Category: naming twins
I am name obsessed. When I am reading at bedtime to my eight-year old son, I will pause as we encounter new characters, “Hmm … Polly, that’s a good name isn’t it?” before he puts his fingers in his ears and begs for mercy, “Stop the naming madness, Mummy!”
I scan the credits of every TV show, hoping for divine inspiration.
My own mother taunts me; “You have been making lists of names since you could write and you can’t even chose a name for your own daughter. But I don’t like Ruby, dogs are called Ruby, the stupidest person I know has a granddaughter called Ruby, I don’t want a granddaughter called Ruby.”
If a recent New York Times article is to be believed, naming a baby is more anxiety-inducing than ever before. So much pressure to find the one. perfect. name. But what happens when you need two perfect names and I don’t mean in succession. Like virtually everything else to do with having twins, is naming them double the trouble?
There is a real sense in which choosing a pair of twins’ names is just like choosing a sibling set. For me, the same basic rules applied. The names had to be complementary and of a comparable level of originality. They had to roll off the tongue together, because, lord knows, they will be spoken in tandem more often than you can imagine. It would be a bonus if they shared some common, but not overwhelming, feature: a group of letters perhaps or a vague significance of meaning. Better yet, a sense of style. I have seen, for instance, all of my children’s names described as “Antique Charm.” This was a happy coincidence for the first two. For the twins, as numbers three and four, it felt almost like a necessity.
When you find out you’re having twins, your baby-naming duties get more than doubly complicated. The moment my husband and I saw that second jellybean on the ultrasound, some of our plans went out the window. Since then, we’ve learned about many challenges and much confusion over twin names–some before naming our daughters, and some after.
Nameberry has already touched on several of the pitfalls of naming multiples: the matchy-matchy names, the rhymes, the names so different that anyone they meet will think one kid got the “good” name. The following are some more of the surprises that parents of multiples encounter.
Equal weight: If you’re into the meanings of names, finding comparable names for your kids can be challenging. In childhood, my friend Craig was taunted by his sister Cynthia. “I’m named after a goddess,” she told him, “and you’re named after a rock.” They’re not even twins. Thinking about that made us decide against giving one of our twins a mythological name and the other the name of a flower.
Initial difficulties: Cute as it may seem to name your kids with the same first letter, it can cause problems. I have heard twin moms say that their insurance tried to deny claims as double-billing, based on the first initial and birth date. And if originality is important to you, limiting yourself to one letter may backfire. I know three different moms who named their twin daughters Hayley and Hannah (with spelling variations).
“Which one is the boy?”: Boy/girl twins are the most common type of multiples. Many well-meaning people will simply assume that one of your kids is male and the other female. Gender-ambiguous names, such as last-names-as-first-names, add to the confusion. If you’re naming your boys Cooper and Edison, brace yourself for compliments about your “daughter’s” long eyelashes. Which one they call the daughter will vary.
They can’t even tell the names apart: Have you ever heard a restaurant hostess call “Denise,” only to have a peeved-looking Dennis stand up? Not everybody is good at phonetic spelling. To many of the people your kids will encounter in life, Casey and Cassie look like the same name. Your children will almost certainly share a birthdate, and if they’re same-sex, they may look a lot alike…it’s better if at least their names are different.
This blog is adapted from our most recent book, Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby
Twins offer a rare opportunity for parents to choose two related names at the same time, but also multiply the potential difficulties of sibling naming. With twins, it can be more tempting to use rhyme, sound play, and same initial names, but in our opinion pairings like Eddie and Teddy, Faith and Charity, or Nicholas and Nicole should be relegated to a time capsule.
While same-initial names that are clearly distinct from each other – Garrett and Grace, say, or Susannah and Simone – are okay, different-initial names are consistent in style and tone are preferable.
Some celebrity examples that work: Brad and Angelia’s Knox and Vivienne, Julia Roberts’ Phinnaeus and Hazel, Patrick Dempsey’s Sullivan and Darby, and Marcia Cross’s Eden and Savannah. Although each of these sets of names is very different in style and feel, they all embody the qualities that matter most in twin names. Each name in the set is distinct from the other yet they make a harmonious pair – exactly what most parents would wish for the twins themselves.
Gender compatibility may be more important for twins than it is for siblings. One pair of starbaby twins whose names don’t quite work as well as they should: Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ Jessie James and D’Lila Star. Both are girls, yet Jessie’s name seems thoroughly boyish while D’Lila’s is feminine to the point of frilly. Melissa Ethridge’s twins are Johnnie and Miller – but unless you know their middle names, you wouldn’t guess that Johnnie is a girl, Miller a boy. Such gender confusion seems needless, well, confusing.
Lookydaddy.com’s Brian Sargent, today’s guest blogger, is the stay-at-home dad of now-four-year-old twin girls and a third-grader. Those are his daughters, above.
My wife and I knew it would be tough to name twin girls, so we assigned ourselves jobs. My wife’s job was to suggest possible names for consideration. My job was to say I didn’t like them.
Not to be immodest, but I did my job well.
“You’re not even trying, anymore, are you?”
I did my job so well that toward the end of my wife’s pregnancy, I began to fear for my life. With each passing week, in an attempt to sleep comfortably, my wife had stacked foam pads, sleeping bags, pillows, and even an air mattress on her side of our marital bed, and as the twins’ due date approached, I knew that all she would have to do was roll over in the middle of the night to literally crush the baby-name objections right out of me.
I kid, of course. My wife could have never rolled over without my help.
Finally, exasperated with the selfless way in which I saved my children from names that belonged to my ex-students or had too many Ys, this is what my wife did: She wrote down a list of her ten favorite names, posted it on the refrigerator, and informed me none of the names could be removed from the list unless they were replaced with better ones.
So there they stood: Ten names. Who knows where they came from? Some I recognized as my wife’s coworkers. Some may have been from TV shows. And some were there simply to make me wonder why I had ever thought my wife and I had enough in common to successfully raise a child together. And, unless I could come up with better, two of them would become my twin girls.
I never came up with better. The two girls currently pulling on my arms as I type, giving my spellchecker a run for its money, bear names that came from that list of ten. And you know what? It’s fine. In fact, it’s more than fine. When I look back on it, I’m not sure why I was such a jerk about the whole name-choosing process in the first place. My girls, my beautiful, wonderful Lila and Victoria, are beautiful and wonderful no matter what we call them. And besides, they turned out to be identical, so it’s not like we use their names anyway. Beats us who is who.
But, happily, neither of them are is Hester.