We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes:
My name looks like a typo.
It’s not Madisynne or Alexxus or anything excessive, where you can just sort of throw your hands up because it’s so different.
It’s just a Very Popular name from the 1990s with one of the consonants doubled. And no one EVER doubles this letter. (Imagine something like Emilly or Courttney.)
When I’d ask my mom about it, her answer would change. Sometimes she claimed she knew someone with that spelling. Later, she said she liked it because it was different. She always promised I’d “grow into it” or appreciate it when I was older.
I’m 25 now. I hate it. It’s frustrating. It recently caused a huge hassle with a mandatory background check for a new job.
Everything has been resolved, thankfully, but I think it’s time to fix this for once and for all. Before I spend the money and time, I could use a little bit of advice.
Here are my questions:
1. I think I’d like my first name fine if the spelling were fixed, but I’m considering changing my middle name. It’s Lynn, which doesn’t bother me, but I’m remodeling the house, so why not knock down an extra wall?
2. More importantly, how do I approach this subject with my mom? We get along reasonably well, but I know this will upset her.
Any advice would be appreciated!
Please read on for my reply and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
I’m so sorry you’re going through this!
First, I imagine this spelling causes quite the headache.
For readers who can’t see it, let’s frame it this way: in the year of your birth, over 16,000 girls received the standard spelling of your name. This alternate spelling isn’t completely unknown – just over 100 girls received this spelling from the late 1970s into the 1990s. That’s a tiny number, especially compared to the roughly half-a-million given the conventional spelling in the same range of years.
So, yes. No one is going to expect it. It doesn’t change the pronunciation at all. And it does look like a typo. If there’s no good reason for keeping it? I’d change it in a heartbeat.
But that’s not your question, so let’s get to those.
SHOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR MIDDLE NAME, TOO?
It depends. My initial impulse is to say “yes, of course!” As you note, if you’re making changes, it is no more effort or cost to go from being, say, Ammber Lynn to Amber Beatrice or Amber Jessamy. (Just making up names.)
Do you have a great middle name in mind? If so, I’d give you the green light.
If choosing a new middle name is going to slow you down? Then I’d ask if you really want to delay the process.
I’m not a lawyer, but it’s worth noting that legal name changes in the US are handled at the state and local level. (This is a good overview of the process.)
That means it’s impossible to say how long it will take to process a change – though an attorney in your area can likely give you a better idea.
Plus, as the article notes, the legal name change is only step one. You’ll have to change all of your legal documents, some of which take time. (There’s a good list here.)
So if you’re planning a big trip overseas, you wouldn’t want to be mid-name change and without a valid passport as a result.
BREAKING THE NEWS TO YOUR MOM
Oof. I’ve been here. It’s awkward.
Still, it sounds like you’ve often voiced dissatisfaction with your unique name spelling, right? Assuming that’s the case, then it’s not so shocking to announce – kindly and privately – that you’re making a change.
Unless there’s a practical need, I’d wait until the name change is done before you share the news.
In whatever words work for your relationship, I’d emphasize that you love her and appreciate that she chose your name with every good intention, but it just wasn’t quite right for you.
If your relationship is frostier? Or just plain more complicated? I suppose it’s also possible that you don’t actually need to tell her.
But I feel like that’s only if you truly are estranged. After all, at some point it’s bound to come out.
Better to manage it up front, on your own terms, than having to explain when circumstances force you to reveal the change.
SO … WHAT’S NEXT?
I’d suggest you look at any practical constraints you’re facing – a destination wedding requiring a passport, buying your first house, etc. Assuming nothing is on the horizon, I’d do two things:
ONE: Research the exact process where you live and decide if you need an attorney or not. I tend to err on the pay-an-attorney side, but that’s your call. This article notes that some jurisdictions might have forms you can fill out, rather than having a lawyer draft a petition.
TWO: Give yourself a specific timeline to decide on a new middle name. Maybe it’s a month. Or maybe it’s until your next birthday or until you set aside the money to pay for the name change. But don’t let an endless search for The Perfect Middle stop you from fixing your first.
I suspect you’ll breathe a deep sigh of relief when it’s finished. Best of luck!