Category: name problems
by Paul Ratner
As my wife and I are counting down to the birth of our son, we are happy, eager, completely discomforted (well, that’s mostly my heroic wife) and stuck in agonizing limbo over choosing a name for our upcoming guy. It seemed like a simple enough thing to do. There are a million names out there to pick from. But immediately, we realized that choosing a name for this very new person is a tremendous responsibility. He’ll have to go through his whole life with it, responding dozens of times a day to the combination of sounds we pick out for him. And each such word carries the whole gamut of human experience in its letters.
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?
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?
In our best fantasies, here’s how we name our babies:
DAD — Perfect. Now why don’t you let me rub your feet?
In reality, discussions go more like this:
DAD — Blech. I hate those kind of frilly names; if we have a girl, I think we should name her something cool, like Harley or Parker. And if we have a boy, my mother says we have to name him after my father.
MOM — Your mother’s not naming our baby. And your taste in names sucks.
Usually, after nine months or possibly ten, the parents manage to arrive at a name they both can live with. Why does baby-naming inspire such deep feelings and strong arguments in a couple who may have an easy time getting along in so many other ways?
Guest blogger Nina Badzin has a name problem, and it’s all her husband’s fault.
You would love my husband, Bryan. He’s the guy who lovingly supports my fiction aspirations, encourages trips to writing conferences, preaches delightfully quaint parenting advice, and gets constant praise on my blog.
Put all that good stuff aside for this post, because now we’re mad at him.
Get this: Bryan has lost faith in my baby naming abilities. MY abilities! Aren‘t I the person whose meanderings about baby names got reprinted on Nameberry and BlogHer? No decent person in his right mind would take away what will likely be my last chance to name a new soul.
ME: I think we should change Elissa‘s name.
HIM: Fine. Let’s do it.
ME: Seriously? She’s two.