I took great pride in naming my dolls when I was a kid. It might have said “Barbie” on the packaging, but I could see deep into their synthetic souls and come up with the perfect name that represented their unique non-personality. Besides, you couldn’t possibly play Barbies when they’re all named “Barbie.” Which is why, when it came time to name my babies, I was very surprised that I experienced the normal worries you'll have when picking a baby name. I mean, why was I sweating something I was naturally good at? Parenthood is weird, you guys.
I've carefully chosen character names for my teen, angst-riddled short fiction and, in film school, my un-produced screenplays. I even consulted baby name books long before I thought about having kids, studying the origins and meanings of certain names and curating lists for my future family. Still, none of that saved me from worrying if what I was naming my babies was, in fact, the "right" name. When it came time to actually name our offspring, my husband and I shared our top choices and whittled down the options to the ones we could agree on. I wanted to name our kids after my deceased grandmother. He, after video game characters. We both won, with my children’s names beginning with “C,” after my grandmother Carolyn, and their middle names taken from Final Fantasy and Metal Gear.
I wouldn’t have agreed to these options if I didn’t think they each sounded beautiful. Still, I was nervous because, well, names are permanent. Once we get those birth certificates, there is no going back (well, not without an ungodly amount of paperwork). No matter what, you’ll worry about something when you’re picking out a baby name. Here are a few of those doubts, and why you shouldn’t sweat any of them too hard:
The Pendulum On Its Non-Popularity Swings To An Unprecedented Surge In Its Usage
Ten years ago, only old women were named “Sophie.” Now, you call that name at the playground and half the kids’ heads turn. We all want our children to be unique. It’s just that now they’re unique in the same way. Let it go. (And yes, the name “Elsa” is on a rapid rise.)
It Rhymes With A Bodily Function
You love the name “Gigi” but its homophonic similarity to “pee-pee” is too dangerous. True, kids can be cruel, but also inventive. They will find a way to twist any name into a gross version. “Gigi” is no safer from being teased than “Leah” or “Max.” It won’t last, trust me.
Your Kid Will Hate It When They Get Older
Sure, there’s a chance that your kid will want to choose a different name for themselves. Even if that was the very name you may have picked specifically for them, there's always the chance they'll want something different.
Children are wired to push any button available to them. Just remember that legally changing your name is a huge pain in the butt. Let’s see if your kid really goes through with it in 15 years.
No One Will Spell It Or Pronounce It Correctly
Even though I share the name of a very famous singer-actress who is the daughter of a very famous singer-actress, people rarely pronounce “Liza” correctly. I get “Lisa” or “Leeza.” It is so frustrating.
However, it has also taught me to speak up for myself and correct people when necessary (and politely, of course). That was a hard lesson for me as a shy kid, but a valuable one. If your kid ends up having to politely direct people on the proper pronunciation or spelling of his name, the person who is corrected will never forget it.
You’re Afraid It Won’t Feel “Right”
For the first two weeks of her life, I was convinced we had given our daughter the wrong name. She didn’t seem like a Charlotte. Was she more like a Juliette? Should we have gone with our alternate? I felt like we had doomed her.
Over time, the more I said her name, the more I realized it was right. I just needed to practice connecting the name to her as a real live baby, and not just the imaginary one floating in my mind the nine months prior.
Everybody Will Just Shorten It To Some Dumb Nickname
Some friends asked us if we’d call our daughter “Charlie,” when we announced her name as Charlotte. I didn’t get it. We were naming her what we wanted to hear ourselves say when we’d yell at her, for the fourth time, to put her crayons away.
But one day, she may want to take some ownership of her name and she may decide a variation on our choice of name for her is what suits her better. She has to live with it so I think, ultimately, it’s her call.
It Will Be Long And You Will Make It Hard For The Kid To Learn To Write His Name
Both my children have long names: eight and nine letters, respectively. It was kind of a bummer when I would see them in Pre-K, practicing writing their names and their friends — Lily, Eva, Sam — had it much easier. Those children were off playing while my kids were still painstakingly making all the letters of their lengthy names. It may be a bummer, but think of all the extra hand-eye coordination practice your kids are getting!
It Means Something Terrible
My son’s name, Campbell, means “crooked mouth.” I don't care, love his name. (Plus, his mouth is perfectly fine.)
Everyone Will Think I’m Copying Some Celebrity Baby Trend
I have friends with a girl named Violet who feel the need to disclaim their naming decision with a very adamant, “That was before Ben Affleck had a kid!” I mean, how many people were planning on naming their kid Jayden before Britney did? My daughter now shares a name with the newest Royal, Princess Charlotte. My only hope is that she doesn’t start acting the part.
They Won’t Find Anything With Their Name On It
If you have opted for alternative spelling or a name is not typically heard in a prime-time sitcom, your kid may be out of luck in the personalization department. That was my life. Occasionally I would find something with “Liza” and I would snatch it up but, most of the time, I was adding “a” to keychains with “Liz” printed on it.
It’s not so bad; with me it’s a running gag. Your children may not find mugs with their names on them, but that’s no reason to stop you from going with your top name choice. You will be saying that name a billion times a day for decades. They may not need to love it, but you do.