There are those among us who get really weird and snobbish about names. Some feel like if it’s not a “classic” name (which usually translates to “originating in Europe”) it’s “trashy” or “ghetto” and I cannot begin to delve into just how problematic that concept is (to say nothing of the terms "trashy" and "ghetto"). We all need to adopt a “live and let live” attitude with names. But let’s also keep it real here: naming your baby is important. That's why I think you have to think about naming "a person," not "your baby."
Look, I'm not here to tell you what to name your baby. Like, at all. I don't think a name has to be "real" or "professional" (whatever the f*ck that means). But I do think you should think about it. Like... if you want to give your baby a joke name, keep in mind that the joke is literally on your child for the rest of their damn lives. So sure, it might be funny in the moment or when your child is a newborn, but eventually they will go into classrooms and converse with other humans. They will leave your home and, as a result, your protective care. So all I'm saying is make sure you arm them for their continued journey through life.
Believe it or not, babies are people (just like you or me or Soylent Green)! So I think it's better to think of "baby naming" as “choosing a name that this new person you are creating will carry with them for the rest of their lives.” Here's why:
Because Your Child Will Probably Resent Their Very Cutesy Name By Age 7
Growing up, my mom would often hug me, realize how big I was getting, tighten her grip, and press down on my shoulders while hissing into my ear "Shrink! Shriiiiiiiink!" Now she did this as a joke (I hope), but every now and then someone introduces a baby with a completely twee, adorable name that seems to be sending the same message. You know, the "I want you to be little and adorable forever, so here's the most PWECIOUS, ADOWABLE name I could think of" message. I know a lot of parents don’t want to hear this, but your child is going to grow up. Trust me. My son is 6 now and I'm just like "When the hell did that happen?" Sticking your child with a decidedly juvenile name that doesn’t really age well is probably going to be annoying.
Now, one could argue that as the child grows up the name will just be their name and it won’t be a huge deal and you’re probably right. I know a plenty of adult Candys and it’s not like I can only imagine them as toddlers or anything. At the same time, adults with childish names have to work harder against that name, which isn’t exactly advisable. If you really love cutesy names, might I suggest a name that offers an adorable diminutive as a nickname? Like… if you love Billy name your kid William. If you love Candy go with Candace. If you love TinkerBell… use that name for a kitten. Don’t name a baby TinkerBell, please. I know I said I wasn't going to tell you what to name your baby, but there's a limit.
(I’ll also take this moment to point out that it’s interesting and telling that boys with diminutive childhood names usually have full names that are less cute. For example, they’re called Teddy but their real name is Theodore. Girls are much more likely to have a diminutive name as their legal name.)
Because Names That Capture The Zeitgeist Of The Era Will Not Age Well
Remember that baby whose parents named her Hashtag? Or that after Games of Thrones the name Khaleesi became big? Now I’m not saying you can’t name a child after a character, figure, or… punctuation… in pop culture. I’m just saying that you might want to wait and see if this is going to be a flash in the pan or if it has some staying power.
Like, imagine if you were named after a trend that was big when your parents were naming you. Would you like to be called Snap Bracelet? There was a video game console called the Magnavox Odyssey had sold over a million units by the time I was born (which was huge for video games back them). Personally, I’m really glad my parents didn’t go with that. And why not let’s take Khaleesi, for example? In addition to being a title not a name, “khaleesi” is really only used in the first installment of Game of Thrones. It’s one of about a million titles Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons picks up as she conquers her way back to Westeros. (See what I did there?) And the series isn’t even over yet. A series well known for pulling no punches and having characters do a complete 180. How are you going to feel if, at the end of the series, Khaleesi's new schtick is kicking puppies and drowning kittens? You never know: this is George R.R. Martin.
Because Your Child Is Going To Develop Their Own Personality & Their Name Shouldn't Get In The Way
I feel like, deep down, some people are terrified their kid is going to be ordinary, so they give them a high octane name to try to either sway them away toward awesomeness or stand in place of a strong personality, just in case. But what if your kid’s personality just doesn’t jive with the very specifically themed name you’ve chosen?
Like, can you imagine a kid in the chess club with aspirations of being a certified public accountant named Chainsaw Warrior Smith? Or a librarian named RazzleDazzle Eletrica Jones? … Okay, those sound awesome if you’re, like, a Mad Max character driving along Fury Road, but it’s a name that’s trying to dictate your personality. Sit back, relax, and be rest assured that if you let them and are there for them, your child will not be boring. And if they’re boring, at least that’s who they are and they like it. I’m not saying you have to give them a completely neutral name, like Jane or Thomas, but maybe tone it down just a bit.
Because This Isn't About You
Yes, you get to name your baby anything you want. It's like your prize for raising them for about 20 years (minimum). For a while, your baby is completely reliant on you to the point where they probably don’t recognize that you aren’t physically a part of one another for a while. But you should never forget that you are separate entities. Your baby is not a miniature you or an extension of you. Our children are only ours for a short period (and really, they’re never actually ours, but their own people). For most of their lives, they will be independent and self-sufficient (if all goes well).
So go with a name you love, by all means, because it would be pretty odd if you named your kid something you hate. But realize that name should not exist solely for your admiration or amusement.
Because Changing A Name Is A Pain In The Ass
If you give your child a truly hellacious name, changing it will be a pain in the ass. It’s a 10-step process. Take it from me: I have changed my name twice in my life, once when I was 8 and added my step-father’s last name to my existing last name, and then again when I got married.
Now changing my name when I got married wasn’t as bad — since it happens so regularly the process is expedited — but even then it was still basically a day off work and a lot of paperwork and waiting around. When I was younger, you have to do a lot more paperwork and have a hearing, blah, blah, blah. It was annoying, and I had the benefit of being a child and was therefore scrutinized less than an adult by the legal system, and having a grandfather who is a lawyer and did all of necessary paperwork and setting of court dates and stuff free of charge.
Because You Should Take This Seriously
It’s easy not to take your baby seriously. That’s not to say you don’t take parenting seriously, but them? I mean, it’s easy not to consider the dignity of a human who regularly poops on you and thinks peek-a-boo is the work of powerful wizardry. And it’s funny to do lots of dopey things to a baby or little kid. For example, a friend of mine has been dressing up her son as pop culture icons and taking pictures since he was a few days old and it is spectacular.
But the difference between a costume (or even a picture of the child in said costume) and a name is that, barring annoying legal proceedings once they hit 18-years-old, your child cannot distance themselves from their name. You can have fun with the naming process, or even with the name. Your child’s name can have a sense of play or a sense of humor or even be cute, but just remember that this is their name. This is one of the first big decisions you’re going to be making for this child, so it deserves a lot of thought and a respect for the fact that you are naming a person not just your baby.
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