One of the most exciting parts of having a baby has got to be the process of picking out a name for your new bundle of joy! (Okay, so this might not be fun for everyone). Not only is it fun, but it’s kind of powerful. Whichever name you choose, will be the name this child has for the rest of their life. Hmm… I guess that sounds kind of intimidating!
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to names is when people choose a name for their child they don’t intend on actually calling them. IE: they want to call them by a nickname.
My Experience With Nicknames
My full name is Kathryn. But I’ve never been called that in my life. Okay, I take that back, the only time I was ever called that was when I was in trouble. But for my entire life, the only name I have been truly called is Katy.
Now, I’m named after my grandmother who passed away long before I was born. I love that I share the same name as her. This isn’t about my not liking my name. The fact is, I was named something that no one actually intended to call me.
Fast forward a few years after my birth to me starting school. I was very shy. We’re talking to the extreme here. Every teacher would call out role and use my full name because that’s my legal name. (Not only that, but I was always first because I have an “A” last name).
So picture this: every year, shy little me dreaded that first moment in class when the teacher called out a name that I was never called. I was too timid to say anything out loud in front of the entire class. I had to wait until I mustered up the courage to go to the teacher in private and tell them that I wanted to be called Katy.
This continued every. year. of. my. life. Of course, I did get to the point where I got “comfortable” saying my nickname out loud after I was called on. But even then, I’m so soft-spoken that half the time they didn’t hear me and so my humiliation continued.
I hated every moment of this.
I’m Not Alone In This
My fiancé went through something very similar. For as long as he can remember, he was never called by his first name. He was always called by his middle name. And he doesn’t even know why.
When we first began dating, he asked me my middle name, I told him, and then I asked him his. That’s when I found out that he goes by his middle name. I asked him why and he said “I don’t know, that’s just always what I was called.”
I couldn’t help but wonder: why???
He’s 34 now and he hates his first name. He hates to be called that. He remembers being in school and having that name called and most of the time it didn’t even register to him that they were calling him!
It makes no sense to me.
Enter My Discontent With Nicknames
Knowing what I went through, I would never inflict this on another child. Your name is your name. It’s powerful and it’s how you’re known. If you are a parent and you aren’t going to name your child what you want to call them, then why name them that?
Your name identifies who you are. You shouldn’t have to feel the need to correct people to call you something else. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed by your name. But that’s exactly what I felt. I was never actually called Kathryn so I didn’t really identify with it.
Naming My Baby
When it came time to name my baby, I knew that I wanted to pick a name that he would be called. I didn’t want him to have to deal with the dreaded nickname fear that I had. I want my son to feel confident in his name and not have to worry about correcting people all his life.
Now, if he grows up and he somehow gains a nickname by his friends, that’ll be fine. But as his parent, I’m not going to start him off the bat with a nickname. Ideally, I want him to be called by his name so he can learn who he is and recognize his name. In my mind, that will make him more confident. He will always feel proud of his name.