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My Husband Refuses to Talk About Baby Names!

I am due with my second child and I am having a hard time getting my husband motivated to talk about baby names. He was the same way with our first child, and we ended up picking her name a few hours after her birth. When I ask him about names, he says they are all "fine." Then says "It feels weird to be picking a name for someone else, they have to live with it." I agree that it is a lot of responsibility, but they won't let you leave the hospital till the live birth registration is filled out (including name). How do I motivate him to pick names he likes? Or should I just have my own name list and hope that he likes one of them when he actually meets her? - Lonely Name Searcher

I am at once awed and flummoxed by your's husband's comment that "it feels weird to be picking a name for someone else, they have to live with it." On one hand it's a profound insight, one that's too often overlooked by parents who treat baby naming as their own personal style statement. On the other, it seems a naive denial of the essence of parenthood. The someone else of whom he speaks is, after all, his own child. Picking her name is but one in a long series of parental decisions that will shape the rest of her life.

I wouldn't be The Name Lady if I didn't believe that selecting a child's name is a serious responsibility. It should be approached with care and forethought, and with the best of intentions for the little life for whom you are both protector and guide. So I appreciate the sensitivity behind your husband's words. But well-meaning or not, he needs to get over it and get on board with your very reasonable agenda of agreeing on a few names before your baby is born. 

Yes, it is a hard decision. That's all the more reason to make it in advance, well before the hospital is in your sights. After all, who has ever said "I make my wisest decisions in stressful settings in a state of exhaustion, exhiliration and deadline panic?" And a good name-picking process not only leads to good choices, it can help bring parents closer and establish an early bond with their baby.

So let's try to get your husband on board. To open the conversation, you could mention the stress of having to think about anything in the hospital. It would be easy make that a guilt trip, but if you can manage to rope him in with a lighter touch it will set a more positive mood for name discussions. Try humorous analogies: can he imagine making a smart car-buying choice as he walks down the interstate? Or picture doing the grocery shopping after a daylong fast, and ending up with Cheetos for dinner?

If he mentions how "weird" it is to choose a name for another person, you could ask "Is it any weirder than the fact that I am growing a human being in my belly?" You could even try humorous name threats, like choosing "Buford McBuford" or picking a name from the cast of Jersey Shore. The key is to open the discussion in a fresh way. Then you can try one of these techniques to move beyond the stalled "I don't know, what do YOU like?" conversation:

1. Go techie. 

Take advantages of cool data tools to take the squishy-fuzzy out of name talk and replace it with some gee-whiz. My sister site, BabyNameWizard.com, has great visualization apps like the animated NameVoyager grapher, and the NameMapper to see who's using which names where -- is the name West Coast or Heartland? Republican or Democratic? (If your husband's more of an instant gratification guy, you can even spring for the Expert version of the site and try the Name MatchMaker that suggests names custom-tailored to your own taste.) Many a man has developed a sudden new interest in names after playing with these data toys.

2. Play categories.

Which assignment is easier, "Write a good story" or "Write a story about a dog with magical powers"? Most of us need concrete starting blocks to launch our imaginations. Try making a list of name categories and ask him to fill in a favorite for each slot. Stay concrete and specific: perhaps a favorite name from a movie he loves, one from a book, a relative, a musician, an athlete, a historical figure, a surname of someone you know; maybe one from a sci-fi alien just to keep things lively. You fill out your own list, too. (No peeking!) When you're both done, compare lists. After laughing over the merits of Zaphod vs. Chewbacca for your alien baby, you can use the more serious suggestions as a springboard to narrowing down real name ideas.

3. Get competitive.

Who can resist the allure of a playoff bracket? Try filling in a March Madness-style name playoff chart. (Here's a printable version to fill in.) Pit names against one another in pairwise elimination until you have a champion. The trick: you have to agree on each round's winner, together.

Best of luck on your naming quest!

Comments

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October 3, 2011 2:02 PM
By Amaryllis (not verified)

I love all these ideas! Even though my fiance and I don't plan on having children this year, we're going to be trying soon after the wedding. With that being said I can understand the frustration of having a partner not engaged in the search of your child's name. It's frustrating and discouraging but I like a lot of the Name Lady's suggestions and I can see my SO getting more involved with this new "game plan". I hope and pray that your husband does too.

