How to Give Your Kid a Great Name

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Naming a kid is hard. It might be one of the hardest parts of parenting.

Okay fine, it’s in no way the hardest part of parenting. But it’s a lot of pressure. And if you’re not careful, that pressure can break you.

Sound too dramatic? Consider this: Parenting website BabyCenter recently released their list of the most popular baby names of 2015, and among the top choices are Lux, Valencia, Juno, Reyes, Ludwig, Amaro, and Willow.

Which you may also recognize as Instagram filters.

That’s how difficult it is to name babies. It makes perfectly rational people go, “Fuck it, I don’t know. How about Valencia? It worked for my vacation photos.”

We can’t give you the right name for your child. But we can steer you in the right direction.

We consulted dozens of parents and asked them to explain the stories behind their names, their kids’ names, their parents’ names. The good, the bad, and the WTF were they thinking?

Using their tales of glory and/or despair, we created this baby-naming litmus test. Think you’ve found the perfect name? Don’t be so sure until you’ve scrutinized it with these questions.

There’s an old saying, that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That line probably isn’t about baby names, but it should be. Because the world doesn’t need another child named Ruben because it sounds like his dad’s favorite sandwich.

Is this name going to get them mocked by their peers?

Kids can be sadistic little shits. If there’s something about your child’s name that their peers can utilize for mockery—especially if it rhymes with an embarrassing body part or function—they most definitely will.

Ashton transforms so easily into “Ass Ton.” Bryce becomes lice, Lucas becomes mucus, and Colin is just one letter away from colon. Yes, Dexter is a lovely name. As long as he doesn’t mind the inevitable modifier “ . . . The Molester.”

Karin M., a first year resident at Stanford, recalls accidentally reminding some new parents of how easily a name can be manipulated for comedic effect.

“The new baby comes out, and I announce to the parents that they have a healthy baby boy,” she says. “I ask them, ‘What’s the name?’ And they say, ‘Jake.’ And I just burst out with, ‘Oh, Jake the Snake.’ The parents look at one another and immediately say ‘Michael’.”

So what do you do? You have two options.

One, give the name a proper road test. Jennifer Moss, the founder and CEO of BabyNames.com, suggests trying it out on an unbiased third-party, like a coffee shop staff.

“Order a latte and give them the name,” she says. “Look closely at their faces. Are they stifling laughter? Can they spell it?”

Your second option is to stop overthinking it. “Plenty of kids grow up with ultra-rhymable names like Tucker and Cooper and never have any trouble,” says Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard.

What happens when Tucker the Fucker or “Pooper” comes home from school and can’t stop crying? You teach them how “being able to laugh off teasing is still the best defense,” says Wattenberg.

Will their initials ruin a monogrammed bathrobe?

Maybe you don’t care if your future child’s monogrammed bathrobes are terrible. But anywhere he or she might use their initials could present a problem, if those initials resemble a word like ASS or HOG.

“I named my son after his great-grandfathers, Jacob and Emerson,” says Christina W of Los Angeles, “My mother-in-law, a WASP, freaked out. She said we couldn’t name her first grandson that because his initials would spell JEW.”

But not unlike the cruel nicknames, this is probably something that parents worry too much about. As Wattenberg points out, “The initials VD and BS don’t seem to have hurt Vin Diesel and Bruce Springsteen.”

Are you positive it’s not a stripper’s name?

Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of future parents like inadvertently giving their child a name that wouldn’t look out of place on a strip club marquee.

Moss suggests steering clear of names that sound “too sexy or scrumptious,” like Stormy, Roxy, or Bambi—and honestly, even if it wasn’t reminiscent of women who take their clothes off professionally, you’re not doing your daughter any favors by naming her Bambi.

“One side of my family has a history of awful names,” says Michael B of Seattle. “If my nephew had been a girl, he would have been Chantilly Lace. Thankfully, he has a penis, so they named him Jesse.”

But not all sex trade names are so obvious. What about boy names like Tyler or Jaxon, or girl names like Jaylyn or Mya? Those names are disproportionately common among people whose day job involves showing their naked bodies to strangers.

We only know that because we checked out the new baby-naming app called Nametrix, which lets you know just how common a particular name is among strippers and porn stars.

It might not be reason enough to keep you from using the name. But at least you won’t be caught by surprise when a smirking friend tells you that he once got a lapdance from a girl with the same name as your daughter.

Are you absolutely sure you want to name your kid after a movie character?

It happens more than you’d think, and it’s almost never a good idea.

Game of Thrones has a huge influence on baby naming,” says Moss. “As has the Hunger Games series.”

We assume it’s unnecessary to explain why you shouldn’t name your child after any character in a movie or TV series in which people are regularly murdered and/or raped. But you’d be surprised what doesn’t register as a bad idea.

“There was a meme that said, ‘Satan comes as what you desire the most,’ and I commented, ‘Well then I guess my child I’m carrying is the Anti-Christ,’” says Lisa M of Florida. “And then one of my friends said, ‘You should name him Damien,’ because of The Omen and it just fit and is still hilarious to me. Everyone always gets in a tizzy about the name and I’ve had a relative actually tell me that the name is horrible and I am a horrible person.”

We don’t want to be too judgmental here, but yes, maybe naming your kid for the Anti-Christ is not exactly setting them up for a bright future.

“The key to choosing a movie-inspired name is that you have to love the name, not just the character,” says Wattenberg. “If you have to know the movie to appreciate the name, it’s probably the wrong choice.”

Be honest with yourself, she adds. “Do you really love the name Lando, or is that just the fanboy in you talking?”

Here’s the only example of a kid named for a movie that we actually agree with. Jason C of San Francisco says that he and his wife “chose to name our son Nick mostly on the strength of the endorsement by John Cusack in The Sure Thing.”

The line of dialogue in question, if you’re unfamiliar with the movie: “Nick’s your buddy, the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can have a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn’t mind if you puke in his car.”

Now that’s good parenting.

20 years from now, when your kid recounts the origins of her name, will it be a happy or funny story, or a “here’s why I’m in therapy” story?

Names that seem like a good idea at the time can become decidedly less so if you imagine your child as an adult, attempting to justify your decisions. Like this one:

“My father named me after a girl he wanted to date in high school,” recalls Shirley A of New York. “My mother agreed to it because ‘it was his turn to name the child’.”

No. Just no.

Amy S of Chicago named her son Elliott “after my favorite singer/songwriter, Elliott Smith.” Which, in theory, is a sweet tribute, as Smith did write some beautiful songs. But he was also a drug addict who committed suicide at age 34 by stabbing himself repeatedly in the chest with a kitchen knife.

That’s the kind of detail your son is going to find out. Then when friends or girlfriends ask him about his name, he’ll have to say, “I’m named after a junkie musician who stabbed himself to death.”

Here’s an Eliot-naming story with a happier ending. Nancy V of Chicago named her son Eliot “after a boy at my husband’s summer camp who gave him a pair of pants.“

Why? “My husband was wearing shorts,” she says. “Another kid said it was a disgrace to God to pray in shorts, and my husband—the son of poor immigrants—was humiliated and started to cry. A camper named Eliot, without request or hesitation, brought my husband a pair of his own pants.”

That’s a sweet and touching story, and a thousand times more meaningful than just saying, “We named him after a great-grandfather I never met.”

Source: Men’s Health

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