Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: “Rose by Any Other Name”

This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Lauren Williams discuss a Prudie letter: “Rose by Any Other Name.”

Lauren Williams: I liked this letter. Not because of the horrible situation, but because it allows me to bring up one of my cardinal rules for expecting a child.

Jenée Desmond-Harris: Ooh please share.

Lauren: Do. Not. Tell. Anyone. The. Name.

Jenée: I so agree! Even if people aren’t as outrageous as the relatives in the letter, you don’t want to question yourself because someone wrinkles their nose or says “interesting …”

Lauren: I know she said her husband “let it slip,” but if they had made it an explicit mission of their pregnancy to absolutely keep the name a secret, I doubt that would have happened.

Or “Ewww, I know a [insert name] once. They were such an asshole.” It makes no sense, but when you share things like this with people, they think that they are entitled to weigh in negatively on something you’ve spent time and care on. But, it’s too late, it’s done, the mother is being terrible—and racist?

Jenée: Absolutely—I think even when people have the best intentions, it’s a way for them to feel like they’re intimately involved (when they’re actually not). And yeah, this is a symptom of the MIL being awful and not respecting the letter writer more than it is a debate about names. “Some dead girls” … WHAT

Lauren: And I think there is a whole thing happening with some mothers of sons whose partners are pregnant … a loss of control? The person carrying the baby isn’t YOUR person? And so they try to exact some level of control—such as, we should play a part in picking the baby’s name/the baby’s name should be a family name. And you’re totally right: How she handles this will set the foundation for her future relations with her in-laws. We love you, but this is our decision we made together. And sometimes it’s going to be like that.

Jenée: And her husband has to stop letting things “slip.” Which really means, not doing anything to make his mom thinks she gets a vote—even if that means withholding a lot of parenting information.

Lauren: I was glad to see that he is playing an active part in defending her, which seems to not be the case in most of these letters. But yeah, a better situation would have been just not giving her ammo.

Jenée: Lesson learned! I hate that she has to continue running away from these people for the rest for her pregnancy, but I don’t know what else to tell her to do.

Lauren: Yeah, it doesn’t seem like they plan to stop until the baby comes. I don’t understand this behavior. I literally cannot fathom doing this.

Jenée: I’m a jerk but I don’t think the person who called the name “way too ethnic” should be invited to meet the baby.

Lauren: It’s shocking!

Jenée: And the letter writer should not be blaming her hormones for being upset about it!

Lauren: And I’m sorry, the husband’s family (traditionally) does get to have a major part in the baby’s name—BY DETERMINING ITS LAST NAME. The mom is not just some birthing vessel.

She has thoughts and feelings and opinions.

Jenée: Such a good point!

Lauren: You would think that I had trouble with this with my in-laws, and I didn’t at all. I just think pregnant women are treated like absolute shit and it incenses me to see these cycles perpetuated.

Jenée: I agree … what is it about pregnancy that makes people forget any sense of manners or decency they may have once had? That’s a bigger question for another day I guess.

Lauren: Whether it’s socially or medically, it’s just bad all around. The LW can fight back by telling them there is absolutely nothing they can say to change her mind, so all they’re doing is saying a bunch of rude things about their future grandchild/niece/cousin’s name. And she will remember every single word. So maybe they should give up and accept it.

Jenée: “And she will remember every single word.” YES! Ok on that note, good luck to the letter writer, and good luck to these relatives on their journey to be better people.

Lauren: Once they embark on that journey. Seems like they haven’t left yet.