2015 Archives

How to name your baby

A how-not-to guide


The following is from DFWChild.com. Sarah Feuerbacher, director of SMU's Center for Family Counseling, provided expertise for this story.

February 3, 2015

“I really did like my name,” says Jala (pronounced JAY luh) Hyde, a local mom. “I still do – it’s just so unique!”

“I’ve never liked my name,” adds her sister J’Layna (jay LAY nuh) Riddles of Garland. “I like the sound of it, but from a very young age I’ve always had to explain to people how to spell my name. It’s just been frustrating, even as an adult.”

A tale of two sisters: one whose name has two capitals and a punctuation mark, and the other whose name came from a defunct paper towel brand (Gala with a “J” — “I could have been Jounty or Jiva or anything!”). One who’s embraced the unconventional origin of her name, and the other who point-blank asked her mother, “What were you thinking? Were you still drugged up?”

The moral of their story: Someone else — namely, your child — has to live with the moniker you choose. . . 

“When your teacher pronounces the name and you have to correct them, that in your own little child’s mind feels like, ‘Oh, I did something wrong,’” says Sarah Feuerbacher, Ph.D., LCSW-S, clinic director at the Southern Methodist University Center for Family Counseling in Plano and chronic sufferer of (last) name mispronunciation. She adds that being singled out for any reason can damage a child’s confidence in those formative years, especially if the child hasn’t been taught how to respond when others butcher his name. . . 

Not so fast. Feuerbacher says her very pronounceable first name was no refuge either. As the tallest of several Sarahs in her class, she was dubbed “Big Sarah.” “That one was hard for me,” she admits. “I wanted to be ‘Little Sarah’ or just ‘Sarah.’” . . . 

Don’t force a name on your baby. If for some strange reason your child does not like the perfect name you’ve bestowed upon him, don’t require him to use it anyway. “The biggest thing adults could do is encourage kids to come up with something that they feel comfortable with,” Feuerbacher says. She was relieved when the nickname “Fire” caught on, rather than “Big Sarah.” “I loved it. It fit my personality; it was part of my last name,” she recalls. “But I picked it out.”

Read the full story.

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