Lessons I learnt: the popular name debate

I have 3 children…they are all teens.
This is what I learnt:
DS has a VERY unusual name. Never met another. All through school he HATED his name as it was different. Now, he likes it- took 20yrs though. I often wondered how his life may have been different had he had a more mainstream name. I still love his name.
DD has an uncommon but recognisable name not popular at the time. Never met another in her peer group, the name was mainstream enough to blend in though. She liked her name, still does.
DD#2 has a common but not super popular name. She is [name]Brooke[/name]. There are 2 others named [name]Brooke[/name] in her highschool, and she did have to be “[name]Brooke[/name] with our last initial” a few times. I asked her did she mind this? Apparently not, she said it was nice because she was part of the peer group and felt she belonged. She loves her name, if anything she wishes she has a MORE POPULAR name. This amazed me. But it was interesting to see it from a child’s perspective. She has advised me to use a popular name if we get our miracle baby.
I grew up with an unheard of name- I didn’t like it as a child, but like it now. Still surprised to see it appearing in popular lists now.

As I ponder naming a 4th child I think I will go even more mainstream and choose a Top 50 name. Maybe even a Top 10 name or even a Top 5 name. Years ago that thought would have made me shudder… but now experience has changed my mind. I may choose one quirky middle name (can’t help myself), luckily all of mine have 2 middle names! (See, even then I wanted the chance to use as many of my favourite names as possible!)

I am also a teacher, so I see how children relate to each other. I do see that generally kids with popular names are usually more readily accepted by their peers. So as much as I love uncommon names, time has changed my mind a bit. Of course they are not children forever.

What are your thought on the popularity debate?

I completely agree with you and I have no problem using a popular name if its something I love. Very good points you brought up, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I think you should use the name you love despite how popular it is. I’m an [name]Emily[/name] who was born in the 90s, and never once have I disliked my name because it’s so common. I do know some teens who view their common names as “boring” but they don’t dislike them. On the other hand, I know some teens with uncommon names who hate their names because of constant pronunciation issues or their peers always asking things like “Where did THAT name come from?” Then I know some teens who embrace their uncommon names. It really just depends on the person, I think.

When I was growing up my name was usually in the top 20. I loved that other people loved my name as much as my parents had obviously loved it. There were a few classes in middle school when I needed to use a last initial but that never bothered me at all. I loved finding people that shared my name, and being a name nerd at a very young age, I would always hope with each year’s popularity list that my name would rise even higher! There are some popular names that I dislike because they have just been overused around me ([name]Isabella[/name], [name]Olivia[/name]), but there are others that I love even though they are just as popular ([name]Jacob[/name], [name]Sophia[/name]). As long as they aren’t totally overused in my circle popularity doesn’t bother me at all.

I grew up [name]Leslie[/name] when most Leslies were male and the common girl names were [name]Kathy[/name], [name]Karen[/name], [name]Barbara[/name], [name]Donna[/name], [name]Patty[/name], [name]Lisa[/name], [name]Susan[/name], [name]Cindy[/name], [name]Debbie[/name], etc. I hated three things about my name: 1) that it was considered a boy’s name (even though my mother named me for [name]Leslie[/name] [name]Caron[/name]) and so somehow my sexuality was always suspect, 2) that it wasn’t “normal,” and 3) that there was no decent nn for it. My sisters were [name]Victoria[/name] – [name]Torie[/name] – and [name]Samantha[/name], names that weren’t common at that time but that somehow seemed more acceptable than mine.

In consequence to this, I named my children names that – at the time – were not in the top 50 but were either a classic name (my son’s) or a variation of a classic name (my daughter’s). [name]Even[/name] though my daughter’s name has become hugely popular since she was named (she’ll be 27 this year), she likes her name and likes the fact that while we called her one nn when she was little, she could choose a different nn from her name and is quite happy with it. My son has always liked his name.

Of my two children, my son talks about names and what he would name children if and when he has them (he is 20). When he was little, it was [name]Ethan[/name] and [name]Julia[/name] – now it is [name]Alexander[/name] and [name]Beatrice[/name]. It will be interesting to see how that changes when he meets his “beshart”, his true love…

I’m on the other side!

I’m in my 30s and have only met a few people with my name, although it’s not like it’s completely unheard of. My mother wanted to give me a SUPER popular name, probably the #1 girl name for my generation, but my dad got his way so here I am. I love my name, despite the frequent mispronunciation. So when it came time to.name my first child, I wanted him to have a name that was familiar but rarely used. Of course, his name is extremely popular NOW, but we don’t know any other 12-year-olds called [name]Henry[/name].

