Picking a Name for Your Child

Parent Q&A

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  • I was curious if anyone had experience leaving the hospital without selecting a name for your child.  How long do you have to pick a name before things start to get more complicated?  If you did wait, what additional steps (and how painful was it) to decide on a name after you left the hospital?  I have seen different answers online and was hoping to hear from someone with direct experience.  We are quickly approaching my due date and are undecided on a name.  I want to better understand what happens if we take a few weeks post-birth to make a final decision.  Thank you!

    My info is 7+ years old, but we had a similar struggle when our child was born. Kaiser advised us at the time that it was far, far easier to choose the name before they filed the birth certificate than afterwards (when a great deal more paperwork would be involved). I think they gave us around four days at the time. We let our three-year-old make the final decision in the end and emailed them minutes before the deadline. We haven't looked back, and I'm really glad not to have had to deal with the paperwork to register/change the name ourselves with a newborn at home. No idea if other hospitals handle this differently as far as the timing, though. 

    If the birth certificate is filed, without the first name. Then you child name will be -

    Even if you file an amendment, some forms require the name "as it appears on the birth certificate" which will be -

    Basically you need to pick the name before the birth certificate filing. In Alta Bates, it was within HOURS, even when my child was in the intensive care and I was on tons of medications, IVs and so on.

    Hello, our kiddo is 9+ now and we were in new-parent brain fog, so we don't remember details. FWIW, we were at CPMC in SF. I had a c-section so we were there a few days. We received the full court press from the hospital to complete it and we deferred. We left the hospital without completing the paperwork. We wanted to be sure the name felt right for our child before formalizing it. Went home, they called us and called us. Within a few days, when we knew the name was right, my husband brought the paperwork in to them. We don't recall extra effort on our part. Not sure about waiting a few weeks, perhaps ask the hospital directly for timetable on exactly what/when? I think their incentive is to get it done for efficiency, perhaps other reasons. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Asian mother wants both children to have Asian names

Sept 2010

What's in a name? I'm a caucasian male married to an Asian female. We have a child who has my last name. As a nod to my wife's culture, we gave our first child an Asian first name. Next month we're going to have a second child and we're debating names. My wife wants to, again, give the second kid an Asian first name. She argues that it'd be weird if one child had an obviously Asian first name and the other had an obviously non-Asian first name. Also, she says that since the kids have my last name, it's only fair that they have an Asian first name.

I want my wife to be happy and I want my children to have appropriate names, but I don't like feeling as if I have to agree upon an Asian name or I'm a jerk. What about my culture and the traditional names of my family? I thought it would be fair and logical for one kid to have an Asian name and one to have a non-Asian name, but my wife doesn't agree. What to do? Other factors or perspectives that I should take into consideration? What about my heritage?

Oh boy. What's in a name? Everything. Would you be willing to give your kids your wife's last name in exchange for first names that reflect your heritage? Why the resistence to ''sharing?'' Your culture is reflected in their last name already, let her have the first names. I know multi-cultural people whose parents did not give them names that reflected their culture, and they hated that how they looked on paper was not who they really were.

My kids have ''cultural'' names and love it. They identify as mixed and like that people immediately know that they are multi-cultural. --Don't whitewash the kids!

I think your wife is right on both points. Since your child will have your last name, I don't see any unfairness, and I also think the alternative would be difficult for the sibling dynamics. But how about going for a name from your own family heritage as a middle name? Your child may very well end up using it as a primary name when he or she gets older. anon

First I have to say that your wife, in my eyes, has a valid point; what about her heritage? Yours is present in the surname. But having said that, the object should probably be compromise and consensus rather than competition. What I see very often in my Cal students are hyphenated surnames (part Asian, part-European) or two different given names, a Korean one, say, and a European one. The child then decides ultimately which name to use. Often the names are chosen to sound alike: Su yuan and Susan, for example. Or they can be chosen for meaning, with similar meanings attached to both names: Rose and the Chinese word for rose. Your children have both heritages to enjoy, so it seems that their names could reflect that. I don't see it as a problem, but as an opportunity. yet another ethnic mix

Hello I have to agree with your wife. I am from France, my husband is American. When i was pregnant 5 years ago, it was very important to me my son be given a French name. If we have another child the same thing will happen.

You are wondering about your culture? Your children are being raised in this country and have your last name. So your culture is actually already getting way more attention than your wife's. Aside from what she can teach them everything is in that name! It is a lot of work to truly raise a bi-cultural child and the name does make a difference.

People here are very used to foreign names and mostly embrace them. When we go to France people always tell my son ''oh what a lovely French name'' and he loves that they recognize it that way. It really helps with raising a truly bi-cultural child, which i assume is important to your wife. Maybe give your second child an American middle name. That way if he/she prefers it they can use their middle name as an adult? magaliusa

A naming convention that seems both logical and honors both cultures... , with a mixed family such as yours, in the US context, would be for all kids to take the father's last name (which is a strong nod to his heritage as the last name carries on) and for the first name of each child to be from the mother's culture/family. If you use middle names, it seems appropriate to have that name from the father's family. Additional middle names could alternate. David

Hi, Since you asked, I think it would be odd for one child to have an Asian name and another to have a Western name. For consistency purposes, I would stick to the plan that you had originally - Asian first name and then your obviously non-Asian last name.

I have friends who chose a very common name for their first child and then with the second picked an unusual semi-foreign name. I have to say that every time I hear the kids names, I think to myself that the two names just don't ''go together''. I have thought this about other sets of sibling names as well. Both my children have very classic names and given that we'd gone that direction with the first, I felt that we should limit our choices for the second to names of a similar style.

If you think about choices that other families have made, you'll probably notice that most have some sort of consistency to them (e.g. both popular, both foreign, both classic, both trendy, etc). Good luck! Choose carefully!

Well, since you asked...I completely agree with your wife, actually. I kept my last name, but our child has my husband's last name. And I felt the same way when it came to names, and not because of a particular ethnicity. But I truly feel that because the child has my husband's last name, if we're going to use a family name for a first or middle name, it should come from my family. The kid (or kids) obviously get a piece of your heritage by their last name. Why shouldn't they get to honor your wife's heritage too when it comes to names? And on a separate note, I also agree that it might set up an odd dynamic to give one baby a completely Asian first name and the other something entirely different. Kept my last name too

Looking past whose heritage gets to be represented by type of name, I bet your two children would feel more unity if they both had first names from the same culture, especially since they will have the same last name. I'm with your wife on this one! anon

Your kids have your last name. That's from your heritage. AND you are probably living here, right? they are being raised in your culture. anon

I do think it would be odd for one child to have an Asian name and the other not to. Why not just give your new child an Asian first name and non-Asian middle name? You may find that the middle name is what sticks anyway, but your child can always have that Asian name as a visible connection to his/her heritage.

If you want to be 100% fair, it's easy. Just give your next child your wife's family (Asian) last name and a ''caucasian'' first name. This is like my husband lamenting, at the time of our marriage, that there was no way to acknowledge both our last names, so I would have to change mine. I told him, I'll change my last name to your last name and you change your middle name to my last name. He refused. anon

I'm the mom in a intercultural marriage. Our kids have the same name configuration that exemplifies both our cultures. I think it would be weird for them not too. I recc agreeing on an asian first name. Your last name carries your culture, heritage & bloodline. Your kids are mixed & their names should reflect that. no name

The most important thing is that your child will have to live with a name, which means pick something from whatever language that is understandable in the United States and doesn't need to be spelled and pronounced several times to everyone for the rest of your child's life. How annoying is that! So now you can compromise. Make sure that the first and last name flow together - it doesn't matter if they come from different languages. It's like composing music or writing a poem or putting a coordinated outfit together. It's a design and since there are endless possibilities, there will be several you will both like. Heike Helmer

naming can be tough-- sorry it is a point of stress. I can only share our own experience as a point of reference of ''what's weird''. My husband and I negotiated names as well partly because I did not take his last name and we both wanted to honor both sides of our families names and heritage (as you stated)- so our kids have ''rare'' names and each has a different last name. My son has my last name and my daughter has my husband's last name. We don't think it's weird because we really like both of our kids names and that different last names isn't really a big deal, but I know that OTHER people (like my kids' kindergarten teacher) thought it was weird. I hope your discussion with your wife brings you to a name you are both comfortable with-- there are so many names, there's got to be one out there that meets her Asian criteria and your need for an appropriate name. Try switching roles and come up with names following each other's criteria and see if you come up with something you like? anon

It seems to me that it would only be fair to give the second child a non-asian name if you were planning to give the child your wife's last name (assuming she kept her own name). Will pick all my children's names so long as they take my husband's surname

I can see both you and your wife's points of view. It's definitely challenging to mutually agree on a name for your baby. It seems like you have these options for your second child, which can hopefully be a compromise so that both of your heritages are reflected in his/her name.
1) Asian first name + your last name (and maybe a middle name from your side of the family)
2) Western first name + Asian middle name + your last name
3) Western first name + your wife's Asian last name If your older child has an Asian first name, then it would be nice for your younger one to have an Asian first name as well because they are siblings. You asked about your heritage. Isn't your last name an important part of your heritage that you've given to your children? your name is your virtue

I think your wife has been generous. If your children both are to have your last name, they will already have one name that represents your culture and family tradition, with the added advantage that your name may even be passed down to the next generation. She has settled for the first names, which will not be passed down. Honestly, I think the fair thing to do is give the next child her last name, and your choice of a first name. That would be real equity. And yes, we did this with our children. Two children with different last names

Since you asked... I agree with your wife, what she proposes sounds ''fair'' to me. The other solutions are:
- 2nd has her last name, you pick the name according to your traditions
- both children have a hyphenated last name with both of your last names. One has a name you choose, the other a name your wife chooses.

