OT: MGoParents, why did you give your kids an unusual name?

Submitted by 1989 UM GRAD on May 29th, 2015 at 7:49 AM

In the thread about Daxx Garman below, someone wondered why a parent would burden their son with the name "Daxx."

It got me thinking back to the naming rules my wife and I followed when our kids were born 13.5 and 11 years ago...

1.  Must be the most common spelling of the name.  In other words, Kelly is "Kelly," not "Kelleigh."

2.  Must be able to discern the sex of the child from the name.  Eliminated Jordan, Taylor, Dylan, Avery, etc.

3.  Must be an actual name.  So Keyden and all of these other newer names were eliminated.  As was Marvcus and Plaxico.

4.  Must look professional on a resume or a nameplate.

Not going to give the specific names that we ended up with, as it would make me too identifiable to anyone on here knows me, but our daughter's name has been in the top 20 for at least a few decades...and our son's name is less common and slightly Jewishly-ethnic, but still would be recognizable to everyone.  There might even be a character on "Entourage" who has the same name.

So, my question to you, MGoParents, is why did you select an odd name or unusual spelling for your children?  Did you have any naming rules?  Years later, do you regret giving your child a less-common name?

I've wanted to ask people these questions in person, but obviously you would risk offending them...so I thought the anonymous nature of this forum would cause more people to provide explanations.

I do realize that the nature of this post creates a large opening for snark and smart-assery.  Hoping it'll be kept to a minimum.

EDIT (five hours or so after OP):  Just had my first opportunity to read thru some of the comments here.  While the vast majority of you are participating in the discussion as I intended, it appears as though a few of you (MaizeJacket, BornSinner, DanWillhor) were offended by the post and/or thought it was elitist and/or racist.  While I think you may be reading more in to the post than is there, I'd like to nonetheless sincerely apologize for upsetting anyone.  It was not my intention to do so.

EDIT (six hours or so after OP):  I just found this posting by MICHGOBLUE.  He/she more eloquently summarizes the point of my OP.

"At first I saw the same thing, but if you read his message, he isn't singling out names that are traditionally "ethnic," but rather made-up names. For example, Esteban is a typically Hispanic name and Shaquille is a typically African-American name. Based upon the OP's post, I don't think that he would have a problem with either, as the names are traditional (in each of their respective cultures), discernible by gender and spelled in the traditional manner. What I took the OP as having a problem with was simply stringing together a slew of letters and calling it a name or taking an existing name and just mis-spelling it to be unique.

One other point: on the issue of being "professional" sounding, as much as people should be hired based purely upon merit, it is a reality that people end up being discriminated against for just about anything in the hiring process, and a name - being one of the first things that a prospective employer sees - could create a negative first impression. Note that this is not limited to "ethnic" or "racial" sounding names. How well do you think Spike, Bruiser, Mercury or Venus would do interviewing for a major investment bank or law firm? Not everything is about race."

Comments

late night BTB

May 29th, 2015 at 9:57 AM ^

go classic with either a boy or girl.

hate the southern thing of having a kid go by their middle name.  If you want the kid to go by Carl, make it his first name, not his middle.  He'll be sorting that out his whole life.

You also don't want the kid to have to spell out his name throughout his life.

Boys need strong names.  And girls' names need to quit bleeding over and stealing boys names.  Enough girls named Kyle, Taylor, Preston, Brett, (most other super southern names), etc.  You're ruining it for everyone.

LSA Aught One

May 29th, 2015 at 10:02 AM ^

My brother passed one year ago tomorrow.  It was unexpected, but he lived life to the fullest.  He taught himself how to cook and became an Executive Chef by the time everything was said and done.  He left behind nobody except our immediate family, so there was noone to honor his legacy.  My wife agreed to let me adopt my son from a Brittany Spaniel rescue in Alabama.  I thought it only right to name him Chef in honor of my brother. 

 

BlueinOK

May 29th, 2015 at 10:11 AM ^

My significant other doesn't follow sports. I jokingly told her I want our first boy named Isiah Thomas. She loved it. She still loved it after I told her who Isiah Thomas is. 

