The name game – Freedom of choice vs A lifetime of ridicule

Naming a baby is a sacred thing. Whether you believe in the religious rituals practiced across many religions or not, the name of a child is generally a reflection of the parents. Whether it be Apple, William, James, Summer or Shenequa it all comes to down to the preferences of the parents.

Traditional names generally fall within two categories: (I) Names that have been passed down from generation to generation, Johan Snr and Johan Jnr, or (II) or a name sourced from religious texts, such as Michael, Adam, Muhammed or Arjun.

Quirky names

Apple, Hunter, Praise or Fantasia all fall under the quirky category. It may be that parents like the sound of it, or the metaphorical meaning. It may seem arb to name your kid after a fruit but perhaps the Mum loved to eat apples while she was pregnant, who really knows what the story is behind this choice?

Foreign names

Your family was born and raised in Wisconsin, US but your Dad named you Keiko or Jean-Claude. Sometimes, parents take a liking to names that sound different. Somehow it feels special and unique to give your childen names that no one in the neighbourhood would have heard of before.

Names created by the parents

A popular trend in South Africa is for parents to create a name by combining the first names of both Mum and Dad. So, if Mum’s name is Arya and Dad’s name is Caleb, they name their little daughter Calarya.

Whichever option you choose, consider the ramifications of the name you give. I remember a popular presenter named Scot Scott. Literally the man’s first and last names were identical. Now, how much fun do you think it was being him as a kid?

Ultimately, you have to balance your right as parents to call your baby Pikachu with the quality of your child’s life. So ask yourself some questions before choosing:

  • Why do we have first and/or second names? The purpose is far more about practicality than special meanings. Consider this when your little one goes to school and the teacher incessantly mispronounces it.
  • What makes a name special to me? You need to determine what matters most to you. This will ensure that you find names that have real meaning to you as opposed to getting swept up in a sea of trends.
  • Are the names easy to pronounce and spell?
  • Does it reflect me and my husband? This should be a choice that suits both of you. Let this baby be the product of both of you so no one secretly resents the other.
  • Would I be willing to change my name to the names chosen?
  • Have I allotted enough time to ruminate over the names chosen? Say 4-6 months prior to baby’s entry? What are the pros and cons to each?
  • Am I embarrassed to tell people my choice in name? Probably a sure sign that you should reconsider.

The truth is that baby’s name will be whatever you choose it to be. In the words of Shakespeare, what’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

This being said, consider why you’ve chosen the name and whether it will really work long term. I mean Pikachu sounds cute for a baby, but for a 40 year old it sounds a little silly.


Kamantha Müller

Kamantha Müller

Kamantha is a working mum, wife, PR specialist and proudly South African. She has three pet peeves - 1. Rudeness of any kind and under any circumstances; 2. Micro-managers; and 3. Arb Facebook posts - I don't care that you're drinking coffee at Tashas. As a first time mum she has lived through the ups and downs of motherhood only to come out the other end a wee bit wiser. For this reason, she wishes to share the reality of motherhood and how she would advise preparing for it.

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