I didn’t realize I had never looked up my name’s popularity on the ssa site before. I am number 12 for my year! It makes me reconsider my name choices for my future child. I am shocked because all through high school I knew one other [name]Rebecca[/name] and she went by [name]Becky[/name]. (My graduating class was 600 if that gives perspective). Yet at the same time, the name was recognizable. Some things you just can’t predict, so I think it’s great to go with whatever name you love.

It is so interesting to read other people’s thoughts on this.

I agree that the parents must love the name. No point picking the current version of “[name]Jennifer[/name]” just because it is popular if you don’t like it- but on the flip side if you love it… pick it.

I think I did a bit of a Lara_jane naming [name]Brooke[/name]. It has never been top 10, yet floats in the top 100 over the last 10 years.
The year [name]Brooke[/name] was born, the #1 name in our city was [name]Sarah[/name]. My husband really wanted her to be a [name]Sarah[/name]. I was totally against it, I didn’t want her to be one of 5 [name]Sarah[/name]'s in her class. But ironically she has NEVER known a [name]Sarah[/name]! Where did they all go? LOL

[name]One[/name] thing I have considered is whether gender makes a difference as to whether a popular name is an advantage or a liability? What do you think?

[QUOTE=miloowen;1371564] likes the fact that while we called her one nn when she was little, she could choose a different nn from her name and is quite happy with it. QUOTE]

Interesting you mentioned the nn aspect. This is the one complaint [name]Brooke[/name] has made about her name. She would love a nn. I call her [name]Brookie[/name] [name]Belle[/name]… which she complains isn’t a ‘real’ nn- I guess what she means is she couldn’t write [name]Brookie[/name] [name]Belle[/name] on a term paper! LOL In her eyes the best name type of name is one like [name]Katrina[/name]- as they can be [name]Kat[/name], Katty, [name]Kate[/name], [name]Katie[/name], [name]Tina[/name], [name]Trina[/name]… I agree that name is lovely, but not an option as we already have one close to us.

My name is [name]Sierra[/name] and I was born in 88, about 10 years before it became popular. I grew up in the midwest and my name seemed to be virtually unheard of. [name]Peers[/name] accidentally called me [name]Sarah[/name], while old people from church went with [name]Sahara[/name] or [name]Serena[/name] and I absolutely HATED my unrecognizable name, often wishing I could just go by [name]Sarah[/name] and throw my real name out the window. Then as I grew up and started realizing there were SO many babies with my name, I began resenting it more for being trendy. It started to feel like a shallow, nothing name only given to babies because mothers thought it was pretty, no other thoughts given. I especially hated it because I didn’t feel pretty or frilly or popular.

Since then, I have grown to love my name because it makes me unique, especially among my age group, because I have embraced the more nature-y side of the name, and because I have grown to recognize my own beauty.

So as someone who has felt my name was both too unknown and too trendy, I will tell you that so long as you choose your childs name with thought and love, they will grow to love it, regardless of popularity.

Pick the name you love is totally a mantra for us all to live by. With my daughter, I wanted to find a name that wasn’t popular. Luckily there were quite a few for me to choose from that I absolutely love. However, I still ended up with a name that has a very popular nn, and, really, I could care less. I love it. It’s my style. I love a lot of frilly girls names with a cute nn. And more often than not, it’s a more vintage or literary name. Same goes for boys. Vintage and/or literary. If it’s popular, oh well. I prefer going through lists of names, then going back and seeing if it’s popular or not. If I come down to two or three names and simply can’t decide, then popular/common becomes a factor.

I agree with your kids so much. I have a very uncommon name, and I dislike it. It was so annoying having to correct everyone on it growing up, and it still is. On top of that, people kept confusing it with names like [name]Mikayla[/name], [name]Monica[/name] etc. [name]Just[/name] the other day someone thought it was [name]Melody[/name]. o.O

Anyways, I would never give my kid an overly unusual name unless there were some SERIOUS reasons why I loved it. It’s not fair to put someone through years of upset/annoyance just because I like a name. It’s not my name, it’s my child’s, and I should consider how it will impact them first and foremost. I don’t plan on making them too common though, like [name]Emily[/name], or [name]Isabella[/name]. I’d pick a more middle ground, like [name]Alexia[/name], or [name]Selena[/name] for example.

