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Baby Name Regret For the New Millennium

Eccentric names may seem like a good idea at the time, but parents could sing a different tune as they watch their progeny go through life sounding like a tech product.

My youngest child is called back to see the doctor, but I don’t realize it at first because her name is mispronounced. I cringe. In Kyra, the ‘y’ is long (think Kyra Sedgewick) not short (like Tyra, as in Banks).

We go to a neighbor’s tea and both my daughter’s and my name are misspelled on the table place cards. Why did we spell hers that way, I think. Why didn’t I learn from my own name?!

What I’m experiencing is known as name regret and it’s not fun. For me, it’s merely an occasional spelling issue, but some parents torture themselves for months or longer after having a child, wondering if they should’ve named them something different, or should change the name now. I had a friend with a child named Bohdi, an adorable name I think, who mulled over changing her to Cinnamon, even into her second year. This always appalled me. To me, where there’s a Cinnamon, a drink on a cocktail tray isn’t far behind.

But the naming thing is a personal one. Some parents don’t even share their choices with others until the baby is named just so they don’t have to field opinions. We tried that with my first. Although it was really only our parents whose comments we couldn’t handle, so somehow we ended up telling friends, but not family, until my esthetician announced the name to my mother-in-law at the shower, assuming she knew. You can only imagine how well it went down with that sweet woman that “Everyone knows your names but us!”

Research has shown that the hand-wringing over names is neither minor nor unwarranted. A British study of 3,000 parents released in 2010 suggests one-in-five parents regret the name they chose for a child. According to another study, boys with “girlish” sounding names like Ashley or Shannon are more likely to have behavioral problems in class. Also, it’s been found that people have preconceived notions about which names sound like they’re from lower socio-economic status and treat people with these names differently, especially in school.

This year, several names jumped higher on the popularity list which will undoubtedly lead to name regret for some. These include Siri, Mars, Mac and Luna. Three of those sound to me like tech products, and the fourth evokes the eccentric girl from Harry Potter. I can hear it now, “Academics aren’t Luna’s strong suit, but all her teachers say she is just such an individual!”

Not long ago, a woman posted a picture of a baby on Facebook, saying, “Hashtag Jameson was born at 10 oclock last nite. She weys 8pounds and i luv her so much!!!!!” Apparently this, finally, has gone too far for people and the negative and absurdist chatter has been flowing ever since.

In my opinion, many first-time parents make the name decision without the ability to look forward into the child’s life and the environment into which they’ll take the name. I’m sure I did this, too. Much like when I chose a pediatrician with excellent credentials while pregnant, but once I actually had another tiny person with me and saw how clinically the doctor related to her I regretted my decision. I realized I’d forgotten to bring my daughter, and her needs and wants, into the equation. This was understandable—given than until that point in life I had only ever really made decisions for myself, not others.

Having said that parents don’t look to the future with their name choices, those who look too far to the past may be dooming their kids to names that bore and fail to leave their mark. Bets have already begun on names for the Royal baby-in-utero in the UK. Not that it’s a tough pick—most of them include some combination of Charles or Elizabeth. This very imaginative pool is sure to encourage individuality in the new century.

Still I’ll take a good solid Charlie over Hashtag any day. About the current boom in odd naming, Political comedian Dean Obeidallah on cnn.com writes, “While I don't want to rain on creativity, let's be honest -- these weird names are more about parents showing off their "cleverness" than about finding a name that fits the child. It's not like the parents got to know the child first for a few months and then said, "You know this baby really is a little Siri."

Obeidallah then goes on to say that if parents are allowed to saddle these future grown-ups with such names as Apple and Mars, then they should be allowed to call their mom and dad by any name of their choosing. On this, I think I’ll let him have the last word. It’s just too fun for me to consider kids looking through a crowded store for their parents, calling out at the top of their lungs, “Angry Birds, You Tube, where are you guyyyyyyyys?”

