Tuesday, May 3, 2011

100th Post! How to Name Your Baby

To be perfectly honest, I'm shocked it has taken me this long to get to this post number as I'm usually known for hanging out a little too much in the "too much to say" camp (as you'll see below). But alas I've made it to 100 posts.

To celebrate, I thought I'd dig into the pre-blog archives. This was originally written as one of my Facebook Note Rants (there are a few, they will be surfacing soon). And one of the reason I was inspired to start a blog in the first place. Due to some points brought up in the comments, I have added some new thoughts at the bottom in mauve

Melanna's guide to naming your kid

Monday Feb 8, 2010

So Mark and I are in the process of finding a name for Baby number 2. He thinks we should just number them because that would be easier. But I digress.

I also work in a church nursery, where every week approximately 75 babies under the age of 2 come to see me. That means I see a lot of recent naming choices of parents.

I like to think that from this, as well as walking the path of naming a child myself, that I have gained some knowledge in this area. I would like to share this knowledge with you. Some of you may see the error of your ways (according to me) in this note. Please don't be offended by anything I have to say. This is just my opinion, but I'm probably right. And you can take comfort that Canada allows you to legally change your child's name until they are 10 for free.

How to name your child, according to me:

1. First, let me share from personal experience. In 2003 I changed my first name. I was dumb. Not in changing my name, but in choosing the spelling. My previous name had 7 letters, so my new name looked short with only 6 letters. Also, according to English, a-n-n-a should be said "awe-nah." So I chose to use 2 N's instead of 1. Unfortunately, there is a name Anna that is not said this way. That means I go through life correcting people how to say my name. It rhymes with Donna. If you've been saying it in such a way that it rhymes with Hannah, you've been saying it wrong. And please know that deep down it drives me nuts. So the first rule, spell your child's name in a way that allows people to say it properly.

2. and 3. These go together because often in trying avoid one, we end up with the other. They are, avoid the super unusual name and avoid the super common name. Everyone wants to be unique, to be the only one, but imagine your child's name on a school roster. Will the entire class erupt in laughter when the teacher calls out your child's name? Can the teacher even figure out how to say it (they will if you follow rule #1)? Also keep in mind how your child will feel when all their friends named Jenna have their name on their pencils and they're stuck with "best friend" or "princess." I met a kid in our nursery a few months back named Sir Isaac. Yes, you say both words as his first name. He doesn't respond to just Isaac. I checked. Lucky for this kid, he's big and his dad is a quarter back, so he probably won't get beat up once he's in school.
The overly common name is just as bad. Your child will be forever known with their last initial attached to their name or have to go by their middle name. So unless you like the sound of Joshua T, maybe reconsider. And if your new son's name is or in anyway rhymes with Aiden (Jaydon, Caydon, Taidon etc) he'll have this same problem in kindergarten.

4. To go along with rule #1 is this one. Be careful of unique spellings, especially of common names. Like the name Jonathan but want to spell it Johnithon? Say this with me out loud, "Hi my name is Johnithon, J-o-h-n-i-t-h-o-n" because that's what you'll hear every time he tells someone his name for the rest of his life. All personalized birthday cakes will also have it wrong. As will everyone who write his name anywhere.

5. Choose Bible names carefully. Working at a church I meet many families who think its nice to use Bible names. They also think they're getting a unique name to boot by picking from the big book. This may be true, but unless you're picking from the name lists in Numbers and its something like Abinadab be prepared to meet 20 other Caleb/Noah/Jonah/Jacob/Matthews. Also read through all the stories about the character you're picking. You may not realize what/whom you're naming your child after.

6. Consider your last name. As much as the middle name is fun to pick, and your want a nice flow between the first and middle name, your child will only hear it when they're in trouble or graduating. The last name, however, will be coupled with their first name every day. If you have a name like mine, Heebner, beware of lots of E sounds in the first name (for this reason Heidi didn't make the cut). Or if you have a last name that rhymes with a potential first name, maybe give it a pass. Don't use the excuse "she's a girl, she'll get married and get a new name." she might not, and even so, she has minimum 18 years with it. Don't do that to your child.

