naming dilemmas

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Are Double Names Hot or Not?

What's the general consensus on double names? I've lived in Charlotte for over 10 years and they are growing on me. My baby girl is due in January and I'm contemplating Anna Grace or Anna Claire.
--North Carolina Mama

It’s true that two-for-one first names are still much more common in the South than elsewhere in the U.S. So if you think you’ll be staying in the region, a double name will not likely draw any double takes. Even outside the South, Americans are certainly familiar with these double names, thanks to celebrities like Mary-Kate Olsen and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Halle Berry even gave her son a hyphenated double name, in the French style.

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Can I Rhyme With My Daughter?

My partner and I both adore the name Tess. But my name is Jessica. I get called Jessie. Is it silly or annoying to have a daughter called Tess when it basically would rhyme with her mother's name? My partner doesn't think it matters.
- Jessie-Tessie

You've smartly asked two different questions about rhyming mother-daughter names:

Would it be silly?

Would it be annoying?

I don't think two names as classic as Jessie and Tess could be considered silly. They're not an obvious or cutesy matched pair, and they have different histories and styles. But annoying? You bet.

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Can I Recycle a Middle Name?

My older son's middle name is Everett--a family name. I am currently 7 months pregnant and the only name my husband and I agree upon as a first name for the new baby is, of course, Everett. We have both agreed that we would call the new baby Rhett as a nickname, but my husband does NOT like it as a proper name. I can't help wondering if it's too weird to use the name for both children. Advice please! - Mom of Everett(s)
Ah, the middle name trap! So many of us fall into it.
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Is This Name Just Too Old?

Name Lady, is Mildred too old of a name for a baby? My husband and I both love the name, and it has the added bonus of being his grandma's name and could match with my initials. However, according to BabyNameWizard.com, it hasn't been popular since the early 1900's, and our families haven't been overly excited by the prospect. Are there some names that just should not be revived?

-Granny Name Lover

Many of us love old-fashioned names, just as we love old-fashioned home cooking. That is to say, we love the versions that fit our romantic image of the past. “Mmm, mmm, fresh bread baking in the oven and a rich soup simmering on the stove, what could be better?” But when I flip through my yellowed 1930s Fanny Farmer Cookbook, it turns out to be full of recipes like hard-cooked eggs in cream sauce (“serve over pancakes”) and Chilled Shrimp Bisque, made with canned shrimp and condensed cream of mushroom soup.

The same selective nostalgia works on baby names. Most people today see sweet little Emma andLillie and romantic Olivia and Isabella as the bread and soup, and Mildred...well, you get the picture.

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I Don't Like His Family Tradition!

My partner's family has a name tradition for first-born sons that means a lot to him. I've made it clear that I am not a fan of the tradition (because I don't much like the name and because I don't like being told what I'll name my child!). Both of us feel strongly about this. How can we resolve this? - Ms. M

Ms. M, welcome to the no-compromise zone. This is the territory where all of our normal baby name decision-making techniques -- brainstorming, list making, discussion, compromise -- go out the window. In here, it's all or nothing.

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Will This Name Make My Daughter Jealous?

My husband and I both like the name Astoria for a girl. The problem is we have a daughter named Emily and I worry that she might be jealous that her sister got a unique name while hers is very common. Should we choose a more tradional name? - Hesitant

I'm glad you're considering sibling harmony as you choose a name. Siblings are super-sensitive to fairness, so it's smart to think about how their names compare. But it's easy to take that thinking too far. The harmonious-sibling-set rule is meant as a guideline, not a requirement for your children to match like a set of silverware. Personal style is personal, after all. You should feel free to loosen up and enjoy the naming process.

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Do I Have to Compromise on Names?

My husband and I can't agree on a girl's name. I suggested a name which means 'beautiful' in his native country. He hates it. We always said the rule should be that if either of us dislikes the name it's gone from the list, but I feel extremely strongly about this name. I feel I should have the final say as I've already made a huge concession to him in the naming department, which he doesn't fully understand. His family is Scandanavian and I have his surname. My family is Greek and Irish. With his surname and the laws governing names in his country, we can't choose a name from my side of the family. I accepted that without a fuss. I feel that I've already compromised more than enough, and besides, I'm the one who has to give birth! Despite what we've previously agreed, I'm ready to dig my heels in and insist on the name. Please help! - Hormonal

Oh dear, you really do feel strongly about this name, don't you. Strongly enough, perhaps to override your own good judgment? Take a deep breath, and let's look closely at what you've said.

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No, He's NOT Named For His Uncle!

I want to name my son Christopher. My boyfriend's brother's name is also Christopher. I don't want people to think he is named after my future brother-in-law. What do I tell people who assume that, and what do I tell my child? - Cuppy-cake

Cuppy-cake, close your eyes for a moment and…well no, you're reading, so keep your eyes open but imagine this scene as vividly as you can:

Your friend "Stephanie" has just become a grandmother. Her son and daughter-in-law have a brand new baby girl. You attend the christening, and learn that the little girl, too, has been named Stephanie. "Oh, how sweet," you remark to the new mom. "You named her after her grandma!"

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My Daughter's Name Matches Her Birthday!

Our favorite girl's name, the only one we can agree on, is June. We picked it before we got pregnant and now we are due in June! Is it too tacky to name your child after the month she is born in? - June Mom

I've received questions like this many times...in reverse. The usual refrain is "Can we name our daughter April even if she's born in September?" Parents worry that a mismatched month is confusing, or inappropriate, or even false advertising.

Yet here you sit with the happy coincidence of your baby's birth month matching the name you chose. And instead of high-fiving over your good luck, you're worrying that the month match is "tacky."

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Can I Avoid Nicknames?

I am due in December, and my husband and I like the name William. The problem is our last name, which ends in "ll" as well, rules out the nickname Will. We do not like any of the other popular nicknames for William. How reasonable is it to expect that little William will be called by his full name instead of having family and friends shortening it into a nickname that is either a tongue twister, or a name we don't care for? - No Will, No Way

If you aim for the full William, you won't be alone. More and more families are turning toward the formal today, filling playgrounds with the likes of James-not-Jim and Daniel-not-Dan. The standard nicknames just sound too ordinary for today's parents. After all, it was "every Tom, Dick and Harry" who stood for the everyman, not "every Thomas, Richard and Henry."

But as many Name Lady readers have told me, nicknames have a life of their own. Parental control only goes so far.

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