Names are important. Names become a part of our identity. We did not choose our name, and our name is not intrinsically a part of us, like our mind, body, or soul. It is given to us when we are born, before our parents really even know our personality or traits. Yet it’s been a part of us for as long as we can remember. It’s what we hear our parents call us from our first day outside the womb. Our name is very important, and it becomes a part of our identity.
As a child, you had no choice in your name. But as a parent? The name of your child is your responsibility. Don’t mess it up! I’m only half joking. You often hear parents talk about reasons they did or didn’t choose a certain name. You more often hear people criticize a name.
“Who would name their child that?!?
“Poor kid is going to get picked on so much.”
“Good luck explaining how that’s spelled.”
Now, it’s not all negative. Certainly you hear people compliment names, probably as often as they criticize. The point is, as parents, you want to give your child an awesome name. A name they will be proud to identify with, and a name that has special meaning or significance to you. It couldn’t be simpler, right? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy!
Reaching a Consensus
You and your spouse have different backgrounds, ideas, and beliefs. As with anything in marriage, you will need to work together to name your child. Talk about it, respect one another and your unique tastes and backgrounds, and reach a consensus that you both can be happy with! Hopefully this post can be helpful to you as you go through this journey together.
Questions to Get You Started
- Do you want to name your child after someone important in your life?
- Do you like familiar names, or more rare, unique names?
- Do you like long names or short names? Single syllable or multiple syllables?
- Do you care more about the meaning of the name, or how it sounds?
- Do you want a normal spelling or an abnormal spelling?
- Do you prefer names to be distinctively masculine or feminine?
For some of these questions, your answer may have been immediate and decided. For others, you may have needed to think it over a bit, or don’t care either way. Regardless, once you know the answers, you need to think about the more important question: why? Why do you like long, unique names that are spelled differently? Why do you want to name your child after someone? Why do you care about how it sounds? Understanding the reasons behind your preferences will be helpful as you decide what name to give your child.
Get a Baby Name Book
It’s not easy to just come up with names off the top of your head! You need to get a baby name book. I highly recommend a book that gives the origins and meanings of the names, like The Name Book by Dorothy Astoria. You can begin perusing through the book randomly, or look up specific names that you are interested in. Either way, it’s a very helpful resource!
How Do I Approach Choosing a Name?
Once you have thought through some of the starter questions, and have a baby name book to use as a resource, you need to determine what approach you want to take.
There are several different approaches you can take to finding the perfect name for your child. None of the approaches are right or wrong. It’s all about what fits you and your spouse, your personalities, and how you want to do it. The important thing is deciding together how YOU want to do it!
Hopefully one of the approaches will resonate with you, and help guide you and your spouse as you choose a name for your child! The approach you take certainly doesn’t have to fit into one of these categories, this is only a guide to help 🙂 Some of these approaches are tongue in cheek. If you can’t tell the difference… oh well.
The Approach Guide
If you’re already expecting your child, you’ve either already taken this approach, or it’s too late. My wife and I did not take this approach; I learned about it from a friend once we were already expecting. He and his wife knew they wanted kids, so they kept a notebook of names before they even started trying to get pregnant. Each time they came across a name they liked, they would add it to the notebook. Periodically, they would go through and eliminate some of the names, so it was an ongoing process. When they found out they were pregnant, they began narrowing down the list until they got down to one that they thought felt “right” for their baby.
Last-Minute Approach aka “The Inspired Approach”
In stark contrast to the pre-emptive approach, it’s never too late to take the Last-Minute Approach! Perfect for procrastinators, this approach involves thinking about and talking about a name for your child, but not making a decision until it’s absolutely necessary. This is not the approach I will ever be taking, because my personality won’t allow for it. But for some, pressure is exactly what is needed in order to make the best decision. This approach is for when the child is already born, and you still don’t know what you want to name him or her. You need to choose a name for the birth certificate, so you and your spouse summon all of your mental energy to come up with a name for your child.
Here’s a real-life example from a friend of my wife’s. This friend and her husband had not decided on a baby name yet. She went into labor, they went to the hospital, and the baby was born — a sweet, beautiful little girl. They had talked about names, and now it was time to choose. As she held her little bundle of sweetness, she turned to one of the nurses working in the room.
“What’s your name?”
