Twitter Reveals That All Kids Hate Their Names

Jan 25th 2016

The substitute teachers who mangle the pronunciation. The oh-so-obvious bit of wordplay you hear over and over. The last initial that seems glued to your too-popular first name. Do any of these name indignities sound familiar? Thanks to a trending Twitter tag, we now know they're part of growing up with a name -- any name.

The topic #growingupwithmyname has brought out a flood of reminiscences, most of them painful. Anyone with a super-popular name can relate to childhood experiences like these:

And anyone with a super-unusual name knows feelings like these:

But those are just the tip of the iceberg. Dumb jokes, teasing rhymes, awkward initials, gender mixups…the list of potential problems is as long as the list of potential names:

In other words, we're all part of the great fellowship of the frustrated. Name-based aggravation is just a part of life. Yet when we're choosing baby names, we like to think otherwise. Parents scrutinize names from every angle, hoping to weed out the slightest teasing potential.

The most common impulse is to shield our kids from the slings and arrows we suffered ourselves. "I don't want my kid to have to use her last initial to set her apart," says a Sarah. "I don't want my kid to have to constantly have her name misspelled and mispronounced," says an Aoibheann. They push their name choices in opposite directions and just end up swapping problems.

No name is tease-proof. No name is uncommon AND universally attractive AND easy to spell and pronounce AND free of awkward associations. (Or if it is, don't expect it to stay uncommon for long!) That's ok. It's just one more reason to focus on what you love about the baby names you're considering, rather than prodding them for flaws. Substitute teachers and name-alike classmates come and go, but a name's essential strength and beauty is forever.



January 25, 2016 11:31 PM

You don't have to get into Maryn or Aoibheann territory to never find souvenirs with your name. My name is Martha, and I still treasure the one keychain I found with my name on it at Disneyland 30 years ago. I have not found anything with Martha on it since.

Your advice about moving names up the list, rather than down, is still genius: such a simple change, but a world of difference.

January 26, 2016 12:12 PM

I too was never able to find souvenirs with my names (Miriam and Mimi) on them.  The massive irony is that Mimi has become the "grandmother" name of choice for babyboomers, and there is Mimi stuff everywhere.  I bought my little grandson a t-shirt printed "I heart my Mimi."  Finally, and just when I became a grandmother.  BTW my grandson calls me Grandma Mimi, now a redundancy, to distinguish me from Grandma Judy and Nana Shirley.

I was called Mimi from birth and did not know that my name was Miriam until I entered school.  The first day the teacher asked the children who knew how to write their names on the board.  I wrote Mimi, and the teacher erased it and wrote Miriam, something I had never heard of.  To have my identity so thoroughly effaced--I cried bitter tears all the way home.  I then compartmentalized and used Miriam in some contexts and Mimi in others, and still do.  I have come to think of Miriam, with its very long history, as a name of elegance, while Mimi was and remains a name for a French poodle.  Nonetheless it would seem very strange for my family and close friends to call me Miriam. 

January 26, 2016 5:32 PM

I liked my name growing up; it was "Beth" and not "Elizabeth." Different, yet easy for people to say. There was a brief period when I was upset that I couldn't creatively respell my name (I rejected my friend Marck's suggestion that I add an extra 'h': 'Behth') and I had a tough moment in French class when I realized that "Beth" pronounced the French way sounded like "beast" (bête). But the dissatisfaction never lasted long.

Now I think my name dates me, but it's not the only thing that does, lol. 

January 26, 2016 7:21 PM

My original name was extremely popular between the 1940s and 1960s both in Britain and America. I always hated it. But at least I could get merchandise bearing the name. In 1981, I changed it to a more distinctive but not exactly obscure name and cannot find anything with it on!

January 26, 2016 9:27 PM

I did go through a name-hating phase right when I entered kindergarten when I realized I had a unique name. I wanted to be something "normal" like Kristy or Kathy. However, by the time I got to high school I loved my name, other than the times someone would say "Kelly" and we'd both turn around. I have always received a ton of compliments on my name, which has made me proud of it. It can be annoying when people think I am a Helen or a Kelly, but usually when I correct them, they say, "oh, wow, I really like that." I even gave my daughter the name Audren (like Audrey but with an N) because I love mine so much. I hope she grows to love hers, too.

January 28, 2016 3:30 PM

I hated the name Emily when I was growing up.  There were also no souvenirs with my name because the only people named Emily were over 80 years of age.  I suppose that is why I love modern and trendy names rather than anachronistic "old lady names".  Of course, now Emily is modern sounding again, but people expect to see someone much younger than 40 when they meet me!

