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  • Writer's pictureLisa Siembab

What's in a name?

Well actually quite a lot! Selecting a name for your child may seem like an easy fun thing to think about but actually it can be quite overwhelming and stressful for parents and can even end in arguments! Often parents will have a list of names that they each like and family and friends will try to be helpful by adding their suggestions.

However, here lies the problem…if two parents are involved they will have to agree on the name and the name will also have to complement the child’s surname. Sometimes parents choose a name based on a family member or a name that has been passed down through generations or they may choose to have this name as the child’s middle name. This process can cause quite some consternation at a time when sleep is deprived and stress levels can reach fever pitch!

I have a story myself of a family member who sent the father to register the birth, only to discover when he returned that he had transposed the first and middle names agreed upon and registered the name incorrectly. They had an embarrassing trip back to the register office to change their Son’s name, and believe me this is not something that can be done easily!

When parents choose a name for their precious baby they have to be mindful that this little person will be saddled with this name for the rest of their lives. Sure we may all think it may be cool to have a child with a modern, unusual or whacky name but in reality if you have to live your life with such a name life may not seem so cool, especially in later life when you want to be taken seriously in your chosen career.

The funny thing about names is that once we have a bad association with a name it is immediately ruled out. We could think a name is a perfect name for our future children but once we meet someone we dislike or do not respect with that name we become instantly switched off to that name. Similarly, if a famous person shares that name and they lose favour, we form a negative association with that name as someone who could not be successful in later life.

The amount of laughs and puzzled faces we see as Celebrants when couples recite their wedding vows and disclose a name that they are not comfortable with and so have not shared with their friends. It’s not only the names that are chosen but also how it sounds altogether with the surname and whether it has an adverse connotations, and not only in this country in others too! It’s a minefield for sure.

Names are very fashionable and what seemed like a very fashionable name can become dated very quickly and we often see lots of children with the same name in a year group as their parents adopted that latest fashionable name. Names can go out of fashion just as quickly as they came in, with a lull for a couple of decades and then come back around again. There are also the traditional names that never seem date such as the names given to royal babies and then these in turn become fashionable as parents follow suit.

However, despite all of this, there is lot of help on hand as there are many resources parents can tap into to help. There are books on the subject and websites that list names in alphabetical order by gender to give parents lots of suggestions. BUT with all of the above to contend with it can still be a painstaking task to scroll through the thousands of names listed immediately discounting 80% of the names.

Some parents spend hours selecting and agreeing on a name only to discover when the baby is born it doesn’t somehow seem to suit them. Maybe the best way to approach this whole issue is to wait until the baby is born and let the baby try some names on for “size”. Speaking from personal experience, I had several names on a shortlist and when I saw my Son for the first time he just looked like a Finn. Job done!!!!

So maybe we shouldn’t think too much about names during the 9 months waiting for our cute bundle to arrive. Perhaps parents should just ponder it, throw a few ideas around and then hold fire and let the baby dictate their own name. Well, after all, it will be theirs to own forever!

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