Ideally, choosing your baby’s name is a fun, inspired endeavor, but too often baby name problems get in the way. Here are the problems we hear most often, and how to fix them:
Your family interferes with your name choice
Your mom wants you to name the baby after her. His dad wants you to name the baby after his mom. And everybody hates the name you’ve chosen….and isn’t shy about telling you so. Name discussions with family can be an illuminating way to pass your pregnancy, but the minute family members start to act like they have equal voting rights, it’s time to cut off the talks. Bowing to family name pressure is the Number 1 reason for name regret.
Your friend ruins the name you love
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?
Today’s QOW was inspired by a comment from jgirl525.
This week it’s a two-parter:
a. What’s your response when you meet someone who shares your own first name? Do you feel an instant kinship or do you feel more proprietary? If it’s a popular name, do you immediately start comparing nicknames and wondering why your parents chose a name like, say, Jennifer, of which there are now (literally) 1,424,755 in the world?
If it’s an unusual name, do you feel just a little bit resentful that it’s not yours alone?
I know from that stupidly catchy viral “Pregnant Women are Smug” song that pregnant women don’t usually share the names they’ve chosen for their babies.
That may be a smug choice, sure, but I think I get it now. You let the name cat out of the bag, and everyone judges the cat, they swing the cat around by the tail, they project their own issues onto the cat and now you want to put the whole incident in your emotional litter box and bury it so you can still like the cat as much as you used to.
And of course there is the danger of getting name napped. My friends just had a baby boy and named it Laszlo, and I am madly in love with that name. It’s Hungarian, as am I. Victor Laszlo is a character in the movie “Casablanca,” and my surname is also featured in that film. Who doesn’t remember the line, “Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects?” Okay, that Strasser dude was a Nazi, but I still enjoy the classic movie name tie-in, and when you’re looking for magical name signs, anything seems to scream, “This is the one.”
Still, you don’t nap a name.
So we had to let Laszlo go, like Bogey did. And now I have four more months to come up with something.
The first dozen people we told we were thinking of the name “James” were dazzled. “It’s classy and simple,” they said, “It’s not like one of these new fangled Jayden, Aiden, Caden names,” they added. So James shot to the top of the list, but if you tell enough people, someone is going to hate on your name, which is what happened when a former colleague told me that anyone named James would become Jim, and there was nothing I could do about it. Jim. Jims are nice people, they coach girls’ soccer without inappropriately touching anyone, they do your taxes without massaging the numbers too much, they walk your dog when you have to leave town suddenly. I like Jims. I just don’t want one.
The “Jim hater” loved our only other name option so far: Shane.
After we got pregnant, we happened to go to the cell phone store and the guy who helped us had a shiny blue nametag with that moniker. And it seemed right with my husband’s crazy long, consonant rich Polish name. Shane would ride into kindergarten like a Polish cowboy. And all Shanes are hot. But so are Gabes. And Nates. And most Erics.
Once you rule out any names of ex-boyfriends, or names you would be napping from your immediate circle, or names recently used by celebrity moms or names you associate with high school bullies or former evil bosses, the well runs a bit dry. Trust me, when it comes to girl names, the well of adorably androgynous designations bubbles over, but this boy thing is tough.
I’ve been thinking that most parents have a few names in the running before choosing the one. What happens to those perfectly good runner-up names? Can I have them? If you loved your second choice but didn’t use it and feel it shouldn’t go to waste, or if you thought of it only after you screwed your kid with an average name, help a mom-to-be out with a name-me-down you no longer need.