But this almost sounds like a parent's battle over name rights... I think it'd be best to find a solution that feels comfortable to both and to achieve that you both have to be willing to let go of something (which in the scenario you propose sounds like you are not letting go...). By the way, we gave our eldest a name that has a meaning in Hawaiian and our youngest one that had similar sound and spelling patterns but no Hawaiian meaning and our youngest is so bummed that his name does not mean anything in Hawaiian! anon

Isn't having your last name taking your heritage into account? And in a more lasting way, too, as your last name can survive through subsequent generations (even if you have a daughter) where as all first names are for that generation only (typically). Don't forget that as a caucasian male, ALL the stuff you see around you is pretty much ''your'' tradition. It may seem invisible at times, but that's just a testament to how ubiquitous white culture is. white in name only

I must say, I agree with your wife. Your kids already get your last name, so they have no doubt about their heritage. An Asian first name for both seems like a reasonable compromise to me. your wife is right.

Often, parents seem to like the names of their children to be similar, so I can see your wife's point. We have friends whose children are named Ian & Owen, Julia & Joe & Jim, Mikah & Max, Casey & Cailin & Cole, Lars & Annika (they obviously went the Scandinavian route), Eli & Jacob (biblical names), Amber & Autumn. It creates some sort of unity.

How do you think your children will feel about the fact that they have extremely different names? I am from a family of 5 and never liked my name. Everyone else had at least fairly modern names, yet mine is plain. If I had a sibling with an Asian name, I would want to have one myself. Just two perspectives to consider. joj

FWIW, though I don't think that siblings' names necessarily have to ''match'' in linguistic or cultural background or in any other way, I agree with your wife on the ''fairness'' question: if your kids are given your surname, then they already have one ''non-Asian'' name. So if it's balance you're after, the first name should be ''Asian.'' (Or, of course, you could give baby #2 your preferred first name and your wife's surname.) That leaves you with the middle name, if any, as negotiable territory.

But also, you could just give up on the whole ''fairness'' thing being important, and consider all names that each of you likes, independently of linguistic or cultural source. Or you could, as many of my friends in cross- cultural marriages of one sort or another do, look for a ''crossover'' name, something with meaning to both of you and pronounceable by both extended families.

If you're trying to name the baby after a particular relative, consider using the same first initial or the same name ''meaning'' instead of the actual name.

For example, ''Hana'' is a Japanese name that could correspond to either ''Hannah'' (phonetically) or ''Flora'' (both mean ''flower''). Good luck! Holly

you are giving your child your name - your last name. or you could give the second child your wife's family's last name. what is fair and logical about one kid with asian name + white name and the seoncd kid with white name + white name? That is 75% not 50%. Anyways, good luck, you're not a jerk, but I am totally on your wife's side. cathleen

Hello! I have an Asian father and Caucasian mother. Both my brother and I have boring common first names that are white names. Both of us have Asian middle names. For whatever reason, my brother has always been called by his white first name, and I have always been called by my asian middle name. It never seemed weird. I never really thought about it. So, to argue on your side, I would say: the kids probably LOOK more like her, so their name should reflect more on you, it's no big deal for one to have an Asian name and the other not, maybe you could give the second child an asian middle name. But, to argue for your wife, I would say: let's give the kid a more unusual name so that there aren't five kids in his class with the same name! He's going to speak English and be more culturally American, so why not add some flavor?

I think the heritage thing isn't really an argument unless you truly believe that you are culturally Irish or German or French or whatever. My caucasian side is English/French, but my mom is not culturally either--but my dad is very culturally Asian.

And, speaking as a female, I will say that giving up your own last name to a married name is a bit of a sacrifice, so maybe you can look at it that way (assuming she changed her last name) If she didn't, then maybe Baby #2 should have a white first name and her maiden name as their last name. anon

It sounds like what your wife is proposing is that if your culture and heritage is reflected in the last name of both children, hers should be reflected in the first. What's the problem? Seems fair to me. Or are you saying that this second child is, in fact, going to have your wife's family's last name? In which case, yes, I think you should be able to ask that the first name be something non-Asian.(Our two kids do have different last names; their daddy picked the first for the girl with my last name, and I picked the first for the girl with his last name. Seemed fair to us.) It's just a name

i sympathize with you. name selection can be hard. you should both be happy with the name selection. i think that's important since the child will have the name forever. hopefully you can find a way to compromise. my friends put the wife's last name as a middle name, which helped represent her culture. even though you didn't do that for your first, it could still work for the second. also, maybe you could find names that you both like that try to represent both. for example, some names mean something in japanese and gaelic, etc. i saw several when we were looking for names. you can look on name sites and see what has meanings in both. my friend did names that were just really pretty and were not totally obviously from one culture. they are chinese and american [not sure exact background] and they went with Nia. Nia means something in chinese and i think it might mean something gaelic. also, though, the name isn't obviously from one culture. anyway, hope this helps. be kind to each other. it's a hard thing to find a name! good luck! good luck

What's fair? Well, my husband has a Welsh background; I have a Russian background. A long time ago we said any girls would have my last name and any boys would have his last name, but he had a hard time accepting that when the time finally came. I wanted a Russian first name, too. We had to debate at the hospital for 3 days after our daughter was born, finally we agreed on what felt like a 50/50 solution: Welsh first name (his heritage/preference); two middle names: my grandmother's name & his last name My last name (not shared or hyphenated) I think that's fair. 50 / 50 on first / last names 50/50 on middle names which don't carry as much weight.

So I say if you want your heritage as the first name, the kid should have her last name. If there is just one family last name & it's yours, then I thing her heritage has sway on the first name. If you want to be fair... don't understand the 'his last name' tradition

Don't be silly, your second child will have your last name and represent your heritage that way. Let your wife have her way on the Asian first name and work with her to find one that you also like. Caucasian Mom married to Asian Dad

We were in your situation 2 years ago and have similar ethnic backgrounds. Our 1st born has an Asian first name and my husband's last name and a ''non Asian middle name''. I wanted my 2nd child to have an Asian name too but really liked a non Asian name so he has non Asian first name and Asian middle name. My compromise was to give him an Asian middle name b/c it was important to me to make sure in his name there was my heritage/culture. They will always have a connection to their Asian roots through their name whether it is first or middle. It is a big deal. anon

Your children will be getting your heritage by using your last name. If you want an ''American'' first name why don't you give her the Asian last name.

I doubt that there is a right-or-wrong answer to this, this is about feelings and identity. But since you asked for opinion: As a caucasian female married to an asian male, I have to say ... I agree with your wife. The children have your last name; an Asian first name acknowledges her heritage, which is otherwise unacknowledged and eventually subsumed. Your last name lives on in your children; hers does not. So what's ''fair'' is that they have an Asian first name and Caucasian last name.

But is fairness really the issue? Of course you both know that this is what middle names are for! I suspect this disagreement is symbolic of other issues--control and legacy, who makes the key decisions in your family, whose extended family has the most impact on you as a couple, etc. Just a thought. Good luck and hope you both realize that you are lucky to have each other and healthy children!! LK

Your heritage/culture will be represented if you give both kids your last name. I disagree that ''it's only fair and logical for one kid to have an Asian name and one to have a non-Asian name.'' What is ''fair and logical'' if you want both cultures represented, which both of you seem to want, is for both kids to have one name that reflects your culture and one name that reflects your wife's culture. So, if you want to give your second child a first name that represents your culture (traditional family name, etc.), how about giving that child her last name? I know families that have done this and it seems to have worked out fine for them. You might think this is ''weird,'' but some might say it's also ''weird'' (as your wife pointed out) for the kids to have different types of first names. Having a lot of relatives and friends who are bi/multi racial, I feel that giving biracial kids names that reflects both cultures is a way for them to feel proud of both cultures, and an added bonus in your case might be that others will have an idea of which specific cultures your kids are from (German? Irish? Italian? Vietnamese? Japanese? South Asian? Etc.?). If you both don't want to give your kids different last names, a compromise might be to give the second child an Asian first name and a non-Asian middle name. I think it's great that you're talking about giving both of your children names that represent both cultures. Good luck! Sandra

I am an Asian female and my husband is a Caucasian male. We gave both our children Asian first names. They carry their father's last name. We gave the children Asian first names because they are, in fact, half Asian and we wanted that reflected in their name - not lost in the middle name, but up front.

While I can understand that you may feel resentful about not having as great a say in choosing your second-born's first name as you would like, I think using the same naming convention will be most helpful/least divisive to your children. As giving an English/American name is the norm, if you give your second child a ''normal'' first name, your first born may wonder if you somehow thought that giving him or her an Asian name was a mistake. You would also invite questions from friends and strangers about why only one has an Asian name. Is the firstborn somehow designated to carry on the Asian legacy, while the secondborn is to carry on the Caucasion one? I don't think these are questions you want your children to ask themselves, never mind having to field them from curious others.

Your heritage is strongly reflected in the use of your last name. After all, that is the ''family'' they belong to, at least as indicated by their name. Our two children have middle names that reflect my husband's family/heritage, and that is something that you and your wife may want to consider if you have not already. I hope you can find the balance that works for your family. Anon

Sorry, but I totally agree with your wife. Your heritage/lineage is reflected in their last name. Also, I think it would be really weird for your kids (from their perspective as they grow up) to have two different ''kinds'' of names. Someone's going to get a complex here, and who can afford that?

Not to take this too far, but it seems there is a risk of potentially stigmatizing the kid with the Asian name, or, conversely, the risk of the 2nd feeling left out of his mother's culture. It could be perceived that it was a ''fad'' at the time of the first baby, but you (mom and dad) didn't think it important enough to name the 2nd baby in the same vein.

I know none of these evil outcomes is your intent, I'm just trying to think of other sides as you asked. There's nothing wrong with wanting your child to be named after one of your family members. I wanted to name my kids 3 names because it was so hard to make that compromise! Maybe you could compromise on the middle name? Or give the baby two middle names. Good luck. Carey

Why not find a name that works in both cultures? My Asian friend who married a Hispanic man has one daughter named Naya (or Naya Lin), which sounds perfectly reasonable from a non-Asian standpoint, but also works as an Asian name. (they have two other kids too, one with more of a Mayan- type name and one other that's sort of made up Hispanic- ish, and it doens't seem particularly odd that they have different types of names.

