The Art of Naming a Kid

Did you know at your local Barnes and Noble there is a section, under “Family/Childcare” dedicated exclusively to “Baby Names”?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is a place where you can go for endless inspiration on choices for what to name your newest family addition.  Apparently, the Internet wasn’t helpful enough.  I have had this conversation with several of my friends but I am finally writing down my “rules”, as it were, for naming children.  I am not a mother, but know several people who are.  Not only have some of my friends violated my rules, my own mother did as well!  This is not to say my rules are gospel, but I hope if I ever have children I can stick to them.  Remember a name lasts a lifetime.  A child can always choose a nickname or obtain pet names, but their legal name will last forever.  Sure, they could go through the courts to change it but let’s face it, how many people actually take this route?  My point is, a child’s name is one of the most important decisions a parent will ever make.  Therefore, make it count.

Rule #1- The first syllable of the first name and the first syllable of the middle name should be different.  This is a bendable rule, especially if the child’s last name does not begin the same way.  But if the poor kid’s three names all start with the same sound, how redundant is that?  I knew someone in school whose name was Robert Reginald Rimson (name changed for identity purposes).  RRR were their initials.  Let’s try and be a little more creative for our children, shall we?

Rule #2- Don’t let the first and middle names rhyme.  Is that supposed to be cute when you named little Timmy, Timothy Anthony, or Mary Carrie?  Poor kid.  Also attempt to not let the kid’s last name rhyme with the first name since that is how he or she will more likely be referred to.  I can’t say I know anyone personally who has had this experience, but I’m sure there are people out there who have done it.

Rule #3- Number of Syllables…this is an important one.  Please don’t give your a child a name that will take them an hour to sign.  Let’s keep it semi-simple.  Don’t let the total syllables between first and middle name exceed five syllables.  If both names are receiving three syllables each, it might be time to reconsider.  My two best friends are Stephanie and Elizabeth, but so help me if their names were combined.  Stephanie Elizabeth would be just as miserable signing her name as poor Alexandria Penelope and Damien Alexander.  I shan’t linger on this one because I feel it’s fairly obvious.

Rule #4- Spelling.  Do we really have to discover new ways to spell traditional and beloved names?  Bethany looks fine the way it is.  We don’t need to change it to Bethanee, Betheney, or Bethanie.  Brittany also looks fine, so keep the Brittneys and Brittanies somewhere else.  The more exotic names have a little more liberties attached because they are more modern, but how many ways do we honestly need to spell Kylie (besides Kyleigh and Kaili)? 

Rule #5- And probably the most important, mostly because my mother violated this rule, is do not let the last syllable of the first name be the same as the first syllable of the middle name.  My first name is Michelle.  My middle name is Lynn.  Michellynn quickly begins to sound like one name and for me it’s even worse; say my name out loud very fast.  Go ahead.  Yeah.  It begins to sound like the name of tire company after a while, doesn’t it.  My point is we want to celebrate your child’s individual names, not confuse them with one name or an entirely unrelated word.  Erica Lynn, Maisy Lynn, or Emily Lynn all sound better (hear that Mom?)

This was a fun piece to write but of no serious consequence.  I humbly apologize if I mentioned a specific name which pertains to you; as I mentioned earlier my own friends violate these rules but I love them and their kids anyway.  Names last a lifetime but the memories made with these kids are even more valuable.  Choose a name that celebrates their life and your blessing.  Hopefully the name comes from the heart, not a book.

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