Choosing baby names sucks. Trying to agree on a potential boy’s name when you already have two boys? That’s a special kind of hell.
As most parents will tell you, picking out a name is a tall task fraught with difficulties. And if you have a couple with two strong personalities and no shortage of opinions, that difficulty increases exponentially. Which means after you’ve exhausted family names, checked the Social Security baby name database, gone over the Game of Thrones list of names, and had your partner strike down all of your sports-related name ideas, it’s suddenly 3 a.m. and you’ve developed a hatred for the person you’re supposed to love because you can’t understand WHY THE HELL HE/SHE HATES ALL THE AWESOME SUGGESTIONS YOU’VE MADE!
Sorry. Again, things have been tense around the Daddy Files household.
You see, with the Patriots winning the Super Bowl in miraculous fashion courtesy of a game-winning interception (and boy do I post that link every chance I get), I immediately decreed our baby’s name (if it’s a boy) will be Malcolm Butler Gouveia. This was not a joke. I’m deadly serious, much to my wife’s chagrin. But she nixed it out of hand and wouldn’t even entertain a discussion.
Meanwhile she’s throwing around names like David, James, and Benjamin — all fine names, don’t get me wrong. But we already have very traditional names in William and Samuel, and if the third one is a boy I’m hoping for something a little more outside the box.
But how far outside is too far? And what else do you have to consider when thinking of names? Well, don’t worry because I’ve got you covered in thinking through all the potential pitfalls and mandatory considerations when naming another human being.
My brother is named Nathan. His middle name starts with an A. His initials spell NAG — something I’ve reminded him of his entire life. As a rule, try to avoid picking names that spell something, because someone somewhere at some time will use it against your child. For instance, if we had a girl the first time around we were briefly considering Victoria for the first name. That’s all well and good, but I naively thought of an A-name for a middle name. In case you’re a little slow on the uptake, that would’ve given my daughter initials of VAG. Rookie mistake.
Maybe you like the full name you’ve chosen, but what about nicknames? For instance, do you like Jameson but not James? We briefly liked Atticus (To Kill a Mockingbird is our favorite book and Atticus Finch my favorite literary character), but what would the nickname be? Atty? ‘Cuss? And even though it sounds ridiculous, you need to consider the fact that kids are little assholes and a bad nickname can haunt your child for years. Julian is a fine name, but some little shit is going to call him Jules or Julie and tease him mercilessly. Benjamin is popular, but I worry he’d be in for a lifetime of “Ben-d over” jokes. Also, parents passing on certain last names must remain cognizant of the first/last combo unintentionally creating chaos. Case in point from one of my readers:
4. Family Matters
Want to see a family rift the size of the San Andreas fault occur in no time? Start talking about naming kids after family members. So you choose to name the kid after your father? Great. But guess what? Now your partner’s family is pissed and wondering why you’re not taking their names — Mordecai and Bertha — into consideration. There’s a reason Will’s full name is William George Thomas Gouveia — William (my dad), George (MJ’s step-dad), Thomas (MJ’s biological dad). And if you’re passing down a name, just know that he/she could be saddled with “junior” for life. Is that OK? Are you inadvertently taking away his own identity and saddling him with unrealistic expectations? This gets extra messy when siblings in the same family are pregnant at the same time and competing for the use of the same names. I swear, naming children has probably caused more wars than religion.
3. Past Flames & Assholes
My wife suggested the name Ryan. And surprisingly, I kind of liked it — until I remembered that’s the name of her ex-boyfriend. I’m sure he’s a very nice person and nothing personal, but screw that. Likewise, a lot of perfectly good names are ruined by assholes. I kind of liked the name Mason until my wife told me it has ties to the Kardashians. Instant elimination. Plus there are just certain memories associated with the names of people you hated from your youth that you just can’t get over no matter how hard you try. And trust me, don’t try. Just move on. There’s nothing worse than saying your new baby’s name and having to make a concerted effort to choke down the vomit rising in your throat.
2. Too Trendy/Popular
Yes, I love Khaleesi too. But as much as I adore the Mother of Dragons, Game of Thrones is a trend. Ten years from now no one is going to know what or who the hell Khaleesi is. They’re just going to think you’re a weirdo who named your kid a weirdo name. Same with uber popular names. It seems like every boy in the world the last five years has been Aiden, Jaden, Jayden, or Braden, while all the girls are Emma, Olivia, Sophia, and Isabella. And those names are fine, it’s just, well — I want something a little different. I don’t want teachers saying a name in class and suddenly 10 kids raise their hands. Obviously there are more important ways to stand out and be an individual than your name, but I want to start out on the right foot.
1. Too Obscure
Apple? Sage Moonblood? Kal-El? North West? Celebrities are the kings and queens of wacky ass baby names. And while I don’t want my kids blending into a sea of similarly named kids, I also don’t want to put them out on the fringe with a name that inspires nothing but raised eyebrows and a chorus of “Ummmm…what’d you say your name is??” comments for the rest of their lives. Middle ground is our friend in this department. And I’m throwing alternatively spelled names in here too, because those DRIVE ME CRAZY! No Jaykob, Bryleigh, Alexzander, Ashlee, Whiteney, Alyce over here, thank you. That is a freaking nightmare, and I would spend my life looking at that name and not resisting the urge to hit it with my red editor’s pen!
In the end, we go into the delivery room with 2-3 top choices. Then, when our baby is born, we look at him/her and decide what the final verdict is. Case in point, when Sam was born MJ and I were 90% sure he’d be Atticus. But then he arrived and we looked at him, and we turned to each other and said “He’s a Sam!” at the exact same time.
It’s not easy and there are a lot of considerations, but it’s pretty cool when you get the end result. Unless you go with Adolf. Please don’t do that.