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Carrying Too Much Weight in the Middle (Name)

I'm a 14-year-old boy and I want to change my middle name. My parents gave me a Russian middle name and an American first name, because I was born in Russia (and then adopted). I want to change my middle name, but I don't know how to tell them the name I like. Any suggestions?

–All-American

I normally advise young would-be name-changers to be patient. You are still growing into the person that you are and will be, and sometimes wishing for a new name is a part of that—one that proves to be temporary.

Your situation is a bit different, since we're talking about a middle name and one that strongly ties you to a past and a place that you wish, at least right now, to leave behind. I suspect that that is what this is about: Not a dislike of Dmitri (or Sergei or Igor or whatever that Russian name is), but a desire for your name to match how you feel, which is 100% American.

Remember, though, that there are many immigrants to the USA who bear two, three, or more names that come from afar. Yet these new Americans still feel true to the red, white, and blue. It’s certainly possible to be proud of where you are, and what it took to get there, without rejecting where you came from.

And yet, I acknowledge that it's more complicated than that for you, especially today, when Russia is the bad guy in American politics in a way not seen since the Cold War. If you've been teased or shamed about your name, it's understandable that you'd want to see it go. A new name won't erase your background, but some discussions with a therapist, mentor, or older adoptee could change how you feel about that past.

Talk to your parents about why this is important to you. It's sometimes easiest to start with a question, such as "How did you choose my middle name, anyway?" You might learn something new—not just about your name, but about your history, your connection to two significant places, and your relationship with your parents. They love you no matter what your name is, was, or will be.

Comments

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December 7, 2017 12:17 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I wish there were more details here. What's wrong with the name you have now, what is the name you are looking for, are your parents hard to talk to? But whether you keep it or get rid of it, it shouldn't be a big deal either way.

December 7, 2017 12:18 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

...because it's a middle name, now getting the parents to agree at this age, that's tricky for most kids. If it doesn't work out you always can't wait until you're 18.

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