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Baby Name Backlash: When your kid hates her name…

posted by: irishmom View all posts by this author

By Tara Wood

When my husband and I had our first child thirteen years ago, choosing her name was one of the easiest decisions we made. We struggled more with the paint color of her nursery and which diapers we’d go with than her name. I knew that I wanted to use Maura somewhere in there but I wasn’t adamant that it had to be in the first name slot. We casually tossed around a few names that we liked, a couple that we didn’t hate and several that were absolutely off the table.

One day, my husband mentioned Juliet which I knew instantly was going to be our sweet wee girl’s name. Only, I wanted to spell if Juliette as it seemed a bit more feminine and I liked that it was a tad longer next to our short, masculine last name Wood. So that was it. It was very casual and stress-free and done.

I did consider that she may be teased as she grew older about the Romeo and Juliet association, but, really, that seems like a pretty awesome thing to be teased about to me. I can think of about a thousand worse things to be made fun of for… like the guy I went to high school with named Richard Head. When several of the boys in our school realized that Dick is a nickname for Richard…sheesh. I felt awful for him. A name used in a Shakespeare play seemed pretty benign, if not totally cool, to me.

Fast forward to her fifth grade year and that’s when the first Romeo and Juliet reference was made. It didn’t seem to bother her until she started hearing it nearly daily. In the past year, she’s mentioned to me several times that she ‘hates’ her name. She’s asked the questions- how old does she have to be to legally change it and will we pay for it since we saddled her with this burden in the first place? I’ve asked her why, exactly she “hates” her name other than the Shakespeare thing.

She hates how long it is, she thinks it’s just an “ugly” name, people constantly think she’s saying Julie or Julia which she feels are both “old lady” names. Saying the name Juliette “feels weird in her mouth” and that it sounds like “Chewliette” like, she’s going to chew something and that the name, overall, makes her feel stabby.

It makes me sad, y’all. I love her and I love her name. Honestly, it’s still my favorite of all of our 6 kid’s names. I cannot imagine her name being anything else. With the names of some of our other kids, I have, at times, felt a bit name regret when their moniker when it became much more popular than I expected or their personality didn’t end up “matching” their names so much. I can imagine calling them by different names but they’re the ones who’ve never questioned their names and have never expressed any dislike.

Our Juliette likes the names Rose, Ruby, Wren, Naomi and Lucia. Happily, those are lovely names and they’ve all been on our list with every kid. I would not be heart broken if she chose any one of those.

I suppose if, when she’s 18, she still wants to pursue changing her name, we’ll support her. Maybe we’ll even pay half of the cost. Until then, I’m going to hold my breath and hope that this is just a phase she’s going through…just like her aversion to sunlight or eating anything that has any nutritional value whatsoever.

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About the author


Tara Wood aka Irishmom is a fledgling writer, stay at home mom to 6 cheeky and joyful children, and wife to one ridiculously handsome man. You can read more on her (almost) daily blog, Morning Wood.
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24 Responses to “Baby Name Backlash: When your kid hates her name…”

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Mads Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 1:02 am

Hi Tara, I was once the 13 year old girl that hated my name. My name is Madeline. As a teen I found my name “too long” and “too girly”. People pronounced it “Mad-e-line” instead of “Mad-e-lin” and I was sick of having the theme song from the show of same name sung to me.

I also think that if my parents had named me anything else I would of hated that too. I didnt want to be seen as a little girl anymore and that meant having control over everything in my life.

I am now 27 and I like my name. I like the compliments I get, I like that I can be casual Maddy or professional Madeline and I like that I don’t know any other Madeline’s.

I think your daughters rebellion against her name is more about being 13 than the name itself. The name Juliette is lovely as are Julie, Julia and Jules. I am confident that your Juliette will appreciate and keep her name after her teens.

linelei Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 2:03 am

I also hated my name around late middle-school to early high school. I even went by an entirely different name for about a year and a half. But I got over it and learned to love my own name. Sure, there are tons more beautiful names out there, but my name now fits me in part BECAUSE of the fact I hated it for a while – we tussled, but the connection grew stronger. As an adult living away from family, I like that my name is a gift from and connection to my loved ones, and it helps me feel closer to them. I hope your Juliette will someday feel the same!

Wildsyringa Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 3:20 am

Same experience here. Around age 13 I decided I absolutely hated my name. It sounded bizarrely foreign and awkward on my tongue. A few years later I was back to being okay, even liking my name again. I think it’s a pretty common phenomenon at that age.

Juliette is swoon-worthy!