October 3, 2011 2:37 PM
By Red Ruby (not verified)

Awesome ideas, as usual! However, I'd like to point out that no hospital I know of has the legal power to keep your baby until you have a name. They'll tell you whatever lies they will to keep filing simple, but you can fill out that live birth certificate on your own at home, then turn it in somewhere. So have fun! Get busy creating names for all of the reasons the Mom Lady has prescribed! Just don't worry about some false deadline that someone else creates for their own convenience.

October 3, 2011 4:12 PM
By Cecette (not verified)

Actually in Canada you have to fill out your live birth registration before they will discharge the child (this includes a name, though you can call him/her "baby" and have 30 days to change the name without going through official name changing process). They do have a right because all hospitals in my province are government run. So in fact is the law.

October 4, 2011 12:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Interestingly enough, my husband is MUCH more receptive to the names I like after he's watched me give birth to his child... All of my babies named were not even discussed until after baby's birth. If I tried talking baby names while pregnant I'd always get a negative reaction from my husband. I have 4 children with names that I absolutely love...!! I think my husband just wanted to meet them before naming them :)

October 4, 2011 3:40 PM
By Erin (not verified)

I have been having trouble with the baby names discussion with my husband for our second child, too. I spent the early months of my pregnancy building a list of names that was totally unfiltered. Many were silly and had no chance of ever being bestowed upon a child of mine, but I put them on the list anyhow. After getting nowhere with discussions, I emailed hubby my list (alphabetized, not in order of my preference) and gave him the simple task of giving thumbs up or thumbs down to each one, without me looking over his shoulder. He crossed out the silly ones and the "real" ones he really didn't care for (without me telling him which were which), and narrowed the list down to just a handful of names for each gender. I was surprised by some of the names I liked that made it through his filter, because I probably wouldn't have suggested them if we were just talking, assuming he'd shoot them down.

Baby is due in 2 months and we still haven't come to a final decision, but having a short list makes me feel better, anyhow. It might help in your situation, too.

October 4, 2011 4:50 PM
By punkprincessphd (not verified)

@Cecette:

Which province are you in? When my daughter was born in Newfoundland (ahem, still a province of the Dominion of Canada, last I checked) the hospital merely sent us home with a package of forms - including provincial health care forms *and* the birth registration forms. Nothing was signed at the hospital itself.

October 4, 2011 4:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I wouldnt mind if my husband didn't want a say in naming. That sounds like less interference in naming the baby just what I want:)

October 5, 2011 1:40 PM
By Devin (not verified)

Taking an idea from popular culture, I don't know if anyone here is a fan of the tv show Chuck, but they had a similar story line. When Ellie was pregnant, Devon was too afraid to pick a baby name because he felt that it was the first real parenting decision and he didn't know if he was ready. So after him shooting down names and not being helpful, Ellie told him that she had picked the perfect name and nothing he said could change her mind - Grunka. He freaked out about it, and came up with some legit possible alternatives to stop the Grunka madness. And it turned out (rather obviously) that Ellie was never going to name the baby Grunka, it was just her way of snapping Devon out of his own head.
Now obviously your life is not a tv sitcom, but it's not a bad strategy. A little tweak here or there but otherwise not ridiculous.
(And b/c I know you're all wondering, Devon & Ellie named the baby Clara)

October 5, 2011 4:14 PM
By Renmac (not verified)

Hubby and I each made a list of possible names, then vetoed ones we didn't like. Then we rated the ones remaining out of 10. Highest average rating won.

December 12, 2011 9:54 AM
By managed services (not verified)

Thank you so much for explain better is this issue. I also faced same to you but finally my husband talk about baby names. Keep it up!

December 19, 2011 10:50 PM
By Cecette (not verified)

Saskatchewan, and we got to take home the other forms just not the live birth registration. That had to be done before we left...and no it was not a lie I even worked on postpartum for a bit and this was a requirement sent to the hospital by the government.

May 20, 2012 4:07 AM
By joliat (not verified)

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March 9, 2013 10:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My husband will not give me any input on ANY names but every single name I have asked him about he immediately shoots down with no other option.. It really bothers me and I didn't think anyone else had a husband like mine

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