It sounds a little from your post as though you feel like you don't get to choose, which is possibly a bigger issue. You might also consider the possibility of both kids having a hyphenated last name. Or try to express (kindly, open-mindedly) how strong your desire is to have a certain name.

Steer away from tit for tat type arguments one way or the other (from her or you). Your kids are people, not playthings that you get to name a certain way just to balance out the power. (which I'm kind of getting from your post). Acknowledge her desires, state yours, and maybe you can find a compromise. Try counseling if it will make you both feel better.

You said: ''I don't like feeling as if I have to agree upon an Asian name or I'm a jerk.'' The truth hurts, doesn't it? Your wife is in the right here, and you're being a jerk. You ask, What about my heritage? Isn't your heritage represented in your children's surname? Could it be further represented in a middle name as well? Why is your heritage more important than your wife's? Also, don't underestimate how much it will impact your kids to have different kinds of names. They will wonder why and may or may not believe what you tell them. When I was a kid, my brother and sister both had names that started with D, and my name starts with A, so I always felt a little like the odd one out, if you can believe it. It didn't exactly scar me, but I wondered why I was ''different'' from my brother and sister. Oh, please

I didn't see the original post but after seeing the replies had to add my two cents worth: in our family the father is asian, mother is caucasian. first child has an asian name, second child has a western name. I think it is completely fine to mix cultures like this. We love the names of our children, so we feel they fit together nicely. Best advice is to just find a name, whatever source, that you really love the sound of. Funnily enough, the child with the asian name looks totally like the caucasian side of the family, the child with the western name looks totally asian. But somehow they each suit their names. With the second child, we wanted a western name but picked a rare old historical name so that it is recognizably western (important to us) but yet unusual enough to suit the child's unusual looks. By the way, one important consideration: I love my first child's asian name, but EVERYONE mispronounces it, starting with the drs in the hospital, and that drives me absolutely nuts. Make sure you try the name out with native English speakers so you know how it will sound. Naming is hard

After reading the posts, I don't think you are out of line. My husband is Chinese and I am Caucasian and our son has a name that is special to us (named for where we fell in love). His middle name is generically Chinese (Lee) which happens also to be my middle name as well as my husbands. We figured that it would be funny to all have the same middle name. His last name is that of my husband (Chinese). I personally don't think that you need a ethnic name just to fit in. Oddly enough, my husband has a totally Caucasian first name (John) and his sister is named Thor and his brother is named Sue. So, if anything his siblings were taunted as kids for their unusual names that defied gender lines.

For me, your child will fit in because they are your child. I tend to agree with you on this. I don't think your wife should dictate names based on ethnicity -- if you can't reach a decision, compromise and name the child for a place that you both like or a character from a book you both admire. Name game.

What do you think about gender-neutral names?

June 2010

For those of you who have a name that can be for both genders, (such as Erin/Aaron, Ronnie, Leslie, Sam/Samantha, Ariel, Jamie) how do you feel about it? We are considering the name Leslie for a baby girl and this could also be a boy's name.

I don't think of ''Fran'' as being gender-neutral, but I get mail addressed to ''Mr Fran'' so I guess it is. I don't let it bother me. My children are Aaron and Alix (my daughter has been spelling it ''Alex'' lately) and sometimes people get confused about who's the boy and who's the girl. It has never bothered either of them. Sometimes I go by ''Francesca'' when I want to be clear about gender. You could consider giving a daughter an unambiguously feminine middle name and allow her to go by that if she wishes. In fact, my daughter's MIDDLE name is Alexandra and her first name is obviously feminine, so I sometimes use it (or Alexandra) if I think confusion might arise. (She uses her first name if the mood suits.)

A funny story along these lines: My son wanted to spend the night with a friend whose parents we didn't know. We left a message for the mother asking for her OK, and she called back asking why ''Erin'' would be needing to spend the night at their house.

Further note: ''Aaron'' and ''Erin'' are pronounced differently and we try to do that, but sometimes people don't notice the difference. Fran

If you name your son Leslie, I don't think he's going to be too happy about it. Same re Ariel. And Erin and Aaron are two different names (even if they are pronounced the same). The concept of a gender neutral name is fine, but there really aren't too many of them. And whatever you do, I personally think it is somewhat unkind to give your child a name that will give rise to the same comments over and over again. (You're a girl? I thought you were going to be a boy since your name is Michael. Is that your real name? etc.)

Leslie is hypothetically gender neutral, but it's not in the top 1000 names for boys any more, while it's #160 for girls. Since the 1950s, Leslie has been used more for girls, and now I think very few people would think of it as a boys' name. name enthusiast

There are plenty of gender-neutral names around at the moment, but Leslie's not one of them--it crossed over from male to female decades ago. The only male Leslies you'll encounter are old men. So I don't think you need to worry about it!

Since you asked, though, I would like to request that parents of girls refrain from choosing names that are still considered boy names, such as Ryan or Jasper. There are enough great names for girls already--don't steal the few that are still unequivocally male! (Leslie is NOT in this category, as I already explained.) Parent of a girl with a girl name and a boy with a (so far) boy name

While it may have been at one time, I would no longer say Leslie is a gender neutral name. It's your business if you want to name a boy Leslie, but he WILL be teased. Anon

My name is Leslie and I'm female. When I was in grammar school there were 3 of us named Leslie all in the same class, all female. In my 58 years I've only met 2 male Leslies, it's not a biggie at all. leslie

Hi My name is Leslie. I am female - 45 years old. Growing up, I was aware that Leslie could be a boy's name, but I never met a boy named Leslie so it was not a problem. The only boy I ever knew named Leslie was Leslie Nielsen, of AIRPORT movie fame. As a matter of fact, throughout my life, I have only met a handful of other Leslies. I was never teased, and the name never caused me any issues growing up. I do have to comment on Aaron. Aaron is Hebrew. It is not a gender neutral name. There are a lot of areas in The Hebrew Bible that could be open to different interpretations, but Aaron's gender is not one of them. He is the brother of Moses. Personally, If I were to meet a girl named Aaron, I would think it was weird. Good Luck

Our daughter's name is Shae and we still love that name. I have seen the name used for a boy (though usually it is then spelled Shea). I like it for its strength. I never had problems with the fact that it is considered to be a gender neutral name. Leslie seems to me more of a girl's name than a boy's name. I know, there are men who have that name, but is it still common to name your boy that? joj

Why would you want a gender-neutral name ? Having a name that is not clear as to gender means lots of extra, repeated, unnecessary questions for your kid his or her entire life. I have the same last name as a very famous psychologist, and have told people hundreds of times that I am not related. It benefits no one, and is terribly irritating. Please keep this sort of thing from happening to your child. And I find Jung irritating too.

As a child, I enjoyed my mother's story about how I became 'Chris'. It seems choosing a gender-neutral name ended a prolonged battle in which neither side was showing signs of giving up. As to the specific choice of 'Leslie', or of any name, I recommend that parents examine every conecivable way a name can be twisted by your child's peers. No degree of manipulation is ''out-of-bounds'' - if you can think of it, so can the kids. Chris

I don't understand why there is this massive trend to using very unique names and gender-neutral names. It makes the parents look like they are trying way too hard. Erin (eh-rin) is a girls name. Aaron (a-ron) is a boys name. Growing up, whenever a boy had a girl name, they got teased and teased pretty bad. My son has 2 girl friends (Shay, Evan) and now, at 7 years old, they have already asked why then can't change their names to Jessica, Stephanie, Kelly...Be unique, use a name that is straight up plain. anon

A fair number of people have already advised you on having the name Leslie, and how it is generally considered a girls' name now. I hope that helps to resolve that issue for you.

Still, I couldn't help but put in my .02 on having a gender-neutral name: Robin (ok, more girly in the states, but definitely more boyish elsewhere). Anyway, I love it. My spouse also has a gender-neutral name: Sandy (again, more girly, but still gender-neutral). If you don't already know us, can you guess who is what? Over the years we have delighted in confusing and rattling people's expectations.

So, when we got our puppies, gender-neutral was a factor in the naming. Our dogs: Taylor and Kenzie. When we were pregnant, we worked through a whole list of gender-neutral names and finally after much deliberation went with a predominately boyish name: Eliot. Of course, we had hoped (and still do) that it might become more gender-neutral because of the female character named, Elliot, in the TV show Scrubs. We're just a family who enjoys keeping people guessing. Robin (female) Sandy (male) Eliot (male) Taylor (female) Kenzie (female)

p.s. Sandy assures me that he's not minded having a name that has become a far more popular name for a girl than a boy. Robin

Name guru Laura Wattenberg just blogged about gender neutral names this week: http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2010/6/when-does-a-name-become-androgynous -- name freak

Considering giving baby two middle names

April 2010

I am in my eighth month of pregnancy and for various reasons my husband and I are considering giving the baby two middle names. Does anyone have any experience with how this works, legally/logistically? Do you write in both names in the ''middle name'' line on the birth certificate, and then are both names required on all legal documents going forward? Are there any other issues I should be aware of? Thanks for any guidance you can offer! anon

Two middle names are no problem as long as they don't exceed a certain letter limit, which I think is pretty large (even then, I was told by the person who registers the baby's name at the hospital, you can get a special exception). My son has three middle names, one of which is my last name and this did not create any problems (total of 15 letters, if that helps). All three are on his birth certificate and social security card, but only the first two on his passport. Mom of O.E.J.R.

