Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” Our names are as much a part of our unique identity as the sound of our voice, the color and texture of our hair, and our fingerprint. Pregnant mothers are asked countless times if they have picked out a name yet for their new child. The selection process can be as frustrating as the question itself.
There’s not much we can do about our family name, passed from generation to generation, beyond taking the family name of a spouse or petitioning a judge for a legal change. But a given name? That’s where we can stand out or blend in, depending on our parents.
- 1) It’s About Them, Not You
When picking a name for a son or daughter, it is important to think less of yourself and more for your child. You may want a kid called Superman Popsicle, but it is unlikely that your child will want that name. If your family name is Rainey, please don’t name your daughter Wendy. You may think it’s cute, but consider the schoolyard jokes she must endure. Likely, she will rush into marriage with the swiftness of a racehorse in order to shed that moniker.
- 2) What Will It Reflect?
The names we pick for our children are usually a reflection of our own personality. Thomas Jefferson Williams III reflects a love of family and history. Rainwater Rose reflects an attachment to all things earthly. Common names, like Jacob or Jennifer, reflect a desire for inclusion and a love of society. Bizarre names, like Apple or Dakota, reflect a desire for individuality and attention.
When my husband and I named our first daughter, we wanted to honor our mothers, so we picked my mom’s first name and his mom’s middle name. If our second child had been a boy, we would have named him after my husband and my father. For us, family comes first, and we wanted the name to reflect that.
- 3) Will It Stand The Test Of Time?
You don’t have to live with the name you pick, but your child will. It may be trendy to name your kid after a famous celebrity, but what happens when that celebrity winds up disgraced or with a bad reputation? Then he or she is the target of some unfortunate jokes.
Names like Joffrey or Sansa are popular now because these characters from the novel and HBO series are. But in 20 years, their popularity may have diminished and your child (and others) might wonder what you were thinking.
So consider your child first, choose something meaningful, and avoid succumbing to popular fads which will fade in popularity over time. Your new son or daughter will thank you.