What’s in a name? Choosing a name for your baby can be fun, challenging, entertaining, argumentative, or all of the above.
I have come to realize that people have incredibly strong feelings about names. I have conducted many therapy sessions for couples where the entire focus is “discussing” a name for their baby. I even had a couple recently who was blissfully expecting twin boys, until the topic of names came up. They had to choose four names they both liked (two first names, two middle ones) and it took about five counseling sessions to accomplish that task.
Why do we get so emotional about baby names?
Why are names such an emotional topic? Well, for one thing it is a relatively permanent entity. It is rare for someone to go through the trouble of changing their name. I hated my name most of my life but it wasn’t until I was about to start my first job that I realized that I could ask to be called by a nickname. There are also family influences; the grandparents-to-be almost always weigh in and there might be pressure to name a baby after one of them, or a beloved relative. We also have emotional connections to names, both good and bad. My favorite girl’s name was crossed off our list because my husband had an ex-girlfriend by that name and he didn’t have great memories. I have had patients happily name children after their favorite teacher, composer, athlete, and even obstetrician!
Read more: Top baby name trends of 2017
The most important thing to keep in mind when you choose baby’s name is that this is your baby, and you and your partner have the honor of choosing a name. Of course it has to be a name you like. My father would never name one of this dogs until he went outside and tried out the name by calling it over and over. Most elementary school teachers would suggest you try out any combination of names that second grade boys could imagine. Limiting the teasing your child may experience is never a bad idea.
Suggestions for reducing name-choosing stress:
1. Consider your audience: Don’t tell anyone what names you are considering unless you really do want to know what they think
2. Compromise: If you are feeling family pressure for a specific name and it is not one you particularly like or want to saddle your child with, compromise by using it as a middle or even third name
3. Write it down: If you and your partner can’t decide, have each of you separately write down your favorite names and agree to choose the first name which comes up on both lists
4. Think about nicknames: If your partner is adamant about a name that you aren’t wild about but can live with, choose it but agree on a nickname you both like
5. Imagine the future: Be careful about choosing a name which is perfect for an 8 pound butterball, but may not be appropriate for when your child is applying for a job at the age of 22.
6. Spell wisely: It may be easier for your family in the long run to choose a name which has an obvious spelling. If not, you and your child will be spelling it for many years to come.
And remember that you can put enormous thought and consideration into choosing a name, but there is always the chance that some nickname from kindergarten will stick and your child will be “Spikie” or “Cat” for the rest of his or her life!
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