Baby Names

7 Very Real Arguments You’ll Have When Choosing a Baby Name

"No, it can't be [insert name here]. I went to elementary school with an [insert name here] and he was the absolute worst."

by Aaron Stern
Originally Published: 
Young couple with relationship problems, sitting on the sofa in the living room and arguing.
urbazon/E+/Getty Images

The nine-month run-up to having a baby is a heady cocktail of joy, logistical preparation, and abject terror. It’s also an opportunity for conflict. That can be for any number of reasons, but chief among them is often the name selection process. Choosing the name your baby will have for, ideally, 80-ish years is hard – and you and your partner may not see eye to eye on the sea of options you have.

These arguments tend to break down across a few timeworn, touchy fault lines. We reached out to a lot – a lot – of people to hear about their baby name debates, but finding couples eager to publicly rehash those weeks- and months-long parleys was tough. We did find people who wanted to vent anonymously – and then we plumbed the hell out of social media. In an effort to prepare you, here are seven fights you’re definitely going to have when choosing a name for your baby.

1. ‘I knew someone with that name and didn’t like them’

We all knew a Josh or a Katie we grew up with or went to college with or work with now who has ruined an otherwise perfectly good name for a child for us. “I write down a ton of options and he shoots down each one because it’s already taken by someone I don’t even know,” one anonymous mom-to-be said. Another woman told us that her husband is a teacher and has developed many negative name associations thanks to rambunctions students.

2. ‘I (or you) hooked up and/or dated with someone with that name’

A variation of the negative association name issue, this one can get weird. “We spent so many days of our lives talking about girls’ names,” another anonymous mom told us. But her favorite girl name was taken by multiple girls of the same name that he’d had trysts with in college. Another favorite choice was a girl who’d had a crush on him in college. “Everything had a story behind it of mainly these girls he hooked up with,” she said. “He had a crazy college phase, which I didn’t really have, and so it kind of just felt unfair.”

3. ‘I think that name is weird’

These are real things that people at least consider and may actually do: Combine their two favorite marine animal names into a single human name, use the first lady’s name, go medieval with names like Rothgar or Sihtric, or name their child after their favorite Star Wars character. Propose something like that, and be prepared for pushback. “Kind of annoying when you’re trying to be somewhat original,” one woman we spoke with said.

4. ‘That name is too common’

Common is a relative concept, so this can either mean you don’t want to use stereotypically common names like, say, John or Sarah, or trendy names like Jackson or Sophia. That can be a tough pill to swallow your partner laid awake in bed as a teenager dreaming of having little Masons or Riley’s running around a picket-fenced yard someday and now has to go back to the drawing board unless they want their kid to have seven friends who share their name.

5. ‘That’s a pet’s name’

Max, Tucker, Rosie, Daisy – any of these can human names, but they are also common dog names. If you and your partner don’t recognize this in your process, someone may recognize it after the fact. According to a few people out there, friends and strangers alike do not have the tact to refrain from telling new parents that their child’s name is the same name as their childhood dog. Consider yourself warned.

6. The “I don’t want to use your family name” fight

Sometimes one partner wants to use a family name, but the other just doesn’t like that name. Beatrice, for instance, is a tough one to resurrect. It can go the opposite way, too. We heard from one woman, whose husband wanted to name their daughter the same name as his wife’s baby cousin who had died at birth – so that was a no-go. But often, family names work out. Of course, this happens a lot in linear successions – juniors, III, IV, etc. – and in middle names, and another modern variation that we have personal experience with are wife’s maiden names being used as their kid’s first names. And it’s pretty awesome.

7. The outright, unexplained rejection

This one’s a doozy, and, while we’re not marriage counselors, it’s probably not an ideal way to handle conflict. But it’s something that has apparently happened to at least one woman, whose husband would reject every name she threw out there but would offer zero explanation why he didn’t like it, just reject and move on, without offering an alternative of his own.

There are lots of mines to avoid on the path to choosing a good name for your kid. Some helpful ways to help consider baby names that we’ve heard of include answering a few of these questions: Are you carrying on a family name because that’s important to you, or because it’s important to others in your family? Beyond just a good baby’s name, can it be a good adult’s name? Can it sound professional in a workplace? Could he or she be president with that name? And, of course, and as we were reminded, it’s always good to make sure whatever name you choose doesn’t sound like a stripper’s name. Nobody wants that, except for the DJ.

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