Category: baby name remorse
By Abby Sandel
When it comes to naming, plenty of new parents hesitate. “What if she hates her name?” they ask.
We name strangers. There is an excellent chance that your child will find his name too ordinary/too weird/too traditional/too crunchy/too hard to spell/too something at some point.
But I am here to tell you that even if this happens – if your child so thoroughly dislikes the name you choose that she pursues a legal name change – you have not failed.
I’m one of those kids, one who disliked her name at five and 15 and 25, until I legally changed it as an adult.
My mother’s name is long, lovely, unusual. A family name dictated by custom. My given name is a rebellion against all that. Short, simple, very common. Easy to say and spell.
It turns out that I was meant to have her name; and she, mine.
Much has been written lately about the pros and cons of using a unique name. People choose to do it for a variety of reasons – family heritage, creativity, believing it will provide an advantage later in life, to show others our beliefs and hopes for our little ones, or in some cases–mainly celebrities– for the limelight. But then there is the downside – possible mispronunciation, other children poking fun, feeling different or standing out in the crowd.
My daughter is 17. I think she’s great. It’s not mutual. She is, after all, a teenager and as such holds me accountable for all the crimes I’ve committed against her over the years. These include just about everything I’ve done, everything I should have done and the various ways I embarrass her in public. It’s all very age appropriate, or so I tell myself, but there’s one offense she cites that I can’t shrug off:
I named her badly.
Elizabeth Stern Shepherd–Barron. That’s what we (my husband was co-conspirator) called her. This was our logic: Elizabeth, because it’s a classic that pays homage to two notable queens as well as one of the greatest heroines in literature — clever, funny, beautiful Elizabeth Bennett. For a middle name, an exciting concept for me as I don’t have one, we chose my maiden name, Stern, to remind her of half her heritage and to serve as a strong contrast to her last name, my husband’s double-barrelled Shepherd–Barron.
Nameberry was quoted last week in news stories all over the world about a new study that claimed 10 percent of parents regret their baby’s name. The reports ranged from this one in the Huffington Post to a piece in Britain‘s Daily Mail that found its way to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera and on to Jezebel.
There were many questions on whether the 10 percent figure could possibly be accurate, though a story last year put the figure even higher, at 20 percent. So we decided we’d bring it back to you with a poll of our own. Any regrets about your own name choice? And if so, why?
Do you regret your child’s name? If you could go back, would you choose something less common? More mainstream? Would you use that out-there option that others dismissed as too weird? Or maybe embrace something from your family tree that felt too old-fashioned to bestow on a newborn?
Every so often a study grandly announces that a percentage of parents – in the most recent article, it was a whopping 8%, rounded up to “a tenth” for the headline – wish they could get a do-over on their child’s name. While plenty of parents report disappointment that their choice turned out to feel too ordinary, reports and comments tend to focus on the extreme cases: “Yes, I knew a couple who called their son Bullet and really wished they’d stuck with Bill.”
But I can’t help observe that parents who have picked out-of-the-box baby names seem more satisfied than those who gave it less thought. Rowan at Eponymia summed it up perfectly: “It hardly matters what the name turns out to be, but I believe naming someone is an honor, one that requires effort and thought.”
Which brings us back to one of my new categories of favorite names – blogger kids. It comes as no surprise that writers put extra care into picking names for their children.
Ottilie Valentine – The deliciously frilly, but still edgy, name of Rowan’s daughter. Her tale of spotting a related name on an athlete during the Summer Olympics, then thumbing through a short story collection and seeing it again is a great example of how, as she puts it, “the right name will find the right person.”