Myosotis Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 3:43 am

I didn’t used to like my name. I just didn’t think it suited me, and even my mum said anyone who heard my name called out would expect someone different to appear. Plus I hated that it’s a really popular name in other countries (and not unheard of here), and paired with my last name (and maybe even my middle) there would be another person with the exact same name. It also doesn’t help having friends who are likely to be the only ones with their first/surname combo in the world. And pronunciation has always been an issue, which paired with being very shy when I was younger, was an even bigger problem.

But now I can’t imagine having another name, and I love the meaning running through it, and the story of why my dad named me. It still feels kind of weird saying my own name, but so many people I know feel the same, and I think it’s just something loads of teens go through. Juliette is beautiful, and I’m sure she’ll grow to like it.

peacebird10 Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 3:51 am

Mine came a bit earlier, when I was 10, and stuck with me for the early teen years. Why would my parents be so mean in naming me Kara!? Blech! It’s such a short name, K is such a spunky, bubbly letter for a rather quiet, serious person, and it’s so girly!

Fast forward to now and I love my name. Ok, there are still times I wish I had a bit longer name, like Katharine nn Kara, but my mom was very deliberate about why she chose my name, and I can appreciate that. I’ll have that forever.

I think 13 year olds are usually trying so hard to find and assert their OWN identity that they can throw the baby out with the bathwater, wanting everything about them to be decided by them. You just ‘get’ a name like you just ‘get’ blue eyes, or so it seems at that age.

I would be surprised if she didn’t warm up to her name later. I can’t picture myself as anything else.

If she decides later to change her name, well, a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet. 😉

senseandsensibility Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 8:18 am

I feel like everything’s said on that topic, and totally agree with previous posts. Eyes are a really good example tho – when I was a teen I hated that I have brown eyes. I wanted soooo badly to have green eyes as the rest of my family does – my mum, my father, my sister, my aunt etc. Then my mum told me a beautiful story about her being pregnant with me – as she had this small painting of a sweet little girl who had big dark eyes, and as she kept looking at this painting imagining the baby she’s carrying (me) would have same beautiful brown eyes. The story didn’t speak to me at first, but now I’m more than ok with it. With my name was a lil’ bit different as my mom just liked it a lot. As a teen I wished I was given other name, on top of that I disliked my middle name, too. I am Marta Aleksandra, and now I grown up to live with my name, and despite I might not fully like it, it’s just mine. I learned a lot about the meaning of my names and just found a few advantages of being named like that (the biggest one is that Marta is very international – add or lose ‘h’ inside, or swap -a for -e at the end, that’s all the variations you got; it basically cannot be mistaken). It’s really important for me as I live between Poland – UK – US. As mentioned previously, I am also sure your daughter will grow up to her name. Juliette is pretty, feminine, romantic as well as professional and not too ‘out there’. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it as she gets older.

Erin91 Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 9:15 am

Your story makes me so sad! Juliette is stunning and it’s my all time favorite girl’s name. I really hope she learns to love her name. I think she is going thru a phase and it will pass.

LexieM Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 9:38 am

I went throughout a stage where I hated my name too and really wanted to be Pippi Longstocking. Well actually Pippilotta. My mom told me that when I was 18 I could make that choice myself. By that time I had changed my mind. I think that it’s fairly normal to go through a stage where one doesn’t necessarily like ones name – I’d expect that to happen at around the same time that one really starts to assert ones independence from one’s parents and to really discover who one is. Having a “label” that someone else has chosen for you could feel a bit counter productive or “enforcery”. I mean at some point one gets over being embarrassed by one parents, or wanting to be the cool kid in school (hopefully at least). I’m wouldn’t be surprised in couple of years, once Romeo and Juliet are bit farther off the horizon, if your Juliette changes her mind and decides she does like it. And…. in the mean time she can always come up with a cool nn that she likes. (I actually think Rose as in “a plant by any other name…” would be a fun and subtle nn for Juliette – but then I guess that does depend on her.)

Thank you for sharing your and your daughters story with us!

SparkleNinja18 Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I’m 15, and I’ve disliked my name for most of my life. My name is Abigael and I go by Abby. When I was younger (3-5), I was upset because my name didn’t end in the -uh sound, like my sister’s, Leah. I was convinced that a name ending in -uh was more of a girl name. Just look at Cinderella and Aurora, who were my favorite Disney princesses at the time. I got over that phase before kindergarten, thankfully.

From the time I was in, maybe first grade (?), until just last year, I didn’t like my name because it was too old fashioned. Here I was hanging out with my friends, Caylee, Laken, Lauren, Ashley, Tatumn, etc and my name was Abby. In my opinion, it just sounded so old next to those modern names. My only comfort in the subject was my friend Catherine, who had the same idea I did about her name.