When I got married, I took my husband's last name, but I made my maiden name a second middle name. The two middle names are on my SS card and driver's license. A lot of forms you fill out only allow either one middle initial or one whole middle name, but in that case I just use my first middle name (or initial). On my credit card, I have both middle initials. It usually is no trouble, except for occasionally giving someone checking my id a double-take, since the longer name pushes my last name onto a second line of my driver's license, so they have to look a little harder for it. Overall, I've liked having two middle names - it is a bit unusual and I like that. I have a brother-in-law who has two middle names that were given from birth. I think his feeling about it also has generally been pretty positive. I think it makes him feel a bit special (especially since his three older brothers each have only one middle name - I think my in-laws were trying to get one more family name in there on their 5th and last child!) go for it!

Our son has two middle names and they're now both on the 'middle name' line of his birth certificate. We first received a b.c. with only the first of the two on the line [it's a more standard middle name] and his second middle name was on the 'last name' line along with his real last name. But, as we chose my last name for his second middle name, and his other mother's last name for his legal last name, I could see where the certificate makers mighta been confused. I'm a little confused just writing it down. -jmf

i have two middle names! it's never been a problem, and it always made me feel a little special. both middle names are on my birth certificate and my social security card. a lot of forms/documents only give space for one middle name/initial, so when i can only give one i just try to be consistent about which one i use. i've never once had a problem, of any sort. one tip: be extra careful what the initials spell. i think my parents spent so much time coming up with all my names, they neglected to notice the somewhat unfortunate acronym they form! e.a.z.y.

All 3 of my children have two middle names. I put both middle names on the birth certificate and other official type forms (taxes, social security cards) but generally just use the first of the 2 names in other cases. Or just the first initial when initials are asked for. No big deal, but consider that the first of the 2 names will be more prominent. anon

We gave our son two middle names (my last name plus what we thought was a ''cool'' name). Now we think of his cool name as his special name, a nickname that we call him once in awhile, and my last name as his middle name that we use officially (school records, etc etc). We figure he can always choose his cool name later if he wants to use it, but we're really happy using my name as his official middle name. - decided to simplify

I would not do it.It will make your childs life more complicated and they will eventually drop one of the names is my guess.My parents never gave me a middle name, which I was always annoyed about,but having 2 middle names would have been bad too.My guess is there are 2 people you want to name your child after. Maybe you could pick a different third name to use as a middle name and not compete the 2 names. Most people will not ever see the birth certificate, so you could use the 2 names when refering to your child, but not have them both on the birth certificate. no middle name

we gave our second son two middle names, i think because we knew he would be our last and i wanted to give as many names as possible. just write down exactly what the names are in the middle name field. we've told him his full name and he doesn't really care either way. also, we have some friends who gave both of their kids two middle names, also with no issues. love 2 middle names

We gave our son 2 middle names. Apparently in Europe, Catholics often get 2 middle names but we're not catholic. Anyway, it's no problem whatsoever. We use the first middle name on forms where it's asked for but all names go on the birth certificate and passport. do what you want to do; your child will figure out later how s/he wants to deal with it and it will not be a big problem. no regrets

I have two middle names, as well as my nephew. Yes, just list both on the birth certificate. I like having two middle names because of the meaning behind them--if you are considering two middle names, there is probably a good reason. Anyway, for legal documents, middle initials can often be left out to no effect, meaning, your middle name is rarely relevant. In fact, it is very annoying that many documents include only one space or one block for a middle initial when you have two! I have had credit cards issued with only one of my middle initials because their forms couldn't handle two initials. I was able to get some of them corrected by talking with them via telephone; one card I just left as is. My drivers license, passport, car title and a few other documents show my complete name, and it is easy in those situations to get your full name listed correctly, but I have gotten so that I often omit my middle initials and just use first and last name because most forms, documents, etc. just won't accommodate two middle names or initials... I'd rather show no middle initials than just one of them. But I'm glad I have two! Love my middle names Tracy

My daughter has two middle names on her birth certificate. I think the second one is either cut off or omitted from her social security card (they only give you a certain number of boxes, so I filled 'em up). She has two passports: I believe on the US passport, she has only one middle name; on the other passport, I think she has two middle names (again, this was due to the space on the forms). I registered her for schools with both middle names, but buy her plane tickets, file taxes, etc. with just the first middle name. I feel like the more long lasting things (diplomas, baptism certificates, school and medical records) should have both middle names, but more fleeting things (plane tickets) can have one. She her gives her child many names

Yes, just put the two names in teh middle name slot. My husband has 2 middle names. He has both in some documents (passport, driver's license), but regularly / often uses just 1 of the middle names (work forms, insurance, school, etc.) Maybe someone has a story of names getting confused, but it's worked out just fine for him... we gave our daughter 2 middle names too. We'll see what happens mom of baby with 2 middle names

I have two middle names, and it's no big deal. Typically, both names go in the ''middle name'' box on birth certificates and so on. Sometimes I only use one of them, but on legal documents I use both. The only rare problem I've encountered is that when the combined middle names are too long for a database, sometimes I have to rearrange it so that my first two names become my first name, and my second middle name becomes my middle name. There is always a creative solution. I thought it was weird when I was young (partly because one of the names is not easily pronounced) but now I like having two. Go for it! MAMC

My daughter has two middle names. Her middle name is not hyphened. We just put both names on the middle name line of her birth certificate. Whenever we are asked to give a middle initial we simply give the first letter of her first middle name. However, my daughter writes all of her first letters (four of them)when she writes her initials. My husband and I decided to do this to honor both of the grandmas while choosing an original first name for her from us. Happy Birthing! Dori

We gave both of our sons two middle names. We just wrote both names into the middle name line on the birth certificate paperwork in the hospital. My eldest son is 3 and we continue to write in both middle names on any ultra-official documents, but use just the first middle name initial when there is only space for one letter initial. So far no issues with that. multiple middles

I had a baby a year ago and did the two middle names thing. Having no experience with this, I just said, ''oh, okay'' when the birth certificate lady told me that she had put the first two of the three given names in the first name field. Big mistake. Make sure they put the two middle names in the middle name field. Now my daughter's social security card/record shows her having a weird, really long first name composed of the two names run together and one middle name. We realized this when our taxes filed online were rejected because of this. So..... I love my daughter's name. And now I will start the process of fixing the birth certificate lady's mistake. All three of her given names appear on her passport. As to other legal documents, I am not sure but will guess that they ought to be put on. You are so smart to ask this now! anon

My son has two middle names--one of them quite long along with a long last name--and we've never had any trouble. Yup, we wrote both in on his birth certificate, which meant that his entire last name didn't even fit. Never made any difference. He uses one middle name or two or none when it makes sense. Someone may know something more ''official'' about all this but this is to say we have never had any trouble, even with travel documents, etc. Mom of Two Middle Names-er

We did this. My son has two middle names. We just wrote the two middle names in the middle name space on the birth certificate. Not a big deal at all, and I know many others who've given two (or more!) middle names as well. I suppose anywhere he's legally required to write his middle names he'll have to use both names or initials, but in general I don't imagine it will have significant legal consequences. Perhaps just a little annoying because he has a longer name. I say, go for it!

Don't worry about it. Two middle names are easy. Just write them in. Most legal documents only require first/last; in cases where all names are required, just write in all four. (My wife has two middle names, as do several friends.) anon

We gave each of our kids two middle names (it was a compromise on the first child, and then kinda followed with the second). It was very easy. We put both names down as middle names on the birth certificate. So they are both there. For typical paperwork, school, sports, etc, we just use the middle name that comes first. There's only space ofr one, and no one else cares. The kids like having two middle names, and we made sure they get to use all of their initials or long full names on monograms or special projects when they so desire. Have fun, it's no biggie later. No Middle Name Mama

Don't worry at all about it. My daughter has two middle names, as does my nephew, and my brother. It seems to be a bit of a family trait! When I named my daughter, I just filled in two names in the ''middle name'' part on her birth certificate. Her birth certificate and passport have her whole name on it. For other documents, we just fill in both names - if there is enough room. I notice that it is almost treated like a hyphenated middle name. Sometimes there is only room for one or some (government) documents request only one name. In that case, we were advised to just put the ''first'' middle name down. We have NEVER had an issue with having given her two names, nor has anyone else. BTW, she loves her names. It makes her special Been there

Both my children have two middle names. The older one is 12 and so far there really haven't been any issues. Yes, we put the two middle names into the single middle name field on the form for the birth certificate. Occasionally family members are a little confused because in our case the second middle name is my maiden name. So they thought we were choosing a hyphenated last name a few times. I've never had any legal or official issues. If a form indicates that it must be the full/complete/legal name then we use all four names (such as on my son's passport and social security card). Less official forms often don't have room for both middle names, so we just either leave them both out, abbreviate with two middle initials, or very occasionally just use one. No problems or concerns at all, unless it bothers you to not fit perfectly into all prepared forms! Marina

I think you can give your child 12 middle names if you want. I do have some experience with this. When I married, I choose to take my husband's last name. I didn't want a hyphenated last-name, but I did not wish to give up my full maiden name. So I have two ''middle'' names. My middle name given at birth, and my maiden name. The only thing to note is that many, many, many forms and applications will only accept one middle name or initial. And this will most certainly default to whatever name is ''first'' among the middle names. a woman with two middle names

We gave our son two middle names (a given name, and my last name) since we didn't want to burden him with a hyphenated name, but we wanted my last name in there too. He's now 9, and to be honest, I'm still a little confused about what to do when filling in forms, but realistically, there haven't been a lot of forms to fill out. Maybe he'll run into that later. For now, when a form asks for a middle name initial, we just give it for the first of the two. I know a young man who was given two middles, and when I asked he said it hasn't been an issue - this after all the forms one fills out for college applications, SATs, etc. (The only thing that surprised us was that after he was born and started getting mail, generated from the hospital, they took his two middle initials, J. R., and stuck it behind his name Jr. - you never know how systems will screw things up!) anon.

