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Baby Names: Dealing with Family Demands

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What's in a Name

Couples who practice the Islamic faith often choose names derived from those of the prophet Mohammed, or from members of his immediate family. This is one of the reasons why the name Mohammed, along with all its variants, is one of the most common names in the world.


If you're a member of a family that honors male relatives by passing on their names, make sure you keep the generational lines straight by assigning the correct numeral or designation after your son's name. For instance, if you're naming your male baby after a grandfather and there's no one in the intermediate generation who carries this name, he'll be Barnabas Lewis Jones II, not Barney Jones Jr.

If you haven't crossed this bridge yet, believe me, you will. Even the most hands-off and least meddlesome of families generally desire some level of involvement when it comes to assigning names to the next generation. If you're a member of a close-knit family, you can be sure that you'll get lots of input on what your new little tike should be named, ranging from subtle hints to full-frontal attacks.

No doubt about it, there's a certain ownership factor that comes into play when a family member is pregnant. Cultural and religious considerations aside, families often feel pride and a sense of honor over the names that are part of their history and heritage, and they often want those names to be carried forward to future generations.

It won't hurt you to listen to Uncle Luther's tales about your great-great-great Uncle Luther, the circuit preacher who has been honored in your family by subsequent generations of Luthers. Nor will it hurt you to be open to the other suggestions that will undoubtedly be proffered by your well-meaning relatives. In fact, you may hear some pretty interesting stories and learn some things you never knew about your ancestors.

Welcome to the Diplomatic Corps!


Sometimes no matter how open you are with your family, you still find yourself in the middle of a tug of war. If you don't want to get into discussions or arguments with your relatives, don't tell anyone what name you've decided on until after your baby's born and his or her name is on the birth certificate.

None of this, however, means that you have to take the advice of any family member—or anyone else, for that matter—when it comes to naming your baby. In striking your own path, though, you may find yourself exercising diplomatic skills that you never knew you had. And if you decide to break with any long-standing family traditions, you may even have to dodge a bullet or two.

Once again, keep this important fact in mind: the name you select must be something that you like and that you feel will suit your baby. There's no way you'll be able to please every family member with your selection. In fact, you may even end up irritating a few (or more) of them. Unless this is a factor that will get you banned from Grandma's Thanksgiving table, then you shouldn't let anything a family member thinks or says deter you from choosing a name that you love.

Is it possible to go your own way on naming your baby and still appease your ever-lovin' family members? It's not only possible, it's even probable. Over the years, expectant parents have devised a variety of very successful approaches to this problem. One, or several, might work for you, too. We'll take a look at some of these methods to help you keep the peace with your clan.

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More on: Choosing a Name

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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