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Thursday
Apr282011

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: THE DO'S AND DON'TS OF NAMING YOUR KIDS

The most important decision you will ever make as a parent isn't what prep school to get your kid into, or how much money to put away each month toward his or her education. It isn't even how much cash to bribe a bantam hockey coach to get your kid on the first line, so he can be seen by scouts... it's choosing a name. And it's the hardest thing you will ever do. If you screw it up, don't worry, you don't have to live with it - but YOUR KID DOES! That's a lot of pressure. So let me help you.

 

First of all, you can't name a kid the same as you would name a dog. I have two dogs: Cash and Plissken. One is named after the "Man in Black," the other is named after a Kurt Russell cult movie icon. True, I could name a kid Cash, but I had a hard enough time convincing my wife to name a dog Plissken that I could only imagine suggesting it for my kid ("You want to name him WHAT?"). We're guys. We like sports, we like movies, we like porn. That doesn't mean you have to name your kids after your favorite player, or character, or exotic dancer. How many times do people have to name kids after sports heroes named after meat (Kobe?) before you get a clue? What you can acceptably name your dog and name your kid are two entirely separate issues. The same as I wouldn't name a dog "Ralph," because it lacks any thought or originality, I wouldn't name my kid Mookie because I would hope that I loved my kid more than I loved the New York Mets.

Next, stand up for your kids rights. Just like you shouldn't name your kid after Fuzzy Zoeller (it happens more than you know), you shouldn't let your wife name your kid after some fictional girl that can't choose between werewolves and vampires. Oh, she'll want to... millions of women already have... but it's your job to prevent this from happening. First it's Isabella, and the next thing you know you have four more kids named Edward, Jacob, Alice and Jasper. Noooo! It's your job to prevent this. Classic literature? Fine. Name your kid Scout, or Scarlett, or Jane (Eyre). Not Isabella. Why not just name her Princess Leia? It's equally as ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact, that when your kid finds out who she's named after she's going to take you and your wife to court, and win, with damages! I'm telling you. Protect your kid at all costs from this kind of..."fan"aticism.

Now, I'm not saying you have to choose from biblical names. I'm not saying you have to choose from a list of safe, boring names. All I'm saying is you can't choose a name for stupid reasons that only make sense to you. Your kid's not going to care that you named him Troy because you loved Troy Aikman. He's going to care that you named him Troy because, out of context, it's a horrible name- that you can't even shorten!

Again, it's a lot to consider. But there's more.  

Think about this... You have a short-list of names all ready to go. Then your brother comes along and asks to see your list. You show it to him. He thinks about it for a second and says: "These are horrible. Better go back to the drawing board." But, you picked perfectly acceptable, simple, names. Right? Wrong.

"What's wrong with Betty," you ask?
"Rhymes with sweaty," he says.
And "Annie?"
"Rhymes with fanny." 
"Sue?"
"Rhymes with Glue, or Poo, or Pee-Eww?"

Truth is, unless you go through all the possible nicknames a bully could come up with for your kid, you have no idea what kind of hardship you will be setting them up for. And, although it's almost impossible to choose a name that won't lend itself to some kind of childish mockery, you can surely limit their exposure. I mean, do you really need to name your kid Gary? It's a nice name and all for an adult, but murder if you're a little kid.

Of course, there is also the consideration of how your kid's first name will look or sound with your last name, or last initial even. My Nephew's name is Stone, and it's a cool name. But if there's ever another kid in his class with the same name, and they have to make up name tags using their last initials to differentiate between the two, my Nephews will read : "Stone D.," or "StoneD." Is that really what you want on your kid's name tag? Or how about kids named Richard ("Dick") Dickerson or Lawrence ("Larry") Barry? You know what's going to happen, so why would you do that to a kid?

And middle names are just as important. You don't want your kid to go get a monogram one day, only to realize his initials spell S.A.D. or H.A.G. or worse. This is your kid. The least you can do is spend some solid time fighting it out with your wife, battling it out with your in-laws, and lobbying for your kids right to be accepted by a society that likes conformity, and unoriginality.

I know it's hard. You want a cool name for your kid. One that will serve him (or her) well. But choosing a name that fits is a crap shoot. What's a cool name for one kid is made uncool by another (see Clint Eastwood/Clint Howard).  All you can do is your best.

 

Here are the top ten boys and girls names of 2010...

Or, if you prefer, here's a database of thousands of baby names to choose from...
http://www.babynames.com/

 

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