BMA January 02, 2013 at 11:05 PM
L - A...pronounced "Ladasha", poor thing who is spending her entire life explaining how to say her name, and even spell it.
Mary Smith January 02, 2013 at 11:33 PM
That's just WRONG! Not only wrong, but incredibly selfish of the parent(s) who are amusing themselves, and trying to be clever, while never giving any thought to what the child will have to deal with!
Sheri Davis January 02, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Or like Gwyneth Paltrow...named her daughter Apple...or Beyonce' & Jay-Z naming their child Blue Ivy. I don't care what the 'explanation' is behind such idiotic names, they only do such to draw more attention to themselves and keep themselves in the spotlight longer than their egos need to be. And now add to it another Kartrashatwit is having a baby with that idiot rapper West fool. Just because one has money, looks pretty - does NOT mean there are brains/smarts to back that up. The Kartrashatwits are living proof of it. Let's just hope that Taylor Swift doesn't get any bright ideas. Not only is she SWIFTLESS, she's also stupid.
Phyllis McArthur January 03, 2013 at 12:39 AM
my name was supposed to be Philomena (after my grandmother), at the last minute they changed it to Phyllis, which is the Americanized name, I wish they kept Philomena
EZDuzit January 03, 2013 at 02:08 AM
I think Philomena is a nice name :)
Pati January 03, 2013 at 03:42 AM
That's all I could focus on!
Mary Smith January 03, 2013 at 04:05 AM
I can't stop thinking about it! ... L - A ?? ... ... pronounced Ladasha?? Actually my husband cracked me up - he said "Wow, someone could mispronounce that, and call her La hyphen A !!" Now THAT'S funny!! I'm sorry but all I can do is make jokes! It's ludicrous!!
Gina Tenorio (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 05:22 AM
That's a good way to deal with it @Bay. We get a lot of looks when people see my son's name written. When they ask us his name we follow up with the spelling immediately. You're right, it's just easier.
Gina Tenorio (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 05:24 AM
@T 22, how funny! That's a name I would not mess up. As a child, my best friend was named Tawna. I love the name. I don't see it as often as I think I should.
Annie G. January 03, 2013 at 07:10 AM
Benjamin Franklin/Franklin Pierce? Any relation to either? I think that is a very nice name, but I do agree that any history teacher would never be able to resist.
Karen Jones January 03, 2013 at 05:12 PM
I know of two boys that are very cruelly named , Cud ( yes like what the cow chews) and Testament ( yes like the Bible.) I love the grandmother of these two boys but I think the daughter was wrong in saddeling these boys with names like that.
Kelly Hartog (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Many years ago I had a friend whose name was Lanie Zelazne. She was also a journalist and back in the day when people actually sent real letters to the editor in envelopes (not via email) she received a myriad of typos on her letters. But the absolute best? It was addressed to: Lasagne! Also had a friend called Aoise (pronounced Ayshuh). It's Gaelic. Teachers at school had a hard time at roll call. One friend suggested she take the s out of her name and replace it with a 'u'. That way her name would be all vowels...
EZDuzit January 03, 2013 at 07:12 PM
You might remember that John Wayne's real first name was Marion...also, I lived in Texas and one of the wealthiest families there was the Hogg family., That crazy patriarch named his daughters Ima and Ura! That seems to me to be the epitome of bad naming!
Desert Dweller January 03, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Did anybody else hear Cash's " a boy named Sue" in their head?
Jacob Bourne (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 09:11 PM
True story: I went to high school with a Dixon Her. His parents didn't speak English.
Karen Jones January 03, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Sorry to dwell on it but no one said a thing about Cud and Testament. Any thoughts? I think its two horrible names the mom gave the kids to get attention to herself.
Mary Smith January 04, 2013 at 12:13 AM
I know what you mean. That kind of stuff really bugs me, too! Read what I said above about "Scrabble Babies". Doesn't exactly pertain in the same way, as Cud and Testament are actual words, rather than something pulled out of the air. But, in either case, equally selfish and thoughtless, with NO regard for what the child will have to deal with.
Gina Tenorio (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Illusionist Penn Jillet named his son Zolten Penn and his daughter Moxie Crimefighter. How do like them apples? Apple? Oh right, that the name of Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter. (heh heh.)
Gina Tenorio (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Karen I didn't even know what to say when I read your comment. Those are rough names to have to deal with in my opinion.