Our daughter has two middle names and we simply put both names under ''middle name.'' We have had no problems with this so far (she is only 18-months-old), and we know several other children with two middle names. mom of two middle-namer

I have two middle names, as do both of my sisters and now my son does too. It's really no big deal -- you just put both names in the space for the middle name and add a space between them. With school forms I always just used my first middle initial, and when I got married I actually dropped one of my middle names and added my maiden name in as a middle, because I draw the line at three middle names! As for legal forms, you'd be amazed at how rarely you need to put your full legal name with middle names included. If you do, there's usually enough space for both names. I consistently use my maiden name for my middle initial, and have had no troubles with an extra long name. Sometimes people get confused looking at my drivers license because my name takes up two lines, but that's it. No big deal. I've always felt special having two middle names, and I think your child will too. That's why I gave my son two (a family name plus my maiden name), so he could be special like me! --love my two middle names

We did the same thing - I added my maiden name as a second middle name and both of our children have two middle names, the second being my maiden name. It is very easy to do - just add two names in the middle section on the birth certificate. Maggie

We gave two middle names to our children who are now in their twenties. Basically, you figured it out -- write both in the middle name field of the birth certificate, and they write both names in the middle name field to get a passport or drivers license. Having two middle names presents no problems. The advice we have from experience is that, in practice, the second middle name becomes nearly invisible, except for legal i.d.'s. Many forms, such as for SAT exams, sports registration, and a lot of online forms have room only for one middle initial or one middle name. Even when there's room to give a second middle name, not all institutions use it-- one high school was going to print only the first middle name on a diploma until our child specifically requested that both be used. In our case, the second middle name for our children is my last name, which I have always used. I find it sad that it essentially disappears, since I wanted my name to be part of my children's names. Berkeley mom

Belatedly adding baby's name to the birth certificate

June 2008

When our first child was born on May 9, we were much too excited to be bothered with choosing a name right away. The birth certificate was thus submitted to Alameda County with the name field left BLANK. Now that we have a name, the county recorder says we need to file an affidavit with the state to amend the birth certificate, and that this will take Sacramento 7 MONTHS to complete. This is a problem because we really want to get the baby a passport to visit family abroad this summer. So, anyone have experience belatedly adding a name to a birth certificate with no name on it? Do I really need to wait 7 months?! (I should note that this process is different from changing the name, which requires a court order.) Thanks! Jason

We ran into this exact situation, and here's what we did. The baby in question is now 15, so I'm a little fuzzy on the details. Basically, my husband got on the phone to Sacramento until he found a real live person who processes these records -- a grandmother, in fact -- who took pity on us and offered to help us take our baby to see his grandmother. She gave us her name and mail stop, so we sent our application to amend the form directly to her, and had the amended birth certificate back a few days later. I can't remember how he navigated the voicemail system to reach her. We kept the address long enough to send her a photo of baby with Grandma and all his cousins. I'm still annoyed with the hospital for lying to me and having pressured me to sign the birth certificate -- they indicated that I'd get a ''new'' birth certificate quickly with the name on it. Turns out, the dashes for the given names never disappear, you just get a second page with the names added. It's confusing and unusual, so we find it easier to use his passport rather than his birth certificate when he needs a proof of age and/or residency, like for soccer registration. Congratulations on your little one, and good luck! I married an alien

You have two different problems, that might be separable and more easily solved. If you need a passport, apply for one *now*. The baby has a birth certificate, and almost certainly has, in the eyes of the State, a name, though it might be ''Baby Boy [or Girl] Strauss.'' (A friend of mine in grad school found to his great surprise that his real name wasn't actually Stuart, but Baby Boy, when he went to get a passport, probably for the exact same reason.) So, your baby should be able to get a passport with his/her ''default'' name (an amusing artifact to show his/her own kids some day), and you can apply to have his/her name amended whenever it's convenient for the State to do so. If you're traveling to non-English speaking countries, you might write up a half page explanation of the kid's odd name situation, and get it translated into the languages you're likely to encounter at border checkpoints. There are various passport expediting companies; I've run a web site for the foreign embassy community in D.C. that includes links to several... Travel Visa Pro is actually based in San Francisco: http://www.embassy.org Ross

Baby Name Book Recommendation

Feb 2008

How does one come up with a baby name if not passed down from a family member? Are there any baby name books out there worth reading? anon

Not a book, but the Social Security Administration website (http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/index.html) has baby name lists by year, ranked by order of popularity (if you want to know how many babies were named Abigail in 1934, you can find out). I wanted a name that was common enough that people would recognize it, but not so common that my daughter would be one of six in her class with that name, an this was a great resource. Carrie

There are so many different ways people come up with names for their children. One of my children has a family name, one has a name derived from an in-utero nickname and the other we just like the way it sounded. And there are way more ways of finding names.

There are plenty of A-Z lists of lots of names in book form. They can be good references, but the one that I love for thinking about how to think about it and just for fun (I love names) is ''Beyond Jason and Jennifer, Madison and Montana: What to Name Your Baby Now'' by Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran. It talks about names in the context of style, popularity, and a few other topics. It lists them in groups such as ''So Out They're In'' ''Nature Names'' and ''A Girl Named A Boy.'' Good wishes! Karin

My favorite, favorite name book is The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg. It's so much more than just a list of names and their meanings. I still like to read it just for fun. There is a website that goes with it which is also endlessly entertaining to me. Take a look at http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html Good luck with this important and fun decision! obsessed with baby names

I don't know a book but I have two suggestions for you: 1) ask people who have kids in preschool what the popular names are. This will keep you from naming your child a really cool-sounding name that everyone else thinks is cool-sounding too, so then there won't be 3 other kids with the same name in your daughter's class. 2) Tell all your friends, relatives, and co-workers what your name idea is in advance, and ask for feedback. This is how you will find out if you are considering a name with terrible associations that you weren't aware of, or a name that almost no one can pronounce correctly. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be able to pick the name you want, just that I know parents (and kids) who regret the choice of a name that might have been avoided had they had more information.

Kenobi as a first name?

Dec 2007

What do you think? Too Star War-zy? Too strange? Can the name stand alone without the baggage? If he is teased, like most kids are, is it so bad? Thanks

Does the name has a family history? Does it have a meaning in another culture that is significant for you? If no to both, I would vote no, because then it really does seem like the motivating factor is Star Wars, and I would (personally) be embarrassed if my parents had named me after a character in a popular film. If the name does have an origin and/or meaning that is important to you, then you could go for it with the understanding that your child may be called upon to ''defend'' it, which could get old. Still, something meaningful for you could be worth it. owner of the most popular girl's name of 1957

the fact that you're questioning your desire to name a kid 'kenobi' should be enough to let you know that it may not be the best move. though who knows if future kids would even know about ''star wars.'' kim

How about ''Jar-Jar,'' or ''Darth''? Just kidding -- heck, I named my daughter ''Redwood''... but as a middle name, so she can choose when she's older what she wants to be called. I don't know your motivation for ''Kenobi,'' but I was one of those kids who teased other kids mercilessly, and I would totally use a kid's name as ammo. Cruel? Sure, but I was a kid and I feel bad about it now. But it doesn't change the fact that I did it. Also -- if this is a cultural thing, and you're Japanese, you'll already be dealing with the stereotypes of Asians being short, smart, and dorky... I just can't see the wisdom of adding this extra burden to your child's life. But maybe it's a family thing, and you have good reasons for doing it. Not sure... I know this sounds harsh, but it's honest, and I've gotten harsh yet honest response on the BPN before, and while they kinda annoyed me at first, eventually I appreciated people's honesty... and in the spirit of hypocricy, I'll sign this anonymously. a

Please don't do this to your poor kid. having a ''weird'' name myself

yes. yes it is really so bad.

Is it a name outside of star wars? If it is, just be ready to explain that over and over again and claim a very close relationship to whatever tradition/culture it comes from. If you do not have a really great reason for naming your kid Kenobi, I wouldn't. How bout just Ken? anon

A brief internet search shows that there are no real-world origins of the name ''Kenobi'', and that it is a name of George Lucas' creation. So if you name your child ''Kenobi'', he/she will most certainly be teased about the name's Star Wars origins. Sign on the dotted line, please. I once worked with a Japanese guy who wanted to name his first child ''Kikaida'', but I happen to think that would have been kind of cool... It's pronounced OSS-WEE-PAY (obscure SNL reference)

Why burden your child with a name that will elicit comments every day of their life ? These exotic names, which one cannot ignore, are probably the source of endless irritation for those who have to carry them. I think that parents give kids these names to show how clever they are. Don't do it ! Daphne

Yes. I do understand the desire to give your child a name that has good connotations and is special to you but IMHO, Kenobi is too Star Wars-y. As to how ''bad'' the teasing will be--depends on how sensitive your child is. But is it worth ANY amount of teasing? If you feel that strongly about the name, think about adopting it as your own? If your internal reaction is, ''No, that would be too weird'' ... why give it to your kid? since you asked

Could you get a pet - cat, dog, or fish, and name that Kenobi instead?

Since you're asking - - it is totally Star War-zy. But, is that a bad thing? I guess it depends. He'll be the most popular kid in 1st grade, that's for sure. -Happy Naming.

I'd vote no, but the only vote that really counts is yours & your partners. Tk

Kenobi? As in Obi-Wan? Um, yeah. That's pretty awful.

