By Melissa Willets
In the 1970s, Melissa was the third most popular name for girls in the country. So naturally, my parents named me Melissa, and thus, not a year went by without me being one of several girls with my name in my class. In case you can’t tell, I hated it.
So, when it came time to name my first daughter, I was determined to pick a baby name that no one else her age would share. I can proudly report that Dana has never met another little girl with her name, as it was far more popular in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.
The fact that my name strongly influenced my baby name choice made me wonder how other parents’ names might inform their decisions.
“Naming is such an interesting practice!” Anne E. Lincoln, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology at SMU in Dallas, Texas says. “Naming is a highly gendered practice in the United States, with boys often named after other family members.” The Bible largely influences name choice for both genders, but Lincoln adds parents have displayed a great deal of creativity with females. (As we’ve been seeing on Nameberry, though, this has begun to change, with more creativity and diversity now being seen on boys’ names.)
Let’s look at how your own name might influence the choice you make for your baby.
Common names. Like mine. As I explained, I was all about picking names that aren’t anywhere near the Top 10. No Ava or Jack for me! If you are hunting for a unique baby name, how about something like Evalina for a girl? Or Brenton for a boy?
Unique names. The opposite effect could come into play here, depending on how you feel about your uncommon moniker. Love being the only Joelle or Kipton you’ve ever met? Then you might go for a similarly-special name like Sela or Ames. But if you wish your name wasn’t so unusual, Olivia and Mason could be the names for you!
Family names. Do you dare break from custom? “I was named after my mother which is super weird, and [has] always been a tad annoying,” Ivette García Dávila, author of I’m The One Pushing, says, adding, “Especially for my husband. No guy wants to call his mother-in-law by his wife’s name.” She says being Latina, it’s common for first-born girls to be named after their moms. “And so my mom named me Ivette, like her.” But, Dávila adds, “When we had our daughter, we made sure to break that tradition.” Would you?
Conversation-starter names. Were you named after the Colfax Marathon where your parents met? If so, of course, everyone wants to know the story behind your name. It might be fun to honor the tradition of picking a place name for your own child. Among the many to consider: Sydney, Cuba, Holland, Vero, Montana, or Orlando.
Too-long names. Being named Arabellina or Constantine got you down? Then you might go to the opposite extreme with a one-syllable name like Eve, Brooke, May, or Bryn for a girl. Or for a boy, Kent, Finn, Grant, or Luke.
Nicknamey-names. Love being Andrew but despise Andy? Or adore Madeline but not Maddie? Here are some nickname-proof monikers you can marinate on: Beau, Jude, or Kai for a boy, and Reese, Mia, or Grace for a girl.
In the end, it seems that if you love your name, you’d be likely to pick a name for your baby with a similar theme. If you don’t love your name, well, it’s more about going in a completely different direction. Ultimately, your relationship with your own name is a very powerful, informative thing that can inform your choice for your child in one way or another.
Has the way you feel about your own name influenced your baby name choice?
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