namer's remorse

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How Can I Avoid Name-Change Regret?

I'm 17 and I've hated my name for as long as I can remember, for a few different reasons. First, I have a speech impediment which makes it almost impossible for me to say my name and have people understand me. This has made my dislike for my name grow over the years, as introducing myself has become intolerably frustrating. On top of that, I just feel like my name doesn't fit me as a person at all. My dad is supportive of me changing my first name, but I haven't told my mom yet because she can be very harsh.

My main issue in committing to this is wondering how I know this name is "the one." I'm afraid officially changing my name will hurt my mom's feelings, or end up with me regretting it down the road.

–Scared of Regret

Typically, I advise young would-be name changers to proceed with caution, and try on a new name unofficially before pursuing a legal change. But in my opinion, a speech impediment is a rock-solid reason to make a change, and do it now. Your own name should never feel like an enemy or a source of stress.

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Would a Name Switch Fix This Sibling Sitch?

Our first daughter's name is Leena (she is 5 years old) and our second is Dina (14 months old). Leena is quite jealous of her sister and we think that their names being too close might be a factor. Could that be right? Is it worth going through the name-changing process? (Dina's middle name is Linda, so we're thinking of dropping the first name and keeping only the middle one.)

–Mom of Rivals

Kids with that age difference frequently do feel resentful of their younger siblings. Your older daughter enjoyed the solo-kid life for four years before her sister came along. It's a big adjustment for her. And at 14 months, your younger daughter is likely starting to walk and talk, which could make her feel like even more of a challenge to her big sister.

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Does My Baby’s Name Have a Pronunciation Problem?

I've always regretted my daughter's name. It's Esme, pronounced Es-ME (as in "me, myself, and I.") People regularly say Es-may. I really am struggling with the guilt of giving her a problem for the rest of her life. Is it worth changing her name when my husband loves it so much and it would hurt him a lot for me to change it?

–Me, Please!

You haven't mentioned how old your daughter is, which could make a big difference in how you respond here. Many parents experience pangs of regret or namer's remorse when their babies are little, and these fade as children grow into their names. And if your daughter is old enough to know her name, it is more difficult to change it.

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Is Our Baby’s Name Too Short and Sweet?

My husband and I gave our daughter a short name that we love, Andie. We like it much better than Andrea or any other longer version, so despite some reservations, I went for it. However, we never get a positive response from people who ask us for her name, mostly just silence. I'm worried she will be teased in the future for having a boy's name and am considering changing her name to one of those longer versions (possibly Andriana—another name no one but me seems to like). My husband isn't on board with a change and thinks I'm overreacting, but I am terrified we set her up for a lifetime of name issues. Please help!

–Concerned Mama

Silence can mean many things: disinterest, polite disapproval, quiet appreciation. You interpret the silence over your daughter's name as a rejection of it by the people you speak with, and you may be right. I am not a participant in those conversations and can't read the body language and facial cues of your partners, all of which would help determine their exact stance toward "Andie" (the name, not your little girl).

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Is It Too Late for a New Name?

Naming my daughter was the hardest thing I've ever had to do! When she was born, we didn't have a name that we both agreed on. We decided to compromise by using my husband's first choice for her first name and mine for her middle. I wanted her to go by her middle name, which is Scout. But everyone said it was ugly, a boy's name, a dog's name, or a nickname.

So we ended up calling her by her first name—which I hate! It sounds horrible just saying it, but I don't like it. My daughter just turned one. Would it be okay to change her name now? We have a name we both like. I feel silly even considering it, but I'm so in love with this new name.

–Help!

Since your daughter is a year old, this is borderline territory for a name change. She is too old for you to just switch the name casually, but she is too young to be involved in the decision. However, since you have such a powerfully negative reaction to her current name, it might be healthier to go ahead and make the change.

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Should My 3-Year-Old Become a Fourth?

I have a 3-year-old son and have been having name regret for the past year. My husband is John Christopher [surname] III and really wanted our son to be John Christopher IV. At the time, I was against it because it seemed like a lot of name for a kid. Instead, we called our son Michael John. Now I feel bad about that decision, especially since my son reminds me so much of my husband.

Would it be completely ridiculous to legally change our son's name now--but still call him Michael, since he's already used to it? Or could we add Christopher, so he becomes Michael John Christopher [surname] IV?

