by Bruce Lansky
Kiri Blakeley’s article in the Stir makes a lot of sense. I suggest you read it before you pick a name. Blakeley points out that the kind of name you choose says a lot about you. So it makes sense to think about who you are, so you can figure out what kind of names you’ll feel most comfortable with. In her article, Blakely lists seven different kinds of names and the kind of people who pick them. Here’s a brief summary plus a comment about the kind of risk people run when they stick to their comfort zone, like glue.
Classic Names: People who pick classic names like William, Katherine, Michael and Emily have traditional values and don’t want to call attention to themselves or their children. They can’t imagine picking a silly, made-up name. Risk: the names you like may strike others as boring.
Grandma or Grandpa Names: People who pick names like Millie, Mary, Harvey or Eugene that were popular many decades ago, have good old-fashioned values and relationships that are built on strong foundations. Risk: the names you like may strike others as dated or out of style.
Family Names: People who pick names like your mother’s maiden name or your grandfather’s first name have strong family values and value close families. Risk: Family names have meaning within your family but others may not understand or appreciate them.
Made-Up Names: People who pick names like Pilot Inspektor, Moon Unit, Joeliana or Bethantony value creativity and have confidence in their own creations. Risk: It’s hard to come up with a creative name that doesn’t come across as silly or strange.
“Narcissistic” Names: People who pick names that come across as self-important like Beautiful, Awesome, Prince or Princess may have overcome great odds or hardships to conceive or have a baby. They want everyone to know how grateful they feel. Risk: It may be almost impossible for your child to live up to the name.
Unisex Names: People who pick unisex names like Bailey, Kelly, Tyler or Jordan believe boys and girls are of equal value and should be treated fairly. Risk: People won’t know the gender of your child from his or her name, which may cause embarrassment or confusion.
Hipster Names: People who pick hipster names like Luna, Isla, Fallon or Ocean may come from hip urban areas like Brooklyn, Portland, San Francisco or Austin, where people shop organic and everyone knows the latest indie tunes. Risk: How will people from different walks of life relate to your child and vice versa?
Start your search for a name for your child by identifying your values and the kind of names you’d feel most comfortable with. This may save you a lot of time and effort. Keeping the risk factors in mind can help you avoid going to extremes. (For example, not all names used in your grandparents’ generation come across as outdated. Some, like Max, are making a comeback.)
For Bruce's latest musings on names and naming check out his blog, Baby Names in the News.