“What about Zack?”

“Nope, too 80’s”


“My ex-boss’s name. What about Joseph, it was on the shortlist for Sam?

“I Don’t know. just dont like it anymore. Jacob?”

“Sounds good.”

“No wait, my friends called hers jacob”…

And so it was, round and around, suggestion and dismissal.

Too chavy, too snooty, too old, too new age.  Her friend has or wants to name hers that one. That one reminds me of an unpleasant snotty-faced kid. That one was a moron from that place… and so on.

Slowly, but inevitably, we come back to the same factors that we had to conquer in order to name our number 1 child, Samuel.

So here, laid bare, are the minefields we came across and the way to our decision.

First, we had to discount all those names that we considered ‘reserved’. That is, any name that we knew friends and family had already expressed a desire to call their future sprogs. Nothing  says family feud like ‘stealing’ your siblings ‘favourite’ name, and you’d be ‘rubbing it in’ all the kids life.

Secondly, are there any naming traditions in your family that you would be wise to uphold? Typically middle names tend to have significance to family, allowing the first to be up to you.

Next, remove all names currently in use by  cousins, siblings, friends etc. There is agreement here that we wouldn’t want to be copying others ideas, or worse, accidently feeding a relative’s already oversized ego because you chose their name, or even potentially opening yourself up to rivalry- ‘why his name and not mine?’ Then you have to have more children just to name them after the other brother or sister…

Then, we can agree on catergories to ignore, eg known chavvy names, or place names, or  hippy names. It’s just not right sending your kid out into the world with a name that will get him bullied or disrepected.

Which leads us neatly into the more interesting aspect of child naming:  Think of a name, the first one that pops into your head. Then consider what that name means to you. Can you see your child wearing that name? Maybe there is more than one person with that name, if so, how does that effect your perception of people with that name?

So here-in lies the rub: of the many names still left in the pot, you’re gonna know someone who has that name, and you know that at first all you can think of when you say it will be that person. So naturally all names of people you dont like are now banned, right?

Before we continue, we need to take a look at that properly. Your child is the unique combination of genes and dna, and stands to become a true individual, an expression of that uniqueness. But there is more to it than just that. Nature’s part is over, Nurture steps in now. For all our best expectations and intentions, we are now in charge of the child, and we are ‘only human’.

Consider my name, James. I’m told that people consider it to be an academic name, associated with smart, successful people. (and James Bond) but also short fused and tetchy (like James Bond?!) Indeed, there are books out there which can explore the personalities of every person named James and make sweeping generalisations about us. I have to admit too, some cut uncomfortably close to the bone. But how can that be? How can different people born of different families in different parts of the world, with different genes and inherited DNA, how can we all suddenly have similar personality traits – close enough to be able to produce a book that can pidgeon hole us all? Even statistics can’t answer that one.

Statistically, it shouldn’t matter what you’re called. your genetic heritage should be enough to tell you what you are going to be good at. Any one called anything should be eligible to fill the criteria laid out by our ‘James Description’, just as an equal proportion of James’ should fail to meet them.

The answer then, lies with us. You chose to name that child James, and you have your reasons, and all is good. Now little James starts to grow up, and people start buying gifts for birthdays, and considering his future. It doesn’t matter why you called him James, but people, including you as his family, start to develop a perception of him, an image in their minds eye, that ties into their experiences of other people with the same name. Subconsciously you still think all James’ to be academic, so when considering gifts, you favour learning toys rather than action toys. You encourage his maths over his art, his sciences over his sports. And so does your friends and family, if not subconsiously like you, then by following your lead. Before you know it , you have created your Academic James and fulfilled the sterotype for another generation.

But this puts an extra burden on us, seeking to name our child. We could seek to find a name that would be good for the child in terms of our best wishes for him; we want an academic so we will chose James! But ultimately what right do we have to do this to this new, innocent entity? Why would we seek to limit, dictiate or force the development of our children for our own selfish expectations?

It became pretty clear when we considered this issue, that my wife and I couldn’t paint such a label on our children that would tie them to a societal expectation. In other words, they had to be named something that we didn’t associate with anyone or any stereotype; only then could they be free to be whoever they were meant to be and not moulded to conform to a subconscious force of Nuture.

So we went with Ethan, -though that only just won out over Ronin (which lost because my wife didn’t want him to become a warrior from the Pegasus Galaxy, who spends his days travelling through wormholes fighting Wraith….)

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