Last week, I went to hear a sports psychologist speak. (Parents of littles: I promise such events that now sound unnecessary and even bizarre will someday be the kinds of things you add to your schedule without a second thought.)
One of the things he said struck me as applicable to naming: We all want our kids to stand out.
It’s true if your child is an athlete, hoping to make the team. A performer, vying for a role. Or any of the dozens of things requiring applications and interviews that are great to pursue, but require our children to demonstrate that they are worthy of notice.
And it’s true with naming.
It’s always been true with naming, at least for some families. Both of my grandmothers were, in very different ways, inventive namers, though neither was especially unconventional. And yet we’re quick to criticize parents for their choices. Comments (the ones I delete) often predict the doom and ruin of the human race, all thanks to our name choices.
Pretty sure that’s an overstatement.
So we want our children to stand out, because we love them, and we want them to be happy and successful. (And we get confused about which matters more.)
What’s changed in the twenty-first century is this: we know instantly which names are most popular. We have access to endless streams of data and opinion and analysis. Back in the 1970s, lots of parents named their daughters Jennifer, only to discover at kindergarten orientation that the name was Very Popular Indeed.
We have the opposite problem today: mountains of information aiming to predict the next Jennifer.
So how far do you go to find a stand-out name? Most parents are hoping for something that stands out, but still fits in. I call them Sweet Spot names. (My list of Sweet Spot Girl Names is here, and Sweet Spot boy names is here.) Depending on your circles of family and friends, these lists could be too daring, or way too dull.
All of this is a very long way of saying that I think Kulture Kiari makes a great name for Cardi B. and Offset’s daughter. It seems like her first name refers to something deeply important to the couple. (Offset is part of hip hop trio Migos; they’ve released albums titled Culture and Culture II. And it’s more than a name. I do think their take on it pushes Kulture into the modern virtue name category.) As for her middle? I love that they named their daughter for her father. Too often we reserve family names for boys, and that seems like an oversight.
And yet, here’s what I keep thinking:
Marvel at this: THREE Kar-Jenner sisters had babies this year, and yet the most controversial K name of 2018 belongs to Cardi B. (FWIW, I like Kulture for Cardi + Offset.)
— Abby@AppMtn (@appmtn) July 13, 2018
- Firearms names are still on the rise. Some of them, like Remington, are starting to feel mainstream, just like Maverick has transitioned from rarity to Top 100 favorite. The controversy remains, and this line from Laura Wattenberg nails it: As parents turn away from anything perceived as too popular, they turn toward names people disagree on.
- I’ve never seen the 2003 movie Holes, and somehow I missed the book, too. The other thing I missed: the main character is Stanley Yelnats IV. That’s Stanley, backwards. Wait, what?! The novel was written in 1998. Is it worth reading or watching? Thinking my kids might like this one …
- An utterly random thought: if your surname starts with an O, and you name your son Ryan, then he’ll be Ryan O’Rourke or Ryan O’Hara or Ryan O’Sullivan. Which sounds perfectly reasonable … until you say it fast, at which point your son’s inevitable nickname will be Rhino. Right?
- True in 1904, and still true today.
- A fascinating data point from Nancy, and more support for what I’ve been saying for a while: it’s a great time to name a boy!
- Found via Clare’s fabulous Scoop.it page, Name News: Zara Tindall chose Lena for her second daughter because, “It’s also similar to (sister) Mia’s (name) because it’s distinct, not shortened from another name.” Erm … small voice … actually, Mia comes from Maria. And Lena evolved from names like Helena and Magdalena. But Zara is exactly right – the names pair so well together, in part, because they’re perceived as short, complete, stand-alone names. Names are complicated, and it’s not always necessary to know the whole story in order to choose well.
- Such good advice from Duana: Don’t go with the name that you’re always going to half-cringe at, that’s no way to live.
- This really comes to mind when we’re talking about family names. It’s okay to love the person, but hesitate about the name. Or be totally fine with the name, even love the name, but worry that family dynamics might prove challenging. There are great reasons to use family names, but equally good reasons to avoid them and start fresh. And just plain Not Liking The Name is a good enough reason to move on.
That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!