First, I believe you should choose a name that is meaningful to you and your partner without worrying too much about playground taunting. I have a relatively common name and was STILL teased about it in grade school. Oh, and I named my son Django (the D is silent). I just learned that there was a 'Jango' in Star Wars, Episode 2...I think it will all work out for the best. Kari

I know you are going to get a lot of random opinion, and that's great, but I'd like to offer you advice based on actual experience with unusual names that also exist in popular culture. If a child stays in the same school with the same general circle of children from kindergarten through elementary, then middle school, then high school, the name will automatically and naturally normalize among peers. A new-comer to that circle will right away see that the name is normal, and will respond accordingly. Your child, meanwhile, will have a stable and secure relationship to his own name and will go through life with no ill-effects. If, on the other hand, your family moves around and switches schools, the name will not be a normal part of the established community, and the child's name will expose him to questions, and sadly, ridicule. Ask yourself, how stable of a peer circle can you offer your child? What kind of ''normal'' sounding nickname can you turn the name into in case the name isn't working? ''Ken'' isn't so bad, is it? By the way, I like the name, please don't let anyone put you down for it. anon

Oh geez, please don't do that to your kid!! Yes it is WAY too Star Wars-y. I happen to love Star Wars, but that's just silly. My Two Cents

Almost every kid is made fun of from time to time about their name or some physical characteristic. Kids should learn to take a little ribbing. However, how seriously is your child going to be taken as an adult with that name? Named after a Star Wars character?? Please don't.... you asked...

Kind of cool but I don't think I'd do it. Maybe pick something similar but not associated w/ Star Wars. - The Force

Since this is Berkeley, of course you will get a lot of responses saying ''Name your child whatever you like, a name is a beautiful thing and a personal choice.'' This is true. However, do NOT name your child Kenobi. I actually giggled out loud when I read it. Yes, people will think of Star Wars. I seriously can't say that name with a straight face. I repeat: Do Not Name Your Child This. (Of course all the people saying that you should, are the same that ones that named their children Summer, Freedom, and Rainbow) Anon

Another emphatic no!

Well I guess Kenobi is better than Gandalf, the name given to a kid I know. Luckily for him his parents switched to using his middle name. I was glad, because I felt really dorky calling an infant Gandalf. Personally I think it is a bad idea to pick a child's name based on its coolness factor. Think about what you thought was really cool when you were in middle school - do you still think it's cool? Will your middle school kid think the name you picked for him cool? Frank Zappa thought Moon Unit was pretty cool too, but I guess his daughter didn't. Normal Nellie

''Too Star War-zy?'' Has there ever been another use of the name? I don't think so, and in that case, yes it is. ''Can the name stand alone without the baggage?'' In a urban part of the western world - no. ''If he is teased, like most kids are, is it so bad?'' You weren't bullied as a child, I guess. It can go from an annoyance to devastating. Everyone wants their children to be strong and happy individuals, but gambling with the chance of the bullies in his life finding easier prey - well, I dunno... Having been bullied myself as a child, and working with children as an adult, I'm sorry to say I wouldn't take that risk for all the tea in China.

Shout it up the stairs, if you still like it, then go for it. Is is to Star-warzy, yes. Will he be teased, mercilessly. Will he hate you when he's older, maybe, but more likely he'll think you're the biggest star wars geek ever. I love star wars, and I love the name, but you'll never get away from the baggage that comes with it, there's always the star wars geek who's introduced his kids at birth to the glories of star wars. Good luck! star wars geek

Instead of Kenobi, how about Kenji? When I was young I knew a boy of Japanese heritage who was named Kenji. I think it's a great name and I never heard any teasing. kelly

Just one more thought to add to the Kenobi question. I had, as a child, a last name I hated -- very easy to turn into all sorts of insulting words, just by changing a sound. And of course, the kids did it. I was a sensitive child, and the minute kids find out something bothers you, they keep doing it. When I got married, I took my husband's last name. Even after all those years, I was delighted to get rid of my awful old last name. It is of course impossible to tell if your child will be sensitive. However, if it is a sensitive child, this could be a source of years of unhappiness. Choose carefully. anonymous

I had to read the responses to your question to my husband. He said all the ''no'' advisers are clearly women, as any man would agree that Kenobi is an awesome first name! We have creatively named kids but my rule was that their names had to be actual first names (not last names as first names or numbers or geographic places). I have thought that if we had known we would have 3 boys, if I would have ended up with kids named for the guys in Spinal Tap, the band RUSH or Han, Luke, and Obi-Wan. How about naming him Benjamin Kenobi? His guy friends can tease him about being ''Old Ben Kenobi'' while still maintaining future resume/date appeal with women. Married to a geek

It's a great name! Of course, my husband and I are huge Star Wars fans but even so, it really is a great name and even better because of the Star Wars reference. We named one of our children after a Star Wars character from the expanded universe and we ran into some Leia's and Luke's at the Star Wars Celebration in LA this past spring. All of them seemed perfectly happy to be named after the Star Wars world. Star Wars Mom

Grandparents won't use baby's correct name

June 2007

My four month old daughter is named Sophia. My parents refuse to call her this, calling her 'Sophie' instead. I have corrected them many times. In fact, the entire family corrects them when they use the wrong name. They have also bought her monogramed gifts with the name 'Sophie.' At first I thought it was just a memory issue with them, but since then I have asked them very politely yet firmly, to use her correct name, to which they said no, telling me that they will continue to call her Sophie. Selecting a child's name is a very personal, thoughtful process, and I chose Sophia, not Sophie. Any advice on how to handle this issue?

If you name your kid Nicholas, they will probably be called Nick. If you name your kid Madeline, they will probably be called Maddie, if you name your kid Alexander they will probably be called Alex. Etc. Etc. Heck, my name is Lisa and I have had people call me LIS (as if my name was too long). My son has a friend named Sebastion who his parents pronounce in an extremely fancy fashion yet everyone else calls Seb. I guess what I'm trying to say is that some people will call your daughter Sophia Sophie, and when she gets older other kids will probably drop the ia all together and just call her Soph. Although you like her proper name, it hardly seems worth the argument, especially with grandparents to insist they call her exactly what you want them too all the time, especially since as she grows, other people probably won't. Although, the more you use her name, the more others will mimic what they hear. Mom of 3 who are called all kinds of things

We seem to have chosen a name for our baby which has infinite variations and ways to shorten. I've noticed that her grandparents, aunts and uncles, and godmothers almost all have a different nickname for her. I'm ok with that, and even rather charmed. I think that it shows in a tangible way that she has and will have a distinct relationship with each of the members of our family. It reminds me that my daughter and my parents have their own special bond apart from me, and that thought is very satisfying. Just my perspective, for what it is worth. I wouldn't fight it. Kris

I would try to not let it bother me. Diana/Diane, Christine/Christie, Andrea/Andie, etc. Lots of people shorten names or use nicknames, and it means no disrespect to the parents who chose the person's name. Since it has been established that they do know her name is ''Sophia'', not ''Sophie'', I would just think of it as their nickname for your daughter. Selecting a name for your child is a very personal process, I agree, but your parents calling her by a variation of her name isn't going to change her given name, nor the very special reason you chose it. anon

Just let your parents call your child ''Sophie''--it's their special nickname for her. It's not as though they are calling her an insulting or demeaning nickname or anything. Aren't there more important things to fight over?
PS. As your child grows older and if she then prefers the name ''Sophia'' over ''Sophie'', that is the time for HER to ask her grandparents to call her by her preferred name. CC

Is it that big a deal really? Maybe your parents want to have a pet name for her. My parents rarely address my daugher by her given name--each naturally ended up using a madeup nickname that is their special name for her. don't worry be happy

When I read the responses to your intitial post about your frustration with the grandparents and their use of a shortened form of your child's name, I was reminded of a Swedish saying (it probably exists in other cultures as well): ''KC$rt barn har hundra namn'' (A beloved child has a hundred names.) I think the saying well reflects our human desire to assign ''pet'' names (Swedish: ''smeknamn,'' ''caress names'') to the people or even things we love. It makes them special to us. So I agree with those who urged you to accept this rendering of your daughter's name, along with ''sweetie,'' ''sugar,'' ''pumpkin,'' or whatever else -- within reason! -- that springs from a loving heart. ''sis'' (my Dad's pet name for me)

My sympathies to you--I know it can be perplexing. My name is Sophia, too, and I identify myself by that name. There was a girl in my high school who would always say ''Hi Sophie. You know, I have a poodle named Sophie.'' So as a teenager and through my 20s, I always firmly corrected people when they called me Sophie, as it would really annoy me. However, after turning 30 I started to relax about it. There was a woman where I worked who pronounced my name Soph-eye-a. I corrected her to no avail, and people teased me about it. Eventually I shrugged it off. Then I met another Sophia who actually liked being called Sophie. As the years pass I find that I don't mind as much when people mistakenly call me Sonia or Cynthia, either. Funny enough, currently there is someone at work who insists she prefers calling me Sophie, even when others corrected her. It always seems to be the eccentric characters who do it--the ones who are trying hard to project a very ''large-and-in-charge'' attitude as a whole, and simply will not give it up. I wonder if that's the case with your parents. Perhaps there's a larger control issue. If you don't mind having to consistently correct them every single time, then by all means, correct them and explain your reasons. But if they don't change even after many months, then it might be a waste of energy. Sorry I don't have better advice

I was interested to see the responses to your query about what to do when your parents call your daughter ''Sophie.'' While I agree that it seems like your parents are not going to change what they are doing, it doesn't seem like merely a matter of casual nicknaming. You have stated your preference and not only have your parents continued to call your daughter by a different name, they have given her gifits inscribed with ''their'' name. It looks to me like there is some kind of power or control thing going on, and frankly I feel they are being somewhat disrespectful to you. My name is Elizabeth and I love the many nicknames that have emerged from that. When these come from close friends, I see them as a sign of intimacy, but I also spent an awful lot of time during my childhood correcting people who reflexively called me ''Liz'' or ''Beth,'' neither of which are, nor ever will be, my name. I suggest that you just drop it with your parents, so that it doesn't escalate as a power issue, but at the same time I am very sympathetic to your feelings. I suspect that when Sophia is older, she will let people know what her name really is, and I hope that her friends and family will regard her preferences as worthy of respect. Elizabeth

Your parents seem like they're being inflexible in a strange way -- maybe ask them why they're so committed to shortening your daughter's name? If it's just that they want a special nickname, then let it go. In the end your daughter will have lots of nicknames, so I'd save the energy for something else that often comes up with grandparents, like too much sweets or too many gifts, something that actually affects her health/development. Good luck! Another Mom

