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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Rules for Naming the Baby

Our wonderful readers have expanded our "How to Name the Baby" guidelines. Besides my rules of thumb the list has grown. Now it looks like this:

1. Mary if it's a girl. John or Joseph for a boy. Or pick a good patron saint.

2.  Consider how the name will be shortened or what the kid may end up being nicknamed.

3. Avoid telling people the names you are considering. Their reactions may upset you.

4. Try to avoid this year's "name of the year".  This may involve ESP.  Or at least a google search.

5.. After you pick the name (and the middle name), check and see if that spells something silly,
embarrassing or filthy.  Lawrence Oliver Lynnly.

6. If you're having twins, and one is a girl and one is a boy, don't name them Mary and Joseph. As another rule of thumb, don't name your twins after any famous couple. Little Lucy and Desi will be a lifelong joke. I'm assuming no one would name triplets, "Larry, Moe and Shemp".

And here's a really good one I never thought of:

7. How does the name look on a resume? If you're Catholic, you don't want all those kids living at home all their (and your) lives.

Some of our readers disagreed with my feeling that your should have a couple of names in mind and wait to actually name the baby until you've actually seen the baby. You name pets after you've seen them, not before, and your child should get at least that consideration. But at least one reader pointed out that babies all tend to look like Winston Churchill.  Or angels.

Yes, it's a lot to think about. But so is having a child. Good practice for the rest of your natural life.

16 comments:

JACK said...

Blessed John XXIII.

Curley.
Never Shemp.

Anonymous said...

Mary is a lovely name but if you go to Ireland be prepared to think everyone is talking to you all the time. Every second female there is called Mary.

Bethy-Doll said...

I wanted to "like" that. Curly, Larry and Moe would be marvelous nicknames for triplets. As a Polish-American, I'd say find a first name that is simple- or has a nice nickname- to make up for the fact that with some last names, people will perpetually be messing up the last name. Mine tends to make people sound like they have a horrid cold. ("Oh,my goodness, bless you!" I always say.) Even with a relatively simple first name, I have lived 30 years as "Alphabet" or "Alphabetowitz" if someone feels confident.

Claudia said...

Someone told me long ago that when you picked your name you should call that name out the back door as if calling the child to dinner. If it sounds good then you have your name.

But all of your suggestions were good, especially the part of how it would look on the resume. Really, would you interview a person named Bambi?

Danielle said...

My husband wanted to name my daughter Tailor. It's usually spelled Taylor. I suggested it with the Y, but he was adimant on the I. I was like, no, she'll be correcting people her whole life. He had no concept of that being named John.

Sophie Miriam said...

I have four rules for baby first names:

1. It has to be the name of a saint or a good person from the Bible. I knew a girl in middle school who had a Biblical name. Imagine my surprise when I discovered years later that she was named after a Biblical prostitute. Probably not the best role model for your daughter?

2. It has to be common enough to not turn heads, but not so common that everybody else will be named the same thing. So unfortunately, Mary is out, as is Michael.

3. If an averagely intelligent person sees it written, they should be able to pronounce it.

4. If this average person hears it spoken, they should be able to spell it. (Possibly with one minor correction, eg. "Teresa--without an H.")

I intend to name my first daughter after my twin sister and my favorite female saint, and my first son after his father. With that said, I am not even engaged, so we shall see what happens to those plans once an actual baby makes an appearance.

katney said...

That every second girl in Ireland is a Mary may be true. I knew a friend whose Irish parents named all nine of their daughters Mary. She was Mary Frances, one sister was Mary Agnes, and so on...

Unfortunately, many parents have not followed some of these guidelines as I have recently dealt with Destiny, Fantasy, Shellbbyyee...others will come to me as soon as I click submit. Parents only seem to do this to girls, not to boys.

Susan Miller said...

We don't officially name the child until we see him, even if we're fairly certain of the name. For some reason my husband insists that the child's name has to "go" with our surname, so no Yves Miller, for example. I will admit to unintentionally asking for a certain name immediately after giving birth, and of course he can't say no then. Thus I got my Vianney for our son's middle name.

Lola said...

#3 is very important. I've shared that bit of advice, unsolicited to expecting parents, and they've all thanked me. Everyone's got an opinion on what to name the baby.

I even suggested getting a pseudo name when people ask. Something they think is outrageous. To respond to "What names are you thinking of?"

One couple told people they were leaning towards "Abner". I actually like Abner. So the joke was on ME!

Nancy Shuman said...

One thing we realize when we're women of, ahem, a certain age, is that people can often tell our generations by our names...when you have a name like mine, at least (you knew right away, didn't you, that I'm over 50?). I'm not saying it's a minus, just that it's a fact. Jennifer and Heather, your names are beautiful, which is why your parents chose them for you. And one day you'll know just what I mean :)!

dre said...

I think it's also important to think about names of siblings. As a teacher, I always hate the families with lots of kiddos with the same initials...I especially remember the six girls Denise, Darlene, Diane, Donna, Dina, and Deedee. And the boys...Wilson, William, and Walker. Also watch out for rhyming names. When my friend named her son James and her daughter Kimberley, she didn't realize they would be called Kimmy and Jimmy.

Mahdji said...

After a particularly harrowing boat trip in December---in 60 mile an hour winds, I promised the Blessed Mother that I would name my first daughter ---should I ever have one--- after her. I immediately got honest ( I thought I was a goner, along with my new husband) with her and said, "But Mary, I don't LIKE the name, 'Mary' so I'm going to name her something honoring you...if your Son ever gets us home safely." I kept my promise, 5 years later, by naming my daughter Mara, after Stella Maris, Star of the Sea. I made sure Mara knew the origin of her name from the time she could understand it and to this day, I think of my daughter as a prayer answered...and a promise kept.

Abigail said...

Hello Sister,

Can you give me your opinion on female altar servers? I was one back in grade school; the church I attend in college strictly does not allow them. What's your take?
P.S. I always wished there was a St. Abigail.

Anonymous said...

Our children are ages16 and 18 today. We chose to be counter-cultural and give them names that are both Biblical and familial. So we have Mary Ruth and John Michael. Very very very few Marys and Johns in today's America, hence the counter-cultural. We have family history going back to 1625 ... lots of Marys and Johns in there, hence the familial. I have never regretted either name, though I do occasionally spend time disabusing some people of the abuse of our son's name.

Anonymous said...

Nancy is right ... since the 1950s, names are more trendy and labeling of timespans. I'm Karen and there were always 3 Karens in my schoolrooms as I was growing up ... I mean in each classroom, not just in each grade level or whatnot. It's unusual to run into a currently 20-something Karen, but they do exist. But mostly, if you read that someone is named Karen, you know she was born in the late-50s or early-60s.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing some catch-up reading and had such a good chuckle from Nancy and Karen. I have two sisters,born in 1954 and 1956, named Karin (German spelling) and Nancy. I'm Linda. There were three others with my name in my grade 2 classroom.