CHOOSING A NAME:
Children are a blessing. However, as you welcome parenting, choosing your child’s name can feel daunting and intimidating. First of all, if you’re married, you’ll have to consult your partner. Secondly, there may be third parties that want a say (ie. your parents, the in-laws).
But, let’s focus on you (and your partner, if you have one). Your child’s name is going to be a part of you–and them–for the rest of your life. What name would you like–and not like–to call them every day? And–in all honesty–should you need to shout at your child to get off a high place or clean up their mess, what name would not annoy you? (insert laughter)
Or if that stresses you out, you could always think of a nickname/pet name first. (More about that below.)
To help alleviate the tension you may be feeling about naming your child, here are helpful tips.
TIPS TO TO CONSIDER:
- Are there names you (and your partner) already like?
Jot down names you already like. They could be names you’ve always liked; the names of people you admire/look up to; names from TV shows, movies, books.
When my husband and I started planning parenthood, the first thing we did was write down names that we like, and we discussed why. Such names for boys included Russell, Thomas, and Keith. And girl names included Elsie, Eli, and Violet, to name a few..
Making a list of names helps remove any pressure you may be feeling about choosing the perfect name for your child. Because now you have several to try out and choose from.
- Is there a family or friend’s name (a namesake) you want to honor?
Another way to narrow down your baby name search is to consider the names of family, friends, celebrities, and anyone who–again–inspires you. If you choose this route, your child now has a positive figure they can live up to.
My husband named our firstborn Russell because of Russell Crow and Kurt Russell because he admires their acting. And when my mother-in-law told one of her girlfriends, we realized that Russll is her late husband’s name as well. We were definitely honored to name our son Russell.
As for my daughter, we named her after one of my all-time favorite books–The A Life of Faith: Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley. Yes, this namesake is fictional, but it’s a very dear name to me. (Read about it here.)
- How unique will your child’s name be?
There are tons of baby name books out there. They tell you not only the origin of the name (such as Lysa being short for Elizabeth, which means “Promise to God” or “God is my oath” in Hebrew), but also the popularity of said name. I highly encourage you look at a few of these–at your local library or the bookstore–as you decide on a name or two.
Also consider if this name is common in your family, even if it’s just the first letter in their name. Would you like to name your child Sarah even though she’ll have cousins Sam and Seng, for example?
I already chose my daughter’s name before I even thought about marriage and parenthood. Surprisingly, one of my sisters had her second child–also a girl–a year before me, and named her daughter Emma. We now have two girls, whose names begin with the letter E, in the family.
- Are there nicknames or pet names you want to use?
If you’re unsure of where to start, think about nicknames and pet names. What sounds good to you? Afterwards, think about the names that could come out of these.
My family calls my son Rascal because my dad has a hard time pronouncing Russell, so that stuck. And my sisters chose the name Sisi (see-see) for my daughter because it’s half of her name, and would also keep this double___ sound that we have going on with the niblings.
- Would you like to be called by this name?
Still indecisive? Put yourself in your baby’s place (once they arrive). Imagine if you were your child–would you like your own name?
Honestly, I hated the name Lysa growing up because my elementary school–back in California–had two other Lisa’s there too. And I also detested my name because my mom was constantly shouting my name, even when I hadn’t done anything wrong (Note: my mother has highly narcissistic traits). I didn’t grow to enjoy my name until college, when I started befriending like-minded people who made me feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
Remember that your child will hear their name for the rest of their life. If you had their name, would you like it?
- Just for fun: Have friends and family choose
How well do you trust your friends and family? Would you trust them to choose your baby’s name? If you’re still indecisive, let others do it for you. Or turn it into a game:
(Teacher hat on here) Have friends and family write down their favorite names on pieces of paper, drop the names into a hat, and draw a name. Ta-da! You’ve got your child’s name! (insert laughter)
All jokes aside, choosing a name for your child may feel daunting and scary, and you may want to please others as well, but don’t let that stop you from choosing a name that is right for you and your child. The possibilities are endless.
And I want to leave you with one last remark: you don’t have to feel attached to the first name you choose.There are parents who have chosen a name for their unborn child, gave birth, and then chose a different name once they got to meet their little one. You can do this too.