Mary Smith January 04, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Jeez! Well, at least his parents had an excuse ... sort of ... Although, if I were to move to a foreign country, I would sure as he** research translations before I named my child! But, then, that's just me. I have always had issues with the way people screw up the language, whether it be names, mispronunciations, poor spelling, or just plain ol' bad grammar! Things aren't taught in school the way they used to be. It seems it's no longer important for kids to be taught to speak correctly, and write with good penmanship. I guess it's a lost art. Nowadays everyone writes with a computer and a spell-checker. But, I digress ...
Susan Lundquist January 04, 2013 at 06:34 AM
Tanya, Tawnya, Tonya - One of these is my granddaughter and all three of these girls are in the same classroom.
Sunshine Fox January 05, 2013 at 04:56 PM
As grown woman with a decidedly unusual name I'm probably the best source, thus far, for insight into having a "strange" name. First my name: Sunshine Fox. People always want to know if my parents were hippies (kind of, in their own way) or if I made it up. Some men like to use it as an invitation for all kinds of unoriginal pick up lines, saying their name is moonbeam/moonlight or taking the opportunity to sing Sunshine songs (of which there are plenty). Some people get excited and tell me how they immediately love me because I must be happy all the time with a name like this (which always bewilders me). But most people just say what a cool name it is. It is and I love it. Did I ever go thru a time when I didn't like it? Yes, as a small child going to school where everyone was named Jenny or Lisa I wish I could have been named Michelle. I opted for my middle name, Candice, instead...which was a short cry from being common at the time and came with its own baggage, in the form of spelling errors (which never bothered me but I did find myself longing for a more exotic spelling of it). In my teenage years I switched back to my given name and embraced my uniqueness in a sea of people with the same name.
Sunshine Fox January 05, 2013 at 04:59 PM
(Con't) There was a commenter who said that they could only picture a woman named Cinnamon waitressing at a cocktail bar as well as several others who made similar such comments, including the author of this article, I leave you with this: It is just a name, it is up to the individual to make something of his/her life.
"The Black Panther of Poetry" January 06, 2013 at 09:05 PM
I once knew a guy named "Putten Tame" and if you asked him twice... He would tell you the same!!! His parents didn't feel responsible or feel no blame they just went about their life laughing devoid of shame But one day "Putten" got caught illegally fishing by the Warden of game He denied it to the end and wouldn't take no blame as the Game Warden asked twice Puttens' name He shouted out three times like it was fame Putten Tame....Putten Tame Ask me again and I'll tell you the same!!!! And off to prison Putten went!!!
Just My Opinion January 08, 2013 at 12:28 AM
My daughter's name is Anika. (A-neee-ka), not Annika (Ann-i-ka). I love the name, but when she has to report for an interview, Dr. appt. , jury duty, anything official....they always assume she is of Afro-American decent, until they see/meet her. (We are Caucasian). Go figure....
Diana January 08, 2013 at 05:33 AM
I just wish people would mind spelling in a name... My name is Diana, but often people say or call me Diane... I correct them and some seem to get it, others seem perplex as "What's the difference?" Well if you name is Tom, I wouldn't randomly change your name to Tim.. That is a whole other person as is Diane to Diana
Gina Tenorio (Editor) January 08, 2013 at 06:27 AM
I have had a few people who seemed convinced I should have been named Regina instead of just Gina. Since I really have no issue with my name, it does irritate that people want to change it.
Keith Underwood January 08, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Benjamin Franklin Pierce. You weren't called "Hawkeye" we're you?
Mary Smith January 10, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Article on AOL today: "Quvenzhane Wallis: Meet the Youngest Oscar Nominee Ever" Seriously? I mean, I know it's the parents' own business what they want to name their kid, but ... seriously?? WHY are children saddled with unreadable names?? This child will be 14 before she can spell or pronounce her own name! This is the epitome of what I refer to above as "Scrabble babies"! By the way, for those who care ... it's pronounced Kay-vah-zhu-nay
Gina Tenorio (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 11:25 PM
I know, it's crazy. It sounds pretty though. And writers can't even agree on the pronunciation. Entertainment Weekly has "Kwah-VAHN-Jah-Nay." Vulture spells is using "Kwah-VAHN-Jah-Nay." Too funny.

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