5 Stumbling Blocks to Choosing the Perfect Name


Before becoming a mom, I was secretly on the lookout for names that would be fitting of my firstborn child. This tedious process began years ago — probably on the elementary school playground, where I relished the name of every kid who could accomplish some monumental jungle gym feat.

In high school, I wondered what it would be like to have a child with the same name as the glamorous homecoming queen or the star quarterback. And, as an adult, I found myself trying out the name of every cute baby I came across: “Adam, it’s time for dinner,” or “Have you finished your homework, Nicole?”

In all my years of daydreaming, I had come up with quite a list. I had cute names, athletic names and names that sounded intelligent. I had foreign names, historic names, even comical names. So naturally, when I found out that my husband and I were expecting our first child, choosing a name wasn’t one of the things I worried about. (Trust me, there were plenty of other things on that list!)

After weeks of pondering names at the dinner table, in the car and everywhere in between, I must admit that I was wrong. Truth is, there are plenty of things I didn’t consider. Expectant parents: Watch out for the five stumbling blocks that can make naming your child a nightmare.

Stumbling Block #1 — Your Spouse
Interestingly enough, my husband presented the first challenge when it came time to select a name. You see, golf is very near and dear to his heart. Still, I had no idea that his favorite pastime would be an influence as we began our baby-naming journey.
The golf seed was planted at a family reunion over the summer. My husband’s Uncle Bill announced to no one in particular that he often dreams of the day there will be a professional golfer in the family.

Well, it wasn’t long after I received positive test results from my doctor that my husband nonchalantly said, “What do you think of the name Freddie?”
“Mmm . . . it’s not one of my favorites,” I answered.
“But Freddie Couples is one of the best golfers in the country,” he retorted.

True, Freddie Couples has a wonderful golf swing, but I see absolutely no reason to make him our child’s namesake. Granted, if naming our child Freddie would guarantee him a spot on the PGA Tour, I might consider it, but I hardly think that’s likely to happen.

My husband insisted that the name of any professional athlete was worth considering. So, after that the names of famous gymnasts, synchronized swimmers and even beach volleyball players were added to our list.

Stumbling Block #2 — Your Parents
Parents-to-be also need to be on the lookout for their own moms and pops, in-laws included. Collectively, this group can make the name game a highly stressful and competitive event.
First of all, some parents want you to consider family names. This may sound like a really nice idea, until your mother-in-law suggests that you honor her great aunt’s memory by naming your firstborn Hildegard. There are certain names that are simply past their prime.

The other thing about parents is that they will be brutally honest. If you suggest a name they don’t like, they may tell you it’s perfect for the dog, but certainly not for their grandchild!

Stumbling Block #3 — Your Co-Workers, Friends and Neighbors
This is where things get tricky. Some of your friends inevitably have kids already. So what happens when your husband’s best college buddy has a daughter named Katie, and it’s the only girl’s name the two of you agree on? Some people may be flattered that you like the name so much you want it for your child, too. Others will hate the idea of having two Benjamins or two Melindas in the neighborhood.

You also might want to consider names that your expectant friends have on their shortlists. My husband and I had several friends with due dates that fell within weeks of ours. It probably would have been a little strange if we all filled in the same name on our birth announcements.

Stumbling Block #4 — Your Last Name
Yes, it’s true. Your own last name can present a bit of a challenge. My married name is Hans (which sounds a lot like “hands”). Although I’ve always loved the name Abraham, I know I’ll never be able to use it. Abraham Hans is just too much of a tongue twister. And Hannah – one of my favorite girl’s names – was ruled out for this reason, as well.

It’s also wise to avoid names that create recognizable phrases. My brother, for example, actually had a classmate in elementary school named Storm Cloud. Imagine spending your life trying to explain that name!

Stumbling Block #5 — Playground bullies
Your child isn’t even out of the womb, but you must consider playground bullies and the horrific nicknames they’ll dream up.
A friend of mine was expecting several years ago, and she and her husband were considering the name Max. They thought it was strong, masculine and commanding. Unfortunately, a hospital technician changed their opinion in an instant. After telling him that they were thinking about the name Max, the man said: “Oh, I have a dog named Max. Sometimes we call him Maxi Pad.” The name was immediately out of the running.

Who knew naming a child could cause so many headaches? I’m beginning to wonder if this is all sort of a test run for parents-to-be. Succeed at the name game, and you’ll be ready for the rest of the challenges coming your way: crying babies, dirty diapers and sleepless nights!