DEAR MISS MANNERS: My father passed away a few years ago. To my nieces and nephews, he has always been referred to as “Grandpa.” Last fall, my husband and I were blessed with the arrival of our first child. My mother-in-law refers to my father-in-law as “Grandpa.”
This really hurts my feelings because I feel as though it is dismissing my dad’s role. My dad may not ever be able to meet my son, but I look forward to telling him about my dad.
My husband says I’m being overly sensitive. Lately, I have tried to mention my dad in front of them using the name “Grandpa,” but nothing has changed.
Who decides the names of grandparents? Would it be rude of me to ask them to choose another name?
GENTLE READER: It seems a bit late for Miss Manners to have to explain to you that all children have two grandfathers – and, in these chaotic times, sometimes more. Attempting to trademark the term “grandpa” on behalf of your late father is not only futile, as you have discovered, but also insulting to your father-in-law.
That said, families do often find it convenient to distinguish between them by using different diminutives, or a relevant ethnic title, or a proper name appended to the title. First choice goes to the person to be addressed, subject to modification – preferably endearing modification – by the child when he begins to talk.
By all means, talk to your child of his maternal grandfather – but not at the expense of attempting to distance his relationship with his paternal grandfather.