I went through a period where I liked my name. That ended fast. I now don’t like my name again and this time for a new reason- popularity! Do you have any idea how tiring it gets, listening to the comments from people when they learn my name? (“Abby? Hey, my best friend is named Abby!” “Hey, I have a daughter/granddaughter/niece/cousin named Abby!”) My response? “Good for you, I really don’t care. I probably had the name first anyways.” I HATE being referred to by Abby R., or Abby-blonde, or Abby-blue-shirt. I can’t enter a classroom in my sisters’ school without finding an Abby. It’s really annoying. My advice to anyone considering a popular name: don’t.

But, I would never change my name. It’s a respect thing. I know, that no matter how much I hate my name, my mom and dad put a lot of thought into it. And, as a name nerd myself, I know a lot of thought is put into my favorite names. I feel that if I would want my children to respect that I loved their names for a reason, which is why I gave it to them, I need to respect that my mom loved my name.

Nymphalis antiopa Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I hated my name (Sarah) from the time I was 9. I wanted a name that suited me more. Sarah felt so boring and normal and I wanted something more creative and eccentric. I even tried to go by offshoots of my middle name like Elspeth. I am fine with it now. I think it is part of your daughter trying to establish her own identity.

tararyaz Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I went through the same phase of hating my name (no offense, fellow Tara!) when I was in about 4th grade. I really wished that I was Sara(h) since my name was often mistaken for it and I considered to be cooler, witchier, more bohemian, historic, ect. I always felt my name was older than me since it peaked in the 70s and I was an 80s/90s kid. I think so much of it was about feeling awkward and uncomfortable in my own skin at that age, trying to figure out & become my true self, my name felt just not quite right for me. As time went on I came to relate with the name more.

larkub101 Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 7:01 pm

I must echo everyone else’s thoughts; I too hear bored my own irritation over my name at one point. Larissa was frequently misheard as Marissa, Carissa, Alyssa…the whole -Issa gang really. Then, in our mock presidential election in elementary school, the best campaign slogan that rhymed with my name was “Vote for Larissa, she won’t kiss ya!” Very classy.

I think it’s really just a phase. I love my name now 🙂

amc630 Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I hated my name (Angela) starting at just about the same age. At that time I actually went by Julie for a while. And these days some people call me Maureen (my pen name). On the whole though, I like my name pretty well. My mother was also very deliberate in her choice, so out of respect for her I never went through with my intention to legally change my name. Juliette is so very lovely, what a wonderful choice you made. 🙂

kitchi1 Says:

June 11th, 2014 at 9:47 pm

I dislike my name, too. It’s Tia.

You’re daughter’s name is beautiful! I would give anything to trade names with her!

Juliette has nicknames…maybe she can do that? She can go by Julie, Julia, Lee, Ette, Etta, and even the SUPER COOL Jules! I love the name Jules.

rosierose Says:

June 12th, 2014 at 3:45 am

It’s really normal for teens to hate their names. She could be Taylor or Kate or Mildred or Dashawna and she’d still (probably) find a reason to loathe it. Teens are going through a mostly painful and frustrating process of finding their own identity, separating themselves from their parents/family group, and developing as an individual. They’re also super critical of everything. I wouldn’t read as much into her feelings as you are, or assume that they wouldn’t be happening if you’d named her Wren or whatever else she thinks she likes right now.

Also, this is amusing, but when I was 13 I wished I was named Juliet. Really! I moaned to my mother over and over that she should have picked that name. And it’s still one of my favorites– it’s on my list for a future daughter (though my partner doesn’t much care for it).

Jeanne6629 Says:

June 12th, 2014 at 6:56 am

My full first name is Jeanne Marie and I was raised in the Northeast US. Middle school was torture for my name. I was different because “jean” was a grandma name and because a two-name fn must mean that my parents are hicks / incestuous. Obviously – all untrue. It took until late in high school to appreciate having a very different name and one with an amazing tie to my family and heritage. I get tickled when friends who’ve known me the longest or who are newer friends but have met my sisters or parents use the full name. Now, trying to pick names for our children, my husband cannot understand my complete dislike for popular names. No matter where I went or who I met, I’ve almost always been their only JM and that is pretty special.

