Sharing the Choice

Jun 17th 2009

In the supermarket checkout line, I overheard two 60-something grandmas talking about their kids' baby-naming dilemmas. Grandma One lamented that the parents-to-be ignored all her lovely suggestions, like Karen and Diane. Grandma Two shook her head at the whole complicated business, and reminisced:

"Back when my kids were born, I just told my husband what names I'd picked and he didn't interfere."


 “Didn’t interfere.” I've talked to countless 21st-century expectant parents, and that is one sentiment I've never heard. Rightly or wrongly, it summons a vivid picture of that 1970s family...a picture that doesn't include a lot of late-night feeding and diapering on Dad's part. He wouldn’t want to “interfere” with his wife’s child-rearing. Most moms today wouldn’t stand for that, right? And yet…haven’t you heard a mom say something like this?

“I figure he gets the surname so I should get the first name, it’s only fair.”

“I’m the one who has to give birth, so I get the final say.”


or even…

“I just waited until I was deep in labor and he was feeling so guilty that he agreed to whatever name I wanted!”


I understand the impulse. Pregnancy and birth are huge undertakings, and it’s tempting to claim naming rights as part of your reward for a job well done. And yes, most kids do still bear their fathers’ last names. But moms, before you cut your partner out of the naming picture, think about what precedent you’re setting by declaring this first major parenting decision a solo domain.

The choice of a name is one of the first ways you bond with a child. Unlike choosing a stroller or decorating a nursery, naming makes you stop and imagine your child’s whole life to come as a member of your family. When the time finally comes to call your new baby by her name, the dream-turned-reality can be a magical moment. Moments like that are best shared. They’re building blocks of the affection that keeps you going through the ups and downs and long nights of parenthood.

Even a single mom might think about ways to share the joy of naming. Sure, it’s your decision. But letting loved ones into the decision process, letting them share the excitement, can help build your baby’s early connections with people who will be an important part of her life.

This not to say that you have to give in when you want the name Eleanor and your partner wants Ashley. Just think twice about going for the straight power grab. Finding common ground or negotiating a compromise on names sets a good precedent for the many decisions that lie ahead.

Comments

1
June 17, 2009 9:51 AM

I've heard people say things like "I'm the one who gives birth..." but I figured it was just how they explained things to others. I guess I just can't imagine *not* making this as a joint decision...

2
By Joyce (not verified)
June 17, 2009 10:36 AM

This is such good advice!
It seems like too many women I know want their husband (or boyfriend) involved with the baby on their terms. They control every aspect from what to name him, to what to dress him in, and just about every other parenting decision.

Then they whine and complain about how their guy doesn't "help" enough. Hey, if it's his baby too, we should act that way all the time.

Sometimes compromise isn't fun -the name we chose was nowhere near top pick for either of us - but it was the best thing for our marriage.

3
By Julia (not verified)
June 17, 2009 10:40 AM

Oh, you crack me up. When pregnant with my daughter last year, my grandmother suggested the names Carol and Karen and other names that sounded to my ears JUST like the names of all my friends' moms growing up. Too funny...

4
By MeganMarie (not verified)
June 17, 2009 10:45 AM

While I agree that moms should not steam-roll the father and get sole naming rights, I do think it should be pointed out that females are usually the ones to pour over baby name books, visit baby name message boards and really research names. Often, they started a list of names they love when they were young girls and this list has been added to and edited over the years. They take the time to figure out what styles they like, whether or not a Top 100 name is something they will go with and what goes well with the surname and other siblings.
I've known several couples where the dad more or less felt he had veto power--he was willing to say, "No way, I don't like that" and yet didn't have a suggestion as to what name he would like.
So while it is a big decision and one that should be done with input from both parents, maybe the dads need to take a little initiative and do the research if they want to be equal partners in this choice. If they're not interested in taking the time then maybe mom should get a little more say.

5
By Guest (not verified)
June 17, 2009 10:49 AM

Naming our daughter was one of the hardest things I've ever done but one of the most fun things we've ever done as a couple. We both had to agree to the name and eventually came up with one that worked that we both loved.

I frankly was a little disappointed that we settled on a name by about 6 months into the pregnancy... It had been so much fun talking about and dreaming about it.