“I like that name.”
She turned to the other nurse in the room.
“What’s your name?”
“I like that name also.”
The name they chose for their newborn girl? Christina Myriam. The Inspired Approach!
The “Your Turn” Approach
Also known as the “Every Other” Approach. You and your spouse take turns naming your children! This approach will work best if you have very different tastes in what and how to name your child. Maybe one of you likes long names, the other short. One likes unique, the other likes names of ancestors. This really only works if you are planning to have multiple kids. When using this approach, you still do need to let your spouse have input when it’s “your turn.” You don’t want to name your child something they hate or can’t stand; after all, the child is still both of yours. 🙂 But, the final say goes to the spouse whose turn it is.
The Gendered Approach
If you have decided not to find out what gender your child is until he or she is born, this is the approach for you! You have double duty, needing to be prepared with a boy name and girl name for when you child is born. You will need to combine this with another strategy; it can easily be used simultaneously with the “Your Turn” approach. One of you could have final say on the boy name, and the other can have final say on the girl name.
The Interactive Approach
Invite others into the process of choosing a name for your child. The decision is up to you, and obviously you are not having someone else name your child for you. This approach is best done by asking for input from people you value. This could be your parents, close siblings, or friends. But the best use of this approach is if you already have children old enough to understand what is going on. I know a couple who wanted their children to have input into naming their sibling, so they looked at lists of names together and considered names that their children liked. Exactly how much influence you let your children or others have is up to you!
The Random Approach
There are several websites that will choose a baby name for you! Just google “random baby name generator” and choose a site. The key to this approach is to go all in. You must commit to whatever names the site gives you. No flip-flopping allowed!
The Famous Person Approach
Make a list of the famous people you and your spouse like and admire – this could be actors or actresses, historical figures, sports stars, musicians, etc. Start narrowing the list down, and if you can’t get it down to one, choose randomly!
The Significant Event Approach
Name your child based on a significant event or happening in the year he or she is born. This could be historic or more personal. For instance, a couple naming their child after Jackie Robinson when he broke the color barrier in baseball. A recent example involved Major League Baseball star Ben Zobrist and his wife Julianna Zobrist. During the 2015 season, Ben was traded to the Kansas City Royals. The Royals were doing well and headed for the playoffs. Ben had never been on a World Series Champion, and the Royals had not won a World Series in 30 years. Ben’s wife Julianna was pregnant, and their baby was due around the time of the end of the playoffs. The Royals, greatly aided by the stellar play of Ben Zobrist, made it all the way to the World Series, eventually defeating the Mets and becoming World Champions. Shortly after the Royals won the title, Julianna gave birth to a daughter. They gave her a middle name of “Royal” in honor of the team Ben won a World Series title with just days before.
If something significant has happened in your life recently, you might want to consider incorporating that into your child’s name.
The Pattern Approach
If you’ve already had one or more children, you might want to consider using some sort of a pattern. For example, my wife’s name is Joy. All of her siblings names start with “J” as well. Her parents like J names and decided to follow that pattern as they named their children. Here’s another example: name your children with consecutive letters of the alphabet. The first child’s name could start with A, and the second child’s name could start with B, and the third child’s could start with C, and so on. Another form of the Pattern Approach would be naming each child after a relative, or after a type of flower (Rose, Violet), or something else significant or important to you. Keep the pattern going for all of your children.
The Normal Approach
This is the approach that my wife and I took. I call it the normal approach because, obviously, whatever we do is “normal.” Duh. We actually did a hybrid of the pre-emptive approach, because we started talking about and thinking about baby names before we were expecting. We talked about names that we liked or didn’t like. We eliminated names of people that we already had a personal connection with…we wanted a somewhat unique name, at least for the first name. We wanted a name that both of us liked. We did look at name websites a little, but mostly just thought through names we had heard before, or variations of them. Eventually, we came up with a name that we both liked, both for its sound, its meaning, and its uniqueness. We communicated with one another, were honest with our thoughts about different names, and went about it in a way that we both were happy with. The biggest difficulty came when we were trying to decide on exact spelling. But the end result was a name we are excited to give our child!
As you can see, there are many different approaches you can take to choosing a name for your child. What’s important is that you work together with your spouse, with whatever approach fits you best, and have fun choosing a name for your child!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”