[name]Every[/name] kids likes having a common name. I used to want to be [name]Allison[/name], [name]Ashley[/name], [name]Brittany[/name], [name]Alyssa[/name].

I am an [name]Emilia[/name]- unheard of in my youth. People are right about the spelling and pronoucing and remembering factor.
[name]Emmy[/name]-leah, [name]Em[/name]-eye-leah, [name]Em[/name]-eel-ya. Then there was [name]Emma[/name] and [name]Emily[/name]. [name]Amelia[/name], [name]Emelia[/name], Emillia, Amillia, Emmilia- the list goes on for spellings! Each time a teacher misprounced my name I cringed in embarrassment. Wishing I was a [name]Rachel[/name], [name]Joanne[/name] or [name]Fiona[/name]. For spelling I tell people even now “It’s like [name]Emily[/name] but instead of a ‘y’ it’s has ‘ia’…”.

[name]Reading[/name] what people are saying is swaying me a little for the girl names I like. Maybe I will choose the 2nd favourite as while it is Top 100 it is not a Top 5 one. So a good blend of known with an ounce of popular thrown in.
As for Boys Names- don’t get me started on that.

Thanks for sharing your children’s opinions on their names! I find that I naturally lean toward names that are quite popular right now, or at least have popular variants ([name]Isabelle[/name], [name]Arianne[/name], [name]Olivia[/name], [name]Charlotte[/name], [name]Violet[/name], [name]Liliana[/name], [name]Rachel[/name], etc.), and I always worry that I’d be doing my children a huge disservice to give them such a popular name. Then I think about how I have a name that eventually became a number 1 name and I love it and I loved the popularity aspect. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks so. :slight_smile:

I had two children in my 20’s, two in my 30’s, and I had my youngest after turning 40. I am currently expecting my 6th baby. With each one, I’ve been less and less concerned with the popularity of their names. I felt a little pressured to come up with something unique when I was younger, but now I just want to choose a beautiful, timeless name, regardless of its popularity. With everyone trying so desperately to avoid “boring” names, it seems the plainer your choice, the more likely you are to actually be unique. When I worked at a university, one of my colleagues named his son [name]John[/name]. Not only did they never run into another baby [name]John[/name], people would hear the name and think it was a joke. Let’s hear it for the classics, the ordinary, the resume-friendly, and the most-likely-to-be-on-a-personalized-toothbrush names!

LOL you sound exactly like me! started young with a family, now I am hoping to start the baby thing all over. I seem to get more and more common with names as I have children. Sometimes I wonder what I would call my children if I had them now. [name]Brooke[/name] would still be [name]Brooke[/name] 100% sure of that, it has been such a perfect name. Girly yet simple.

[name]Brooke[/name] is a lovely name. I suggested it when my daughter was searching for a mn for her baby. I think I would choose the same names for 4 of my 5: [name]Mollie[/name], [name]Charles[/name] ([name]Charlie[/name]), [name]Susanna[/name], and [name]William[/name]. My oldest goes by [name]Katie[/name], which I love, but her full name is [name]Caitlin[/name], chosen by 21yr old me, just before it became a trendy salute to the 90’s. At the time, I thought it was different and cool, and I didn’t hear it again for a long time. (She is older than most of the [name]Caitlin[/name] brigade) Funny thing is, I really wanted to choose a more traditional name that would’ve also created the nn [name]Katie[/name], but my mother pressured me into choosing something else because she had a negative association with my original choice. I wish I would’ve gone with what I liked!

I think it completely depends on your child’s personality. Some kids love being included in that way; others wish to stand out. And there’s no way of knowing which way your child will be before they are born. My thoughts are, give them the chance to be either. Give them a very popular first name and an obscure middle name or vice versa. That way, you can’t go wrong.

I think it completely depends on your child’s personality. Some kids love being included in that way; others wish to stand out. And there’s no way of knowing which way your child will be before they are born. My thoughts are, give them the chance to be either. Give them a very popular first name and an obscure middle name or vice versa. That way, you can’t go wrong.
I have an extremely common first name, and I hate that!

[name]True[/name] how some personalities seem to carry an unusual name more readily than others, if only we could look into a crystal ball.
The more I read replies the more I think the best blend for a ‘best’ name criteria may be:

  • known
  • somewhat popular (top 100) but perhaps not extremely popular
  • quirky middle name/s where a bit of oomph can shine
  • at least one nn

Ok… back to my name list to see what fits that concept.