6
By Birgitte (not verified)
June 17, 2009 10:53 AM

We compromised and ended up with a name neither of us really liked but it is growing on us.

7
By Abby@AppMtn (not verified)
June 17, 2009 10:57 AM

MeganMarie is right about some dads having zero interest in baby names. My own darling husband looked at me, his absolutely name-obsessed wife - and said something like: "I dunno. Emily, maybe?"

We ended up agreeing to use family names - the first son after the paternal grandfather, first daughter after the maternal grandmother. Happily, we've had one of each and both sides are pleased as punch - but then, we had good names hanging from our family trees.

And I do think that each parent should have veto power if the name just doesn't work for them, for any reason.

8
June 17, 2009 11:36 AM

"I've known several couples where the dad more or less felt he had veto power--he was willing to say, "No way, I don't like that" and yet didn't have a suggestion as to what name he would like."

Absolutely -- that's an all-too-common pattern, but a separate issue, IMO. Hmm, I see another blog coming... :-)

9
June 17, 2009 11:38 AM

Naming decisions seem a lot like "food" decisions. You know, the old it smells funny, it looks funny, it MUST not taste good thing. However, when you try it (either on purpose or not) you realize it might not be so bad. I think this relates to names in that some people have a distinct style they do not waiver from. However, when someone else suggests a name outside of that style and they try it sometimes they find they might like it. I am one of those who loves the 70's type names like Brian and Ashley, not Tiffany though LOL. But being on this board has broadened my horizons to other names that sound lovely even though my personal naming days are over. So even though its a family thing, I think asking others to offer suggestions is sometimes a neccessary evil. And of course, it's WAY too much fun for those offering the names. Thanks for this site Laura!

10
By coolteamblt (not verified)
June 17, 2009 11:42 AM

I was so tempted to steamroll my husband. He insisted on our son's middle name being the same as his, and then vetoed all the names I loved.

I had changed my last name when we got married, but I had hoped to use a distant family name from my side, or a more distinctive first name for our son. As a Kayt, I hated having a common but misspelled name. From the time I found out I was pregnant, I just knew his name was Gideon. My husband wouldn't even hear of it. I threw out dozens of names: Ezra, Oscar, Finn, Asher, Hugo, Calvin, Gavin, Noah, Theo.. the list kept growing.

I finally wrote out my top fifty list and gave him a sharpie, because he wouldn't come up with a single name. He took my list down to William and James. We ended up going with James. I still have regrets, because it's such a common name, and a bit boring, and I had basically no hand in it. Being a namenik, settling on James just felt so sad to me.

I've already extracted a promise from him that I get pretty much all the say for our next child, whenever that is. He gets some veto power, but not to the degree he did for our firstborn. I feel a bit mean insisting, but I have such a strong regret over our son's name, and I don't want to repeat the experience.

11
June 17, 2009 11:44 AM

Actually...the more I think about it, the phenomenon of moms coming up with all the ideas and dads sitting back and vetoing may just be the flip side of the same problem. Sharing the choice works both ways!

12
By Amy3
June 17, 2009 1:29 PM

ITA that most dads aren't as involved in *finding* the names, even if they are involved in voting on the names. That is how it worked when we named our daughter.

Since we didn't know whether we were having a girl or a boy, we had to work both halves of the baby name books. Or, I did. I presented names to him, and he agreed or disagreed. (Middles were to be for deceased family members so those were chosen in advance.)

We were able to agree on a girl's name we *loved* and we absolutely compromised on a boy's name (choosing a name he liked better than I did because every boy name I suggested was met with, "You can't name a boy *that*!"). Happily, we had a girl.

13
By Lucy1977 (not verified)
June 17, 2009 1:00 PM

You gloss over the fact that the last name is still a "solo domain". Very few children (especially of married parents) have the mother's birth surname as their last name. Even if the mother has a beautiful, easy to spell surname, the children inevitably get the father's name, even if it's harsh-sounding and impossible to spell. When is there going to be a discussion about women being automatically cut out of that naming picture?