Hi, I just wanted to say that I would have agreed with what others said, except that you mentioned that your parents bought monogrammed items with the wrong name and also didn't honor your request to call your daughter by the name you chose. I personally love nicknames, but it sounds somehow like more than a nickname issue. I can't imagine my parents refusing to call my son by his name and then insisting on calling him something similar that really upsets me. If this is the only issue with your parents and not the tip of the iceberg sort of control issue thing that it sounds like, then I would let it go. It's annoying because it bothers you, but if you can rethink of it as a nickname and endearment, then maybe it won't bother you. If it is part of a bigger control issue going on between you and your parents, then I suggest reading some books and maybe talking to a therapist to see if there is some advice out there that could help. There is no way to force your parents to call your daughter by her correct name, so I think you'll have to keep that in mind with whatever choices you make. I'm not sure why they are so adamant since the two names are so close. It sounds kind of odd to me and a bit disrespectful on their part, mainly because it does bother you so and they don't seem to care. Anyway, you have my sympathies as you deal with thes. Warm regards, Laurel

i didn't see the original post, but i had to chime in. our story isn't the same as what you seem to have, but there is some process to it. my mother-in-law (MIL) didn't used my daughter's first name for at least a couple of years, and even now rarely uses it. our daughter has an unusual first name, my maiden name for her middle, and her father's family name for her last. during the pregnancy we developed the nickname kiki. at the end of the pregnancy my husband wanted to stick in the name 'caroline' as another middle name and it has some family significance. i was resistant because i wanted just my name, but i went along. after the birth my MIL (a proper southern lady) only called my daughter caroline and her nickname (which wasn't suppose to last after the pregnancy, but did). after i politely reminded her of my baby's name, kiki was only used in my presence. all mail and presents were adressed to kiki. i heard her use caroline when she thought i was out of earshot. it drove me crazy!!!! we went back east for a holiday or something. all kinds of friends and family came to visit. one of the old family friends came up to me and asked if all the name confusion has been settled. confusion? there's no confusion. my daughter's first name is ----, middle name is caroline, nickname is kiki. always has been, always will be. he was completey stunned by my answer. WTF? this peaked my frustration. but what i decided was all in all - i won the game when it came to MILs. she had always been kind, loving, welcoming, and generous to me. and if what she needed was to call my daughter caroline (turns out her childhood friend name caroline had recently died) i can just give it to her. she is loving and caring with my daugher. and either i can promote a relationship of love and care between grandmother and granddaughter, or develop one of weird squabbling and distance. my sister-in-law had a cow when she heard about the conversation with the family friend, and used this craziness in a fight with her mom later. i got a letter of apology from MIL that brought tears to my eyes. (but she still doesn't use her first name) now my daugher and MIL have special names for each other ''my kiki.'' the other cousins get a little jelous at their closeness and special bond. i hope something can evolve for you too. Julia

I would sit down and have a heart to heart talk with your parents about this issue. Are they trying to ascribe their own ''pet name'' to your child (in which case I would try to view this from a positive standpoint-builds intimacy and bonding)or are they actually trying to re-name your child, and if so why? Do they not like the name you chose, are there biases at play here (Sophie is an anglicized version of Sophia)? Try to get to the root of every one's feelings and go from there. anonymous

Daughter's unusual name is difficult for people

Sept 2004

We gave our daughter a beautiful and very unusual name. At times, we are happy with it. However, sometimes we are in doubt. Other people have a lot of trouble pronouncing the name, and not many people can remember it. And when people do try to repeat or remember the name, they come up with something completely different! I am having so many questions about this -- should I have named her something else? Will she hate this name (and us for giving it to her) when she is in school? ?

I too have a challenging name. When I was growing up, I disliked it because it was so unusual and nobody could pronounce it. However, when I reached Jr. high school I began to appreciate that I had a unique name. Now that I'm in my 30's I find it hysterical when people mispronounce or misspell it. I have created what I call the the ''Names of Shame'' list that I post on a bright piece of paper in my cubicle at work. I cut out and tape every variation of of my name that is sent to me. The purpose of this is mostly to amuse myself, but I have found that it actually helps others to remember how to say and spell my name correctly. Perhaps, this (or a variation of) is a game that you and your daughter could play. There will always be people who won't be able to pronounce her name easily, but overall, most (with practice) will be able to. Don't regret the beautiful gift you gave her! ms. g

I'm sure my parents never thought that my name would cause me so much grief, but it does. You don't say the name you gave your daughter so I can only guess that it is more complicated than mine, as my name is fairly simple and straitforward, though it is two names put together. It never ceases to amaze me how many different names, spellings and pronunciations it generates. What really gets me is when I introduce myself with my full name and people feel the need to shorten it to one name! If that's what I wanted to be called, that's how I would introduce myself! My initial reaction was ''Yes, change it now!'' While it's not too late (I assume your child is an infant as you did not say how old she is), but on second thought, I felt maybe there is a nickname or a middle name she could go by and be introduced as, so that when she grows up, if she chooses to, she can change her name if she finds it to be tremendously challenging or irritating to her. In a area where we live with many cultures and all walks of life, it surprises me that people aren't more considerate and conscienteous of pronouncing peoples names (and remembering them!) At any rate, though it does irritate me to no end how people can and do mispronounce, shorten or even change (Mary Ann?) my name, I very much like my name and would never change it. I would give your daughter the same choice. Anne Marie, please

I have a somewhat unusual name (Vandy) and everyone always gets it wrong (Mandy, Candy, Sandy, Bambi, Vanity, Dandy, Randy, etc). Also, people often mistakenly think I will be Mr. when I am a Ms. And there are spelling issues, even if someone hears me right (Vandi, Vandee, Vendy, etc). And it is always a bit of work to say ''no, actually it's VANDY, with a V like VICTOR''... (and once someone even translated that to MANVY, go figure! We almost lost our dinner reservation because of it...) But you know, given all that, I have had a ball having an unusual name. When I tell someone my name, and they actually hear it right, it causes conversation to start right then ''Wow, I have never heard that before. Where does it come from, etc etc''. Does your daughter's name have a story behind it? Because that has been important for me -- and believe me, people will ask her. (My dad read my name in a book when he was young and decided when he had a daughter this would be her name. Its a science fiction story, so its kind of funny to tell people that.) I always grew up feeling kind of uniquely me, because I was the only one I knew with my name. I would say that in balance all the misunderstandings and spelling mistakes do not even come close to outweighing the fun of having a unique name. I would never trade it! I think it is great you gave her the gift of an unusual name that will be HERS. Maybe the right thing to do is to help your daughter to think of easy ways to respond to the main questions she will get : how to help people easily spell her name (without spelling the entire thing), where her name comes from, what her name means, etc. Vandy (not Bambi!) for 36 years now

Speaking as someone with the most boring name ever, I am willing to bet that your daughter will appreciate her name when she's an adult. I don't know about during school though... I wonder about this as well, for our son who also has an unusual name. We thought about that when naming him, but decided that if his name bothers him, he can go by an easier nickname, or his middle name which is more common. If it becomes an issue, why don't you let her come up with a nickname or use a middle name? I applaud you for being creative! Jen

Hi, We also fell in love with an unusual name for our daughter, and I had the same concerns. But she's almost 5 now, and loves her name, as do we. Once people get to know her, and have seen her name written down, they seem to have no trouble remembering it. I figure the only people who will continue to have trouble are strangers or acquaintances, and that won't matter in the long run. She came home from her new preschool the other day and announced, out of the blue, ''My teachers and friends think I have a beautiful name!'' That settled it for me! Much Prefer Unique Names!

My immigrant parents gave me a name that is very common in their country, Gizella. As a kid I was called ''godzilla'', some adults pronounced it ''gazelle'' and I was teased with ''gorilla''. I would say it only bothered me because I was shy. I also had a big nose so it's hard to say what was worse. To cope, I sometimes said I was ''Giselle'' which sounds so french! But I wouldn't say that I blamed my parents. I also had a really hard last name but even after two marriages, I kept it! Go figure. It can be an ice breaker and I would say a name can be like hair: curly haired girls want it straight, straight haired girls curl it. I can tell you, though, I was so relieved in high school when one of the most popular, gorgeous girls was named: Dorcas!! Gizella and proud!

I had the same exact worries when my daughter was a newborn until about the time she was 3 or so. IN fact, when she was a few weeks old we changed the pronouncition so now it seems a bit easier, but there were still annoying people who claim not to be able to pronounce/remember it. *However*, not a single child has ever had a problem with it! , nor a single teacher or other comitted adult. She loves her name now, as a first grader. When she was a toddler, we gave her a nickname so that neighbors who claimed to have trouble with her name could call her by a more standard american name. She now vehemently corrects anyone who calls her by that old nickname and guess what? Those same people who had trouble now remember her name and say it just fine. Many adults say to her ''What a beautiful name!'' and she proudly explains its origins. For kids, it's no more different than any of the names they are hearing, as far as I can tell.

I say: stand by your daughter's beautiful name and she'll be proud of it someday. Karen

Whether your child hates her name might depend on her personality; for example, from a very early age I liked to differentiate myself from my peers, and my unusual name helped me to do that. A more conformist personality might have more issues with an unusual name. It's also true that about 85% of the people I encounter in my life on a casual basis haven't a clue how to pronouce it, and about half of those people *never* learn no matter how many times I tell them. Nowadays, I correct people once and then not again. And yes, people remember it incorrectly all the time and call me things like ''Natasha.'' Have you considered giving her a nickname that's easier for people to pronouce? One final thought -- does the name sound similar to something she'd prefer not to be associated with? This is something to take under consideration. My mother's given name was Berilla, and the kids called her Gorilla. She changed to her middle name as a teen. (But she still gave me an unusual and hard-to-pronounce name.)

