What’s in a Name? Everything.

August 22, 2014

*All names used in this blog are just examples and have never been patients of mine. Trust me though, even if I could tell you some of the names of children I’ve personally met, you wouldn’t believe me.

One of my biggest pet-peeves in pediatric practice today is baby names. We have a crisis going on in America of bizarrely-named children and working in a pediatric office makes me truly feel like a first responder. When you bring in your newly christened baby “Daphodil” or baby “Cheese” into my office for their first visit, I am not going to congratulate your name creativity and you shouldn’t expect anyone else to either. At this rate, the name “Apple” is almost starting to look normal, and that should scare you. I cringe thinking about the day I take my future child to his or her play date with Abcde (pronounce Ab-si-dee), Rainbow, Kandy Kain, Buddy Bear and let’s not forget the twins: Royal Highness and Queen Bee. So when your great-grandma gave you the classic pep-talk, “whatever name you decide, it will be perfect” she was lying. She obviously did not see the top unusual baby names of 2013, such as Ezgi, Kalliope and Danish. Do not fall for that deceptive trap. Giving your child a ridiculous name when you are high on pregnancy hormones and somehow thinking that the name “Kashmere” is a “suitable” name for your son is anything but GQ. We have an epidemic of crazy names in this country leading us on a countdown toward a generation with an identity crisis, and you as parents are the only ones that can prevent it.

We have to completely change our philosophy about naming children.

Many parents miss the mark altogether when picking baby names. A majority of parents pick a name just because of the way it sounds.  This has led to all sorts of strange creations with even stranger spellings. Worst of all, most of the time the name is left empty, no matter how many I’s you replace with Y’s. No amount of uniqueness can replace a name lacking in meaning. Truly. Start thinking about naming your baby as your greatest chance to speak purpose into his or her life. A name is so important to a child’s sense of self and identity. A name is the outward representation of who a person is. That has deep impact, and it makes your job as a parent picking out a name a wonderful opportunity and responsibility. Before you pick a name, you need to look up the meaning. I could honestly spend hours on www.babynamewizard.com. Naming your daughter Katniss because “it sounds cool” just isn’t a good enough reason. What does the name Katniss mean? “Hi, I’m a movie character from 2012..” And….????? Despite this lack of meaning, Katniss was the 10th most popular name in the first half of 2013! What?!?! So when it comes to naming your newborn, the first question you need to ask yourself is what is your vision for your son or daughter? Do you see a joyful, loving child? A strong warrior? A victorious leader? A faithful friend? A peaceful beauty? Dream big for your child before they are even here! Build up your child’s identity from the very beginning with a name that has meaning and purpose, a name that they can fall back on, a name that is a constant reminder to your child that you believe in him or her. If you do that, you can’t go wrong. The meaning of a name makes it beautiful, not just what it phonetically sounds like.

Where did the Juniors go?

There was a time in America when naming your child after his father was an honor. Now, the newborn Jr.’s, II’s, III’s, and IV’s need to be classified as an endangered species. An insidious lie about giving your child a family namesake has taken over. I hear it all the time. “You want to name your child after yourself? That’s just vain.” Wrong. George Foreman of the American grill dynasty who named five sons and one daughter after himself (seriously, her name is Georgetta) is vain. However, the rest of the parents considering a future Junior are not, and we should stop looking at them this way. I think it’s even more awesome if your kid has the chance of being a III or IV. Naming your child after previous generations or family members is a beautiful way of instilling legacy in your child. Legacy gives purpose to children. It gives purpose to the original family member who holds the same name and inspires them to be a good role model to that child. For example: there is no one in the world I want my son to be like more than my husband and his father. Giving my future son his father’s name gives legacy to my son, honors my husband, and gives purpose to them both. That’s a win-win situation. Bring back the Juniors. Bring back the legacy.


I have one last note before you dive head first into that really creative, never-heard-of-before name you’ve been racking your brain for months to come up with. Consider this research. A study of 15,000 American male inmates in 2009 revealed that there is a link between names and delinquency. “Regardless of race, juveniles with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity.” Yikes! This seems like a stretch, but there is truth here. Obviously, names are not the cause of the crime, but the researcher speculated that “adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships.” This research was published back in 2009, people! It’s been 5 years, and honestly, these poor kids’ names are just getting weirder and weirder! So, do you really want to name Jason, Jayceson? Or David, Dafydd? Just because you think Duda is a nice girl name doesn’t mean she will the minute she walks into kindergarten and meets her classmates. Extreme uniqueness and abnormal spellings has very real social implications on your child and how they will be able to interact with the world around them.

Once, my husband interviewed a young woman named Tequila Sunrise. That’s right, you guessed it! That’s the name of the alcoholic drink her parents credit with her conception.

She didn’t get the job.

Give your child a leg up in life from the very beginning. Name your child on purpose with a  name that has purpose, and help give purpose to your child’s life. And before you go crazy with uniqueness, just don’t.

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