14
By pyewacket (not verified)
June 17, 2009 1:12 PM

It's funny, we've been having this discussion. I made a list of names I liked, ranked by preference, and asked him to do the same. None of our choices overlapped (he likes what I would consider more trendy names, like Jonas and Brandon, I like very Anglo traditional names like Charles, Edward and Nathaniel - basically, I'm looking for British king's names!). So we each went through the other's list, crossing off the ones we really disliked. We ended up with a shorter list we then tried out with the middle and last name. The middle name was his choice, Andrew, after his father and a brother who died before he was born. He would have like Andrew for a first name, but I particularly dislike Drew as a nickname, and his dad is Andy to me, so I couldn't see it. He was fine with Andrew as a middle name. Several of our short list names (Nathaniel, Anthony) didn't work with Andrew_lastname, so we ended up with two names - Maxwell and James. It's been that way for weeks, mostly because those were both my choices (Maxwell is my grandfather's name, James is classic), and I feel bad choosing something my husband can live with but doesn't love.

Last night, though, he told me he didn't mind my making the decision about the first name, because he had chosen the middle name and the baby will have his last name. And that actually made sense to me. It is NOT a given that children have their father's name, and I did not take my husband's name when we married. So it is a connection that he has with the child's name that I will not, and that was a decision we made together. Giving the baby my beloved grandfather's name would be meaningful to me, just as giving him the middle name Andrew is meaningful to my husband. So I think it might be Maxwell, though I have admit the trendiness of the name as revealed to me on this blog has given me pause. Ultimately, though, I think rejecting a name you love, particularly one with personal meaning, just because it's popular at the moment is just as silly as choosing a name because it's popular.

I'm still not completely sure, but that's where we are at the moment. If we manage another one, I certainly hope it's a girl - that name was an easy mutual decision. I suggested Margaret to honor two friends of mine who have died in the last few years, one name Marcia and the other Maura. Since he likes the name and had an aunt, grandmother and great-aunt by that name, he happily agreed. Of course, we found out we're having a boy.

15
By John (not verified)
June 17, 2009 1:16 PM

Haha, my girlfriend and I have occasionally joked that we shouldn't have kids because I'd become too obsessed about the naming process.

16
By Amy3
June 17, 2009 1:28 PM

OT--My daughter's camp bus list just came and here are the campers' names (ages 5-12) this year. I've totaled them by letter, and the top three are: A (17 kids), S (14 kids), and J (13 kids).

A: Aaliyah, Aari, Abigail, Adina, Ailill, Alana, Alani, Alex, Alia, Aliya, Amior, Anna x2, Annie, Anthony, Ashley, Astrid [17]

B: Batia, Ben, Benjamin x2 [4]

C: Chana, Chloe, Christina, Cole [4]

D: Daniel, Daniella, Danil, David x2 [5]

E: Eamon, Elana, Eli, Elias x2, Elinor, Ella, Emily x2 [9]

G: Gabriel, Gabriella, Gemma, Genkin [4]

H: Hannah, Henry [2]

I: Isabel [1]

J: Jackson x2, Jacob x2, Jason, Jessica, Jonathan x2, Jordan x2, Joseph, Josephine, Julian [13]

K: Kaden, Kayla, Kelly, Kevin, Kobi, Kuanghua [6]

L: Lenny, Lia, Liam, Lillian, Lilly, Lily, Lucas, Lucy [8]

M: Madeline, Maia, Mairead, Martin, Mattan, Maximilliano, Maya, Michael, Mikhail [9]

N: Nalya, Natasha, Nicholas, Nina x2, Noah, Noam [7]

O: Olivia, Ori [2]

P: Peter [1]

R: Raina, Raphael, Rebecca, Riagan, Ross [5]

S: Sadie, Sam, Samantha, Sara, Sarah, Satya, Sebastian x2, Seth, Shenine, Sophia, Sophie x2, Steven [14]

T: Tali, Tamir, Tatyana, Taylor, Tiana, Toby, Tomer, Tommy, Tyler [9]

W: William x3 [3]

Y: Yannai, Yinon, Yanin [3]

Z: Zachary, Zoe [2]

