Am I just crazy to change my daughter's name

now that she is 16 month old already??! [name]Both[/name] me and my husband are originally from [name]China[/name] and have lived in the US for more than 13 years. When our daughter was born here last year we decided to give her an English first name and Chinese middle name. And we picked ‘[name]Erin[/name]’ as her first name. We went through a lot of names and this is the name we picked while I was already at the hospital and both liked under the circumstances. My husband knew at the time that it was a very Irish-sound name, but we also love the ‘[name]Peace[/name]’ meaning part of the name and that’s the main reason we went with it. I wasn’t aware at the time how Irish-sounding it was. What starts to bother me is that whenever we tell people my daughter’s name we always get this kind of weird look on people’s face. I would like to let people know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Irish-sounding names, I just think it’s kind of weird for a Chinese-American girl to have a name meaning ‘From [name]Ireland[/name]’!! Very people will know the ‘peace’ part of her name meaning.

Some people may think that it is too late to change a baby’s name when she’s already 16 month old. In our case, it may not be that bad. My in-laws have been taking care of our daughter since she was born and we almost never call her ‘[name]Erin[/name]’ at home, always call her Baobao (little nick name) at home. Only our friends and her play date’s parents call her [name]Erin[/name], which she doesn’t meet often. So she’s not attached to the name at all right now. But the more we try to call her [name]Erin[/name] the more it bothers me now. In addition to its strong Irish implication none of us like the name much either now. I am willing to go through the whole nine yard if it’s not too crazy, to change her name legally, both on her birth certificate and social security card.
Me and my husband just started having this crazy thought of changing her name and we don’t have a name ready yet. I would love to hear people’s opinions on the Irish implication of the name [name]Erin[/name] for a Chinese girl and the practical feasibility of changing our daughter’s name at this point. I would hate myself to death if I gave my daughter an awkward name to grow up with. Thank you so much for any opinions on this in advance!!

An official hello from nameberry. A lot more parents go through this decision than you might guess and it’s always difficult.

However, my sense is that your mind is really made up and you really want support for your decision to change her name.

I would like to give you that support. I do think that [name]Erin[/name] is so thoroughly Irish that it might be very odd for an all-Chinese little girl. And I think [name]Erin[/name] is ESPECIALLY Irish because it really hasn’t been in style for a generation now, so the only American parents who would choose it would be those who wanted to make a special point about how Irish they were and how much they loved [name]Ireland[/name]!

[name]Add[/name] to that argument for changing the name your other excellent ones: Your daughter really hasn’t been known as [name]Erin[/name], you and your husband agree that you want to change it, neither of you particularly like the name [name]Erin[/name], and you chose it without deep thought. And I’ll add another one: It doesn’t even really mean peace!

I know you will get excellent help choosing the right name here on nameberry.

Here is a link to names that mean peace:

There are several good choices here, and I can’t help wondering whether you meant to choose [name]Irene[/name] rather than [name]Erin[/name]?? Or perhaps the source you consulted then confused the two. In any case, these are pretty:

[name]Irina[/name] – distinctly NOT Irish but not that far from [name]Erin[/name] in sound.
[name]Pax[/name] or [name]Paxton[/name]
[name]Shanta[/name] or [name]Shanti[/name]

Or of course you might have your own ideas or you might just want to start from scratch. Good luck – can’t wait to hear what you decide!

I second everything [name]Pam[/name] said, but I did just want to share that I went to school with a little [name]Erina[/name] while I lived in [name]England[/name]. She was from a Japanese family - obviously, she looked Japanese - who was living in [name]England[/name] for her father’s job. Anyway, I throw out [name]Erina[/name] to you as an option 1) because it is a variant of [name]Erin[/name], 2) because if she is even a tiny bit attached to [name]Erin[/name] it sounds similar, 3) because it is distinguished and elegant, and 4) because it is decidedly not Irish in sound! Oh, and the [name]Erina[/name] I know pronounced it as [er-[name]REE[/name]-na] not [ERR-in-ah]. Cute!

[name]Lemon[/name] :slight_smile:

[name]Hi[/name]…I might be able to help.

I was born with an English name but like your daughter, have a Chinese name as my middle, so my situation is reversed from your daughter’s.

The middle name was given for my heritage and outside of school growing up, it’s not been used much. Due to the commonness of the name in school, I longed to have it changed and I still feel that way! The truth is, if I had it changed, aside from curious questions, it would not be too awkward because it is not the name I am called nor is it the name I react to on instinct; outside my circle of friends and family, I doubt anyone would even realize!

Bearing in mind that I’m already a grown woman, the only difficulty in changing that middle name is that I have lived with it for SO many years… and logically, it feels to me like a habit I will never kick… therefore, it stays.

Changing your bub’s name now… I say, better than changing it when she’s 16. Much easier.

About whether [name]Erin[/name] is an appropriate name… my niece’s name is [name]Erin[/name]. And yes, we were aware of the meaning, but the beauty of the name trumped it. And no, if I trace my ancestry, I doubt that anyone in my extended family and then some ever hailed from [name]Ireland[/name]. [name]China[/name] yes, Indonesia yes, Portugal yes, [name]Holland[/name] yes, [name]Ireland[/name] no…

Also, I doubt people are giving you weird looks over the meaning of her name because I don’t actually think that many people go around aware of names and their meanings. Sometimes though, we meet people who say [name]Erin[/name]… like [name]Air[/name]-in, when it’s actually [name]Air[/name]-en. This is when we give other people weird looks… [name]Just[/name] saying, there could be other reasons… :slight_smile:

If you like the name but not the meaning, choose a namesake!

