Soleil Moon Frye Gave Three Names to Her First Boy, But What Will People Call him?

Recently, I saw an article in People about Soleil Moon Frye, who was expecting. You may recall that she and husband Jason Goldberg gave their first daughter three names: Poet Sienna Rose. I wondered what she would be called: Poet doesn’t sound much like a name you’d call a child so I figured people might call her Sienna, a cool name, or possibly Rose, a fairly old-fashioned name. Poet Sienna Rose wound up on a number of “worst celebrity baby name” lists because it seemed pretentious and awkward.

Frye and Goldberg gave their second child three names: Jagger Joseph Blue. I wondered what he would be called until I read the birth announcement more carefully and wondered what she would be called. Neither Jagger nor Joseph seemed much like girl’s names so I thought she might be called Blue. Of course, the problem with Blue is that it suggests “the blues” and “depression.” Because all three names seemed highly problematic for the child, the name went on many “worst celebrity baby name” lists, mine included.

Not surprisingly, Frye and Goldberg came up with three more names for their third child and first son: Lyric Sonny Roads. Again, I wonder what the boy will be called. Lyric refers to the words of a song, but it doesn’t sound much like a name. Sonny is a generic name that’s like naming your son “Boy.” And Roads doesn’t work well as a stand-alone name so this collection of names is another puzzler. Because none of the names works well as a stand-alone name Lyric Sonny Roads is likely to wind up on many “worst celebrity baby name” lists like the other two Frye/Goldberg concoctions.

Frye and Goldberg have used the same basic M.O. for the names they selected for all three children:

-They gave each child three names.

-They selected first names for each child that don’t sound much like names: Poet, Jagger and Lyric. Poet reminds me of “The Artist formerly known as Prince.”

-The selected usable middle names for Poet, but both Jagger and Lyric lack middle names that will work well as “safety names” if they ditch their first names–which I suspect they may do.

-Frye and Goldberg have stuck to their three-name-formula even though the response from pundits and the public has been largely negative about the names they gave their first and second children.

Most kids are embarrassed by everything their parents do by the time they turn 8 or 9. I’m pretty sure the first two Frye/Goldberg kids were embarrassed by their names as soon as they met kids their own age who had “normal” names that didn’t make them seem like complete fruitcakes. It’s likely Lyric will have the same kind of “rude awakening.”

I’m guessing Frye and Goldberg had to tell their first two children “sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never harm you” many times when they came home crying. They will have to repeat the proverb many times for their third child. Too bad it isn’t true. Teasing does hurt and bullying can lead to fists and possibly “sticks and stones” for their first boy, Lyric.

That’s why the Baby Name Police hard giving a ticket to Frye and Goldberg for yet another pretentious name likely to embarrass their child Lyric.

Why Busy Philipps Really Named Her Second Daughter Cricket

I just saw a video on People.com that claimed to explain how Busy Philipps and husband Marc Silverstein came up with a name for their second daughter.

I’m writing this from memory, because I don’t want to sit through another showing of an annoying commercial featuring a Merlin-like Wizard or Philipps’ paid comments on behalf of Clorox about a contest of some sort that could earn a lucky winner $20,000 which, Philipps suggested, could “come in handy” to cover your holiday expenses. So between the commercial and the Clorox promo, Phillips was kind enough to share a few recollections about how she and her husband named their second daughter. Please forgive me if I leave a few details out of this re-telling.

Before the baby was born, she had come up with a list of names. But after her daughter was born none of the names seemed to fit:  About a week went by and the hospital called asking her to stop in and pick a name, already. So husband Marc Silverstein, a screen writer and producer, started peppering her with cute name suggestion and they started to picture their daughter growing up. Here are two of the images they were thinking about:

-She’ll be the favorite camp counselor.

-And, she’ll be totally hot in college

If they really had those images in mind,  they would have come up with an “all-American, freckle-faced name” like Becky or a “hot in college name” like Sabrina, Brooke or Madison.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to picture a girl named Cricket ever getting past the age of 5. Because Cricket is the perfect nickname for a cute little toddler playing with dolls, petting puppies, and chasing butterflies. As far as I can tell, there is nothing remotely sexy about the name Cricket. Which is why Busy Philipps’ baby-naming story doesn’t make much sense.

