What's In a Name?

Monday, February 13, 2017


I'm at a stage in my life where I'm often thinking about names, whether for my own baby or during discussions with pregnant friends. Reading The Name Therapist by Duana Taha felt perfectly timed.

The Name Therapist isn't a baby name book, it's more about how our names affect us and how Duana's name influenced her growing up. One of her main points was that almost everyone has strong opinions on their own names and can describe how that name does or does not fit who they are. She believes that in many ways a name can help shape a person. If a name is offbeat, chances are the kid will be too. This got me thinking how I feel about my own name and it also made me reflect on my "rules" for naming babies.

Overall, I like my name. As a kid, I always assumed that when I grew up I would go by Kimberly, because Kimmie seemed like a little kid name. But as I got older there never seemed a good time to break away from it. I could never imagine not being Kimmie, so when I went to college I just abandoned the idea of casting off my nickname and embraced it.

But sometimes it is hard having a nickname. In middle school and early high school I had some social anxiety (although I would not have called it that at the time) and roll call on the first day of school always made me so nervous. I hated having to say (in front of everyone!) "I go by Kimmie" and then needing to spell it out because everyone tends to spell my name Kimmy, which is annoying in its own  right.

Now, as an adult, it feels weird to put Kimmie on a resume, but then it also feels weird to go in for interviews and have people say Kimberly. When people call me that it's as though they don't really know me, and sometimes it's strange that Kimberly is my "real" name. It's an interesting dynamic that I probably think about too much.

From my own name hang-ups I have developed a few rules when it comes to naming our children. As you could probably guess, I don't want to call our kids by a nickname. It's possible that going by a nickname wouldn't bother our children at all, but for my sanity I would just prefer to call them by the name on their birth certificate.

Another rule is that I don't want to repeat initials. I have the same initials as my dad and my older sister, and for some reason I disliked that I wasn't able to put my initials on something and have it clearly symbolize me. So names starting with B, J, and K are pretty much out.

I also have a "no names that end in L" rule since Brock's last name starts with an L. I worry that if our child's name ends in an L the names will kind of run together. Like if we went with Paul or Samuel, would that sound weird?

We also don't want to go with anything too trendy (although I have never heard anyone say, "Yes, I want to name my child the top name of the year", so we're not unique in that). Anytime we talk about names I itch to look it up on Baby Name Voyager, because it shows how popular names have been. I do hope that we haven't destined James to be "James L." all his school life since the name James was fairly popular the year he was born, but oh well! We love it.

With all my weird rules it's been nice to come to a name consensus for our baby boy. I'm hoping to keep it secret until the baby comes, but Brock is fine telling people, so we'll see what happens. In case you were wondering, The Name Therapist author agrees with me; she thinks that when you are naming a baby you shouldn't subject yourselves to outside opinions and just come up with a name that you love.

What are some of your thoughts on names? This is a subject I could discuss endlessly.

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