Juliette will grow to love her name.

chi1127 Says:

June 12th, 2014 at 10:20 am

She could always go by a different name without legally changing her name. I knew a girl in college who did just that. Sometimes, I wish I had been able to come up with a call name for myself. I love all sorts of names, but I can’t seem to rename myself. So, I’m just stuck in the herd of Rachels. I don’t mind my name as much as I did when I was in my teens or twenties. As others have said, this could be a phase.

indiefendi Says:

June 12th, 2014 at 1:37 pm

The Romeo and Juliet teasing was inevitable. I’d get quite annoyed with that after a while as well. But I think she’ll grow out of that hatred of the name. She can go by Jules, that’s cool. 🙂

little_billie Says:

June 12th, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I didn’t like my name during elementary school. There was another girl in my class with the same name so I was always Isabella B. or Isa B. which totally annoyed me. I always wanted to be Ashley 😀
Now I kinda like my name because it’s quite popular here and I had it long before it got popular :D, I just hate that although my name is quite popular, people constantly mistake it for Isabell.

maggiefromcanada Says:

June 12th, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I think we all go through it. Like most of the other posters, I *loathed* my name throughout middle school and high school. Margaret was the name of peoples’ great aunts, not kids my age. Now I love that it’s classic and used in many cultures, and so versatile with nicknames. The funny thing is I think everyone secretly thinks they got the short end of the stick. One day in high school, I was sitting with my aunt and grandma, and my grandma said that she just thought Margaret was the most beautiful name. My aunt immediately said, “Well, then why’d I end up with an ugly name like Janet?” 50+ years old, and she was still resentful about her name!

lawsonhaley Says:

June 12th, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I always hated my name, because it was constantly misspelled and mispronounced. I would get Hilary, Halle, Hailey, Hayley, Haylie, Hayleigh, etc. A few people went as far as saying I had a boy’s name, and more than a few others have stated that they flat out dislike my ‘weird’ name. I sort of grew to like it, but growing up, I either loathed my middle name (Alannah) or I loved it. I loathed that it was constantly mispronounced as Ah-lan-nah (as opposed to Ah-law-nah), and, as a child, I used to get all the N’s and A’s mixed up. I remember being as young as 5 or 6 and experimenting with different spellings of my name, to the point where my grade one teacher had to ask me to stop, because she was getting confused every time she saw a new variant of Haley on my paper.

Now I still dislike my name, and I do sometimes wish I had a different one, because I feel like it doesn’t suit me, but I know my mum has loved the name since she was a teenager, and I wouldn’t change it because I know she and my dad ended up choosing it for a reason. On one hand, I wish my name was less common, or at least had less variations (like Olivia or Charlotte, two they considered), or one that was more popular and that was familiar in 1995 (like Samantha, another they thought about). At the end of the day though, the only thing I may change now that I’m 18, would be my first name’s spelling. I’d change it to Hayley.

mill1020 Says:

June 12th, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Our daughter’s going through this. She’s 7. Instead of Elise she wants to be Sarah or something else that ends with an “ah” sound. She keeps asking me if she can change her name when she’s 18. I’m saying no!

I was the same way when I was her age, except I wanted to be called by my middle name instead of my first. My dad refused to indulge me, and I gradually started to love my name. I think outright refusal is the way to go. Sorry, kid, but we got to name you, and you can name your own kid whatever you want!

jadnf Says:

February 1st, 2015 at 12:00 am

My name is Juliet. For me the Romeo-teasing started in elementary school and I hated my name and told my parents that I would change it for the rest of my childhood. I’m now in my mid-twenties and let me tell ya, the Romeo thing never goes away. Very often people will make a Romeo comment when I introduce myself, and most frequently it’s “So where’s Romeo!?” The best come back that I’ve come up with over the past two decades (gets the most laughs) is “Oh he’s at the gym lifting weights!” It gets so old. But other times the Shakespeare association is useful because when people mishear my name (“Julie? Julia?”) I say “JuliET, like Romeo and Juliet” and people get it right away.

I have not yet changed my name, but disliking it was not just a teenage phase. I did go through quite a few phases of names that I wanted to change it to (Amy… Holly… Noelle… Leigh… even Leif at one point lol), which I think is a valid reason to have a child/teen wait until they’re 18+ to legally change their name, but I would have appreciated having parents that would have been supportive if I had decided to unofficially change it and start using a different name for myself.

Paige_Mackenzie Says:

August 13th, 2015 at 12:04 pm

I hated my name when I was younger. My name is Alicia(uh-lee-sha) and I always hated that no one could pronounce it or spell it correctly. I got so fed up with correcting people. Once people knew how it was pronounced/spelled I received many compliments. But getting there had me hating my name. I used to tell my parents all the time that when I was old enough I would change my name. I never did and I am alright with it now, but that is the reason that I still have the obsession with finding the PERFECT names for my children in the future. Unfortunately there is no way to ask a child what they would like to be named ahead of time, there will always be the possibility of them not liking what you picked.

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