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One of the greatest rites of passage in life is becoming a grandparent. We just can’t help but be thrilled when our babies are ready to have their own babies. But somewhere in the middle of all the joy and excitement, you may be asking yourself: What will my grandkids call me?

Who Gets to Choose?

Deciding on grandparent names is one of the gray areas of life. Do the children get to teach their children to call us a certain name of their choosing or do we grandparents get to claim the name we want? Well, it depends.

Cultural Expectations

In some families with a strong ethnic identity, it will be important to use commonly-used culturally correct names. For instance grandma may be called Abuela in a Hispanic community and a grandpa may be called Opa in a Dutch family. Some cultures have specific names for the maternal grandparents and a different set of names for the paternal side.

Regional Traits

In some regional areas, the names for grandparents are totally different than in the rest of that country. In the U.S., for instance, our southern states may call grandparents Maw Maw and Paw Paw. Those names are not used anywhere else in the country, and are readily identified as a southern take on grandparent names.

Family Traditions

In some families the grandparents are given the right to any name they choose. It may be taken for granted that Grandma will be Nona and Grandpa will be Poppa. And in some instances, grandparents may swoop in before pregnancies are even announced and state their chosen name. In other families the children make it clear that they’ll choose the names their children are taught to use and….that’s the end of the discussion.

Some grandparent “handles” are sentimental choices, others are funny, perhaps based on a child’s inability to pronounce a name correctly in toddlerhood. And it seems that the given titles need to “fit” the particular grandparent. But it’s obvious that although being a grandparent is the most wonderful thing ever, the choosing of names for grandparents can be filled with landmines. 

What to Do?

It is probably wise for grandparents to be to broach the subject of grandparent names early and carefully. Bring up the topic and feel out the responses you get from the soon-to-be parents. Do you have strong feelings on the choice? Do they? Does the in-law side of the family have “dibs” on a certain name and is that okay with you?

It’s important to determine that the loving relationships and family ties are the important foundation on which to build. But getting the topic out in the open early in the grandchild- coming game is a good strategy. Then make your fondest wishes known understanding that there may need to be some give and take to keep everyone in the family happy.

Be aware that there are literally hundreds of names used world-wide for the role of grandparent. Do a little research or just search your heart to find the name you love the most. Then choose a few others you could live with and enter into the conversation ready to compromise. 

Here is a comprehensive listing of possible Grandparent Names.