The Cost of Giving Baby a Bad Name
Americans (and many other cultures) have always enjoyed the artistic license of being able to name their children whatever they fancy. Many parents start naming their son or daughter the day they learn of their child’s conception. Others wait until days or even weeks after “Baby” is born to research the namesake they are about to gift to their child. But sadly, many decide to just make up a name, inspired by a name brand, favorite movie, or spring break weekend. And many of these names are just bad. When names are in poor taste, the cost can be higher than estimated. Here is a look at how the wrong name can bring a lifetime of expense.
Reading, Writing, Remedial – Unless there is a cultural or genealogical meaning behind your child’s 14-character first name, you may want to reconsider. Children faced with the daunting task of learning to write their uncommon and unpronounceable name may be turned off to learning altogether. Four and Five-year-olds already understand peer conformity, and they may become understandably envious of their classmates with simpler names. (Have you ever given thought to how large younger children write at first? Nothing is more embarrassing than having to hyphenate your own name because it won’t fit on line one of the Big Chief writing paper.)
Cooties – Teasing is bad enough these days without the added pressure of having no one able to say your name or hecklers rhyming your name with a bodily function. The child with six adorable first and middle names may have ended up being teased anyway, but why chance it? (And while avoiding all teasing is impossible, it is a great feeling to be proud of your name!)
The Logistics of Length – I have a relatively short name, yet I can sympathize with unnecessarily long given name victims. Applying for a driver’s license, putting a name on a sports jersey, or even just having a locket engraved can be more difficult than needed for someone with a bad or lengthy name.
Land of the Free – When children reach the age of majority in the U.S., nothing prevents them from having their name legally changed. While we can’t always foresee or prevent a child from simply tiring of a perfectly sound name, we can give them the best opportunity for keeping their name by being thoughtful in our choices. If you have even a slight hunch that the name you have picked for your new baby may some day clutter up the legal system, move along, please.
If you are dead-set on a unique name for your child that may cause any of the problems above, consider a nickname for logistical reasons. I certainly don’t advocate a strict adherence to the top 20 baby names of 2007, but you can usually have a sense for these things. If too many of your relatives give you a raised eyebrow, or the delivering physician asks for the pronunciation and/or spelling of your new baby more than four times, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.