling name lists for baby, it's a good time for expectant grandparents to consider their names.
Grandparents.com is one of many places on the internet offering name suggestions. They have a variety of lists:
Nana, Granny; Grandpa, Gramps
MammaMia, Sugar, Nothermother, Mummers; Dappy, Doody, Grindiddy, Mellowman
Cookie, Tinkerbell, Jamagramma, Pittypat; Babaloo, Checkers, GoPa, UmPaPa
Parents should approve of name choices, but that doesn’t mean grandparents can’t be creative.
Some grandparents want their names to reflect the fun they have with their grandchildren. My friend Jeanne took her name from her bunny collection. She no longer has Flopsy, her live pet rabbit, but her nine grandchildren have always called her “Bunny.”
“The Proud Family,” Disney’s first African-American cartoon series, has their “Sugar Mama.” This animated grandma is hip and feisty, but her name fits any grandmother with goodies in her purse and sugar in her hugs.
In our melting pot culture, some grandparents want their names to reflect family heritage. Long-time friend Bob, who grew up in a German-speaking home, is “Opa” to his six grandchildren. His wife is “Babci” like her Polish grandmother.
Some countries have different names for paternal and maternal grandparents. For example, in Sweden paternal grandparents are farfar and farmor while maternal are morfar and mormor.
Choosing ethnic grandparent names is one way to transmit family history to the next generation.
Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and this is true of grandparents. Sometimes grandparents are named by sweet mispronunciations from their grandchildren’s lips. My friends Vicki and Peter had towels embroidered with names they’d chosen. They kept the towels but not the names when granddaughter Annalee began calling them "MiMi" and "Pawpaw."
These traditional names, like many others—mema, grammy, beebaw—come from toddler’s attempts to pronounce grandma and grandpa.
One grandma became "honey" to her grandchildren because that was grandpa's name for her.
More than a name
In the end grandchildren will remember their grandparent’s names only as fondly as the people who wear them. Grandparents should spend a little time choosing a name but a lot of time praying that their name brings memories of love, faith, and meaning to their grandchildren.
My husband and I chose the very typical "Grammy and Poppy" for our names, but I'd love to hear any interesting stories related to your grandparent name. So please leave a comment.