Choosing a name for your expected baby should be one of the most joyous of experiences, but in many families it's the cause of endless arguments.
Here are a few ideas that just might help to clarify your thinking.
1. It has to be a name that YOU like. It doesn't matter which relations want the baby named for them, stick to your guns. You're going to use the name a lot, and if you dislike it that will show. Your child will sense your disapproval, and believe it's aimed at them.
2. Check out the meaning. There are lots of books to help you find a name that has a meaning that you like. If when your child starts school someone finds out their name means clumsy, drab, old, or sulky (and yes, there are names that mean those things, and even worse!), they'll be the object of some very painful teasing.
3. Make sure it fits well with the surname. If your surname ends in A, for example, most first names that end in A will make the full name slightly awkward to pronounce.
4. Think what the initials represent. PC can mean political correctness, personal computer, and, in some countries, police constable. RTA is a road traffic accident, ETA estimated time of arrival, ATC air traffic control, DOD Department of Defense, and RAT, MAD, ROT and WAR speak for themselves.
Remember, if it's even nearly possible for somebody to tease your child at school, they will.
5. Some people like long names, and some prefer short ones. A lot depends on the surname. If both are long, it can make the name sound pompous - if they're both short, it might sound insignificant.
One long and one short, or both medium-length, can give the name a good speech rhythm that will sound impressive.
6. Like it or not, children give each other nicknames. Long names generally end up being shortened, and short ones lengthened. It's a good idea to make sure any nickname that the name can be twisted into won't be an embarrassment to your child.
7. It's not a great idea to go for something highly fashionable. Tastes change quickly. This year's celebrity can be next year's joke... and it's hard to feel like the individual you really are when six of your classmates have the same name as your own.
8. At the other extreme, a name so individual that other people haven't heard of it can be infuriating to be the owner of if no-one ever gets it right.
It doesn't matter if it's unfamiliar, but it does need to be easy to pronounce, to spell, and to remember. If people have to think too hard about it, your son or daughter will be known simply as Hey You.
9. Don't be offended if your son or daughter someday wants to change the name you gave them. It's not a rejection of you, just a feeling that another name expresses better who they really are.
Often a change of name's a symbol of a new start - in fact, in many cultures the name that's given in childhood's only temporary, and at about 14 everyone's required to choose a new name for themselves, one that symbolizes what they want to be, or to aspire to.
10. One of the strongest reasons why people like, or don't like, the name their parents gave them is because they unconsciously associate it with the way they've generally heard it said in childhood.
A young child's way of establishing whether someone's pleased with them or not's the tone of voice that's used to them, and especially the way that people say their name. It can make all the difference to their sense of self-worth, and therefore to their confidence and what they're going to grow up to achieve.
If a parent's frequently impatient with them, or a teacher's patronizing, over time the feeling that they're just not good enough will come to be associated with the name that person's called them by. They may not realize why they hate the name, but they WILL hate it.
The way to make your son or daughter love the name you give them is to make sure they always hear it spoken with the voice of love.
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