So what does make sense? You may recall that Philipps and Silverstein had named their first daughter Birdie (after Ladybird Johnson). I don’t know if they read my “Naming Siblings” article about picking names that go well together, but they seem to have been trying to come up with names of other “cute little critters” to go with Birdie.

Robins are cute and they chirp, but Robin doesn’t go well with Birdie (because Robin is a specific type of bird and Birdie is juvenile word for birds).  Bedbug is another cute critter name they may have considered, but the idea of giving their child a name with the word “bug” may have killed that idea. So they settled on Cricket, not thinking what it would look like on their daughter’s college application or job resume: juvenile.

Because parents like to give their children names that go well with one another, I think the real reason Philipps and Silverstein named their second daughter Cricket is because they named their first daughter Birdie and were looking for a diminutive sibling name to go with it.

So the moral of this story is: don’t pick a silly name for your first child, because that might cause you to pick a silly name for your second child, too.

The Baby Name Police should have warned Philipps and Silverstein about giving Birdie a juvenile name likely to be embarrassing when she gets beyond elementary and middle school. We’re giving her a belated ticket for the name Cricket, which is just about as juvenile as Birdie likely to come across as demeaning as she moves on to high school, college and adulthood.

Research Report: Parents Confuse Their Children’s Names More Often When The Names Sound Alike

According to a new study from the University of Texas in Austin, parents are more likely to confuse their children’s names when the names sound alike. That finding sounds fairly commonsensical to me, so I read deeper into April Flowers’ article about the study on Red Orbit to find out more.

Reading a little more, I found that by “names that sound alike” Zenzi Griffen PhD of U.T. Austin and Thomas Wangerman, PhD, formerly of Georgia Institute of Technology meant: sibling names that start with the same letter like John and James and sibling names that have a similar ending like Amanda and Samantha.

Ouch! Although I advise parents not to pick names that sound too similar, like Jaden and Braden or Emma and Ella, I admit my post called “Naming Siblings” suggests a variety of “themes” or strategies for making sibling names sound compatible… (if you think I’m procrastinating, you’re probably right)… including the idea of picking names that start with the same letter.

Many years ago, I named my son Doug and my daughter Dana. I rarely confused the two names. Neither did my wife. The kids fought like cats and dogs and we could always tell them apart in the heat of battle. One was shouting “She hit me first!”And the other was shouting “He hit me first! (If you think I’m using humor to pretend I’m not feeling defensive, you’re probably right.)

But all kidding aside, it’s easy to admit parents are more likely to confuse John and James (or Johnny and Jimmy) when calling the kids to the phone than would be the case if the brothers were named, say,  Zenzi and Thomas. Of course if Zenzi and Thomas were brothers I’d be amazed. Not only do their first names reflect no common theme, neither do their last names.

So instead of procrastinating even more, I’m  going to take my medicine like a man, learn my lesson, and mix my metaphors while continuing to play for time before I bite the bullet and revise my “Naming Siblings” post to make sure everyone who reads the article is advised to name one of their children Hehitmefirst and the other child Ididn’tdoit which should solve almost every problem.

The names will be thematically related but they won’t sound alike. Unfortunately those names are not perfect. Both kids sound like idiots. It isn’t easy to find perfect sibling names, but a good place to find some ideas worth considering is my revised “Naming Siblings” article.

Naming Siblings: 6 Ways to Come Up With Compatible Names

To name your first baby, your assignment is simple: Pick some names you and your spouse or partner both like, decide how well each will work for your child over his or her lifetime, then choose the best one.

When you name your second baby, however, there’s one more step: Consider how well that name “goes” with the name of your first child. Think ahead to a time when you’re discussing your children with a friend or calling your kids to dinner. Do the names sound as though they belong to kids in the same family? Names that “go together” create a sense of unity, and many parents of siblings seem to follow unifying strategies when naming their children. These strategies are especially common among parents of twins, but they easily extend to parents of children of all ages.

1) Use names that start with the same letter.