But if you find you do not like the name nor the meaning, then change her name. Because it is not the name she is called at home, I do not think it will be a difficult adjustment.

I do not feel that the name [name]Erin[/name] is “so thoroughly” Irish as to be strange on a chinese girl. But I grew up in [name]Hawaii[/name] and am used to seeing all sorts of names on all sorts of ethnicities. To me, [name]Erin[/name] is a girls name first, and an Irish name very distantly second. So I wouldn’t blink upon meeting your little girl. I mean, if you are going with a Westernized name, what’s the difference if it’s Irish, or English or “American”?

HOWEVER it does sound that you have made up your mind, and if you and your husband are in agreement, and your family has no problem with it, then definitely change it. The hardest thing in changing a name at this point would be getting the support of friends and family to go along with the name change, but this does not seem to be an issue in your case.

So go for it.

I say go for it!

Thanks everybody for the great input! I really appreciated it!! I was IMing with my husband during the day regarding picking a new name for our daughter. He is not too crazy about changing the name even though he doesn’t like ‘[name]Erin[/name]’ too much either but he is fine with it if I really want to go for it (typical man!). Sounds like we still need to have some talk about this before we make the final decision. I didn’t realize that I sounded like I’ve already made up my mind-:slight_smile: I have been having night sweat over my daughter’s name for some time and trying to ignore the obvious fact that it mostly means ‘From [name]Ireland[/name]’!
I’d like to say that it’s not much about the fact that it has Irish origin, since we’ve already decided to go with a westernized first name in the first place, any name will have a non-Chinese origin. It’s the fact that the meaning of the name actually means just ‘[name]Ireland[/name]’ for most people that bothers me. My daughter’s name mostly got the surprise-look from people who are over 40 or 50, who knows the actual meaning/origin of the name ‘[name]Erin[/name]’. And most real Irish people know about it too. I would be surprised too if I were an Irish.

Anyway, any more opinions will be truly appreciated! After studying American literature in college and living in the US for 13 yrs I just started to realize how ignorant I am in so many aspects of the life/culture here, especially after becoming a mom. I am so glad to find this web site to have my deep-buried fear of choosing the wrong name for my daughter vented out and have so many people giving me honest and supportive opinions. No matter which way we decide to go I am sure I will find much more peace with my decision. And I sure will come here for help and advice if we decide to pick a different name for our baby! Thanks again everyone!!

[name]Lemon[/name]'s idea of [name]Erina[/name] is really an excellent one. And I totally sympathize with how difficult it is to figure out names from outside the culture. Although we have written ten books on names over 20 years, we still get a lot of things wrong when we try to write about Dutch names, or Indonesian names, or sometimes even British names – anything outside American culture.

[name]Pam[/name], thanks for the understanding and support. I think [name]Erina[/name] is a very cute name too. I don’t want to sound obsessive but doesn’t it still mean ‘[name]Ireland[/name]’?

I had no idea [name]Erin[/name] was associated with [name]Ireland[/name]. Still, it’s not like [name]Flannery[/name] or [name]Niamh[/name] or whatever - it’s fully in the American lexicon. Another possible reason for “weird looks”: [name]Aaron[/name] is a much more popular choice for boys than [name]Erin[/name] is for girls, so they might think she has a boy’s name at first. I think that’s way more likely than “But [name]Erin[/name] means Irish and this little girl is Chinese!” After all, American parents choose names that have nothing on common with their ancestry all the time. A Chinese-American girl named [name]Erin[/name] wouldn’t even make me raise my eyebrows, though. [name]Niamh[/name]? Sure. But then again, that goes for any American girl.

If you decide to change her name, be sure to come back! Maybe a more classic, or alternately, a very-unexpected-for-ANY-American-girl choice would make things easier for you.

Easy changes from “[name]Erin[/name]”: [name]Karen[/name], [name]Sharon[/name], [name]Marin[/name] (pretty uncommon and technically a Slavic male name, but only used for girls here in the US). A little further: [name]Lauren[/name], [name]Catherine[/name].

Whistling - [name]Erin[/name] is one of the very very long-standing poetic names for [name]Ireland[/name], based on the goddess Eriu who was one of the personifications of the the country (it turns up a LOT as [name]Eire[/name], [name]Eirinn[/name] etc in poetry by [name]Yeats[/name] and other poets, documents and so on)

whistlinggirl – I definitely agree with you. Not everybody knows the meaning of [name]Erin[/name] and some looks are due to the fact that it sounds like a boy’s name. But I did meet several parents who actually have an [name]Erin[/name] or [name]Aaron[/name] (and who are probably Irish) that gave me the surprise look and some people who are a bit aged did too. I don’t think any of them meant in any insulting way. I would be a bit surprised too if I were an Irish or know the meaning of the name. On the other hands, most of my non-American friends actually like the name a lot. They have no idea about the Irish connotation.

I don’t know which is the chicken, which is the egg. Maybe the weird reception of my baby girl’s name started to make me feel the name doesn’t fit my daughter’s personality too. My husband wish her name would be more lovelier. I guess in this context as foreigners here we look for people’s identification more than anything else.