When you first start telling people that you are having a baby just about everyone asks you same question. It’s lovely, because you get to gush about how excited you are about having a baby. But is the question a good one to ask? And should we be spending so much time thinking about names in the first place?
When you think about it, choosing a name, in the grand scheme of things, really isn’t very important. In the very least it is not as important as we make it out to be.
Debbie and I have spent many hours ruminating on names for our child. Before we were even pregnant we thought about names. We’ve got a shortlist of names that we love. At this point we have ideas for both boys and girls … that of course is because we can’t even tell yet. We’ve only been pregnant for 5 weeks, if you’re generous.
Though a part of me hopes that we’re abnormal in this focusing on the right name, I imagine we’re being pretty normal about this actually. “Normal” being what the majority of people do.
But why the name?
Of all the things to focus on … surely there are more important things than the name of our child. For example, how will we help them grow into ethical human beings? Individuals who acknowledge the value in human and nonhuman experience and suffering. How will we discipline them? How can I build my patience threshold, (because I might just need it … once or twice)? How/Is it possible to help a child to sleep through the night? What should I know about brain development and child psychology? What’s the best birthing process? What are the really important things my kids should be learning? What are the keys to a healthy pregnancy? When will I make time to learn sign language so I can talk with my baby sooner? Anyway, you get the point. These poignant questions could go on for days! And I for one need to think, talk, and read about them to find good answers.
We should be focusing on other things besides the name. We should be preparing for being great parents EVERY single day! We’re going to have a BABY! You don’t just study the night before!!!!
Though we have our parenting ‘instincts’, we also have our parenting and personal baggage. It’s not enough to just swear that I’m never going to mini lecture or use bribes or punishments. I need to be ready. We all do.
When you think about it too a name isn’t even permanent. Our son or daughter could technically change their name when they’re 18. They can’t change the languages they learned when they didn’t even know they were learning languages. They can’t change how we helped them learn about values, self confidence, or family. And again, we could go on for days.
But what about the name?
We could go look up (in Google of course) most popular baby names in 2012. Sophia is number 1. Beautiful name, by the way, but ‘we can’t have our daughter being called Sophia S. in class. That’s silly. So what’s number 59? Boom, she has her beautiful name! Done … now let’s get on with the parenting decisions that are going make a HUGE difference.’
Alright, so I don’t actually know the easy way to pick a name. It seems like it’s actually pretty hard to mess up. I could have been Chris, Henry, Brian, Blake, or Steven, and that probably would not have changed my life at all. As long as you don’t name your kid Apple, or Nintendo, or Pop Tart then you’re doing just fine.
Here’s where it gets serious
Now, gather round. Cozy up with a nice cup of your favourite chai tea, because I’m about to say something important. I’ve been reading my first parenting book, “Kids Are Worth It” by Barbara Coloroso. I’m about 27 pages in, loving it and have pretty much decided that I’m a parenting expert now :p. I’ve got that stupid cocky feeling, like ‘yeah, I got this.’ Meanwhile reality contains the truth that like most areas of knowledge I am (and we all are) extensively ignorant and only slightly knowledgeable. When compared with our ignorance, our knowledge is like a single candle trying to light up Nebraska (or Saskatchewan, or any expansive planes region of the earth). You get the point …
They are counting on us whether we do something about it or not. Before our kids are even born our decisions are going to change their lives. We have to take care of ourselves and we have to handle the important decisions.
I asked “why” earlier, and for some that may mean that I’m supposed to resolve that question with a conclusive answer. I’m not actually too concerned about why we focus so much on the name. Whatever the reason is I don’t think it can be a good one. The truth is that we shouldn’t be spending so much time thinking about a name. There are just too many other important things! A lot of them can’t be changed. Like most of you, I’m still going to spend some time picking out my child’s name. But I hope can keep it in perspective.
I’ll wrap things up there and let you chew on that for a while. I would love to hear what you have to say, because it matters. Plus I have to go talk about baby names with Deb.