For many of the most popular pairs of names for twins (see list below), the paired names start with the same letter (like Hailey & Hannah, Jacob & Joshua, Madison & Matthew). In my own case, I gave my son and daughter names that begin with the same letter to help create a joint identity for them as siblings in our family—not that it did much to prevent sibling rivalry.

2) Use names that contain sound-alike elements.

Many people find rhyming names (like Jaden & Braden) off-putting (aka annoying) and parents may confuse one for the other (like Frick and Frack). But giving siblings names that contain some sound-alike elements can convey unity while promoting individuality. You can choose names that begin with the same letter (like Megan and Maya or Anthony and Alexandra). You can choose names that end with the same sound (like Samantha and Ava or Noah and Hanna). Or you can choose names that share the same sound in different locations (like Emma & William). But consider this caveat: Avoid names that sound too similar (like Taylor & Tyler or Emma and Ella). They can have the same off-putting effect as rhyming names. And, names that sound alike are more likely to cause parents to get the names confused from time to time. In fact, there’s a University of Texas study which concluded that sound-alike names are more likely to cause parental confusion than names that don’t sound alike. Here’s a link to that information.

3) Use names with the same origin.

Jacob & Jessica have Hebrew origins and are important figures in the Old Testament. Kevin & Caitlin have Irish origins. Ramona & Carmen have Spanish origins. These names all pair well together because they share the same origins. Conversely, Jack, Mario, Gustave, and Jorge all have different origins. None of them seem to pair particularly well together.

4) Use names with a similar theme.

Faith & Hope are inspirational names. Ava & Sophia have famous movie-star namesakes. Other thematically paired names include: Harry & Hermione (Harry Potter characters), Jason & Juno (mythological characters), Lily & Holly (flowers), Sienna & Sydney (cities), Derek & Alex (New York Yankees), Edward & Bella (Twilight characters). Pairing names based on themes is lots of fun, but watch out: It’s easy to get carried away and wind up with silly pairs like Ben & Jerry, Bonnie & Clyde, Jack & Jill, Dick & Jane, or Bert & Ernie.

5) Use names with clear gender associations.

Janessa is a name clearly used for girls, but Jordan is used for both girls and boys. So, it can be awkward to be the sibling whose gender isn’t obvious to most people who hear the two names together. For that reason, it makes sense to give siblings names with clear gender associations. Examples of gender-shared names used more for girls than boys are Bailey, Taylor, Tracey, Harper, Whitney, and Jamie. Examples of gender-shared names used more for boys than girls are Corey, James, Colby, Mason, Terry, and Parker.

6) Use names that are of the same vintage.

George, Walter, Ethel, and Dorothy were all popular in the first half of the twentieth century, so they don’t go well with contemporary names like Logan, Tyler, Madison, and Lindsay.

These naming strategies contribute to the style or “vibe” of names. While using them isn’t mandatory by any means, stylistic differences among siblings’ names may raise questions or call unwanted attention to those whose names don’t fit the unifying style.

For example, imagine a family whose children’s names are Kevin, Brian, Katie… and Ichabod. For his entire life, Ichabod—and his parents—may have to explain why his name isn’t Irish like his siblings’ names. Is this a debilitating situation? Probably not. But it may be an annoying one, especially if Ichabod doesn’t enjoy being singled out.

To start thinking about names that share a style, check out the following lists of the most popular names for twins.

Twin Girls
Gabriella, Isabella
Faith, Hope
Mackenzie, Madison
Hailey, Hannah
Olivia, Sophia
Ava, Emma
Megan, Morgan
Makayla, Makenzie
Natalie, Nicole
Abigail, Emily

Twin Boys
Jacob, Joshua
Daniel, David
Isaac, Isaiah
Landon, Logan
Ethan, Evan
Alexander, Benjamin
Caleb, Joshua
Jayden, Jordan
Elijah, Isaiah
Alexander, Nicholas

Twin Girl & Boy
Taylor, Tyler
Madison, Matthew
Emily, Ethan
Madison, Mason
Emma, Ethan
Natalie, Nathan
Zoe, Zachary
Sophia, Samuel
Emma, Jacob
Emma, William

© 2009 Bruce Lansky
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