Picking Your Own Middle Name
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.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on January 6th, 2016 at 9:50 am
I actually think this would be a wonderful idea. Not only would it ease the pressure off of parents to find another name, it would give the child a chance to influence their [name] identity.
The only problem would be us name nerds letting go of favourite combos and honour names. Or just the chance to use one or two more names we love.
on January 6th, 2016 at 12:03 pm
I have had a similar experience.
My parents gave me my mother’s maiden name as my middle name, and I have decided now that it feels like part of my surname, so I use it as a double-barelled surname with my actual surname.
I don’t have a name that I consider my middle now, except for a name that was given to me when I visited a certain culture, which is not officially part of my name but is very meaningful for me.
Perhaps one day I will give myself a middle name that feels special for me, but at the moment I am very happy not to have a “real” middle name, and I have decided (although it’s years away; perhaps I will change my mind, although I hope not!) that when I have children I won’t give them middle names either.
Actually, to me, middle names seem like a strange concept. I was surprised to find their “must-have” status on Nameberry. I think that a middle name that is there to give the child a bit of the mother’s name as well as the father’s, or to honour a family member or dear friend of the parent’s, is wonderful. But I honestly don’t understand putting a name in the middle place just because you like it, or because it sounds nice with the first name…Tara Isabel Smith (making up a person for an example) will be Tara Smith in most settings; she probably won’t be called Isabel (and if she will be, she most likely won’t be called Tara), so it doesn’t really have much of a purpose that I can see. But then again, the simple idea that her parents loved the name Isabel might give it meaning for her. I’m not condemning using middle names, but just exploring the idea.
But a child choosing their own middle name when they are old enough to have found their path and to know what is special and important for them, is another matter. Thank you so much for this idea and for sharing your experience!
on January 6th, 2016 at 2:05 pm
Idk if it’s just me, but with me being a Teenberry and all, I really have fun coming up with fn+mn combos. I feel like if I had the chance to pick my own middle name now, I would be so overwhelmed that I just wouldn’t be able to choose. Although I don’t particularly like my middle name- An- at least I have something, and I can unofficially choose a middle name.
on January 6th, 2016 at 3:02 pm
I know a family that allowed their first grader to choose her middle name. When she became an adult her wedding invitation came in the mail
and that was when people realized her name was “FirstName Alligator Lastname.”
Sixteen seems a lot more logical than six. Just sayin’.
on January 6th, 2016 at 4:54 pm
In all honesty, I’ve been obsessed with names for nearly twelve years now, and the thought of having my middle names (which I have painstakingly selected, and reselected, and perfected and refined so often and for so long), cast aside so that my child might choose their own, makes me feel frustrated, anguished and perhaps a little bit sickened. Some might think me overdramatic but, it’s how I genuinely feel.
Not only that but, my own name obsession aside, I can see a big flaw in the idea of letting children name themselves. To put it bluntly, the biggest issue is the most obvious, in that – as we go through life – our tastes change. The name a six year old might choose, assuming it was a name to begin with and not something along the lines of Princess or Megatron, would likely be a choice that a sixteen year old would cringe at. Likewise, the name a sixteen year old might settle on, potentially in a fit of rebellion as teenagers are known to experience, would 9 times out of 10 be something a twenty-six year old would be less than impressed by.
At the end of it all, I believe that it is the parents job to name their children, and it’s the children’s job to form their own identities to make the name. But, that’s just my opinion.
on January 6th, 2016 at 10:43 pm
Wow i love this idea! We decided not to give our child a middle name for the shear fact coming up with a first name has been overwhelming. I don’t know if i’m sold enough to actually allow my child to do it, but it’s something to consider
on January 6th, 2016 at 11:35 pm
It seems to have been a very positive experience for this author but I don’t think most people would put this much thought and research into it. I think they would just pick a popular name they like the sound of which in that case, they might as well just have their parents choose one for them.
on January 7th, 2016 at 7:48 am
Interesting idea for sure! My version of this is to choose a name that has nickname possibilities. My dd has at least 6 possibilities with her name, and I hope she will choose one that suits her best when she’s older.
Something to think about: how would his work for a boy? Hope you like the name “Danger”!
on January 7th, 2016 at 12:06 pm
So, what middle name did you end up choosing!?!?
on January 7th, 2016 at 8:12 pm
This seems like a very interesting idea. It depends on the person, though— some kids might not put as much thought into it!
Carol Weening Said
on July 29th, 2016 at 3:11 pm
It was SO nice to meet you today Tiana AND I love this idea of picking your own middle name! I never would have picked ‘Betty’ but my grandmothers name was ‘Bertha’, so my parents chose ‘Betty’, so I could be named after my grandmother. I do like it better than ‘Bertha’! Haha! I can’t wait to hear what you choose!! I noticed you mentioned the name ‘Cordelia’, and after watching ‘Anne of Green Gables’ last night (that is Anne with an ‘E’!!) I feel like that would be a very suitable name for you! ‘Tiana Cordelia’ sounds wonderful! It kind of reminds me of my mother’s name: ‘Cornelia Jannetta’. I hope to see you again real soon! Until then, I will read more of your blogs when I get a chance! X,O Carol
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.