Think First. Your Kids Will Thank You.

>> Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I used to think my parents had a few too many "rules" about how to name their children.  While I appreciate very much how seriously my parents took the possibility of childhood teasing and lifelong embarrasment, I have sometimes thought they went too far, crossing off perfectly acceptable name combinations on the grounds that they might produce some unwanted twitters. 

First, you have their obsession with initials, and how they can produce unwanted innuendo.  Then, you have my father's outright hostility to nicknames.  Children in his family would bear the name they would be called -- no nicknames allowed.  (At least, that was the theory for the birth certificate.  Apparently the rule against nicknames had nothing to do with random nicknames based on his casual whims.  But, that is a story for another day.)  Finally, you have their concern over finding the appropriate number of syllables to counteract an obnoxiously difficult last name.  By the time they were done applying all the rules, my parents had only a handful of acceptable names to choose from.

My parents might have taken things a bit far, but looking around the world today, I thank my lucky stars.  Sure, my first name is always misspelled, and I have spent my entire life spelling all parts of my name to everyone trying to write it down.  And, sure, I never could find any of those novelty license plates or preprinted pencils with my name on them in the tourist traps of my childhood.

Still ... I'm glad for their cautiousness.  When I meet some people and hear their names, I think, "Oh, dear.  Perhaps a trip to the courthouse to change something is in order?"

Now, I don't want to "out" anyone who might be reading this blog.  If you have a troubling name, chances are you already know all about it.  I mean, some last names are just problematic, and if your parents were on a bender when they gave you the first name, you heard all about it in elementary school.  Or, if you had the first name and married into the last name, I am certain all the possibilities came out at your bachelorette party, or were swimming around in your head before you said, "Yes."  I don't need to embarrass you further.

Still, let's think about some general principles.  My parents had a few things right.  Initials do matter.  If your last name begins with a "K," you might want to avoid naming your child two names that start with "E," like, for example, "Erica Elizabeth."  Of course, if you feel strongly about the name, use it.  The world won't end, but your daughter may never admit to having a middle name until she hits at least college.  I mean, in the rough school years, do you really want your daughter's initials to spell "EEK!"?

Another rule I wish parents would consider is this:  If your last name is a noun in American English, please do not give your child a first name that sounds like an adjective in American English.  For example, if your last name is "Wool" you probably should not name your son "Harry".  A cautionary footnote to this rule is that many popular flower names for girls are also colors, and, hence, both nouns and adjectives.  Think carefully about your last name "Sofa" if you want to name your daughter "Rose" or "Lavender."

A few other useful tips are to try to avoid naming your children after characters in horror flicks or after porno stars.  If you don't watch either of these genres, this advice could be quite hard to follow, but hopefully with the passing of time, your child will forgive you.  So, at least, don't do it knowingly, okay?

For those of you that hate your names, what other naming advice do you wish your parents had followed?


Peggy Sue Brister September 21, 2010 at 6:11 PM  

I wish my mom had followed the rule to never name your kid after some cheesy ass Buddy Holly song or she will get it sung to her the SHOOT ME! My mom wasn't one for rules.

ASK September 26, 2010 at 11:03 PM  

I share some of the issues/items described in this blog, although I subscribe to the fact that it could always be worse. The fact that I was born and named BEFORE the movie 'Rocky' was released seems to have little effect on how often I hear 'YO ADRIAN!'. Of course having this name does mean that I do not have a nickname except for ones that have nothing to do with my given name (those of you out there that know, know) This combination of first name that my parents liked and middle name of my godfather did produce a set of initials (ASK) that causes others to take notice, but does not have any negative or embarassing conotations. All in all, not far off the rules. Thing is, I am certain that my parents were not aware of the rules and therefore it was all just luck.

Brenda October 2, 2010 at 4:34 PM  

Oh, please, please share some funny ones! I need the laugh!

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