Raising A Unique Child Will Take More Than A Name

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Let me tell you all a story about how I chose my daughter’s name. In the weeks leading up to that ever-important ultrasound,where I would learn the sex of my child who I referred to as “Munchkin” at the time, I was studying baby name websites like I had test coming up. I think I perused every list of recommended names available, from “Classic Names Making a Comeback” to “Preppy Names That Will Fit In At The Country Club.” I looked for baby names in political figures, literature and soap operas. I read books and took surveys. After compiling lists of options, I took them all to my Munchkin’s father. He had one request, “I would really like an Irish name.” His entire family is Irish; red headed, fair-skinned, freckled Irish. So I threw out the majority of my list, researched some more and had a couple key names swirling in my head.

I went to that ultrasound without telling a single soul about my favorite names. I didn’t ask for opinions or suggestions. I laid back in that exam room, my mother by my side, and the minute the nurse told me that I was having a girl, I named her Brenna Jean. Brenna is a Irish name variation that’s moderately popular in Ireland and virtually unheard of in America. But it was the name, found scanning through a website, that stuck out to me. Jean is my mother’s middle name and I’ve always wanted to use it for my own daughter. From that day on, I’ve never wavered in my decision. I didn’t second-guess or debate. My daughter’s name was decided and I’ve always felt very confident in it.

I know that choosing a name for your child is huge decision that parents tend to take very seriously. I know what it’s like to choose a name that plenty of people question or pronounce wrong. I understand why we get a little defensive about the moniker we bestow to our precious bundles of joy.

But I also think that people have begun to expect way too much out of their children’s names. And they’ve gotten a little too concerned with creating the most unique name available for their special little snowflake. That’s why I found this week’s STFU Parents post completely hysterical.

There are plenty of classic or ethnic names that people have a hard time pronouncing. Either they don’t recognize it or they’ve never heard it before. My own grandmother calls my daughter “Briana” sometimes. These things happen and if a parent chooses a name that isn’t very common, they’re accepting that this might be a problem for their child in the future.

But it’s completely different to purposefully spell a name oddly so that you’re child can be “one-of-a-kind.” It’s different to use a random word that was never a name because you want your child to be the only “Omaha” out there. These types of names aren’t honoring a family heritage or bringing back a classic, they’re meant to be odd, simply because parents can’t stand the idea of their child not being extraordinarily special.

Parents want a name to do more than it can. It’s not your child’s individual “brand.” It’s their title. Every person is unique from the minute they’re born, but they show that through their interests and actions. They show it through their talents and their faults. They build a personality around the values you teach them and the character they possess. A name doesn’t do that, even if you trade that “y” for an “ie” or add an extra “s.” Whether you name them after your favorite literary character or brand of perfume, it doesn’t matter. There is so much more to a unique child than their signature.

I understand why we all obsess over baby names. It’s a huge decision. But I wish that we could laugh at our desire to plan out our baby’s future based on the surname we give them. After all, it’s pretty funny to think that we have that much power. Parenting is kind of a lesson in all the things you can’t control. It’s not so much the names that made our STFU Parents post funny, it was the parents determination to set their children apart from the rest, because that’s not in a name’s job description. Every child will do that on their own, no matter what they’re called.