Well, this may not be what you want to hear, but.... There has certainly been a trend toward ''exotic'' names in the last few years. I suppose it's a reaction to the ''Jennifer'' phenomenon when I was a kid...and having been one of those kids with a very popular name, I will admit that going through school being referred to as ''Sara Pee'' (for the first initial of my surname) was demeaning, to say the least (hee hee...just occurred to me that I could say it rhymes with ''therapy''....) That said -- when my daughter was born, I wanted to give her a distinctive name which people would nonetheless be able to spell. Our family surname is hard enough for most people to handle!

I can't tell you how many adults have come up to me and congratulated me on giving my daughter a ''normal'' name. I think there is a strong feeling among a lot of grown people (in both my own and older generations) that exotic names are undesirable. There have been several studies reported in the news lately where people with exotic names, but the same qualifications, could not get job interviews. So...I know from experience that popular names are not really an asset, and it also seems that exotic names aren't much of one, either. Finding a ''happy medium'' is very challenging. You don't say how old your daughter is -- if she's a few months old, you could always start using her middle name, or come up with a more ''conventional'' nickname. If she's much more than a year, though, you should probably wait...in middle school, she'll probably come up with something all her own GRIN.... Sara

I can't remember if I have ever responded to an advice request before, but I just had to respond to this one. I have a very unusual name, and no, I did not always like it as a child. People constantly mispronounced it (still do), and I was often teased about it. Other kids (including my own sister) would make up jokes using my name. Also, people often won't say my name because they are afraid of mispronouncing it, even after they have heard it.

That said, I am now very happy to have an unusual name. I think I came to terms with it by high school. Now, it is a conversation starter, and I get lots of compliments on it. I explain its origin and make jokes about having been born in the sixties. I don't mind having to correct people's pronunciation of it, though sometimes I don't even bother. Now, I like its uniqueness.

When it came time to name my own son, I didn't want to choose an ordinary name. But my husband and I did decide to pick something that most people have at least heard of, and I did want something that is spelled the way it sounds. I really like the fact that he is almost always the only kid in a group with his name.

Looking back, yes, it would have been easier to have a more common name, or at least a name that people could pronounce just from its spelling, but now I wouldn't change my name for any other.

So, I guess my advice is: enjoy your creativity in choosing your daughter's name, be prepared for her not to like it and help her cope with the mispronunciation, teasing, etc., and hope that she comes to appreciate how unique it is. My bet is that she will, though it may be many years from now. If you have more questions, feel free to contact me! Naissa

I have a difficult name and remember teachers stumbling over it and the embarrassment it caused. When naming our daughter, we went with a name that's tough to say and spell but we call her by her more ''normal'' middle name. She can choose Rhiannon or Chase when she's older. She knows and responds to both now (20 months). Gwyneth

I have a very unusual name, and so does one of my sisters, and we both love it. I have another friend with a fairly unusual name who feels the same. I think having a rare name reinforces the idea as you grow that you are unique in all the world and there can be no other you.

As a child when people had trouble with my name I always saw them as slightly dim-witted (how could they not know how to pronounce the most common word in the language?!) and didn't take it as any reflection on my name. Also, other children will not have trouble with an unusual name - most names are still new to young children. Adults do, however, have a hard time which can be awkward. I tell people who ask how to pronounce my name that it is a hard name and they should feel free to ask me again later if they forget. And of course my name is mis-spelled often and I was called ''Charles'' on the first day of school in many classes. That said, I do know of two teenagers who left behind their unusual names and took on everyday names instead. There's no way to predict how your child will feel, so if that is your main concern, I say enjoy the name you've chosen, help adults learn it with patience, and wait and see what your child thinks later. Likely your child will see it as a special gift and inseparable from her sense of self, especially if you see it that way too. - Charis

My name is not all that unusual, but it is pronounced differently that it is spelt. This has caused a lot of problems over the years. Virtually every teacher in school, even thru college, insisted on mispronouncing my name, even after repeated corrections. Hence, almost all my school friends mispronounced it too. As an adult, I finally gave up on trying to get people to say it right. I'd say that about 75% of everone I know says it wrong! . Right or wrong, I often judge people negatively if after I introduce myself they start to prononce it the other way. It shows that they're not listening. Socially, people stumble, stutter, mumble, get flustered, confused, and embarassed over my name, and I HATE this. It is a social barrior.

I've thought about changing the spelling of my name, to match the phonetics, but it too much of a hassle, and as I've gotten older, I care less. But boy, as a kid and young adult I did care. It was humiliating, and as I was shy, the stumbling over it was painful. I'd suggest that you come up with a fun, short, easy to understand and pronounce nickname that she can use at school. She's going to need it. Still blaming mom for misspelling my name

I am in a similar situation as your daughter but I can't blame my parents as both my first and last name are not uncommon in my homecountry. In the U! S it's a different story: My last name is pretty much unpronouncable for most people and my first name, although easily pronounced properly by most Americans (it's pronounced like ''Tina'' just without the T), is either pronounced wrong (''Ayna''), if they see it written down, or spelled wrong (''Ena'' or ''Eena''), if they hear it.

It's also not funny in a business environment, when a person who only read your name before mispronounces your first name each time they adress you. It's a really awkward situation if that person is higher up in the hierarchy, especially if there are always other people around and he introduces you to others with the wrong pronounciation. Also I really pitty my boss for having to introduce me to other people (although he pronounces my last name pretty well). It's also really annoying to have to spell your name all the time. Ina

Okay, since I haven't seen any short responses to the original post as of yet, I'll add my own long-winded two cents here. My parents gave me an uncommon, easy-to-mispronounce, easy-to-misspell name and I was mad at them for much of my childhood for them doing so! Do you know the frustration of not being able to find one's name on those toy nameplate things as a kid?! It's as though the toy manufacturers forgot about you, or something. Also, by temperament, I was a naturally reserved kid in school and the discomfort of having to correct teachers and classmates on the pronounciation of my name (usually I didn't) just added to my shyness. My middle name wasn't much better, as it is a Chinese name that in English sounds like ''Why Me''...so that was pretty much my state throughout my early school years--why me?

By some fluke chance in middle school, my friends gave me a nickname based on a shorted version of my given name, and the nickname was a common, easy-to pronounce English name, so that stuck through my adult years, and made personal interactions with people much easier. A few years ago, I decided to go back to my given name and I feel that as an approaching-middle-age adult I can handle the mispronounciations or ''what-was-your-name-again?'' much more gracefully. Also since my given name has shown up in the popular media, it gives people a much better hook to remember my name (e.g. Clarice Starling in ''Silence of the Lambs''; Princess Clarisse in ''The Princess Diaries''). So I feel like I've finally grown into my given name and these days appreciate the name's uniqueness.

I say giving a child a name is such a personal thing for the parents; and I'm sure parents have the best hopes for their children in naming them. So if you as a parent really like the name you've chosen for your child and don't wish to alter it with a more common nickname, give your child some skills to confidently help people pronounce and remember their name (like, ''rhymes with...'' or likening it to a character in popular media or explaining to your child why you chose that name for him/her with a reason other than ''we just liked the way it sounds''). Teach your child to say his/her name aloud confidently and show enthusiasm that you've picked out such a cool name for your child.
My name is Clarisse but I've given my own two children non-challenging names

I've enjoyed the discussion of names. It is difficult to balance all the competing factors in choosing a name that both parents like, that is unusual enough that they won't have 5 other kids with the same name in their class, that is reasonably easy to spell and pronounce, that honors one's culture and ancestry, that doesn't sound like something silly or disgusting and provoke teasing, etc. etc. I very much believe in giving kids with very ''grown-up'' names easy nicknames as kids. But mainly I am writing to recommend a children's book on this topic called ''Chrysanthemum'' by Kevin Henkes. Very cute and unusual name-affirming.
Happy with my uncommon, old-fashioned name

Persian names

Dec 1998

We named our kids both with the first names that just felt right and gave them Persian middle names. My daughter's name is Nicole Leila. My son is Sean Shamseddin. I don't know of any book but some of the originators of the Persian e-mail list are on this list also so I'll bet there are lots of responses. Barbara

You might try hunting around the Onomastikon website: http://www.fairacre.demon.co.uk/ .

I followed a few links which were dead (Middle East ==> Arab -- ouch! I know that Persian is not Middle East or Arab, but that's where Iran was listed! What can I say; the organizer is in England) -- but anyway, those urls did not work. However, there were other links to the ancient world and such. Might be worth a little hunting. Good luck -- Letitia

Go to a site called Madar-Pedar, which means mother-father in Farsi. It is a good resource for Iranians or those married to one. Anyway, amongst other things, there is a hot link there for a list of names. I copied the address: http://tehran.stanford.edu/Information/Iranian_names.html. There is alot more there, from a list of daycare providers who speak Farsi to raising bilingual kids, etc, Good luck. If you want to chat, drop me a note. Glosson

My beloved niece Maryam's dad is Persian and her mother, my sister Colleen, like you has an Irish first name and English/Germanic background! Maryam likes her name and its variants (Miriam, Marian, etc.) The name also honors my mother Mary and Maryam's Persian grandmother Mehri. There are many classic, old testament era names that have beautiful Persian variants - Sarah/Zaarah, for example. Of course Emma is a lovely name, one of my favorites too, but it's actually almost too popular right now (all those wonderful Jane Austen names are), and it would be nice to find a bicultural name. Our daughters, Julia and Clara, whose parents come from the distinct cultures of California and Cleveland, enjoy having names that work (with variations) with our Italian, French, German and Spanish speaking friends. Natasha

If Maryam had been a boy, the top choices were Darius and Cyrus, the great Persian Kings. I leaned more towards Darius, as the Farsi and English pronunciations (Daryoosh and Daryus) are closer to each other than the variations on Cyrus (Kooroosh vs. Sairus).

You might want to check out this webpage, which does have books with Persian names:


Good luck,
Natasha (who hasn't a speck of Russian blood, but a father who liked Tolstoy)