17
By hyz
June 17, 2009 1:49 PM

Good topic. My husband and I followed the typical pattern noted here--I had a list of dozens of beloved names that I had been compiling and editing diligently since childhood, and he came up with a grand total of two names off the top of his head that he liked--both of which were quite nice, and which I duly added to the list, but he didn't put a lot of effort into it, and he didn't have a lot invested in it. So, we went down my list, crossed off (most of) the names he said "no way" to, and then went from there. This was actually a fairly stressful and unpleasant process for us, because I was inclined to talk about it incessantly (pros and cons, new ideas, etc.) to come up with the "perfect" choice, whereas for him it felt like endless torture--a riddle with no answer. He thought some names were awful, and others fine, but there weren't any that he felt strongly positive about. I really wanted his input, but the whole thing felt so lopsided that it was pretty dissatisfying.

At some point, after trying so hard to get him to care about it as much as I did (I truly wanted a name we were both genuinely enthusiastic about)--I did have some of the thoughts that Lucy1977 and Pyewacket mentioned. In our case, our child was getting not only his last name (different from mine), but was also getting a first name from his culture that I had limited say in. Both of these things were by agreement, to satisfy his wishes, and not what I would've chosen independently. So, why shouldn't I get primary say in the name we call her by (officially her middle name)? I love the name we ultimately chose (one of the few off my list that he said he "could get excited about"), but it wasn't initially my first choice, and I still sometimes think wistfully of the names I gave up, and wonder how they would've suited our daughter.

Oh, and I did sort of pull the labor sympathy card on one issue--although the name was set, we had a spelling disagreement at the last minute (based on something his mom raised *while* I was in labor--not cool), and I think after watching my 30+ hours of hard labor and natural birth, DH was (rightly) disinclined to press the point, so the spelling I wanted ended up on the birth certificate.

18
June 17, 2009 1:50 PM

John, Stay on this blog! We don't have enough male voices and besides, you'll find enough naming here to satiate you until an actual baby comes along.

Amy3, I'm curious about the pronunciation of Ailill and Genkin. Ask Astrid (a budding NE, right?) to find out for me. :),

19
By hyz
June 17, 2009 1:53 PM

Amy3--really fascinating list--thanks for posting it.

20
By Guest (not verified)
June 17, 2009 2:03 PM

I think I lucked out as husbands go - mine never appears to be interested in names or put any effort into it either, but when I cornered him and asked for his thoughts he came up with the following, right off the top of his head, in under five minutes:

Boys- Richard, Virgil, Byron, Jedidiah

Girls- Bryony, Eloise, Ophelia, Meredith, Juliet

Not all of them are my style, but at least he's not into Kayleigh and Brayden!

21
June 17, 2009 2:09 PM

I think we need a quiz question.

Who had the most say in picking your child(ren)'s names?

A. Mom did everything. Dad wasn't very interested or was fine with whatever Mom picked.

B. Mom did most everything. Dad could veto the names he disliked.

C. Mom did the initial lists. Dad participated once the lists were made.

D. Both Mom and Dad made lists and participated in the narrowing and final decision.

E. Dad did the initial lists. Mom participated once the lists were made.

F. Dad did most everything. Mom could veto the names she disliked.

G. Dad did everything. Mom wasn't very interested or was fine with whatever Dad picked.

My answer is B. Mom did most everything. Dad could veto the names he disliked.

22
By KimB
June 17, 2009 2:25 PM

My answer is mostly C. I did tons of lists. But, to my dh's credit, he was a good sport and even seemed to pccasionally like incessant talking about how to narrow the list down, doing the name bracket, and such. In fact, it was one of our "collaboration" sessions (where I sit and look up name after name choosing different combinations for Nymbler) that my husband latched onto Lincoln, which became our first sons name.

23
By jenmn (not verified)
June 17, 2009 2:29 PM

My answer is also B. "Mom did most everything. Dad could veto the names he disliked."

I could use some help with name suggestions. We're expecting our second girl in a few months and having a really hard time with naming. I made the mistake of mentioning a few names on our possible list to my parents, who pretty much said that they didn't like any of them and even gave reasons. Now it is hard to decide if we will go with something on our list (even though none are the "perfect" name) and know that they don't like the name or if we will come up with something we like better and not tell anyone until after the baby is here to prevent the comments.

