A name with too many syllables can be torture for a child. Surely you don’t want your kid breaking into a sweat from Carpal Tunnel every time he has to write his name on a school paper. When it comes to surnames, pick one name and leave the punctuation marks to literary works where they belong. Our culture has become Hyphen-Happy, and this could ultimately lead to names with semi-colons, commas, and backslashes. It goes without saying that you should also avoid symbols, unless you want your child’s name to look like an expletive. (#$@&!) Even mega star Prince, who changed his name to a symbol and became The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, was eventually referred to as That Rock Star Who Changed His Name To A Symbol But Decided It Was Idiotic And Had To Change It Back Again.
The children’s book Tikki Tikki Tembo takes a humorous look at the Chinese tradition of giving short names to offspring. When Tikki-Tikki-Tembo-No-Sa-Rembo-Chari-Bari-Ruchi-Pip-Peri-Pembo falls down a well, his younger brother Chang has difficulty rounding up help due to the time that it takes him to say Tikki’s long name. Enamored with this story at the age of three, our Grace started calling her baby brother “Natie-Natie-Nembo-No-Na-Nembo-Nari-Nari-Nuchi-Nip-Neri-Nembo,” until one day she got fed up and just called him “Chang.” Bottom line: Kids like simple names.
A woman may be so harassed after telling her family her soon-to-be-born baby’s name that she will actually waver and consider changing the name. If her family hates the name, they will use every opportunity to remind her of this fact. I knew a woman who announced the name of her son, only to change it after he was born. Several people already had the original name engraved on their gifts, and a riot had to be contained.
Even if you pre-select your baby’s name, you should not announce it to ANYONE until after the birth. This decision for privacy has the added benefit of driving your friends and family completely insane. They can’t stand that they are not in on the “secret,” and they will do everything short of kidnapping you and injecting you with truth serum to make you confess. You will also have to endure endless suggestions of what others think would be the perfect name for your baby. To this you can only politely respond, “Thank you, but we have already selected the name.” Tolerate the torture and do not let outside influences change your important decisions. You can also have some fun by fabricating ridiculous names just to see someone’s shocked reaction. (Think: exotic lands)
Whatever name you choose, do not wait until late in the pregnancy or even after the birth to decide. This is a major life decision that should not be influenced by hormones, fatigue, or hunger. Suffering from major beef cravings does not give you the right to name your child Angus. An overtired mom with a husband named Matthew should not name her daughter Mattress. And a hormonal mother might just pick her mother-in-law’s least favorite name out of spite.
Before a woman even gets married, she should find out what baby names her future spouse prefers. A teenage girl once emphatically stated to me the future names of her children. “What if your husband doesn’t like those names?” I asked. “What if he has already chosen other names?” Her eyes widened in horror as she replied, “Like, too bad!” Who wants to marry a man and then discover during pregnancy that he absolutely must have a son named after his father, Egbert? Simply discussing whether you plan to have children, and how many, is not enough anymore. Any details that can be agreed on in advance will eliminate unnecessary stress during pregnancy or post-partum. If you plan on having any more children, discuss their possible names now before you even get pregnant!