Category: Navigating Name Problems and Disputes
In this perceptive and illuminating guest blog, Zaira Shaal confronts the naming issues facing interfaith parents.
My boyfriend and I have talked about having kids a few times, and the main topic is always what we would name them. He is Muslim, I am Catholic, and while we are both Pakistani, we have very different ideas about the names we like.
We both grew up in North America and now live in London, England so there is added pressure to ensure our children’s names can be pronounced by their friends and colleagues as they grow. Our own names, Waqas (Wuh-kaas) and Zaira (rhymes with Tyra not Sara), have proved difficult for peers to handle over the years so we are sensitive to this.
While he prefers names like Khalil and Omar for boys – and hasn’t really thought about naming a girl – I have always loved names like Audrey and Grace, Adam and Jacob. We came to a compromise and came up with a list of names that work for both religions. This also appeases both sets of parents and ensures our kids all have uniform sounding names. I don’t want one Matthew and one Mohammed.
It’s one of the biggest problems parents-to-be complain about on the Nameberry forums: family pressure over the choice of a name.
If not promoting their own or other relatives’ names, family members might just exercise what they see as their right to voice strong, uh, opinions about names. Ugh, you can’t name your son Felix: That’s a cat’s name!
Or was your family blessedly pressure-free on the topic of names? Or maybe you even tried to talk about names with them, and they weren’t interested?
“BRAHNwyn!” he said incredulously. “BRAHNwyn?”
“Well, when you say it like that, it doesn’t sound very pretty,” I pouted.
Granted, Bronwyn was a guilty pleasure. I didn’t really expect my husband to go along with it as the given name for any daughter we might have. But must his voice take on that grating nasal edge when he said it out loud? He sounded like a goose honking.
No more than eight weeks up the duff, I was still newly pregnant when my husband and I began discussing potential baby names for our unborn child. I had just informed him that I really liked the name Bronwyn Rose for a girl, but admitted that with the last name of Alexander, I was worried about her initials spelling “bra.”
“That’s your only concern about the name Bronwyn?!” my husband asked in amazement.
The Question of the Week:
Who makes the ultimate baby name decisions in your family?
Does Mom run around gathering baby name ideas, while Dad makes the ultimate judgment (as it sometimes seems from the discussion of this topic on our forums)?
Or do both partners discuss, but Mom gets the ultimate say?
Do you truly decide as a team, with both partners’ opinions weighted equally?
Or is it complicated….in which case you’ve got to give us all the details!
First, take the poll below.
You’re several months pregnant, when the conversation turns — as it often does — to names. You don’t have a name picked out yet and you say you’re considering several options. So your friend or sister-in-law or neighbor says, “Just don’t use Sophie or Sadie or Benjamin or Nathan. I’m reserving those names in case I have another baby.”
Well, as it happens, Sophia is on your list. And so is Nathaniel. You may want to use one of them, you may not, but you certainly don’t want to be forced to take them out of consideration just because someone else calls dibs on them.
Should you stand up for your right to use whatever name you want, no dibs allowed? Should you just quietly go your own way as if the claim had never been laid down? Or should you back away from the newly-reserved names?
That’s our question of the week: What’s fair in baby-naming? Can you reserve a baby name? Should you respect someone else’s “claim” on a name?