Sticks and stones will break my bones and NAMES WILL ALWAYS HURT ME!
What does it rhyme with?
What does it sound like?
Does it open the door for other kids to be assholes to yours?
We ask ourselves these questions when considering names for our babies in hopes of choosing one that will prevent them from being harassed in school. We remember well, the pain we suffered from the ugly mouths of our peers when we were children and we meticulously consider the name we will give our own child.
My parents, apparently gave zero thought to any of this… They had 2 children, a boy and a girl. They named one Jody and one Randy. Here’s where they fucked up! They named the boy, Jody and the girl Randy!!!! We each grew up being told that our parents were confused and they gave me the boy name and him the girl name. They mocked our sexuality based on our names as early as elementary school. It seems my husband’s parents didn’t get the “consider the impact of a name” memo either. They had two sons. Named them Thomas and Gerald. Thomas and Gerald?!?! Seriously?!?! You mean Tom and Jerry?!?!?!
We ask our clients all the time, “Do you know what you’re having?” If the answer is yes, we always follow with, “are you sharing the name?” Usually the answer is “no, we’re not telling anyone until after the baby comes”. These parents know that if they share the name they have chosen, they will have to defend it. People will express their opinion, both negative and positive (but as we all know… mostly negative) and expectant parents usually don’t want anyone’s input on this. If the “norm” were that people were kind to each other and didn’t judge one another, parents would proudly announce the name they planned to bestow upon their child. But we all know that this is not the case.
When we are introduced to other adults, we never think, hmmm…. great name, terrible name, that’s a weird one, that’s an old man’s name, etc… We shake the hand extended to us, accept the name and try our best to remember it. Our name does not define us, our actions do.
My brother legally changed his name as soon as he was able to and interestingly enough, my parents didn’t seem to mind if I remember correctly. He might recall it differently. I eventually, went on to embrace my name. In fact, I grew to like having a “boy” name so much, that I gave one to my second daughter.
The reason I’m writing about this today is because being teased about our names, for many of us, is our first experience with feeling powerless and helpless and incidentally, it’s a pretty shitty feeling. Most soon to be parents spend 40 weeks of pregnancy thinking about names and the effect that the name they choose will have on their little one. But, do we consider how we will teach our child NOT to cause others pain about the name they were given?
Remember to parent deliberately and to always keep your eyes open for opportunities to infuse valuable life lessons like being kind. Not just being nice, but being kind…
kind 1 (knd)
adj. kind·er, kind·est
1. Of a friendly, generous, or warm-hearted nature
2. Showing sympathy or understanding; charitable
3. Humane; considerate
4. Forbearing; tolerant.
5. Generous; liberal
6. Agreeable; beneficial