January 28, 2016 10:27 PM

I feel like you can't avoid all name pitfalls, it's about avoiding some of them. My name is Meghan. Cool, I was always one of three Megs in class, no one spelt it right (souvenirs were always the more common Megan) and every once in awhile I was called Mee-gan. 

So if I can name a child something unique, easy to spell OR with a rock solid pronunciation I'll consider it a win.

January 28, 2016 11:09 PM

Growing up, I didn't dislike either of my names. It was more disconnect than anything. The name I associated with the most, the one that felt the most "me," was my nickname, probably because that was how I was most frequently called by family. Of my two proper names, I associated more with my middle name because it's where I got my nickname and what I was called when family used my proper name.

For a name nerd, I'd never really looked at my names beyond their origins until recently, and I realized my middle name isn't my style at all while I'm lukewarm towards my first name--though whether it's only relatively next to the other one I don't know, but probably. (I know that if I'd named myself, I wouldn't have picked either of them.) I also think I can be, and have been, more indifferent to it because it's always felt like a placeholder, in a way.

January 29, 2016 11:08 PM

I always liked my name, but until recently hated my middle name because it was so boring. Everyone I was friends with it seemed like, were also a Marie. Now I have started to appreciate it more, especially since it is a family name and connects me more with my mom. 

January 30, 2016 9:58 AM

My name is very dated-you can place me within 5 years of my date of birth I reckon-and I'm fairly neutral on my feelings for it. Other names my mum was considering for a girl were Katherine (but she ruled it out as her and dad couldn't decide which spelling), Joanna and Dawn. All, apart from Katherine, are quite dated I think. I spent years imagining what I would call my children that would be unusual but not dated and I ended up calling my eldest Daniel! Ha! He suits it though and it at least won't date the same. 

January 30, 2016 3:27 PM

It is amazing what a difference time makes.  To Taurwen: clearly I'm older than you.  I never had a Megan in class until college.....and we were both Mee-gans.  I could never find my name on any trinket.  (I confess to an adulthood love of pencils with my name on them.)

February 1, 2016 5:36 AM

When I &  had my 2nd child, 1st daughter,  I had really liked the name Nicole. ..PROBLEM , her OLDER 1/2 sister from Dad's 1st marriage had ,since , a 1/2 sister named NICOLE!  WELL, that Quickly RULED OUT NICOLE FOR HER NAME! ! I  Made 2 Lists - 1 ) 1st Names that I  Really Liked, 2 ) Middle Names that I Really Liked... her due date, 10/26/92 --No Decision,   BORN 10/26, ON Her Due Date!!

Well, I  looked at that BEAUTIFUL little baby girl , LONG&HARD..went over the names, and looking at her , ruled names out until I  decided on - JILLIAN ASHLEY  (My Maiden Name-Married/Fathers Name)! Quite LONG on her ID, Social etc.   But,  works beautifully together.

Jillian,  Jill, her Family Nick-Name I gave her from birth right up to today -- JILLI-ASH!

When 1st born, her paternal grandmother called her Julianne for the 1st MONTH! Had to keep correcting,  no Jillian, like Jack & Jill. LOL.

Didn't want an everyday ,common name, but now, seems there are more Jillians than I thought.  My 1st born had he been girl in 1989 would've been KAYLA, my youngest in 1999 would've been Victoria  (TORI)- NO VICKY! !

February 1, 2016 5:48 AM

Youngest was a tough one, his Dad, Joseph Anthony. .I always wanted son named Joseph  (after Joe)--but, he had a son already Joe III  no less! He suggested the IVth--NO WAY!!

Being Italian Family, I suggested his 1st and middle reversed in the Italian form. Agreed We debated Anthony - Antony, Antonio, Decided on ANTONIO,  the Joseph - Joseppe (more American version,  BUT, nicknames available :A.J., T. J. etc) or GIUSEPPE.   Joe said if we're going thr Italian route,  FULL Italian route - ANTONIO GIUSEPPE  (Of which I had to wait for Joe's Grandfather to call me back at hospital to get CORRECT SPELLING TO FILL OUT HIS PAPERS OF HIS NAME! !) LOL

SO I HAVE Tony, Antonio,  Ton, Anton, Tonio, ANTONIO GIUSEPPE!  Etc. 

February 4, 2016 6:36 AM

I'm amazed that souvenirs keep cropping up as an issue people have with their names. Admittedly, there were things with my name on them growing up, but there was never anything with my sisters' and my whole family looked on that as a good thing -- it meant their names weren't super common. I have to say it's my aim that my children will never find their names on pre-made souvenirs.

Most stuff that comes with names on it is plastic junk, and most good quality stuff with names can be customized. As can t-shirts, birthday cakes, and so on. So who really needs a key chain that says "Aidan?"