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Picking Your Own Middle Name

January 5, 2016 Linda Rosenkrantz

By Tiana Putric

Each time I read the Nameberry forums I am especially drawn to the posts written by soon-to-be parents asking fellow Berries for help in finding the ‘perfect’ middle name for their baby. I believe I can propose a solution that will not only please the easygoing and the persnickety but could possible change the way parents name their sons and daughters:

Rather than bestowing your just-born baby with a first name, a middle name, and a family name, I encourage you to consider allowing your child to choose his or her own middle name upon their sixteenth birthday or thereabouts.

I speak from experience.

When I was born my mother and father gave me what I consider a very magical gift: a given name, an inherited surname but no middle name. In other words, my parents gave me the privilege of choosing my own middle name, should I want one, when I arrived at the age of sixteen. I am happy to share that I am now in the midst of searching for a middle name that I relate to, that I love, that is meaningful to me, and that I find smart, strong, and beautiful.

My search for a middle name has become far and away one of my greatest learning experiences. My quest for that second name has been an extraordinary adventure in the realms of ancient mythology and world history: Circe, Greek goddess of magic, and Cleopatra, legendary Queen of Egypt. My hunt has led me to atlases of the world and maps of the cosmos: Madeleine, a river, street, village, and church in France, and Lyra, a constellation in the northern sky whose brightest star is Vega.

My journey has taken me to small and large libraries where I sit for hours perusing books on nature’s flora and fauna: Rowan, the brilliant red-berried tree fitted with magical powers, and Pippa, lover of horses. I have turned dictionaries and encyclopedias of quotations inside out seeking my middle name: Reverie, a synonym for day-dreaminess, and Tennyson, 19th century British poet. I have become captivated with fictional and non-fictional heroines and heroes: Shakespeare’s Cordelia and the great Mandela.

My search for a middle name has inspired conversations with family and friends about my family tree, about the rise of gender-neutral names, about the pronunciation of names, and about the beauty of names from different cultures around the world. Last to mention but just as important, my pursuit for a middle name has led me to the wonderful world of Nameberry and its very imaginative and inspiring Berry community.

By granting your son or daughter the great privilege of choosing their own middle name you would be giving him or her an extraordinary gift of self-reflection and self-expression, curiosity and creativity, and knowledge and character.

So fellow Berries, what do you think? Would you consider giving your baby the gift of middle-namelessness? Would you allow your son or daughter to one day choose their own middle name?

Tiana Putric is a 16-year-old Canadian high school student who is thoroughly immersed in the world of names.

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