The Truth About Giving Kids Unique Names

Dear Lady We Met At The Local Voting Location,

I voted stickerHi, you may remember me. My wife and I brought our 3-week-old son with us to vote this morning. We met you there, after we cast our ballots, at the table where you pick up the “I Voted/Yo Vote!” sticker.

You saw the newborn sleeping in the red infant carrier and were blown away by “the youngest voter in the district.” You wished us best of luck in parenting him and hoped only the best for him and the world he would grow up in.

It was a lovely interaction. We started walking out the door.

“Oh, what’s his name?” you asked curiously.

Squish. [Squish is not his real name, remember]

“Oh No! Do you know what you have done to him? He will have a rough life with a name like that.”

In the moment, The Best Mom and I smiled politely, mumbled something to end the conversation, and left to go about our day.

But I think you deserve a more thoughtful response.

  1. What the hell is wrong with you? In what world do you think it is appropriate to not only openly question the name parents gave their child, but then attempt to guilt the parents by predicting the challenges the kid will face? Neither of those is alright.
  2. We know we gave our kids unique names. Before each of our children were born, we discussed their names for MONTHS. There is not a conversation you could have about their names that we didn’t have before the kids were born. They are unique for a reason. We have nothing against more common names, but went down a different path.
  3. It’s our decision. There are precious few things people get to do that make a lasting impact beyond their life. Naming your children is one of them. And we did not take that responsibility lightly. We are certain the parents of Beyonce, Cher, Madonna, Kanye, Denzel, and even Suri, carefully considered the names of their children.
  4. “Squish” is a Biblical name. We didn’t make this name up. And even if we did, it would still be OK.
  5. Each child’s name has deep meaning to us. We named all of our children after beloved deceased relatives. Those relatives had specific characteristics that we wanted our children to embody. Every time we see our children, we are reminded about Harriet, Robert, and Bernard. Three unique, wonderful people that we named our children after.
  6. If you judge, judge silently, like a normal person. I don’t care if you go home and call your friend and say, “Friend, you’ll never guess what crazy name these people I just met named their kid!” Sure, you may qualify as a horrible person for doing so, but at least you wouldn’t be poo-pooing us to our face. In the presence of our child.
  7. Don’t worry about our kids. Our kids, and their awesome, meaningful names, will be just fine. We are raising them to be strong, confident people. They love their names. And as our children learn more about the relatives they were named after, they will love their names even more. And, hey, when they turn 18, they can petition the court to change their names to Sally or Bob. Or SallyBob. Whatever.

So what did we do to our kid?

We gave him a name with purpose. A name with meaning. A name that will stand out. A name that he will define to the world…the world he will hopefully make a better place.

Thanks for the reminder.

– Mike


3 thoughts on “The Truth About Giving Kids Unique Names

  1. nmclaughlin42

    Being named Nels, I get similar things but I’ve never heard this one. I usually get:

    – is that your real/whole name?
    – is that shirt for something?
    – is that a nickname/how’d you get that nickname?
    – are you sure that’s your whole name? (That one is my favorite)

    The most interesting thing I’ve found realtors to my name is that people have a hard time remembering it and fear to something else. For me (a 6’3″ male of Swedish, Irish, German descent), people usually default to calling me “Lars.” No joke, ive been called that (seriously) at least a dozen times by totally random people – teachers, strangers, coworkers, etc – that have never met each other. And yes, Lars had become a nickname of sorts at one point. I’m sure of that.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Aunt Lori ❤️👵

    Growing up with a unique name was a challenge. Often misspelled and mispronounced, it continues to be so. Anything pre-printed didn’t exist. However, I knew the history it represented, and happily claimed it as my own.

    So why, many years later, did I give my daughter the same dilemma? So that she too, may live the uniqueness and stand out as an individual in her world. She knows of the strength her names carry. She is unforgettable. And she is blazing her trail through the universe.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kikiamplified

    Yes, yes, yes…and if your parents got really creative and added a surprise capitalization in the middle of your name, like KiKi, for example, it can really blow people’s minds. I love my name, but I have received the same questions and rude behavior as previous commenters about it.

    I remember one woman telling me how unfortunate it was that I had the name I had…that it was just so weird that it had to be impacting me in a negative way socially. I was honestly floored by how ridiculous and rude she was, but I just laughed and prayed for an out to the conversation (I was at a business function).

    Anyway, great post! I love your kids’ names and I predict great things for them. 🙂


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