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Woman keeps her name change a secret for five years, 'I should've had the courage to be honest.' AITA?

Woman keeps her name change a secret for five years, 'I should've had the courage to be honest.' AITA?


"AITA for keeping my name change a secret for five years?"

So, my (26F) parents decided to name my sister and I after American states. I have permission to share her name (Arizona) and I was called Pennsylvania at birth. Yea, my parents are weird. I guess they thought geographical names were cool but I think there’s a huge difference between calling your child Arizona or Dakota or Paris Vs Pennsylvania.

They’re massive America-lovers so maybe they wanted to be patriotic. For as long as I can remember, everyone has called me Penn or Penny. My parents insisted that everyone was to call me by my full name but most people could see how ridiculous my parents are.

My sister (28F) didn’t struggle as much with her name since Arizona just sounds better than Pennsylvania, and the Greys anatomy character Arizona Robbins made the name seem quite cool as we got older. I was mocked and teased as a child in elementary school because of my parents insistence on my full name. They would literally berate my teachers for letting me write ‘Penny’ on my work/books.

When I was 21, I got my name legally changed to Penelope. Most people I had met in college had assumed that I went by Penny as a nickname for Penelope, even my boyfriend’s mother called me Penelope because I was too embarrassed to tell her that Penny was short for Pennsylvania.

I kept it a secret from my parents and close family because I knew my parents would go mental and accuse me of disrespecting their choice. I’m getting married this summer to my lovely boyfriend Tom (31M) and as you all know, you have to say your full name in your wedding ceremony when doing your vows.

I knew I had to fess up about the name change because the alternative would be hoping they kept quiet when they heard me say "I, Penelope" instead of "I, Pennsylvania." I invited them over to my home and I tried to tell them in a really calm way that I had changed my name but they freaked out. They said that I was disrespectful, I was calling their choice dumb etc. They are refusing to attend the wedding now.

I know I’m not the AH for changing my name, but my parents are particularly pissed about how I kept it hidden for five years before telling them. Most people I know agree with them. They think that I should’ve had the courage to be honest with them years ago so they would’ve had time to get used to it instead of me dropping the news on them two months before my wedding and causing all this drama.

A few other family members have dropped out and my poor sister (who is maid of honor) is having a nightmare with this. My parents believe they had the right to know much earlier.

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

SkyComplex2625 said:

NTA - how come none of your relatives are appalled that your parents care more about a dumb name then their actual child?

Outrageous_Shoe_1450 said:

NTA. Your parents are for naming you Pennsylvania in the first place. They are even bigger AH'S for refusing to attend your wedding as are anyone else who takes their side.

pinkflamingo-lj said:

NTA. But, one can use "nicknames" in reciting vows. The Marriage Certificate must be your legal name, but if you prefer Penny, use Penny. I've been to two weddings where, at one, the bride used her middle name (as she had been called her entire life), and at a coworkers wedding, he used his middle name.

I don't think most people even knew that wasn't his first name but his middle name. With all that being said, I would think your parents are going to eventually find out you legally changed your name. It's probably best to come from you.

VulgarTurkey said:

NTA. I can understand them being upset, but they really should take you hiding the name change as a sign that maybe they need to do some introspection. And you made a great choice with Penelope!

Treehousehunter said:

NTA you were young and not ready to face your parents’ wrath for changing your name at the time you did it. So now, apologize to your parents for not being strong enough to stand up to them when you were younger. Apologize so you can take the whole “you should have told us” argument off the table and get to what they are really mad about-you didn’t like your given name.

Address it head on, “I’m sorry mom and dad, I truly did not like my given name. I know you two obviously loved it, but I’m the one who lived with a name that was unusual and I simply didn’t want to explain my name to every single person I met. Changing it is not a sign of disrespect to you. Changing it was for my own happiness. I hope you can accept that.” Drop being defensive. Apologize for not telling them, don’t defend changing your name, keep stating that you did it for your own happiness. Rinse and repeat.

AethericOwl said:

NTA. Your parents reactions proved your apprehension right. Refusing to go to your wedding because you gave yourself a name that actually works as a name? Shameful behaviour by them, all around.

At this point, I would tell your parents that they clearly care more about the (frankly, awful) name they inflicted on you than YOU as a person, and to not bother showing up to the wedding at all because you don't need people that shallow and selfish in your life. Same with any haranguing family members.

Everyone was on OP's side for this one. What's your advice for this situation?

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