Giving Your Child One Name, Calling Them Another

‘What are you going to name your baby?’ asks the friendly check-out lady at the grocery store upon noticing you are pregnant. ‘We are going to name her after her grandmother, Rosemary Abigail, but we are going to call her Abby, you reply. Or, you send out your sons birth announcements filling in the name place with John Tyler, but you have called him JT, or Junior, or heck…Andrew since the moment he was born.

In today’s day and age when naming a baby takes a certain sense of creative ability, parents are finding themselves in the familiar situation of giving their child one name, but them calling them another. Throughout life. This in the long run, makes things pretty difficult for your child. (Unless they are a criminal, in which case it makes things a little easier) Why do parents do this?

Obviously, nicknames and surnames are a cute trend. However, if you love the name Abby, then why don’t you just name your daughter Abby, rather than Abigail? By doing it the easy and simply way, you save yourself a lot of time on school paperwork in the years ahead and simplify conversations about your child’s name. Sure, there are a lot of parents who come up with the pennames for their children after the child has grown up a little bit. You may have intended to call your child Charles, but when everyone else started calling him Chuck your willpower caved. But largely, parents today are choosing names for their children that often aren’t even close to what they plan to actually address their children with.

Imagine how difficult this makes the first day of kindergarten. The teacher is taking roll, and is calling out the name, ‘Edison.’ She calls it again. And again. (Think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Eventually, she assumes that Edison must not be at school that day because your child who you have ALWAYS called Chase (after his middle name) has no idea who Edison is. Even he is looking around the classroom wishing Edison would please stand up.

Naming a child is difficult. A lot of parents feel somewhat indebted to giving children family names in order to carry on tradition. But a lot of these same people have no real intention of actually ‘calling’ their child by this name. Things have changed in 2012, and it is actually a declining trend to continue to name children after family members. If you really want to incorporate a family name onto their birth certificate, why not make it a middle name and give your child a first name that works for you. After all, this is YOUR child, and you certainly don’t owe anyone anything in the form of name-saking.

For many cultures and religions, the naming process is one that is spiritual in nature and is believed to have a profound effect on their entire life. Jennifer Moss, founder of the website Baby Names dot com and author of a the book The One in a Million Baby Name believes that what you name and call your child has a profound effect on them indeed. If you give a name that is commonly mispronounced, hard to spell, hard to say or even so unique that it comes across strange and obscure the stigma will stick with a child.

Psychologists agree. When you name your child, you are giving them their first label, the first word that defines them. It is one of the first words they will learn to recognize, read, spell and write. Sometimes being too creative, or offering too many nicknames can actually be confusing to the identity. And, at some point you have to realize that if a name is good enough to be used on a birth certificate a document that will follow them for the rest of their life then why not use that same name when addressing the child.

One of the more common trends of this day and age, aside from being completely random and creative, is to name child’s solely based on what you call them. Rather than naming your daughter Grace, and calling her GRACIE, you just name her Gracie to begin with. Rather than Abigail, her legal name becomes Abby. Rather than Christopher, the legal name is simply Chris. And let’s be real this definitely makes the first day of school a lot easier for the teachers and your child.

Should a nickname stick for your child, it is also important that you allow them to decide if they want to be called that name in public. Calling your son Peewee when he is at home might be one thing, but it might not go over so well when he starts school and can be a reason for him to be made fun of. The same mentality goes when it comes to your child’s birth name..

When it comes to naming your child, the best advice that can be given is to think of your child. Arrange initials to make sure that they don’t inadvertently spell something that will be taken advantage of by musing classmates in the years to come. Try not to be so cutting edge in your naming that you risk making your child feel like an anomaly. Choose names that mean something to you, and that help to define who your child is, and will grow into. Avoid tricky spellings that will make pronunciation difficult for others. And by all means, be clear from the get go about what they are to be called throughout life.



3 Responses

  1. My grandchild’s birthname is Soul Zero an anime name which has a special meaning. Though his mother is calling him Sqeaky. I feel that because she calls him by that name he whines a lot when he talks. What is your feeling about calling a child Sqeaky?

  2. You don’t name your kid something like “Abby” because that’s a nickname. Your child will look like an idiot putting that down on their college application or a job resume. “Rosemary Abigail” however, looks fantastic on a resume.

  3. How about you name your child whatever you want to name them and call them whatever you want to call them. When they get to school, most teachers, I am an educator, ask if they child would like to be called by nickname.

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