Tuesday, December 27, 2005

When Baby's Name is Different

By Christina VanGinkel

A new year is not yet here, but an announcement of a new baby's arrival was forthcoming in our family. A cousin's wife is expecting, and the baby is to be born early this coming summer. This will be their second child and there has been a heated discussion going on already even though they are barely into their second trimester and do not have a clue as to the impending child's sex, as to what the baby's name will be.

He favors names that are common, such as Thomas or Mary, and she favors names that make you go huh the first time someone hears them. She won the first time around and their daughter is named Zaz, I kid you not. She might grow up to be a perfect little person, and then again, she might grow up to be every parent's nightmare with a name like that.

I am a firm believer that the name you stick a child with at birth will have at least some bearing on how they grow up in society. Unlike days from past centuries where it was actually normal to live off in the woods without outside contact by others until the child was grown old enough that they may strike out on their own to find themselves, kids of today are raised in part by their peers. I do not say this to mean that parents are slacking; I say this to mean that because we live in such a social world, our children are exposed and conditioned by the world around them, including their peers. If those peers think your child has a weird name, chances are they will make sure your child knows about it!

Does this mean that you should never choose to name a child something that is different from the normal batch of names making the rounds? No, it means that you should choose to name your child something that both parents agree upon, and that you feel will provide your child both as the child they are born, and the adult they will be, can live with and be proud of.

My other cousin named her child after a beloved great grandfather. The name is uncommon in today's world, and eyebrows have been raised when she first announces his name to someone new. She then goes on to explain why she chose the name, and she plans to tell her son this very story as he grows so that he can have pride in the name. To my first cousin who named her daughter Zaz, when someone asked her how she came up with the name, she replied that it was from a phrase that she liked, and just liked the sound of the name for a baby. Knowing I should stay out of the name game that others were playing with her, I just could not resist asking her what she thought the name would sound like on things like college applications, job resumes, even on possibly something as mundane as a wedding announcement someday. She looked at me as if I were nuts, then suddenly her eyes cleared; again, I kid you not, she told me that she had never thought about it in that way. She said that she just thought it would be cute and fun when her daughter was little.

I hope that child will grow up with a lot of spunk to go with the name Zaz; otherwise, she is in for possibly lots of teasing and name-calling.

If you are expecting a new baby, take the time and effort to choose a name that will grow well with your child. One that has meaning to one or both of the parents, or at least something that both mutually agree on. When I see how my first cousin's husband is fighting for the chance to name their second child so early on into this pregnancy, it is not difficult to know that even now, when his daughter is three years old, that he still is not fond of her name. That alone, in my mind, is enough reason to choose to not use a name, even if one parent is absolutely in love with it. If you happen to be on the losing end of the name game, as he is, try to make the best of it and at least push for a neutral middle name that the child can always fall back on later in life if they so choose!

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