--Michael's Mom

Namer's remorse is a common problem, as the Name Lady's archives will attest. But there's no common solution, one that works best in every situation. In your case, your feelings have persisted for a year, your husband is on record as preferring a different name, and you would be changing your son's name to one that’s been in his family for several generations. All these support a decision to make a change.

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Will I Ever Learn To Love My Baby's Name?

Our baby is now 1 month old. She is our 5th baby, and likely our last. We went around what seems like forever deciding on a name -- I wanted it to be just perfect. We decided on Ruby Lyn. Since announcing her name I have had doubts and even hate the name and cringe when I hear it. I really don't know what to do. Is this a bad case of name regret? Am I just hormonal and not thinking straight? Do I just get used to her name?

-- Momma 2 5

You're facing a sad irony of baby naming. It's the parents who put in the most effort—spending months agonizing over the name, determined that their choice be "just perfect"—who face the greatest chance of regrets. The process ends up numbing your gut feelings about what you love, while raising your expectations to unreachable levels.

The good news is that you've chosen a fine name. If you keep it you'll almost surely find that your daughter grows into it, and you'll end up loving it as part of her.

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Have I Missed My Chance at a Middle Name?

I had my baby 3 months ago and I didn't give her middle name. I just regret it so much it gets me whenever I think about it. Is there any possibility I can give her a middle name still?
- Regretful Mom

Of course you can still give your daughter a middle name. In fact, as naming "mistakes" go, this has to be one of the easiest possible to fix.

I can understand why you might feel that the die is cast on your baby name choice. You faced a deadline, submitted paperwork, and received a birth certificate. The name is now official. Yet you know that official names can be changed. For instance, I'm sure you know plenty of people who have changed their surnames because of a family status change, like marriage or adoption.

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Should I Hold Out for the Perfect Name?

After having 2 boys, my husband and I were incredibly excited to find out our third baby is a girl. However, now that I have an opportunity to name a girl I can't come up with that perfect name! We "decided" on Zoe, mainly because I was sick of saying "the baby" and feel like I've seen every possible name twice. I've looked in every book, website, and list I can get my hands on! Should I stick with our choice and settle for Zoe, or is there a perfect name out there that I haven't found yet? I had terrible name remorse after my second son when family and friends talked me out of the name I loved and I don't want to go through that again. - Angsty Mom

Ah, the elusive Perfect Name! It's the naming equivalent of Mr. Right. An expectant mother is supposed to fall head over heels in love, and know beyond any question that this is the one and only name for her.

But life doesn't always work that way, does it? Sometimes, instead of one Perfect Name you find yourself with five Really, Really Good Names. Don't worry, having a hard time choosing doesn't make the name you ultimately choose worse.

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But Now I've Found the Perfect Name!

My daughter is two and we are considering changing her name. We had a difficult time choosing her name originally, but because we had to get her on insurance quickly, we were forced to make a decision. My husband picked the first name Loki and I picked Liesel. We soon realized that Loki was not the right name for her and started calling her Liesel instead. Now I am pregnant with my second daughter, and we have already chosen her name - a name we have both been in love with for months - Cosima.

While we were looking at names for baby Cosima, we came across the name Mazarine. Suddenly, we both realized that Mazarine is the *right* name for our first daughter. Not only does it have a lovely meaning (deep blue - the color of her eyes), we found it on my family tree. Since she is two, I am afraid of causing her identity issues if we change it.

My idea was to introduce it slowly, calling her both names, and then phasing out Liesel. I know our friends and family will think we are totally nuts, especially since we have already called her by her first and her middle names, but it really feels like the right thing to do. Both my husband and I have never felt like her name fit her right, but the option to change it didn't cross our minds until now. Are we messing with our daughter's head too much by changing it now?

- Lou

Ah, Lou, you’ve fallen into the clutches of a naming demon that plagues many second-time parents. Call it the “back on the market blues.”

When you chose your first child’s name, you reached closure. You put away the baby name books and websites and moved on with the business of parenthood. But now you’re expecting again, and the name search is reopened. You look through new lists, and notice new names on TV or in books. You find a perfect name for your new baby. Or maybe two, three or four perfect names. You find yourself falling in love with new names you had never even considered for your first baby – possibly names that wouldn’t have appealed to you the first time around. (Two years of parenthood changes your worldview, after all.) You end up with a delayed case of namer's remorse. 

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