My wife is expecting our third child. What a mind-blowing blessing. Hurricanes of gratitude coupled with wide fields of peace in our hearts. And wow, it’s tough to find the right name. Don’t you agree? Those of you with kids will know all the considerations involved:
One consideration is the playground test. We all know people who have names that have been abbreviated or changed on the playground and become subject to un-avoidable ridicule. You need to watch things that rhyme with “loser” or “funny pants.”
Is there a tradition of family names?
Sometimes we inherit customs. Perhaps it’s a middle name after a grandfather or grandmother. Do you keep it going? How does it match with the first name? What if you want to buck the trend? Are you willing to suffer the consequences? Awkward silences at family dinners?
What has been the pattern with previous kids?
If you have more than one, how will the name fit with the other(s)?
What do the names mean?
With our second child, we were considering a certain name. I liked it because it was a tribute to a theologian I admired. But then my wife looked it up and discovered it meant “bald head.” It quickly disappeared from the list.
For us, the big thing is that we want it to be biblical. We especially like the old Hebrew names. There’s an enduring strength of character to them. Not Abimelech or Nebuchadnezzar!—but Sarah and Benjamin. So we kind of want to keep in that domain.
There’s a whole world of literature about baby names, and some of them tell you popularity. If you choose something unique, will it just be unique to you? Or will your kid get to kindergarten and discover 15 other kids with the same name? So you’re always curious what others are being inspired by. I thought “Kramer” was going to go viral for a while there, but it didn’t come to pass.
And you want to avoid the “way out there” names. Well, if you’re me you do! I don’t want to call my child Galaxy, Globatron or Poodle. I would somehow feel that my own need for attention and originality was being saddled on my kid. Plus, one day they’re in a job interview and feel psychoanalyzed about how their parents who named them this obviously messed them up and so have somehow disqualified them for “gainful employment.”
At the end of the day, it’s a good thing to pray about. What name might capture the spirit of the child and bless them? A child who is created in the image of the almighty, beautiful and gracious One? Names stick for life.
Personally, I like mine. Matthew means “Gift of Yah” (“Yah” is short for Yahweh, translated as “the LORD” in our English Bibles). And my middle name is Elton. No, not after the singer! My grandfather’s names were Elmer and Milton respectively, and so my parents spliced them together.
So, do you have any wisdom? I’ll be honest. My wife and I are already down to a short list for boys and girls (we won’t know the gender until she or he is born). But I’m just curious.
Whatever name it is, I pray it gives God glory. And that it doesn’t disadvantage them on the playground or in job interviews! Melchizedek is out of the running. But there are many options still in play…