Posted by: Genny Colby | February 29, 2012

Names, Names, and more Names

Even before my hubby and I decided to start a family, we would talk names.  “What do you think of ____?”  Being a teacher, I heard lots of names every year.  Some I loved, some I grew to love because they reminded me of a really wonderful student or family, and some I could not stand to hear again because they reminded me of a difficult child or challenging family.  Oscar is one of those names I would never has considered in a million years…until I had a family that named their son Oscar.  This was a wonderful family, their daughter was in my class and she was a joy, and it getting to know this family and their new baby, I found that hey, I kind of liked that name.  But the hubby, not being so closely tied to this family, was not as keen.

As parents we have the daunting task of giving our child(ren) a name at birth.  We don’t know who this child will grow up to be, but we have to start creating his identity from birth (if not before if one has a named picked out sooner).  There are so many things to consider when giving the child a name.

Your familial culture, or religion can be one such consideration.  I had one family that was from the middle East.  Their children I believe were born in the US, but the parents were not and there was a strong tie to their home culture and religion.  They chose names for their children that were reflective of that connection.  The only problem was that for some reason, I could not pronounce their son’s name correctly!  Now, this could have been that mom, dad, and the young boy all told me different ways to say it, but regardless of why this was a huge issue for mom. I am not sure if mom was just really sensetive about her child’s name, or if she felt that my difficulties were a sign of something more disrespectful.  I tried, I really wanted to pronounce this child’s name correctly, but the more I tried, the bigger the road block in my mind seemed to become. We had more than one meeting on how to pronounce this young boy’s name.  I kept trying,  and I got it, eventually!  But keeping these kind of things in mind when naming a child is important, in my opinion.  I could not have been the only person who stumbled over this issue.

Family names are often considered as well.  Though this can cause some issues too.  In my husband’s family, he was named after his grandfather, who was given a family name.  So when we have a family reunion, there are about 12 people with the same name. Makes identifying pictures both simple (when in doubt, just guess the family name!) and challenging in trying to keep them all straight.  I was named after my great-grandmother on my dad’s side and my mom’s favorite aunt.  I love my old-fashioned name, not many people have it, though you can never find any holiday souvenirs with  my name on it.  My brother was named after my dad’s grandfather.  My sister was given a name that both of my parents just loved.    You would think my sister would be happy to have a name all her own…but no, she always felt left out not having a family name.  Yet one more dynamic to consider when playing the name game for a new baby.

Nicknames…do you want your child to have one or not?  Is it a name that can be shortened to a nickname?  Which one should you use? With this discussion you also have to try to think like you are back on the playground in elementary school.  What crazy name(s) could your child be called, simply due to the name you thought was so beautiful and wonderful when she was a baby.  Kids can be quite mean sometimes, finding anything to tease one another about.  (I am not talking about bullying, just normal playground teasing as kids learn to jockey for position on the “ladder of coolness”).

I think we did a pretty darn good job picking out a name for our daughter.  She has really grown into it, I love her nickname, and it is one that we can find holiday souvenirs for, but it is unlikely she will be one of 12 in her class with the same name.

So once we found out we are having a boy for baby #2, it was back to the name game.  We wanted a name that we both liked, that fit with our last name, that fit with our daughter’s name, and that was classic and current, yet not trendy.  And being able to find it on holiday souvenirs was a big one for me…having been the only one in my family that never could find anything, I did not want that for my child.  (So while I love my name…I guess the “no personalized souvenirs” kind of scarred me!).

Now the daunting task of shaping this child’s identity has begun.   Hope he likes it…if not, he can just add to the list of ways his parents messed up his life for his therapist down the road.

**And before anyone asks, we will not be sharing our final selection until he arrives.**



  1. I went for standard with my first, unusual for my second. I knew I wanted nicknames so I chose names with ready-made ones….somehow neither go by their intended nicknames. Ended up with a “bub” (I know…sounds hillbilly) and a T-man. They’re happy with who they are, I guess that’s all that matters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: