How to solve your baby-name issue

April 25, 2013 

LIFE SELF-HEALTH-BIPOLAR TB

Bowing to family-name pressure is the No. 1 reason parents later regret the name they choose.

SCOTT STRAZZANTE — MCT

Ideally, choosing your baby's name is a fun, inspired endeavor, but too often baby-name problems get in the way:

YOUR FAMILY INTERFERES WITH YOUR NAME CHOICE

Your mom wants you to name the baby after her. His dad wants you to name the baby after his mom. And everybody hates the name you've chosen. Name discussions can be illuminating, but when family members start to act like they have equal voting rights, it's time to end the talks.

YOUR FRIEND RUINS 'YOUR' NAME

If your friends trash the names you love, you can end up feeling terrible about your name choices and your friends. Start off name discussions tentatively, reserving talk about the names you really hold dear. Seek out online bab-name discussions like the ones on our forums, where you may get advice that's both better informed and more gentle, and where your friendships are separate from your everyday life.

YOU'RE A VICTIM OF NAME-NAPPING

When you've chosen a unique name and discover your neighbor or cousin grabbed it for their own, you may feel betrayed. The more original the name, the closer you should hold the information.

YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE CAN'T AGREE ON NAMES

Rather than talking about names, talk about the reasons behind your choices. Names can symbolize deep feelings about family, ethnicity or childhoods. Exploring those feelings may lead to more agreement on names and a greater understanding of each other.

YOU HAVE A NAME FOR ONE GENDER AND NOT THE OTHER

Which of course is a sure sign that your baby will be the gender for which you have no name. Start with the qualities you want in a name rather than name first. Here are strong girls' names, for instance, and classic names for boys.

YOU KEEP CHANGING YOUR MIND ABOUT NAMES

Changing your mind about names, especially after talking over your choices with your partner or in online forums, is part of the adventure. But you have a deadline and that's the day - OK, the week - after your baby's born.

YOU DISCOVER THAT NO ONE CAN UNDERSTAND, PRONOUNCE, OR SPELL YOUR NAME

If you vary the spelling of a name thinking it will help people pronounce it the way you want it pronounced, you may be dismayed to find it does just the opposite. Try your name ideas on family, friends and in baby name forums. That way, at least if people have trouble with the name, you'll be fully aware of it when you make your decision.

THE NAME YOU LOVE HAS AN UNWANTED NICKNAME

You love Susannah but hate Sue. Want Edward to be called Ned and not Eddie. You can control for nicknames, with effort, when your child is small (though if your family insists on using an unwanted nickname you may be fighting a losing battle). But once your child goes off to school, it may be difficult to keep other kids from calling your daughter Sue, especially if she likes it. Our advice: Try your hardest, but ultimately let it go.

YOU CHOOSE A NAME AND DISCOVER IT'S TOO POPULAR

We're always a little bit surprised when new parents are surprised that a name is so popular. Even though national and state popular baby-names lists are freely available, many people think, 'Well, I've never met anyone named Josiah, so I don't believe it's popular where I live.' Check the popularity lists, and believe them.

YOU REGRET YOUR NAME CHOICE

The other problems often lead to baby-name regrets. But sometimes, the reason for regretting a name choice may be that the name you picked just doesn't feel right. What to do? The sooner you act to correct the problem, the better, by either changing your baby's name legally - a pain, but worth it if you're really unhappy - or using a nickname or middle name. Have a new name picked out that you are happy about, because this is one switch you don't want to make twice.

From Nameberry.com, a baby-naming website produced by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, co-authors of 10 best-selling baby-name guides.

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