New Year’s Resolutions for Baby Namers (A Quick List of Dont’s)

On New Year’s day I’m putting off writing my own New Year’s resolutions to dash off some resolutions for you. (Apparently, I haven’t outgrown my life-long habit of procrastination.) Here is quick list of don’ts based on posts I’ve written recently:

-Don’t pick a name that will come across as a joke (like North West).

-Don’t pick a weird name (like Shalini or Bronx Mowgli).

-Don’t wreck a perfectly good name by changing it so it will be hard to spell and pronounce (like Wilyam or Quaren).

-Don’t pick a name likely to subject your child to teasing or mockery (like Cricket, Rekker or Adolf).

-Don’t believe names promoted in blog posts are “cool” (like Neri, Sula or Tulsi) unless you’ve seen the data.

-Don’t believe or follow trends predicted for 2014 if the trends seem counterproductive (like giving girls boys’ middle names–or vice versa).

-Don’t name your child after a currently popular celebrity, because celebrities’ images can change almost overnight (like Miley or Lance).

-Don’t name your child after a character in a currently popular TV show, because TV shows’ images can change almost overnight (like “Duck Dynasty”).

-Don’t fear discussing names you like with friends, because you’re scared someone might steal the name. (Theft would confirm one of the names you like is cool.)

Happy Naming New Year!

“Please Don’t Give Your Baby a Weird Name” by Shalini Miskelly

“Please Don’t Give Your Baby a Weird Name” was written by Shalini Miskelly, a Guest Blogger for Baby Center.  I’d very much like to encourage you to read the whole article, which is why I am providing you with a link that will enable you to do just that.

But before you click on the link, I’d like to tell you why I feel strongly that parents thinking of giving their unborn son or daughter an unusual name should consider Shalini’s plea on behalf of shy and introverted children. As you may know, my perspective on names is fairly practical: What kind of impression does the name make? Is it easy to spell and pronounce? Is it versatile enough to work in both formal and informal situations? All these perspectives create a very strong bias against names that are likely to make your child’s life more difficult instead of opening doors and smoothing the way for your child.

But Shalini’s personal dilemma has been exacerbated by the fact that in addition to having a strange-sounding,  unfamiliar given name, she also has no middle name to fall back on. And her surname is confusing; it could easily be confused with “Miss Kelly.” (No, Shahini Miskelly is not Irish.). It’s very hard for parents and friends to imagine how difficult an unusual name–that comes across as strange or weird or confusing–can make life for a shy and introverted person. So, if you’re an expectant parent who is thinking of giving your child an unusual name please, please, please read Shalini’s guest blog post and save your child a life-time of unnecessary  anguish.

I’d like to give credit to Nancy’s Baby Names for writing about Shalini Miskelly’s plight in a way that enabled me to find her blog post. I often go to that website to find poignant and perceptive stories about names.

P.S. I scheduled this post for New Years Day as a sort of “resolution” for parents who may not realize that unique (aka weird) names can traumatize shy, introverted children.

Consider Color Names On Your Baby’s Birth Day, When You’ve Fallen In Love With Your Beautiful Baby

Some couples have trouble deciding on a name. They let the decision go until the baby is born. When they “meet” their beautiful baby for the very first time and fall in love–that’s a great time to pick a descriptive color name, that calls attention to one of your child’s most striking physical attributes). Suddenly there’s a consensus of opinion and making up your minds seems delightfully easy.

Here’s a quick list of “color names” to consider when you’re holding your baby and are struck by his amber, raven or flaming red hair or her pink, ginger or ebony complexion (to cite just a few examples):

Amber (orange-brown hair)

Blanche (fair hair or light complexion)

Cinnamon (reddish-brown hair or complexion)

Cocoa (brown hair or complexion)

Ebony (brown/black hair or complexion)

Ginger (yellow/tan hair or complexion)

Ivory (fair complexion)

Jennifer (fair hair or light complexion)

Latté* (café latté complexion)

Pink (pink cheeks)

Raven (black hair or dark complexion)

Red (flaming red hair)

Rose, Rosie (rosy complexion)

Russell (rust-colored hair)

Rusty (rust-colored hair)

Notice I am not promoting color names as a “trend” for 2014. I’m just trying to provide you with a useful option if you’re having trouble deciding on a name. Color names can help you reach agreement on an appropriate and positive name that gives you one more reason to celebrate your child’s birth day: you’ve finally picked a name you can both agree on  for the baby you both love.

*I’ve never seen this name before, but I wouldn’t be surprised if  someone else has used it.

Dear Bruce: How Can I Talk My Son Out of a Name I Hope they Don’t Give My Grandchild?

Q: I hate a name my son is thinking of naming his baby. How can I talk him out of it?

A: If you want to have even the slightest chance of changing your son’s mind, accept the fact that naming their baby is the prerogative of your son and his wife. It’s not your call. Accept the fact that they will pick whatever name they like and that you will live with their choice. (Fighting a passive-aggressive battle about a name you don’t like is juvenile and undermines your credibility as the “adult in the relationship.”)