Our almost 3 year old is Elis3 G3nevieve. We like names that are not popular but common enough that most people have heard of it before and know how to pronounce it. I've been through the SSA names 100-1000 a number of times and keep thinking that there is a name there that I must be missing. My Baby Name Wizard book is so worn out it has fallen apart in six sections! We have ruled out any first names that start with an E, P or T. Last name starts with a P and is two syllables.

The names we've come up with so far for baby girl:
* Linnea - pronunciation issues and maybe too unusual for us, but such a beautiful name
* Malia - love it and probably what we would have gone with, but then found out it is the president's daughter, so now it is pretty much off the list
* Arwen - liked it until I found out about the LOTR connection from my husband
* Julia - a name I've always liked but think it is too popular
* Violet - love it, but true flower names really don't work with our last name
* Adele/Adelaide/Adeline - I love all these names but as we have a pet named Abb3y, I can't do any names that will have a nickname of Addy or Abby.
* Leila - sort of like it, but probably too close to Lisey, which we call my daughter a lot

I seem to be leaning toward more unusual names this time around but I don't want to stray too far from the classic sound of Elise.

I'm really looking forward to the new book, I know the previous blog post mentioned next month, are there any more details? I haven't found any sites for pre-orders yet.

I'd really appreciate other suggestions for names for our baby girl that work with Elise.

Thanks!

24
By Eo (not verified)
June 17, 2009 2:42 PM

We did collaborate on most of the names; I was the passionate NE one, so I made suggestions and he mused about them and expressed his preference. At first we didn't know if we'd be presented with a girl or boy to adopt, and he suggested facetious names like "Aggrippina"...

Eric's intellectual interests just seem to lie elsewhere, and he was more amused than anything else about our name discussions. We rejected any names he or I disliked.

Am surprised that the late-Boomer age women in the anecdote liked "Karen" and "Diane". My experience is that they would be bored with and blase about names of their peers, and would be perhaps more inclined to Slacker names or even younger...

25
June 17, 2009 2:52 PM

I guess my answer is C: Dad participated once the lists were made.

Actually we were lucky - our only daughter's name was basically decided before I was even pregnant... I mentioned once how much I liked the name, and he told me it was similar to his late grandmother's name and how it would be a good name to use if he ever had a daughter. I kept that piece of information in the back of my mind until I needed it, and bam! Naming decision pretty much made. Being an NE, I almost felt cheated out of the whole process! But he wouldn't let me try and second guess myself.

We did try a bit of negotiation over a boy's name, which turned out to be more challenging. Our personal tastes in boy's names are quite different - he likes short, simple, popular names and nicknamey names (Sam not Samuel, Zack not Zachary...) while I tend to prefer sophisticated, distinctive retro classics. We did a fair bit of vetoing one another. Fortunately, I guess, we've never had to make a final decision on that one!

However... imagine my surprise quite recently when someone he works with called their baby Simon, and he said he thought it was a "pretty cool name". Simon was very definitely on my boy's list 11 years ago, and he turned his nose up at it immediately. Honestly!

26
June 17, 2009 2:52 PM

jenmn: Maybe... Colette - Vera - Hazel - Marian - Marlene - Gwen?

Would you do Adele/Adelaide/Adeline with nn Delia or Lina?

27
By hyz
June 17, 2009 2:58 PM

Eo--interesting comment about the late boomer preferences. I wasn't too surprised by the anecdote, but what you say does make sense. I might expect today's grandmothers to still be attached to the 70s/80s names. However, again anecdotally, a young boomer I work with (Helen--lovely name, lovely person) is always lamenting that she was given an "awful old lady name" instead of "a nice name, like Kathy or Linda." So I could totally imagine her or someone like her having that check-out line conversation.

28
June 17, 2009 3:03 PM

I think I've mentioned before that my Grandmother sent me a note suggesting the names Carole and Goldie for my pregnancy 2 years ago.

29
By Philyre (not verified)
June 17, 2009 3:15 PM

In my case, it was H - Both Mom1 and Mom2 made lists and participated in the narrowing and final decision.

