9 Rules for Discussing Baby Names
Identifying the right name for your baby can be a harrowing experience. These 9 tips will help you find the name that makes you nod in thrilled agreement, with time to spare!
1. Keep an Open Mind
This is the cardinal rule. Be open to each other’s suggestions. The name conversation isn’t the kind you’ve embarked on before, at least not seriously, and you’ll probably discover quite quickly that it’s a conversation loaded with emotion.
The best thing you can do for each other is to open your mind to whatever possibilities arise. Use the funnel technique: Start broad, using lenient guidelines, and then narrow the discussion over time. This way you won’t rule out any names prematurely, and you’ll also allow for new, previously unconsidered names to pleasantly surprise you.
2. Don't Tell Anyone the Names You're Considering
You might figure that bouncing your ideas off others will prove illuminating, at least until the fourth time you hear someone say, “Oh, I don’t like the name
Stuart. My friend’s cousin’s brother-in-law once sat behind a guy with that name in second grade, and he was a total jerk.” Another reason to keep the lid on your favorite names is that you might have one you like but that you’ve decided to save for your next child. If you go telling everyone within earshot, you have only yourselves to blame if others decide it’s a good name, too.
3. Give Yourselves a Deadline
The due date is fast approaching, and your short list still contains half a dozen names. Others have told you not to worry because, once the baby arrives, it will be perfectly obvious which name best suits him or her. Ignore these people.
Naming baby can get even trickier if
you hate the name he loves. That’s another reason not to wait until the last minute to start discussing names.
4. Browse Books and the Internet
You may feel it’s not natural to use some anonymous person’s suggestions for names, but one you haven’t thought of, maybe the ideal one, may jump out at you from the pages of a book, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. As long as your baby gets the name that fits him or her best, does the source really matter? So browse the Internet and read articles on baby names.
5. Don't Limit Yourself
Names evolve over time, fluctuating in popularity, going in and out of fashion, and making their way through various regions and different ethnic groups. There is no rule dictating that a particular baby name can only fit certain contexts from one generation to the next. So don’t relegate your searches only to “names for Jewish children” or “Popular Asian names for the 21st century.” You merely want to find a name that resonates with you and that you can imagine your baby carrying around with pride and confidence.
6. Don't Get Caught Up in Boundaries
Most parents start with precisely the same guidelines: a name that is a) distinctive, b) without being overly trendy, and c) that doesn’t lend itself to teasing or embarrassing nicknames. So what happens if a name suddenly strikes you as the one even if it doesn’t fit neatly within these parameters? Go with it. First, names are only as distinctive as the people who own them. Second, “trendy” is a constantly changing concept. Third, it doesn’t matter what a child’s name is, friends (especially boys) will find funny monikers whether the name lends itself to one or not. The bottom line? Trust your instinct, it’s always the best guide.
7. Don't Be Too Quick to Discard
You might find a name completely wrong the first time you hear it, but six months later it may seem perfect. Consider how often your opinion on other topics changes over the course of nine months. As the pregnancy moves along, you’ll come to feel closer and closer to your developing baby, and this may change the way you feel about certain names. So keep doors open as long as you can.
8. Honor Thy Father and Mother—but Honor Baby First
Certain familial pressures will accompany the naming of your child. Consider yourselves lucky if you’re not subject to plenty of this kind of thing: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he were named after so and so? But we don’t want to influence your decision.” Though it would be nice if you could please everybody, you can’t. There’s only one baby, and he or she can only take on so many names. So concentrate first on finding a name that suits you, then on finding one that suits everyone else around you. In the end, everyone will just be happy that the little bundle arrives safe and sound.
9. Have Fun with It!
Your partner may come up with names you find perfectly ridiculous. Don’t get frustrated. Enjoy the process, and learn to laugh about the names you disagree on, just like you’ve learned to laugh about other disagreements. You’re discussing what will be the most important, most enduring part of your emerging child’s identity. It should be celebrated!
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