OlafThe5Star

May 29th, 2015 at 10:12 AM ^

Our boy's name had a simple test -- did it sound good when followed by "damn glad to meet you." 

Rush Chairman part optional. 

I'm only half joking about this... 

Hail85

May 29th, 2015 at 10:21 AM ^

My wife came from a family with unique(weird) names (Kelty, Dori, Babs) and I came from a family with really common names (Scott, John, Doug, Beverley).  We wanted to pick names that were unique but would not look ridiculous on a job application.  Our son's name is Fischer and we already have the next few picked out (Klein (boy), London (girl), Emory (girl)).  Middle names are all family names (Douglas, Dene, Clara, Pehr)  

StateStreetBlue

May 29th, 2015 at 10:27 AM ^

I have just about one of the most basic guy names of the last 20 years, but wish it were more unique. Think about when you meet someone with a cool name (not an absurd one) - you instantly remember that person.

I feel like this could really be benificial throughout life - having poeple immediately remember you from a first introduction. Names like Fletcher, Cortland, Bo - all good in my book.

UMgradMSUdad

May 29th, 2015 at 10:46 AM ^

My wife's family had a neighbor named Harold Butts.  First and last names certainly do need to be looked at together.  My wife had a good friend who called her in great excitement after the birth of her first son and said they named him Robert but were going to call him Bobby. She had never considered the variations of that name with their last name until my wife said, "you didn't really just name your son Rob Banks did you?"

JoeMich

May 29th, 2015 at 10:31 AM ^

My oldest daughter has a common name with a unique spelling. It was tweaked to include my wife's maiden name. My youngest has a very common, not so unique name, but the nickname/shortened version throws everyone for a loop. They want to add letters to the short version. Don't know why it's so difficult, it removes three letters ... why add letters when you're trying to shorten it?!

My childhood best friend named his daughter Hailey Victoria -- best part was his in-laws are from the worst state ever, and when the daughter was born and the name revealed, the mother-in-law loved the name ... until she asked how they came up with it. After that it was, "the dumbest thing" she had ever heard.

Oh, and for good measure, I have a female dog named Maizey Blue. She's a shithead, but other than that she's a good dog.

UMfan21

May 29th, 2015 at 10:34 AM ^

wife and I are traditionalists when it comes to names. our rule was for more traditional names, however the name could not be used already in our families (a difficult task when I have 10 aunts/uncles and close to 40 cousins)

for middle names we paid homage to parents/grandparents.

Wendyk5

May 29th, 2015 at 10:39 AM ^

I went to high school with Annette Funicello. Not THE Annette Funicello, but apparently a distant cousin. She yelled "Shit!!" in science class after blowing up a beaker. One of my favorite high school in-class moments. 

drjaws

May 29th, 2015 at 10:43 AM ^

Not odd like "WTF is that" but odd enough that when I introduce myself, people assume I said James, then I correct them, and they look at me like "that's not how you pronounce James."

Most everyone agrees it is a cool name, and I love my name, so my son is [my name] Jr, though he like to go by [my name] II.

He swears his firstborn son will be III.

Anyhoo, my Mom found the name in the bible when she was reading at 2 am one evening when she was 9 months preggo with me, so it is Hebrew.

My daughter has a pretty normal name.

MC5-95

May 29th, 2015 at 10:56 AM ^

I wouldn't say my son's name is unusual, but it is unpopular, ranking in the high 400s in the social security database for popularity. It's a name that's not much used in the US anymore, but is still somewhat popular in other countries, both in Latin America and European countries.

We chose it because it was his great grandfather's name, and it just sounded right to our ears. Plus being somewhat unique, while not completely over the top, appealed to us.

Wolverine In Iowa

May 29th, 2015 at 10:56 AM ^

A guy I went to U-M with had the middle name of "Butch" - his dad lost a bet when he was in college, and so the payment was to give his first-born son "Butch" as a middle name.

Another friend of mine (and the rest of us guys) lobbied incredibly hard to name his first son "John Riggins," but somehow that got shot down by his wife.