7. Consider the length. If your last name was Campbell and then you married a Williamson and hyphenated your names. Or if your ancestors were cruel and you ended up with a last name that is 27 letters long (or even 10), be kind to your children. Consider short names like Al. Why? Because government documents don't give you room to write Alexandria Elizabeth Campbell-WIlliamson in those tiny little spaces.

8. Consider your other children's names. I'm sure my parents didn't foresee this problem, but the short form of my name is Mel. I have a younger sister who's short form name is Val. Now Melanie and Valerie are different enough when naming your kids, but when you call "Val" or "Mel" out the door, you can never really hear who is being called. Also, I recently heard someone share that their name was Kathleen and their parents named her younger sister Kathryn, which essentially is the SAME NAME. Don't do that to yourself, because your kids will inevitably tell you they thought you were calling their sister and not come set the table. (which is TOTALLY what I did. It pays to be 11 years older.)

I'm sure I have more rules, but I can't think of them at this moment. If you have some, feel free to comment below, but if I don't agree they won't be added to the official list. :)

Today's update: 

There was some confusion about length of names and how it works with double middle names. For the record I have no problem with double middle names as long as you keep in mind the length and keep the number of middle names to a reasonable length (I don't think there is a family in the world that has enough people they need to "honour" through the name of their child to make it right for any child to have 6 middle names).

9. Watch those initials. There was some debate in the comments about this one. Some felt that initials shouldn't spell things, others thought it was good luck. Here are my thoughts (and therefore my official rule about them). Figure out what/if they spell anything (or could spell anything in the case of a girl getting married) and make sure that you're not giving your child initials that spell things that wouldn't like. Such as "EWW" or "GAS."  Just be mindful of it. Basically, be kind to your child.

My Dad would add that each person should have their own initials because things addressed to M. Smith would be confusing if there are more than one. Mark and I have this "problem" (and technically Mady too). I didn't add it to the list as it is easily solved: Mady doesn't get mail, unless it's around her birthday or other holiday in which case, people generally write her full name (in fact, always). And if it's a bill it's for Mark. If it's fun mail (magazines, cheques etc), it's for me!

One of my favourite comments: I noticed that naming the baby "Two" wouldn't actually break any of the rules... easy to spell, easy to pronounce, short, not too many E's, and there wouldn't be many kids with the same name. They even make pencils with number 2s on them! :) 
Ha! Thanks Janell!

Some people have questioned the spelling of my girl's names. Here's the reasoning. I've always loved the name Madelyn. BUT, there is a debate (and everyone seems to know someone "official") as to how the spelling vs. saying should be. Some say Madeline others say Madeleine (and the other pronunciation to the other spelling). I didn't want her to be correcting people her whole life, so I figured we'd stay away from that argument and just spell it in a way that people knew how to say it. So I followed rule number 1 to sort of break rule number 4)

As for Kaitlyn. We had a VERY hard time finding ANOTHER girl name that we liked. Kaitlyn was one of the few (actually, I think the only) that we could agree on. But when it came to the spelling we didn't know what to do. I knew she would be called Kate for short, but here are some things we considered: The most common spelling Katelyn is only 2 letters different from Madelyn. That seemed really weird. But it would be weird to spell the "lyn" part different (at least to me). Then one of my friends, Katie had said that her name was spelled Kathryn, but she went by Katie. She always thought that she should have been spelled Kathrine or Katy so that the spellings go with each other. I followed this when picking the spelling for Mady, but thought it would create more hassle for Kate if we called her Kait. This way, if she hates spelling out the Kaitlyn spelling, she can just go by Kate and be "normal." How's that for WAY over-thought. And yes, we considered doing a 4th M, but Mady's name was not picked to "match" ours, it was picked because I loved it long before I ever met Mark. And there were no other M names we both liked. So Kate gets to be original. :)

And because every post needs a picture, can you imagine her with any other name??

Do YOU have naming rules??

1 comment:

  1. This was so funny! I did not know that Canada would let you change your child's name for free until they are 10. That is wild!

    I would have to say this....see your child and know if the name is truly right.

    My first child was going to be Whitney Diane until she was born. She was not a Whitney or a Diane. She was a Camille.


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