Family Life

May 10

Selecting a child’s name is such a huge responsibility. I don’t think you appreciate what a big decision it is until you have your first child. Suddenly it dawns on you that the name you choose, your child will have to carry with them for the rest of their life.

I’ve come across a few wacky children’s names over the years. One memorable one was ‘Starlight Express’, and of course there are the names derived from brand names, such as ‘TRESemmé’!

But what do you do if you choose a perfectly ‘normal’ name for your child, but a few months later decide that either it doesn’t suit them, or that after using it for a bit you no longer like it?

Luckily I have never had any doubts about my daughter’s name. I choose not to use her name on my blog for privacy reasons and instead refer to her as ‘Little I’, but I remember the moment my husband and I stumbled across her name and it instantly feeling ‘right’. We kept her name a secret from family and friends until she was born, just in case it didn’t suit her once we met her; but luckily it did seem a good fit. I only remember one occasion in the first couple of months when I looked at her and wondered whether her middle name actually suited her better, but it was a fleeting thought and one that never returned.

However I’ve had friends who have been in turmoil over naming their child. For a few, it has been a mad dash to the register office on the very last day of being able to register the birth of their child, still being unsure which name they are going for. At the end of the day, six weeks really isn’t very long to make such an important decision, particularly when you are sleep deprived and only just getting to know your new baby.

This morning I heard a story about a couple who had found themselves in this very situation, and being unable to agree on a name that they both loved, they went for one that was ultimately a compromise. The Mum said she felt pressured to make a decision, and with time running out she agreed to an Old Testament name which she liked, but didn’t love. As time went on, and her little boy grew, she felt more and more strongly that the name just didn’t suit him. He’s a sturdy lad and both parents felt his name just wasn’t ‘boyish’ enough for him. So after much deliberation they decided to change his name officially when he was roughly five months old, to one that they felt suited him much better. The new name is one of my personal favourites, and I have to say really suits him.

I was fascinated with the story as I felt so much respect for the parents in this situation. They could have just plodded along with a name that they didn’t love, but instead they were brave and set aside any concerns over what other people might think, and did what was best for them and for their son. The relief that the mother now feels is written all over her – it seems like a big weight has been lifted from her.

Apparently it is very easy to change your child’s name officially before they turn one, assuming they haven’t already been baptised with their original name. If your child has been baptised, only the baptismal names can be added to the register. There is a little bit of paperwork involved, for a small administration fee. Once they turn one I am told the process becomes more complicated.

Out of interest, I conducted a small Facebook poll on the subject within my network of friends. I asked them if they had ever had second thoughts or regrets about the name that they chose for their child. Ultimately I wanted to try and quickly gauge how common a predicament it is. Out of my circle of friends, a handful admitted that they had initially had doubts over the name that they had chosen, but now felt happy with their decision. No one said that they still wished they had chosen a different name. So although it was a very quick and informal survey, hopefully it’s not too often that parents wish they had chosen an alternative name.

What are your thoughts on the subject? What do you feel a parent should do if they fall out of love with the name that they have chosen for their baby? If you have any personal experiences to share, I’d love to hear as I find it such an interesting subject.

*Image by Richard Barry Photography

About the Author

Wendy McAuliffe

Social media & online PR consultant and trainer, and ex-journalist. Founder and Director of Populate Digital and Mum of two. Living by the sea in Bournemouth. @wendymcauliffe.

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