Baby Name Advice Column: Ask the Name Lady Baby Name Blog

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Can a Middle Name Save Us?

My husband and I are a few weeks away from having a little boy named Asher. Our last name is also two syllables ending in -er. We both agree that we need a middle name that separates the two names. My husband is partial to Elliot, but I've got a soft spot for the name Gabriel (I'm Gabrielle). Any suggestions? - Asher's Mom

Hold on, let's take a step back. You've decided that your son's first and last name need "separating"? That's a mighty big red flag, don't you think?

Unless you expect your son to introduce himself as "Asher Gabriel" for the rest of his life, I doubt any middle name can fix this. It's like choosing an attractive pair of underpants to solve the problem that your shirt and pants clash. You may know it's there, but nobody else will.

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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 My Kids Sound Like Muppets?

We have a daughter named Zoe. We are expecting a boy and love the name Oscar. Is this combination just begging for snarky comments about a third child named Big Bird? - Not Muppet Mom

Ah, isn't it amazing how different naming a second child can be? With your first baby, the world of names was open to you from A to Z. You could grab your copy of The Baby Name Wizard from the shelf, open to any page, and dream. You could choose a family name or a brand-new invention, a long name or a short name, a Greek name (as you did) or something utterly English.

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My Daughter Hates Her Name!

Should I be offended that my daughter doesn't like her name and wants to officially change it?
- Wounded Mom

Of course you shouldn't be offended. What good could come of it? All you'd be doing is turning a clash between your daughter and her name into a clash between your daughter and you.

No name choice is foolproof. We choose names for our children before they're born, and we can't know what kind of people they'll grow up to be. For that matter, we can't even predict the future of the names themselves. Fashions change, and cultural associations change -- just ask any woman named Madonna before you-know-who. Names can even change from one sex to the other.

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My Husband's Nicknames Make Me Squirm

My husband calls me the same 'pet' names he calls his three adult daughters from a previous marriage. Before the word jealousy is brought in to play...he uses these names during our intimate moments too. It makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. I've mentioned it to him and he still does it. I don't want to over-think this, but I believe that because of his bad first marriage, he made these daughters into pseudo-spouses instead of having a parent/child separation. Do you think there is anything a little odd about this or am I way off base? - Confused Second Wife

Girl! Yes, you are reading too much into this. Let me share something with you. I call my children a silly nickname I first invented for our dog. Years of crooning the name's nonsense syllables in an affectionate tone have made it leap naturally to my tongue when I feel affectionate. To leap from shared pet names to "sister wives" is to leap too far.

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What if I choose ALL the names?

We want to honor both sides of the family with our daughter's name. I came up with the name Sue Mae (my side) Rose Marie (his side). Sue Mae Rose Marie. Is that too long? I love the name, but everyone else hates it. In my heart I just want to honor our Grandmothers. Nothing else felt right. How else can you make Susie Mae and Rose Marie chic and /or current? Help! - Loyal Granddaughter

Many parents try to honor multiple relatives with a single name. In the past, I've given my blessing to various creative approaches to the problem. But I'm afraid your friends’ and family’s instincts are right: Sue Mae Rose Marie is just too much.

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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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Am I Too Young to Change My Name?

I'm a boy, and my dad thought Karmen was a boy's name when I was born. Now I'm called Karmen in all my official statements, school records etc. I really hate it and I get bullied for it. I'm 16. Can I change my name? How? - Karmen

In the US, you can't petition the court for a name change until you're 18. For now, the legal request would have to come from your parents. I understand that it may be hard to ask for their help on this, since they gave you the name in the first place.

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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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