What's in a (Nick)name?
When I was pregnant with each of the kids, part of the excitement for me was flipping through the baby name books. I wanted to pick out a name that sounded just right. When you factor in that I have such a common last name, it was important to me to find something equally as uncommon for the kids. I didn’t want another Mary, Jane, or Bob Smith running around. I wanted to give the kids something different that wouldn’t let people confuse them with another kid in their class. My husband (Brian) lived through that growing up and we wanted our kids to have a better experience.
Still, when we were searching for baby names, something else became glaringly apparent to us as well. Many of the names in the books listed the shortened versions of the name as well - in a word: “nickname.” Now nicknames aren’t so bad - I rarely go by Nichole. In fact, if you’re a friend of mine, please don’t call me Nichole; it makes me feel like I’m getting in trouble with my mom. Still, even with my nickname, growing up as “Nikki” gave way to a lot of rhyming names (go ahead, think about it for a minute. I know you want to).
See, the thing about nicknames is that they can give a child more individuality than their given name can, but if parents aren’t careful, nicknames can also give their kids more headaches as they’re growing up. When we were trying out names for each of our kids, we took turns playing devil’s advocate and thinking of the possible nicknames and ways that the kids could get teased.
In the end, we chose names that we didn’t think could be shortened, though my daughter’s teacher has found a way to do so with her name; it bothers me more than it does her and she likes the condensed version of her name. (So what do I know, I’m only the mom!)
I suppose one could argue that no matter how hard we try, kids may earn nicknames as they go through life and it may have nothing to do with their given name. Whether your child winds up with an unwanted nickname from their given name or something that was passed to them at school or by another family member, if you don’t agree with its use at home, don’t allow it. That’s what I’ve started doing with the nickname my daughter received from her friends and teacher. When I call the school and speak to her teacher, I use her full name; the same when friends are over.
I confess to each of the kids getting nicknames from hubs and I; they are the names that I refer to them as on my blogs and in my writings. Everyone in my family knows these names, but my husband and I are the only ones who use them and, oddly enough, the kids all answer to them (even the 13 year old, who swears he’s growing out of his nickname).
I suppose my point in all this is, when you’re naming your child, don’t just look at what sounds good right now, think about how they will grow up and use the name they are given. I know my cousin by one name, I could never imagine calling her by her full first name, but that’s what she uses in business and it’s what her husband calls her. First names and nicknames may go through growth spurts and have growing pains just like the child wearing them.
We won’t be naming any more babies in this house and for that I’m kind of glad. It’s a lot of pressure. However, if you’d still like to weigh in on the names of future generations why not check out the Rock the Cradle sweepstakes (November 14 is the last day to enter!), and help Rita choose the name of her baby.
What nicknames do you think her baby might end up with?