Have You Considered Giving Your Child a Gender-Neutral Name?

I read a VOA article by Katy Weaver that changed the way I thought about naming in general and middle-naming in particular. Katy wrote about how gender identity doesn’t have to be in a name.

Parents are increasingly using gender-neutral names for boys and girls. Gender-neutral names can have the effect of giving girls a “stronger” persona and boys a “softer” persona–which can be good for both genders.

Here are the top-ten gender-neutral names from the 2016 Social Security Admin. popularity survey: Charlie, Finley, Skyler, Justice, Royal, Lennon, Oakley, Armani, Azariah and Landry.

If you’ve read my annual-trend reports you’ll know that girls are increasingly being given names with an “a”-ending (like Ava) or a soft consonant-ending (like Abigail or Harper)–and less of the most popular girls’ names have “i” or “y”-endings (like Zoey). “A”-endings and soft consonant-endings come across to most people as stronger than “i” or “y”-endings for girls.

At the same time, more of the most popular boys names use soft consonants like Liam Noah, and Mason–instead of hard consonants like Michael, Luke and Jack. It’s not surprising that parents are giving boys names that sound softer at the same time they are giving more boys gender-neutral names like Riley and Charlie (both of which have “y”and “i” endings).

So just as the trend towards stronger names for girls and softer names for boys is playing out on top-ten lists, it makes sense for parents also to consider the use of gender-neutral first or middle names for children of both genders. Not only are gender-neutral names stronger for girls and softer for boys, they also allow parents to give their children a choice about how they want to come across to others (based on how they feel about themselves).

In articles I have written about middle names, I have suggested that parents use middle names as a way to give children a choice about what they want to be called. If parents want to give their child an unusual first name, they should consider giving their child a less challenging middle name.

One of my younger brothers decided to abandon his first name, Andrew, and switch to his  middle name (Mitch) when he was still in elementary school. I waited until I was in graduate school to switch to my middle name.

Millenials are a lot more accepting of gender differences than my generation was, so it makes sense to give children a choice of names, one of which is gender-neutral. That gives children an opportunity to select a name that represents how they feel about themselves at any point their lives.

One way to provide children with gender options is to choose names for them that are rich in nickname variations. For example, Alexander and Alexandra have variations children of both genders can choose from as they grow older, including Alec, Alix, Ali, or Zander. When you’re using a baby-name book, look for names that have a long list of variations.

To help you in your search for appealing gender-neutral names, check out the latest edition of my book 100,000+ Baby Names.

An Exciting Baby Rescue Story With a Happy Ending

Here’s an exciting baby rescue story by Teri Figueroa of UTSanDiego.com. Melissa Wells-Pestana’s baby was born prematurely in the back of a fire department ambulance. The tiny baby weighed only 4 pounds and 7 ounces.The baby wasn’t breathing and it had no pulse.  I’ll let Figueroa tell you the story:

Zavier’s father, 50-year-old Paul Pestana, called 911 that morning when it became clear his wife was going into labor seven weeks early. The fire crew loaded up Melissa Wells-Pestana, 37, in the ambulance, but her first-born child would not wait. The baby was born in front of his parents’ home.

Fire Capt. Glen Morgan cupped the baby in his hand on the gurney and gave him CPR — two fingers, rapid compressions — as the ambulance raced about 4½ miles to the hospital. Firefighter-paramedic Steven Choi placed a tiny mask over the baby’s face and started pumping air into him. He was blue when he arrived at the hospital. As he was pulled him out of the ambulance, firefighter Tony Valentine said he heard the baby make a little squeak and knew he was fighting for his life.

Dr. Hamid Movahhedian, a neo-natal specialist, and his team were waiting in the emergency room, thanks to a hospital protocol known as “Code Caleb,” which handles resuscitations when newborns are in a dire situation.The baby was “blue and having difficulty breathing,” Movahhedian said. Morgan credits the hospital’s response. “If that team wasn’t in place, this wouldn’t have had a good outcome,” he said.

And here’s the happy ending: Two months later Wells-Pestana brought her baby Zavier Stephan Morgan Prestana to the fire station for a reunion with most of the rescue team. The baby’s two middle names had been chosen to honor Fire Captain Glen Morgan and Firefighter-Paramedic Steven Choi.

Jennifer Love Hewitt Announces a Baby Girl, Autumn James, But the Middle Name Raises Questions

Here’s an upbeat story to warm hearts as we head into the Holiday Season. Former “Client List” star, Jennifer Love Hewitt, confirmed a secret wedding to husband Brian Hallisey and the birth of their daughter, Autumn James Hallisey, on November 26.

I’ve always liked “Summer” as a girl’s name (you may recall Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders). But I’ve wondered whether any of the other seasons would work well as given names. Now that I’ve seen the announcement of Autumn James Hallisey, I like Autumn as a given name more than I’d imagined.

So Summer is great, Autumn is nice; but I don’t think Spring or Winter would work very well as names for girls. (Winter might be a downer, and Spring might be confusing. In addition to being the name of a season, it is also a noun (meaning “source of water”) and a verb (meaning “bounce” or “hop”).  What do you think?

But when I first saw Autumn James, I assumed the middle name, James, was a family name. However, because James is a common boy’s name I found it confusing. And to make matters even more confusing, I recently read Nameberry’s post in which they predict 12 trends for 2014. In that post, they mentioned Autumn James Hallisey as an example of a new trend: using a boy’s name as a middle name for a girl. I find that to be a very confusing idea. What if the name were James Suzy Hallisey–and the parents had used a girl’s middle name for a boy named James Hallisey. That would be confusing too. And either way, using a boy’s middle name for a girl or vice versa, it comes across as both confusing and off-putting.

So if Autumn James Hallisey is an example of a new trend: using a boy’s middle name for a girl, I hope the trend stops right there. I also hope parents don’t use girl’s names as  middle names for boys. Either practice is a needless source of confusion and a potential source of embarrassment and teasing for the children who are pawns in the game of baby-naming fashions.