What’s in a name? Everything. That’s why baby-naming books fuel a tireless sector of the publishing industry and why 8 percent of new parents wake up with night sweats fearing they’ve made the wrong choice.
A new poll, conducted by yourdomainename.com, found that almost one tenth of parents regret the name they’ve given their child. That’s up from 3 percent compared to polls conducted in recent years.
So what’s with all the remorse? Two words: Peer pressure.
More than half of the regretful parents surveyed said they opted for names that were trendy or fashionable (Apple, anyone?) in the moment. Thirty-two percent said their child’s name ended up being more common then they first imagined.
“Just as our desire for interesting names is rising, so too is our obsession with choosing the right name,” Laura Wattenburg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard” tells The Guardian. “Parents willing to go out and change a name is becoming more common because they are conscious they are sending their child out into a competitive landscape, so branding them for success makes sense. If the brand name doesn’t work in the first instance, change it.”
A baby isn’t a brand, but sometimes, a little focus grouping can make parents rethink their gut impulses.
“I first got an inkling that we had given our baby the wrong name when another mother peered into his pram and said loudly, ‘So, do you pronounce it Ralph or Raef?’ It wasn’t the mispronunciation that made me cringe but how horrible she made the word sound; all hoity-toity with ugly, drawn-out vowels,” writes Lena Corner, a UK-based mom who changed her son’s name from Ralph to Huxley after weeks of agonizing over the decision she made on her son’s birth certificate.
For moms of multiples, there’s also concern over how kids’ names sound together. One mom wrote about her remorse on a parenting forum after she named her twin daughters Rosalie and Violet. “We realized that we didnt like the two-flower thing,” she writes. “Within weeks we were becoming more and more embarrassed to even say the name that we had originally chosen for Rosalie, and always found ourselves introducing baby Violet first, since we both loved that name. Silly. I know. But true.”
Because naming your child is one of those things you can “prepare for” before birth, a lot of parents find themselves rethinking their decision once they meet the little stranger.
After adopting baby Gabriella, one mom who shared her story on a fertility forum decided her daughter was more of an Abigail. “I had always said I would keep one of the names her mother gave her… But after about a month it wasn’t working.” So they nicknamed her Abby and kept her legal birth name the same. “Sometimes the name just doesn’t fit the child and we have to do what’s best for the everyone in the long run.”
For parents who want to make a name change official, the process can be arduous. According to experts, a child doesn’t recognize his or her name for about five months. But the legal system can take a lot longer than that. Depending on your state, the process involves a petition, a court order and anywhere from $65 to $150 in application fees. That’s not accounting for additional legal fees if you hire a lawyer. (Check your state’s requirements here.)
But for some parents all the paperwork is worth the reward. “Huxley is now 15 months old and “Ralph” just a far-off bad memory,” writes Corner in The Guardian. “It was a difficult thing to do, but at least he’s got the right name now.”