What should you do if you were hoping to give your children unique names, only to have the names stolen by a friend or family member?

Mother holding two newborn twins
Credit: Jade Brookbank

Q. I have two-year-old twin girls named Sofia and Alexa. My first cousin is also expecting twin girls. Without telling me in advance, she posted an announcement on Facebook stating that the names of her twins will be Sophia and Alexie (!). I got upset. Now her side of the family, with whom I have been close in the past, has condemned me for “making a mountain out of a molehill.” They claim that since our kids live far apart, I shouldn’t care one way or the other. Should my cousin have told me about the names and considered my reaction?
Audra K.

A. On the one hand, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. On the other hand, that is a peculiar thing to do. Not the naming itself—which could, if handled differently, be charming, or at least acceptable—but neglecting to mention it to you before broadcasting it so widely.

Your cousin didn’t need your permission, of course, but it would have been much nicer of her to let you know in a direct and positive way (“We love your girls’ names so much that we’re going to give versions of them to our own daughters!”) than to inform you indirectly. This is where you have to hate Facebook a little for allowing a private family matter to unfold as a spectacle, when open and compassionate communication would be healthier.

That said, your cousin has announced the names, and she probably won’t reconsider. So at this point it’s not really your molehill to mountain, if you know what I mean. Sure, you’re annoyed, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. The cousins are probably going to love having similar names, and it’s your daughters who will get to be the big-girl role models. It’s time to forgive and focus on the real drama—which is that these two sparkling-new people are about to make their way into the world. And that’s cause for celebration.

— Catherine Newman