“Oh, you all have B names! That’s so cute.” I hear that a lot. Bethany, Bayley, Ben, Blayne (not necessarily in that order). And, yes, it was cute…when I was 7. But now that I’m an adult, I want to be thought of as my own person with my own ideas, not as part of a set.

This is what I want to tell people as they plan for the birth of a second, third, or fourth child. Don’t do it. Don’t make a cute game of naming your children. Give them the individual names they deserve. Here’s why.

They might hate it:

Whether or not you want to think about it right now, one day your child will have an opinion about his or her name. And you want it to be positive. I hated the name Bethany until I was 30 and went to therapy. I always wanted to be taken seriously, and how could I be taken seriously when Bethany seemed like such a perpetually teenage name, like Brittany or Christy or Tiffany? I always felt like my parents were in such a hurry to come up with another cute B name that they didn’t consider all the possibilities. Obviously, my name was supposed to be Katharine Hepburn and nothing else, and I’m sad that they didn’t think of that.

Individual names create individuals:

I’m not saying name your child Blender or Speedo to give him or her  an individual flair. But remember that they are individual people. Your youngest daughter will one day be fighting to get out from under the shadow of an older sibling, and you can help her out right now by not calling her Daenerys if her older brother’s name is Viserys. (Just no Game of Thrones names.) Strive to provide your child with a name that fits him or her as an individual. Don’t think about what you’ve named your other children. Think about the person in front of you who needs a name right now. If you name your child as a set, people will think of them as a set.

You’re naming the adults they’ll be one day:

Ultimately, you’re not naming a baby. You’re naming an adult. Adults drive cars and go to work and plan financial futures. They fill out forms and go to job interviews. Childhood is fleeting. It might feel good to write Dumbledore Fergus Anderson on your child’s preschool application because your memories of Hogwarts are still fresh, but think of poor Dumbledore applying to grad school in 20 years. If it helps, pick a name and then imagine how it will look etched on a gravestone right above “loving father and friend” in 100 years. Act accordingly.

What are some of your favorite baby names?




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