Hill Street Blue

May 29th, 2015 at 11:13 AM ^

and parents get to choose, I get it.  Our perspective was kids have enough to deal with growing up and making their way in the world and don't need a name issue -- either odd name itself or spelling or both -- to add to it.  Grown-ups with odd/unusual names in the real world seem to have odd/uncomfortable conversations everytime they meet somebody new.

For us, we went with 'real' names from the top 250 that we thought sounded important and would be an asset on a resume, business card, or bio, and paired them with family middle names.  Figured if they wanted an alternative, they could pick up a nick-name they liked (instead of us) along the way. 

1201SouthMain

May 29th, 2015 at 11:00 AM ^

Not everyone else.  And that's all they need.  There are 6.2 billion people in the world.  Your unique name you came up with is not unique.

I say lean traditional but for sure don't go with something that the poor kid is going to have to explain 10,000 times in their life.  The unique "cool" name might not seem so cool when you're kid is 25 and explaining for the 10,000th time in a job interview where the name came from.

Not to mention, there is a negative stereotype for parents that name their kids weird things and some of us will be thinking it when we meet your kid and their unusual name.

 

MC5-95

May 29th, 2015 at 11:27 AM ^

I seem to recall two '80s Phys Ed teachers at Ann Arbor's Forsythe Junior High having phallic names. It's been forever though, and I only went there for a year before moving, so I can't remember. I think one was Mr. Ball and the other one was some derivation of Richard... This was a non stop source of laughs for 12 year old boys... Anyone remember their names?

Evil Empire

May 29th, 2015 at 11:19 AM ^

My last name is common enough that people have heard of it but it's not everywhere.  There's a doctor with my first and last name (poor guy's middle name is Harry though) in my area.  People often ask  me if we're related, most recently yesterday at the dentist's office.  No relation that I'm aware of.  When my parents lived in Milwaukee during my UM years, there were apparently four others in town.

My aunt and uncle were thinking of their kids as babies when they named them Teffera (Taffy), Amy, and Toby.  I had an assistant named Jayne, and I estimate she's spent a year of her life correcting people's misspelling of her name.

So we went with traditional names and spellings for our son and daughter:

Megan was #78 in 2007 and has nosedived since then, coming in at #308 last year.  It was a top 20 name from 1984-2000.  Related note: Meghan has taken a similar tumble...top 200 for ~25 years and it fell outside the top 1000 the last two years.

Andrew was #14 in 2010 and has also slipped a bit, #22 for last year.  It peaked at #5 (1991 and 1992), but like Michael, it's been top 100 since 1900.

UMgradMSUdad

May 29th, 2015 at 6:59 PM ^

My first name is very common for my generation, my last name not so much, and it has a different spelling than most with my last name.  In grad school there was a guy with an identical name.  The only difference was in the spelling of our middle names. I got a post card from what I thought were my parents with the generic "wishing you were here, Love Mom and Dad" notation.  A few days later I mentioned to my mother that I didn't know they had made a trip to Florida, It wasn't until her response that it dawned on me the card was intended for the other fellow.

MaizeJacket

May 29th, 2015 at 11:48 AM ^

#1 I agree with.  It irks me when I see people my age with common names, but the spelling is slightly different.  So that means you wanted your kids to be "special", but you weren't creative enough or too lazy to come up with a one-of-a-kind name on your own, so you just changed/added a letter! Good for you!

#2...so you want the sex to be discernible, but not the race? Hmmm

#3 what the hell is an actual name? Who decides what an actual name is? Keyden is a name because someone has it.  Plaxico is a name because someone has it.  Shame on you.

#4 Must look professional...? Look, a strong body of work and a track record of diligence makes you professional, not a name.

My girlfriend has anything but a common name, and that has never been an issue for her.  She appreciates the fact that she has a one-of-a-kind name, instead of a common name that is unique only because a letter was changed/added.

