Showing posts with label Names. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Names. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What's in a Name? - Making a New Case for Naming Your Children After Friends and Family Members

(As those of you who are my regular readers know, I used to publish on Tuesdays and Fridays.  On Tuesdays I would "review" pop culture, fashion, food or just life in general, whatever was on my mind.  On Fridays I would review movies and books.  However, these days I mostly review movies and books, and you can still find my reviews and me here every Friday, but once in awhile I am still prone to "review," OK, rant about something I am thinking about and this is one of those days).

What's in a name?  A-LOT!

I've been thinking about this topic for awhile, and it's been nagging at me, so I thought I would get it out of my head and onto my blog so I don't have it nagging at me anymore.  I mean, you know how epiphanies are and this was kind of an epiphany for me.

Picking a name for a new baby can be almost as stressful as planning for the new arrival. 

It's not easy coming up with a name that not only the new parents both love but everyone in the family approves of.  Some new parents-to-be won't even give away the names under consideration so as to avoid early disapproval of parents and loved ones.

I know, because my own mother offered to pay me $100 to NOT name my daughter Ashley.  She thought I was naming her after Ashley Wilkes in "Gone with the Wind," which is not necessarily a bad thing. Not sure why that was an issue for her.  Actually I was naming her after Lady Brett Ashley in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises."  And before any of YOU smirk disapprovingly, the name Ashley was not yet on the radar as the most popular girls' name of the 1980's.  So now, in some ways, I wish I had listened to my mother.  And $100 in 1984 meant something.

But seriously, I still love the name even if it turned out to be a rather common name in my daughter's age group.

I grew up in a family where bestowing a family name on a child was common practice.  I don't think that is a very common practice any more. Today young parents want to come up with a new name, but I think they are doing their children a disservice, which I will get to in a minute.

My sister was born first and was given my grandmother's - my Dad's mother's- name for her middle name. 

Then my brother arrived and my mother was so grateful to her doctor for getting her through two caesareans that she gave him her doctor's last name as a middle name AND a family name so he had two middle names. 

My brother actually didn't appreciate that at all, but when his own son came along, he gave him our Dad's name as his middle name.


Then when I came along, my mother gave me her name as my middle name.


Both my sister and I had names with "Rose" in it - she was Rosemary, I was Rosellen.  My mother loved roses, I guess. They called her Posy and me Rosy. 


I know...awwww. 

The reason why she was Posy and I was Rosy is lost to the ages.

Rosellen is an unusual name, especial the spelling, and everyone always mispronounced it, calling me Rozelyn, Roselyn and other mispronunciations which embarrassed me growing up so I got into the habit of saying, "Just call me Rosy."  But since my mother loved the name Rose so much and it played such a big role in my family, I wanted to pass it on to my daughter so I gave her that middle name despite the fact that Ashley Rose sounded a lot like a china pattern.

As for my son, I was able to find a name that wasn't as popular as Ashley would become, though Alexander was the most popular name in Europe at the time.  That was fine since I considered myself a bit worldly and since I didn't live in Europe I didn't think there would be a whole bunch of Alexanders.  Likewise, I felt the worst nickname he could get would be Alex which I liked.  Wouldn't you know, though, the mother of one of his friends insisted on calling him Al. Ugh. But for his middle name I wanted to give him a family name.  I would have given him my father's name as a middle name but my brother had already given his son that name, so instead, I combined the names of a grandfather and a great-grandfather.

Unfortunately, my son didn't feel the same way about bestowing family names on his children when his children were born, except for one son who is named after his wife's grandfather. But I understand.  Everyone has to name their children names that they like so this was not something that I pushed on my own children.

Many mothers and fathers like to name children after themselves.  Robert might name his son Robert Jr. or Robert the II and call him junior.  Some people would say naming a child after yourself is a bit of a conceit, honoring oneself like that and maybe it is. But that is anyone's choice. However, I am not actually big on naming the child after yourself just because I think it would be confusing to have two people in the house with the same name. 

Yes, it can be an ego thing to name your child after yourself, a way for you to live on after you have gone.  And that's fine.  I totally get that. Though I am not a big fan of a Jr. or a II or III, I do believe in passing a family name along but it might not be for the reason you think.

I have thought of a more powerful reason to pass on family names to your children or to name a child after a special friend. 

When you name your child after a beloved family member or a close friend, you are actually giving the CHILD, not you, something special.  As that child grows up and you talk about their namesake, the child will feel very special that he or she is named after someone you loved.  You can tell the child stories about the person and the child can then aspire to the accomplishments and characteristics of the family member of the other loved one.

If I had named my son after my Dad, I could have reminded him that he was named after a talented musician (he could play any instrument), a man who loved hot cars, who always wanted to be a cowboy and who was an extremely generous person.  I could go on and on.  I feel that knowing you are named after someone special makes you feel special.

However, my son knows he is named after my mother's Swedish father who was known as "Prince" among his Swedish neighbors because of his proud bearing. He was a fine carpenter who built the home my mother grew up in. 

Because of that Swedish heritage, my son became interested in Sweden, so interested in fact that he spent a college semester there and met many of his relatives who still lived there. I also wanted to throw my own Dad into the mix too, so I combined that name with the name of my Dad's father's father.

I know I felt special that I had my mother's name as my middle name.

and whenever I sign my full name, I think of her and feel good that she wanted to give me her name. 

My first name is from a good friend of my mother's, though the spelling is a bit different.  Every year on my birthday, her friend would send me a birthday card with a dollar in it (back when a dollar was worth something).  I had never met this friend but when my mother reminded me who the card and money was from and why she was sending it to me, I felt very special.  I was one of those kids who wanted to be someone's favorite.  I knew that my sister was my grandmother's favorite, my brother had an uncle who doted on him and so this little gesture from my mother's friend and knowing that I was named after her made me feel like I was someone's favorite too.  Those kinds of things are important to kids and gives them confidence that they are lovable.

So you parents-to-be, don't get mad at your parents if they suggest some family names. 

Give it some thought.  Who in life do you admire who would be a good role model for your child?  Consider bestowing that name on your child - it can just be the middle name - and then sharing that person's life with your child as the child grows, thus giving your child something to aspire to.

And for those of you who have already named a child after a family member, good for you.

But be sure to tell your child where the name came from and who the person was and share the reasons why you named your child after that person so your child will feel a bond to that person, aspire to be like that person and just feel special that he or she has the name of someone you admired.  It's a seemingly small thing, but I think that helps create confidence in children - to know that their names have meaning. 

Lord knows, we all need all of the confidence we can get growing up in this crazy world.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I feel better now!

Thanks for reading!


See you Friday 

for my review of  


"The Mountain Between Us" 


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."


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