- Stuck for Boys' Names
Why does it seem like the world is full of girls' names that are traditional and attractive but uncommon, while boys' names of that description are rare birds?
In part, it's a matter of history. In generations past, boys' names didn't go in and out of fashion as much as girls' so there aren't as many neglected antique boys' names to revive. But I believe that the biggest factor isn't the names themselves, as much as our standards for them. We tend to ask something special of a "traditional, masculine" name. We ask it to be in English.
We're both scared of the backlash our children might receive growing up just for having two Da's, let alone having two Da's who named them after a musical on top of it. What do you think we should do?
- Two Concerned Fathers
As Carrie Underwood's recent live tv version showed, The Sound of Music remains one of the world's "Favorite Things." But it's clearly not one of yours, at least where baby names are concerned. You've stumbled unknowingly into a theme; will it claim control of your daughters' names?
--Not a Francis Fan
You've run into a classic problem of modern baby naming: when your heart and your fashion sense point in opposite directions. Many parents have run into this with a beloved Grandpa Herbert or Grandma Bernice, but Pope Francis has made his chosen name (the 2013 Name of the Year) one of the most debated in the land.
Your husband is trying to explain his negative reaction to Eleanor in logical terms. That's respectful of him; he knows that "No, because I say so" is a lousy approach to marital disagreements. Choosing a name, though, isn't like choosing a mutual fund or an infant car seat. It's not about facts and figures, it's about emotions.
No matter how much you have in common with your partner, there will always be places where your tastes diverge. Perhaps you're more of a sports fan; perhaps he's more of a meat eater. Most often, we learn to accept our differences -- sometimes even enjoy them. And we find ways to compromise (barbecue with the game, anyone?)
When it comes to naming a baby, though, consensus is required and compromise can seem impossible. You're choosing a single name to represent your child to the world. You either like it or you don't.
--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.
You've smartly asked two different questions about rhyming mother-daughter names:
Would it be silly?
Would it be annoying?
-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.
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.