Tips for Naming Your Baby
What do most people do? Some of the baby-naming approaches frequently used include the following:
--Mesh two names together to form a new one.
--Pick a name you've always loved.
--Find a name that bodes well for a promising career.
--Go with a name that connotes a trait--honesty, friendliness, savoir faire.
--Use the mother's maiden name for the first name.
--Honor a beloved relative by using his name.
--Stick with something time-honored and safe.
--Make up a name, a practice that some people consider tres gauche, and others rate high on the creativity scale.
And while you are dabbling in the name game, be sure to remember these naming taboos:
--Avoid a name that's carrying baggage equivalent to Amtrak, as in Cher, Michael Jackson, Richard Simmons, Billy Joel, or Sting.
--Don't let family members talk you into a "junior" unless you don't mind your child being called "Little John" or "Junior" lifelong. Listen to all the suggestions relatives fling your way, but you make the call.
--Don't be too bothered by existing connotations that you associate with a name ("I knew a Margaret in school, and she was the meanest person in our class," "I sat next to a Stone in college, and he had a million moles," or "I dated a Morgan, and she was the most boring girl I've ever known"). The reason you shouldn't let old associations trip you up is that once you name your child Tasha or Truman, there isn't another person in the world with that name who matters. Trust me on this.
Ten Great Tips for Successful Baby-Naming
A "set of rules" can ratchet up your confidence. If you don't really need a framework, just read the following tips as a fun diversion.
Here are ten steps for naming your baby:
1. Consider the sound--does it work with your last name?
When the full name is said aloud, you want something that has a nice ring, not a tongue-twister or a rhyme. You may find that a long last name jibes best with a short first name; by the same token, put a long first name with a short last name, and you may have a winner.
The union of a first name ending in a vowel paired with a last name that starts with a vowel is not the greatest choice. For example: Ava Amazon. It's just hard to say. Puns aren't good omens for a happy life, either. Look at the infamous Ima Hogg name of a Houston philanthropist. If the poor woman wasn't burdened enough, she also had to deal with lifelong rumors of a sister named Ura.
2. Know exactly what happens when you give your baby a crowd-pleaser name.
Give your kid a common name, and she'll probably end up Sarah B. in a classroom with six Sarahs. She may be comfortable with the anonymity that a plain-Jane name lends her--considering it far better than being the class Brunhilda, who gets ridiculed daily. Or, she may ask you every other day of her childhood why you weren't more original in naming her: "Why did you give me the same name fifty million other kids have? Why couldn't you have come up with something better? Why didn't you take more time?"
3. Think seriously about the repercussions of choosing a name that's over-the-top in uniqueness.
You are definitely sticking your neck out by giving your child the name Rusty if your last name is Nail. Sure, he may muster up enough swagger to pull it off, but what if he doesn't? Lots of people with unusual or hard-to-spell last names will purposely opt for a simple first name for their child, just to ease the load of having two names to spell over and over. Some research suggests that kids with odd names get more taunting from peers and are less well socialized. You can be sure that junior-high kids will make fun of a boy named Stone, but later, as an adult, he may enjoy having an unusual name.
Just make sure you don't choose a "fun" name simply because you like the idea of having people praise your creativity--instead, ask yourself how your child will feel about being a Bark or a Lake.
4. Ponder the wisdom of carrying on that family name.
Aunt Priscilla did fine with her name, but how will your tiny tot feel in a classroom full of Ambers and Britneys? Extremely old-fashioned names sometimes make their way back into circulation and do just fine, but sometimes they don't. (Will we really ever see the name Durwood soar again?)
5. Consider the confusion that is spawned by a namesake.
A kid named after a parent won't like being "Junior" or "Little Al." Ask anyone who has been in that position about the amount of confusion it generates in regard to credit cards and other personal I.D. information. You'll spend half your life unraveling the mix-ups.
Psychiatrists (many of them juniors themselves) will tell you that giving a child his very own name is a much better jumpstart than making him a spin-off or a mini-me.
At the same time, we have all run across someone who absolutely loves being Trey or a III because the name represents tradition and history.
6. Make your family/background name an understudy (the middle name).
Let's say you want your baby's name to reflect his heritage or religion, but you strongly prefer more mainstream names. You can fill both bills by using the ancestry name as a middle name.
7. Ponder whether the name's meaning matters to you.
For some people, knowing a name's meaning is extremely important, often much more so than its Greek or German origin. And your child could turn out to be the type who loves investigating such things. So what happens when that offspring of yours finds out that her name Delilah means "whimpering harlot guttersnipe"? She may wish you had taken a longer look at the name's baggage.
8. Look at shortened versions of a name and check out initials.
Don't think your child's schoolmates will fail to notice that his initials spell out S.C.U.M. And, you can be sure that Harrison will become "Harry" or, occasionally, "Hairy." View the teasing as being as much a given as school backpacks, and think twice about whether you want to give your child's peer group something they can really grab onto. Tread lightly. Naming always starts with good intentions, but you can do your kid a favor by considering each name-candidate's bullying potential.
9. After you've narrowed your list, try out each name and see how it feels.
Say, "Barnabus Higgins, get yourself over here!" Or, "Harrison Higgins, have you done your homework?" Or, "Hannibal Higgins, would you like some fava beans?"
10. Once you and your mate have decided on a name, don't broadcast it.
You may want to keep your name choice a secret, otherwise relatives and friends are likely to share all of their issues with the name and a long string of other, "better" options. Another possibility is that people will start calling the unborn baby that name, which will be unfortunate if you happen to find one you like better.
Bottom line: take the Name Game seriously, but don't be afraid to go with the one that just feels right. That precious infant who will change your life dramatically is sure to be the best thing that has ever happened to you--give him or her a name that you will love singing and saying every single day, a million times over.
Baby Ben (Jen), I'm so glad you're mine.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.