Every time a woman gets pregnant, we hear the discussion about choosing the right name. Lately, I have heard that two of my sisters, my nephew and cousin were considering the same name for their yet to be born babies and in a tough world, “first come, first served”, so my cousin won.
So what is a perfect name?
There are many reasons to choose a name for a baby. My dad used to say the kids make their name special and it does not really matter what name it is. If Mom and Dad love the kid, their love will be expressed every time they call his or her name.
For a name to be perfect, it needs to fulfill the parents’ needs. When the name fulfills their needs, the parents feel they have made a perfect decision.
When Eden was born, I was in the hospital for over 10 days. Next to me was an 18-year-old girl holding a baby. She was confused and did not really understand what was happening to her. The day after the baby was born, she said she felt strange, because her breasts were big and sore. She told us she found out she was pregnant when she was 6 months along and rushed to get married. Talking about the baby’s name was not a priority then.
I remember an hour when her new husband’s parents came to visit her at the hospital, when she was sore and emotional. His mother said, “We will name the baby after my father” and gave a very old-fashioned name. The girl protested for a while, but her in-laws insisted and she finally gave up.
I have thought about this girl for a long time afterwards. I wondered how she felt whenever she held her baby and called him a name she never liked.
As big a source of happiness babies might be, choosing their name can create a great deal of conflict in families – conflicts between needs. In the situation I described above, the baby’s young father said nothing during the whole conversation. His need to please his parents was stronger than any need to please his wife and the mother of his child or any future need of his new son.
Baby Naming Tips
Here are some tips that will help you choose a good name for your baby – one you can be happy with and that will strengthen you bond with your newborn child.
Choose the name with your partner
Long before the due date, spend some time with your partner choosing a name to be ready to face external influence together. If you postpone the decision to the last minute, the emotional struggles surrounding the birth will clutter your decision, which is just what happened to the overwhelmed girl in my hospital room. Make the choice when you are emotionally stable.
Pick a name for a girl and a name for a boy, even if the ultrasound looks promising
When I was pregnant with Eden, I had about 4 ultrasounds, all showing I had a boy. I was very surprised to discover about a month before she was born (on the first day of the 36th week) that she was actually a girl. The love for your kids is much the same, but if you get attached to the name you have picked, it may be hard to let it go or you may find yourself in a tight spot again (see first tip).
Sure, technology nowadays is better and clearer, but you never know.
Choose name-selection guidelines to narrow the search
When I was pregnant with my son Tsoof, we were guests at the house of a family in Connecticut and had a discussion about choosing a name. Where Gal and I grew up, names were believed to determine the person’s destiny, so we put a lot of thought into the meaning of the name. For me, the name had to have a special meaning. It had to be unique and uncommon. It also had to be short, so no one would shorten it and make it lose it meaning. Finally, its sound should be easily pronounced by people of different cultures, mainly English speakers (I didn’t know that the sound ‘ts’, as in ‘Pizza’, was so hard for people to pronounce, and Tsoof suffers for it). David, our host, said names needed to have a special sound and to be common. The names David suggested had no significance to us, because we had different beliefs and needs.
So decide on the type of name you want or the properties the name should have: should it be common or special, should it have some religious significance, should it have a special sound, should it be easy to pronounce, popular, cute or with a personal meaning? Stick to what is important to you.
Common first names can be too common
Over the years, I grew up with several girls with the same first name as mine. There was another Ronit in my kindergarten, in my primary school class and in my high school classes (more than one). I did not like it at all. People always distinguished between us by our look or by our last name. Only at the age of 18, one Ronit explained to us all why there are so many girls called Ronit who were born in the same year I was. The year before my birth, the winner of the national beauty pageant was named Ronit and all of our parents most likely wanted us to be pretty and famous.
It is good to have some positive association to a name, but if the name is too common, keep thinking about it. You probably do not want people to recognize your boy or girl by their last name.
Skip names with bad associations
If a name reminds you of something you do not like – skip it. Names are strongly related in our mind to identities, so if there was even a single person you did not like with a particular name, you probably do not want your pure new creation’s identity to be tainted by the association.
Consider spelling and pronunciation
Some people like such unique names they choose odd names that are hard to pronounce or they change the spelling in some unusual way. This can bring a lot of suffering to their kids. I know a girl with the most beautiful name Elody. No one can pronounce her name and every new encounter with new people revolves around her name being hard to pronounce (“Elody is pronounced like Melody”). She is sick and tired of it! Another example is one of my coaches, whose name is spelled Roechelle and she has to see her name misspelled time after time because her dad made a “spelling” mistake.
So choose names that are easy to pronounce and spell them as easily as possible. Your kids do not need to spend their life justifying your choices.
After the choice of the perfect name, all you need to do is teach your kids to love their name and be proud of it, but that is the easy part, right?
Ronit – little happy song (yes, this is the meaning of my name)