This is Michigan arrogance/elitism at its finest.

michgoblue

May 29th, 2015 at 1:46 PM ^

At first I saw the same thing, but if you read his message, he isn't singling out names that are traditionally "ethnic," but rather made-up names. For example, Esteban is a typically Hispanic name and Shaquille is a typically African-American name. Based upon the OP's post, I don't think that he would have a problem with either, as the names are traditional (in each of their respective cultures), discernible by gender and spelled in the traditional manner. What I took the OP as having a problem with was simply stringing together a slew of letters and calling it a name or taking an existing name and just mis-spelling it to be unique.

One other point: on the issue of being "professional" sounding, as much as people should be hired based purely upon merit, it is a reality that people end up being discriminated against for just about anything in the hiring process, and a name - being one of the first things that a prospective employer sees - could create a negative first impression. Note that this is not limited to "ethnic" or "racial" sounding names. How well do you think Spike, Bruiser, Mercury or Venus would do interviewing for a major investment bank or law firm? Not everything is about race.

BornSinner

May 29th, 2015 at 4:07 PM ^

At one point in time, the Lee Weis, Xiaos, Byung Hoons, Vijays, Akashs and Vikasiths of the world had 0 influence on the investment banking industry and were probably just deemed Chinese restaurant owners or tea makers in society. 

It took some outgoing white people to hire them and find out "holy cow these Asians are actually really good at this finance stuff" and a bit of Asian economic resurgence to prove that they are very well capable just like John and Edward given the rest of their resume.

The Venus, Bruiser, Mercury and Spike could all be those people. Judging them off the bat as some stereotype in your head based off race/culture not only is detrimental to them, but your company as well. 

Combating this kind of stuff instead of just accepting it for what it is, is more benficial imo. 

Everyone Murders

May 29th, 2015 at 2:50 PM ^

I thought you made decent points throughout.  And then you wrote "this is Michigan arrogance/elitism at its finest". 

I don't get what's so "Michigan" about the OP's post.  It comes off as boorish and could be read as being "coded", but I don't get why you attribute the attitude to "Michigan".  If anything, my experience is that the Michigan community is tolerant of creativity in names. 

My view - Name your kid whatever you like, provided you put some real thought into it.  Sometimes a unique name works great (e.g., Sufjan Stevens, who is not Persian but whose parents took the name on a suggestion of a spiritual advisor).  Sometimes not so much.  But so long as the parents have put loving thought to it and the name doesn't come off like a joke (Shitbreathtavious?), who am I to criticize a person's name?

FWIW, I took some time after the birth of my third to write out for my kids the thought process for their names.  It shows our thought process, what names we eliminated, etc. 

1989 UM GRAD

May 29th, 2015 at 3:07 PM ^

The majority of the people who are responding to my OP are taking it in the spirit in which it was intended.

But there are a few of you who are indicating that the post is "coded" or "racist."

Please explain to me how this is the case.

Black people or other minorities surely have not cornered the market on odd names.  Just in the realm of the celebrity world...Moon Unit, Apple, Rumer.  I believe their parents are white.  These names make no more (or less) sense to me than Marvcus (a former linebacker for the Buffalo Bills).

I am Jewish and find myself reading the birth announcements in the Detroit Jewish News and wondering how the parents of these babies came up with their names. 

Other than my nephew, I don't know any black Jewish people...so all of these people are white.

Call the OP a reflection of a boorish or elitist attitude (which I don't believe it is), but there's nothing racist about it.

Everyone Murders

May 29th, 2015 at 4:41 PM ^

It's a shame that so many folks are in attack mode on this, so I respect the measured tone with which you've been responding.

You ask how your OP could be read as coded?  Your criteria included:

  • 3.  Must be an actual name.  So Keyden and all of those newer names were eliminated.  So was Markvus and Plaxico.
     
  • 4.  Must look professional on a resume or nameplate.

Both of those could fairly be read as coded, especially (3).  Stating that Keyden, Markvus and Plaxico are not "actual names" would come as a shock to anyone named Keyden, Markvus or Plaxico.  Plaxico Burress is an actual name.  Of a black man who played for MSU and for the Steelers, Giants and Jets, and who failed the basic handgun safety course.   Marvcus Patton is a black man.  (I don't know who "Keyden" refers to.) 