Next, change the way you frame the issue. Saying you “hate”‘ the name they are considering sets up a cataclysmic life and death battle. Instead, say that the name they seem high on “never would have occurred to you.” Notice how that lightens the stakes and implies that nuclear weapons won’t be used to settle the matter.

The goal of “talking your son out of” the name he likes is highly unrealistic. Lower your sights and lighten your rhetoric accordingly. Describe what you’d like to accomplish as: “introducing a different perspective,” or “planting the seed of a different idea.” See how that language is much less “win/lose”–hence much less “threatening?”

(Time for an anecdote: I had a relative who always had to be “right”–about everything. Although he was smart enough not to verbalize what he was thinking, what was running through his mind as he argued passionately for his point of view was: “I’m right. You’re wrong. You big dummy!” When he started arguing, people sensed he was trying to run over them with a bulldozer and leave them flat as pancakes in the middle of the road. So instead of considering what he had to say, most people would dig in stubbornly and cling to their initial position for dear life.)

Can you see how a “bulldozer strategy” like the one my relative used is the least effective rhetorical strategy possible? And now that I’ve told you this anecdote can you see why using language like “introducing a different perspective” or “planting the seed of a different idea” is much less threatening and confrontational and might open the door to change, if only because your son might be curious to discover what your new “perspective” or “idea” might be.

Now that you’ve increased the odds that you and your son will have a productive discussion, you are ready to provide some new perspectives and new ideas in the  form of blog posts I’ve written about a variety of issues that might be causing a conflict between you and your son. (Psychotherapists call it “bibliotherapy” when they “prescribe” books for their patients to read.  So perhaps we should call this approach “blogotherapy.”

If your son is considering a name that is highly unusual and may come across as strange, weird or uncomfortable, suggest he read “Why Unique Names Can Be a Hassle.” It describes a research project that asked people if they liked their own names. Many respondents who had been given unusual names didn”t like their names for a variety of good reasons.

If your son is considering a traditional name that seems boring or humdrum to you, suggest that he read “How to Find Charming, Uncommon Names for Your Baby.”

If your son has picked a name you think is for “losers” and you would like to steer him towards a name that will help his child succeed in life, suggest he read “How to Come Up With a 5-Star Name  for Your Baby.”

If you think your son has picked an “outrageous” name similar to names selected by celebrities, suggest he read “10 Mistakes That Have Caused The Biggest, Baddest Baby-Naming Blunders.”

If your son has picked a name so popular there are likely to be more than one child with the same name in your grandchild’s kindergarten class, suggest he read “How to Pick a Unique Version of a Popular Name.”

When you realize your son has made up his mind about a first name “that never would have occurred to you,” change the subject and suggest he read “Middle Naming: How to Pick a Useful Middle Name for Your Baby.” (One of the main purposes of a middle name is to act as a “back-up name” should the first name not work out.)

By using a blogotherapy strategy, it is no longer you against your son in a winner-take-all confrontation. You really are providing a new perspective in the form of articles I’ve written which may shed some new light on the subject. And that’s really all you can hope to do.

4 Baby-Naming Tips from Kristin Cavallari (Jay Cutler’s Wife; Camden’s Mom)

Kristin Cavallari (former star of “Hillls” and “Laguna Beach”) and hubby Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears QB) are expecting their second child. Feeling good about the name they picked for their first child, Camden, Kristin announced 4 baby-naming tips, via I’m happy to pass them along for your consideration:

  1. Focus on the overall sound of the name—and how it combines with your last name. (She and Jay picked Camden as the name of their son. It combines very nicely with Cutler.)
  2. Put a personal spin on the name. (She and Jay picked Jack–Jay’s father’s name–as a middle name for Camden.)
  3. Look for inspiration anywhere and everywhere. (One name she is considering for her second child came from a magazine; another name she likes is the name a friend gave to a dog.)
  4. Don’t worry about what others think. (They’ve gotten mixed reviews from friends on the names they are considering, but will pick the name they like best.)

As you can see, Kristin and Jay have a lot of confidence in their ability to find names anywhere and pick winners. However, I’d suggest a slight modification to her fourth tip. I think it’s a very good idea to test your best name ideas on friends whose judgment you respect. It helps to watch their eyeballs and their facial expressions carefully when you tell them a name.  And listen carefully to the reasons they give for liking or not liking names. That will help you evaluate their comments. As you probably know, I place a very high value on the “first impression” a name makes. It’s hard for friends to disguise a gut-level positive or negative response to a name if you are watching and listening carefully.

FYI, I like the name Camden Cutler too. Here’s why: Camden is a place name. (Unfortunately, Camden, NJ doesn’t have the charm of Paris or the beauty of Kauai.) However, Camden is the rare place name that sounds like a name that can work well for people—because it gives you Cam as a nickname. If you think about it, Camden is a shorter and punchier name than Cameron. (Remember, Kristin’s rule #1: “Focus on the overall sound of the name.”)