What’s the Big Deal About Names?

I don’t get it.

I don’t understand why some people get proprietary about names.

When I was pregnant with Son this topic came up quite often on a pregnancy message board I joined. People would say, “I can’t use this name because so-and-so already used it”. I’d think, and often post, “Um, why not?” It almost always turned into a heavily debated issue.

Some people get very upset if they’ve settled on a name and someone else they know, perhaps someone in their family, say that they want to use it.

Others would anger friends or relations who had already “claimed” a name they were considering. Especially family names.

So what if they have the same name? So what if they are honoring the same person?

I just don’t get it.

I remember watching the Friends episode in which Rachel has the baby, and Monica relents and tells Rachel she can have the name Emma. I thought, “Why can’t they both use it?”

Perhaps it doesn’t bother me because I grew up in a family where two cousins share the same name. My sister and my cousin, several months apart, were given the same name with slightly different spellings. My parents and my aunt and uncle all liked the name. Both babies were named after the same deceased relative (us Jews almost always name after deceased relatives), too.

There were no family wars, no hurt feelings. No sense of ownership of the name to preclude others from using it.

It’s not like their child will be the only child ever named that name. Unless you choose a name like Xcelpinietta or something (hey, I just made that up, but I’ll bet that will make the Top 100 Baby Names list one day!) there will have been many before, and there will be many after that share the name. There have been a brazilian Johnathans and Christinas and Bradens and Nevaehs and Emilys and Blanches. There will be a brazilian more (well, maybe not Blanches).

And even if you do make up the name, why would you care if someone else used it? I’d be flattered if someone liked a name I created so much they wanted to use it, too (I know there are some of you putting Xcelpinietta on your list).

After all, it isn’t the name that makes the person an individual, special person. It’s their thoughts, ideas, personality, passions and quirks that make them unique. Right?

Today Dr. Laura had a call from a girl whose wanted to give her child a family middle name, and another person in the family, one that isn’t even pregnant, is very upset because they want to use that name someday.

Dr. Laura told the caller to “learn to share”; to name her soon-to-be-born daughter something else and let this other girl ‘have the name’.

Why?? Why????

Why should this girl not name her child what she wants to name her child? Don’t even get me started about the other girl wanting to use the name SOMEDAY.

Can someone please explain why it’s so important to have exclusivity, even within a family? I’d really like to understand why. But right now I JUST DON’T GET IT!!!!!!!!!

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8 Responses to “What’s the Big Deal About Names?”

  1. Emily Says:

    I definitely think it’s unfair of someone who wants to use a name someday to stake claim over a name from someone who’s having a baby now.

    I think a lot of it has to do with people wanting something to be their idea. If someone does it first, the next person looks like they’re copying. But like you said, unless it’s totally unique, they ARE copying. But when it’s closer to home I guess it matters more to some people. I don’t really get it either.

    My cousin named her daughter Emily and I was flattered. If a sibling or cousin named a kid one of my kids’ names, I wouldn’t care.

    I don’t like Dr. Laura and her response to that caller is just another reason why 🙂

  2. Kate Says:

    The bigger “why” is really, why are people listening to Dr. Laura in the first place?

  3. AMG Says:

    My name is the most common name in Spanish. If I were bothered by this issue, I’d be dead of a brain aneurysm.
    I don’t get it either!

    I don’t know who Dr. Laura is, but I don’t like her already.

  4. mrsmacheide Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. Great post!

  5. BeThisWay Says:

    Actually, I agree with much of Dr. Laura’s advice now that I’ve listened to her show and not just the sound bytes in the media.

    I don’t agree with everything, certainly. I’d have to say, though, that listening to her, when I have the opportunity, has had a positive effect on my life and my family’s life.

  6. Miami Cash Man Says:

    I guess the main reason that most get upset is that they feel like a follower if they do not get what they want and can not lead, even when it is a fact that everyone is a follower.

    It is a matter of pride i guess.

  7. learningwoman Says:

    Hi BTW 🙂
    I don’t have an answer to your question, other than to say that when I was pregnant with my second son, my husband wanted to call him Edward and although I really like the name and, I couldn’t do it.
    Why? Because, in our family there is a tradition stretching back generations, that the first son of the first son be called Edward. My brother, father, grandfather etc..
    So, even though my brother is not married and has no children, I felt as though the name was already reserved for him. I have no rational explanation, except that it just felt right to me. I like the tradition
    My husband didn’t understand either…. 🙂


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