So your only two references to "not actual names" most of us would recognize are black men.  Your statement re: "actual name" paired with the (actual) names of two black men consequently appears to dismiss less traditional names as "too black". 

(4) is not quite as obvious, but "look professional" can be read as loaded with "look like what we have traditionally seen on nameplates in the past - i.e., white names".  That becomes a pretty natural reading after reading your criterion (3).

To be clear, I don't think you intended the post to read that way (especially given your reply to my comment), but your criteria (especially 3 and 4) come off that way. 

Anyway, it's been an interesting read, and again, sorry to see that folks are attacking the OP rather than discussing the topic you broached.

 

1989 UM GRAD

May 29th, 2015 at 5:51 PM ^

...but do mind the over-analyzing, over-reaching and conclusion-jumping that is going on.

Based on what you're saying...if I had used examples like Moon Unit, Rumer, Apple, etc. instead of Marvcus and Plaxico in the original post, we wouldn't be having anyone accusing me of being racist/elitist?

What if I had indicated in the original post that I'm black?  Would that have made a difference?  I'm sure there are many black people who think Marvcus and Plaxico are nonsensical names.

Why did everyone initially assume that I'm white and thus my post is coded/racist?

What if I had indicated that I'm black and had used only "white" names as examples of made-up names?  Would I have been accused of being racist?

These are all serious questions, many of which people of all races are afraid of confronting...but the type of which need to be asked and answered...and discussed in a serious way if our country is serious about addressing racism and racial issues.

BTW...thank you for your respectful tone.  And Keyden is one example of the goofy names.  Many others in this thread have bemoned the "-eyden, -adyn, -ayden" names.

BornSinner

May 29th, 2015 at 7:49 PM ^

No you wouldn't b/c many black people and asians also share said names. 

Brian, Bob, Frank, Eric etc can also all be other races via western influence over the years. 

Names like Dontavius, Xiao, Ashay are exclusively minority names. You'r'e not going to see white people walking around with those names. Majority of white people in America have the Erics, Matthews etc as their names hence the connotation with "white names." 

I'm sure there are people in the same race that think those names can be silly, but I bet you a greater majority of black people don't. 

You don't come off as a person cultured whatsoever in your OP by just throwing out names of actual people out there as if they're not good enough to your standards or "professional." People with different names also suffer in terms of jobs, so it's like you're perpetuating that problem. Read Freakonomics. 

If you can't see that, then there's no saving you here. 

Afraid of confronting? Who the hell is afraid of this? The fact of the matter is, there are double standards that are in favor of minorities in some instances and it will always be that way given history until everyone is beige in this country or the people who own the power structure are equally split among the races/sexes and not just old white men and their worldview.

It's just how it is. 

 

 

BornSinner

May 29th, 2015 at 10:43 PM ^

B/c they're all unique names in this country! What are you not getting here? 

You think people care if it's ethnic or not? Shit do you even think an average joe can tell what country a name is from by looking at it or whether it is completely made up? 

Sigh... 

Sgt. Wolverine

May 29th, 2015 at 12:01 PM ^

I don't have children, but I have an unusual name.

One of my relatives back in the 1800s was named Burrill. My mom's side of the family is packed full of very British names, and mine is one of them. You may occasionally find it as a last name, but it's incredibly uncommon as a first name these days. Those familiar with past presidents of the university may recognize it as the middle name of the gentleman for whom Angell Hall was named (James Burrill Angell); it's also the first name of the doctor after whom Crohn's disease was named (Dr. Burrill Bernard Crohn). There's probably a handful of first name Burrills scattered around the country, but I've never met one.

I do enjoy having an unusual name. I don't mind having to spell it for people, though in situations where it doesn't matter -- for instance, when a barista asks for my name to write on the cup -- I'll go with my last name, which is a very common dictionary word that a surprising number of people still ask to spell when I present it as a name.

I do have a town in Rhode Island (Burrillville) and a lake and town in Australia (Burrill Lake), but I haven't visited either one...yet.