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One of the first questions you will be asked by those who learn of your pregnancy is "Have you picked out a name?"-second only to "Are you having a boy or girl?" While this may be endearing at first, and somewhat annoying later, it only goes to show that there is an importance placed on names. As if preparing for the arrival of a baby isn't stressful enough, you are now under the added pressure of giving your child a name that he or she will have to live with for the rest of his or her life-or at least until he or she is old enough to legally change it. Add to that the never-ending suggestions from well-meaning family and friends-and possibly a few arguments with your partner-and baby-naming can become quite the daunting task! But it doesn't have to be. Believe it or not, you can actually have fun with the baby-naming process. Yes, names influence first impressions. Yes, names sometimes spawn notso- flattering nicknames that can follow a person all the way through retirement.
Yes, names affect children's self-esteem. Yes, names are often obligatory ties to family. And yes, there are thousands to choose from. But what you must keep in mind is that this decision is yours. Not society's. Not your family's. Not your friends'. And certainly not strangers'. If you choose a name you take great pride in, your child will be proud of his or her name as well.
One of the biggest stressors surrounding the baby-naming process is the input you are guaranteed to receive from family members. Everyone from parents to aunts to good friends of the family will have an opinion that they're not afraid to share. And while you might want to honor your family by using one of their names (either as a first name, middle name, or both), there are a few factors you should think about before doing so, which will be outlined in this book. And you thought naming the baby would be the easy part!
If you want the advice of others-terrific. You are certainly going to get it. If, however, you don't want the added pressure of having to defend a name you choose or finding polite excuses not to name your daughter after Great Aunt Gertie, then keep your thoughts to yourself. Since more and more couples want to know the baby's sex beforehand these days, the element of surprise has been taken away from family and friends. Instead, many couples choose to keep their baby's name a secret, which is a good way to work the surprise back into the event. Another plus is that it allows you to avoid negative feedback from others. Once Grandma gazes upon those newbie eyes for the first time, she won't even remember she disapproved of the name you chose, let alone why. However, even if you do choose to keep the name a secret, open your mind to suggestions from others. Someone just might throw that perfect name your way.
Some of the most important decisions you make for your child take place before birth, including choosing a name. While it might seem intimidating at first, once you begin to think of it as a creative process, you'll be able to let your imagination go and have fun.
Of course, choosing a name requires some forethought-and therefore work-on your part. Even if you've had a name picked out since you were six years old, it is still a good idea to look around. Your child might not be all too appreciative of the fact that ten baby dolls (and possibly several pets) before her carried the same name. Besides, tastes change. Just as the thought of eating broccoli turned your stomach when you were a child and now it's your favorite vegetable, that name you had chosen so long ago may now leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Parents find several different ways to begin the baby-naming process. To some, it is important to incorporate a family name, so this becomes their starting point. To others, religion is a major factor in choosing a name. Some prefer to seek out a meaning or virtue, while others simply want a name that sounds good. What it all boils down to is what is important to you. So, before you begin scouring these pages, making endless lists, and seeking the advice of others, be sure to determine what it is that you want from a name.
The following chapters offer advice, tips, and suggestions to help you maneuver the baby-naming maze, and hopefully have a little fun along the way. Choosing a name is an important and serious task, but it doesn't have to be a sour and dreaded experience. Make up games to accompany the decision-making process, such as trying out a new name each week. If you already have some favorites in mind, there's no reason why you have to go about your daily tasks referring to your unborn child as It, Baby, or Fetus. Try out those you are considering and see if any stick. (Of course, if you have decided to keep the name a secret, be careful not to try out the names in public; reserve this as an at-home game only.) Follow a few simple guidelines, keep your mind open, save your humorous and cutesy titles for your pets, and your baby will have a name he or she is proud to hear, say, and write.
Above all, remember that the decision is yours.