I am a bit more of a name-enthusiast in terms of reading books and blogs, but my partner had lots of very definite, well-formed opinions of her own. I thought that she should have the final decision because she's pregnant; she thought I should have the final decision because I'm NOT pregnant and therefore should be more involved in this other big event. So we basically shared the decision making process equally. :)

I should say that we have very similar naming styles, so while there were definitely disagreements, it was very easy to find common ground.

30
By Kim in Philly (not verified)
June 17, 2009 3:16 PM

I have a similar experience as Ayaka. I had the name of my DD in my head since I was 13. I mentioned the name to DH when he was just DB and he loved it. He also wouldn't let me second guess myself. DD's MN was even easier. I chose Skye to honor his passion for aviation and he didn't even blink- DD had an official name.

Unfortunately, this is almost going to be the case if we have a DS next baby. I mentioned Max and he immediately latched onto it. I've been trying to guide him off of it, but he's a stubborn one. We'll see... I want a DS next, but just in case it's another DD, I've been throwing names out to see what sticks. We'll probably be in the veto category (B) or (C) for Baby #2.

I did show him a list I have of names and he didn't like a bunch of them. As long as he can give me a valid reason for not liking it, I'm willing to take it off the list.

31
June 17, 2009 3:18 PM

I ended up getting the final say on both of our childrens' names. My husband jokes that if we ever have a third child he gets full naming rights - nooooo! :P It's funny as he's always telling me how people at work compliment him on our kids' names and then he gives me the credit.

I did lots of research online and in books and made lists. DH made a couple of suggestions each time - they weren't bad suggestions, just not very exciting or my style. After our daughter was born, he let me pick. I wondered if I should therefore go with his top pick for our son, but we ended up with one of my top picks.

I think it was more of a big deal to me than to him. Though he didn't like a lot of my suggestions and so they were taken off the lists. And he did pick our son's middle name - after DH's grandfather.

32
June 17, 2009 3:19 PM

The comments about boomer generation naming choices made me smile. Not long ago my mother (born early 1940's) saw something on TV about a Jennifer, and said, "Jennifer! What a pretty name. I should have called you Jennifer." When I told her I thought the name was awfully common, she just gave me a funny look. I suppose she never went to school with a single Jennifer...

33
June 17, 2009 3:51 PM

When my mom was pregnant with my youngest brother (in the very early '90s) my grandmother called her excitedly to share a name that she had just heard on TV and thought would be a beautiful name for her new grandbaby. That name? Darllynne. Pronounced DARL-lynn. Which, honestly, makes Jennifer and those other Boomer suggestions sound downright delightful.

34
By Guest (not verified)
June 17, 2009 4:22 PM

jenmn:

The mention of Elise and Linnea together as names reminds me of the opening of "Agnes of Iowa" from Lorrie Moore's "Birds of America" (which is also a great passage for any name enthusiast!):

"Her mother had given her the name Agnes, believing that a good-looking woman was even more striking when her name was a homely one. Her mother was named Cyrena, and was beautiful to match, but had always imagined her life would have been more interesting; that she herself would have had a more dramatic, arresting effect on the world and not ended up in Cassell, Iowa, if she had been named Enid or Hagar or Maude. And so she named her first daughter Agnes, and when Agnes turned out not to be attractive at all, but puffy and prone to a rash between her eyebrows, her hair a flat and bilious hue, her mother backpedaled and named her second daughter Linnea Elise..."

35
By knp (not verified)
June 17, 2009 4:31 PM

jenmn: Maybe Amalia--close to Malia, but not quite (Queen Amalia was the first queen of Greece and is quite celebrated there)

I also caught the name Mairaed (scottish v. of Margaret) and Ailill (from medieval Ireland, internet says pronounced AL-yil) from the list.

When my parents named me, they said that my first name was my dad's 1st choice and my mn was my mom's. I always thought it was awesome that both my parents contributed.

On an aside: Does any one have an aversion to using a name that was at the top of the list for a second child? What I mean is, if I was to be born a boy, I would have been Ryan David, but when my younger brother was born they used Aaron Ryan. I asked mom (years ago) why they just didn't use Ryan David for my little bro, and she said "because it was your name, not his" I'm sure their tastes changed and evolved in the 19 months btwn, but interesting. I've always had a connection to the name Ryan since!

Sorry so long, but this topic is creating a lot of long responses, isn't it?

36
By knp (not verified)
June 17, 2009 4:32 PM

love the book quote, guest!

37
By CB, nli (not verified)
June 17, 2009 5:00 PM

For us, it's really none of the above. With the first child, we were both so taken off guard and worried about the pressing issues (we'd expected a longer honeymoon period in our marriage), like moving out of our one bedroom apartment, that we didn't even broach the topic until about five months in. One night, I mentioned that we needed a name, and in the course of about thirty minutes, we had the first name picked.

With the second child, we both made lists of our top ten picks. We ended up with three mutual names, asked our oldest which she liked best - and a baby was named.

38
By Aybee (not verified)
June 17, 2009 5:09 PM

Jenmn-
First let me say how much I love the name of Elise.
Of your list, my far and away favorite is Adele, a name I like very much.

I knew one who went by Adele, no nickname. If you want to nickname I agree with Robyn T, would Dell or Della work as a nickname?

I also like Violet, and although I know it is a flower, it doesnt scream FLOWER NAME to me.
Some other options:
Corrine/Caryn (pronounced Car-in) also Cora...
Cassandra (imo Cassie is a nice underused nn)
Lydia (like Linnea w/o pronunciation issues?)
Georgia
Willa
Margot
Clara

Good luck!

39
June 17, 2009 5:12 PM

knp, We had the name Christopher Alex picked out for a boy for our first. When our son came along two years later, we gave him a totally different name. To me, Christopher Alex seemed like a shadow child -- he never existed anywhere except in my imagination, but it didn't seem right to obliterate his existence by giving his name away. Weird, huh? (It doesn't hurt that I never LOVED the name; it was a compromise. Hee hee)

40
June 17, 2009 5:47 PM

This blog topic is eerily timed, given that just last night I was suggesting (as a joke) to my husband that he should let me have more say in the girl's name because I'm a girl. Basically this grasp at straws has come about because we just can not settle on a girl's name - he vetoes most of my suggestions and will only really consider names that are very "safe" - popular, well-known names. I do like some of those names (especially Sophia and Laura), but I would deeply love to find a more uncommon name for what may be my only daughter. Ophelia, Aurelia, Elodie and Arden have all been vetoed! And I am finding it VERY hard to find any others I love. (SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!)
The problem is that we have very different styles, backgrounds and personalities. Even on our wedding day, I had to let go of having a reading from Shakespeare (my favourite sonnet), as he thought it was totally incomprehensible. (I should have known he was going to veto the name Ophelia, shouldn't I?!) As a writer, an English major and a Shakespeare lover, this was hard, but in the end, I had to let it go because I realised the day had to reflect both of us and we both had to feel happy with it. I have taken the same approach to name selection, but it is getting really difficult to retain my egalitarian beliefs!

MeganMarie - I think you are spot-on that females usually spend a lot more time on this than men do. My husband is a lot like the couples you mention, where the man is willing to say, "No way, I don't like that", and yet he doesn't have many suggestions of names he WOULD like. I especially like your point that, "maybe the dads need to take a little initiative and do the research if they want to be equal partners in this choice. If they're not interested in taking the time then maybe mom should get a little more say."

Jenmn - How about Arden or Auden instead of Arwen?
And Dahlia or Amelia instead of Malia?
Viola instead of Violet?
Lydia instead of Linnea?
By the way, I have never heard of Linnea before - how is it pronounced?

Pyewacket - I love your point that "rejecting a name you love just because it's popular at the moment is just as silly as choosing a name because it's popular." This may help me to let go and choose Sophia after all! It is such a beautiful, sophisticated name, but its current popularity has been putting me off.

Hyz - I can SO relate to your naming process - this is pretty much exactly what we are going through right now, as we struggle to name our first child! (We've got until September!)

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By Queen of Carrots (not verified)
June 17, 2009 5:46 PM

DH and I just love coming up with children's names and our tastes are similar enough that we can easily agree. We already have a far longer list than we could ever use. No doubt we will be oppressing our grandchildren with our early-century tastes someday. "Oh, Grandma, half my friends' mothers are named Lillian."

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By CB, nli (not verified)
June 17, 2009 5:47 PM

Leafy - My first two thoughts for you were Cordelia and Viola. Both nice Shakespearean names, not currently widely used, that may be palatable to the uninitiated. Katarina, nn Kate, maybe? :)

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June 17, 2009 5:53 PM

Thanks for the great suggestions CB! I love Cordelia but it has also been vetoed by hubby! Viola I like but don't love as much as Violet, but my husband says we can not have flower names with the surname Leaf. I am not sure about this one - what do you think? Personally I always associate Violet with the colour more than with the flower.
Katarina I find a little hard-sounding, sorry! I do appreciate your help though!

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June 17, 2009 6:03 PM

I would pronounce Linnea linn-AY-ah, but apparently in Sweden (its country of origin) the stress is on the first syllable, I think. Does anyone know if that's accurate?

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By Rhanda (not verified)
June 17, 2009 6:03 PM

Leafy -- Is your hubby offering reasons or just outright vetoing? If there's something specific he doesn't like, that'll make your process easier.

Also: How about Juliet? Most well-known of all Shakespearean names, yet not one I hear a lot, and has a few cute/cool options for nns?

As for me and my husband -- we have pretty different tastes, and I am way more of an NE than he is, but I often talk to him about the topics here, and we discuss names we would possibly use. One good thing that's come out of it is that we've found that even when we agree on a name, we don't always agree on the nickname which can be important if he likes Charlie and I like Chaz, for instance.

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By Melissa A. (not verified)
June 17, 2009 6:06 PM

I had the same experience as Ayaka and Kim in Philly. While my husband and I were dating, we had agreed upon a boy and girl name for our future children. Right after we got married, I convinced him to go with another girl name. When I was actually pregnant with our first child last year he would not let me discuss any other name options...especially the boy name. We ended up having a boy and, luckily, it is a classic name that I still love. But I, too, felt cheated out of the naming process (being an NE), but really it's my own fault for discussing it so much before there was any baby to name. So for #2, I have already decided to keep my mouth shut until I am actually pregnant (although I'm already making lists, of course).

On that note, I have already decided that the girl name we would have gone with will not be an option should #2 be a girl. Not only because I feel it was intended for my first child, but also because it has been making leaps and bounds on the popularity charts over the past couple of years.

In general, my husband HATES discussing names with me. The few times I've actually gotten him to talk about them he will give me no explanations as to why he likes or dislikes certain names and won't offer any other suggestions. So frustrating!

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By Amy3
June 17, 2009 6:14 PM

I pronounce Linnea exactly as Valerie described, and it's a name I love. I'd say that as long as you're in an English-speaking country this pronunciation would be the default (although if you don't like it, there will be a degree of correcting to get people to stress the 1st syllable).

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By mf (not verified)
June 17, 2009 6:32 PM

Eo- I know a few sets including Elise:

Emilia, Elise, and Eva

Mia, Anna, and Elise

Abigail, Andrew and Elise

They all go together so well to me!

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June 17, 2009 6:38 PM

Rhanda - unfortunately my hubby does not tend to offer reasons/explanations for his vetoes. He does make the odd remark (such as that Ophelia reminds him of the word necrophilia, LOL!) but in general he'll just say no, he doesn't like it.
I do like Juliet but I don't love it. This could be because it is quite a common name for women my age (33) where I live. I know several Juliets my age! Funny how names that are popular with your own age group, somehow seem so dated and unappealing!
P.S. I know I said I love Shakespeare, but I am not particularly looking for a Shakespearean name, I promise! Ophelia and Cordelia are the only 2 I've been really drawn to - and I think it may be the pretty "elia" sound more than anything. (Unfortunately I got put off the name Amelia after meeting dozens of them in England!)

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By CB, nli (not verified)
June 17, 2009 6:47 PM

Leafy - Frankly, to my ears, Vi0let Leaf is a name that packs a punch. Everyone will hear it as a very nature themed name. If your husband isn't comfortable with that, I think it's a fair criticism. I think to go that direction, you'd want two enthusiatic yesses. JMHO. :)