I hope you'll choose to answer my questions but I'm not holding my breath since they're so specific and perhaps kind of...insane? The baby is a boy and I'm due in September. My husband is a typical name-vetoer and pretty early on he got it stuck in his head that if the baby was a girl it'd be Harper and if the baby was a boy it'd be Charlie. I wasn't 100% sold on either name, though I liked them both, so I kept trying to come up with names to add to the list, but he said he would never like anything as much as those two. I really like Charlie, but I worry that Charles/Charlie is going the way of George instead of Henry. Just Old Man sounding and not Young and Fresh. The official name would be Charles so he could have it fall back on professionally if he ever wanted, but we'd call him Charlie pretty exclusively. Charles has been steadily declining over the years...would we be saddling our kid with an Old Man name? I also worry just a little bit about the popularity of Charlie rising as a nickname for girls named Charlotte. I'd hate for our kid to be one boy Charlie surrounded by a school full of girl Charlies.
I have a second question as well - our last name is Lyman (pronounced how you would think: lye-men) which has been super difficult to pair names with - so many strong sounds! It's ruled out the possibility for any names ending in N for me. I fell in love with Benjamin but would never use it because Benjamin Lyman just sounds so choppy. We'd like the baby to have a middle name that has some sort of family significance instead of just being random, and the name I like best OF COURSE ends in an N: Evan. My grandmother's maiden name was Evans and I have lots of close family members with it. While I LOVE Charlie Evan, Charles/Charlie Evan Lyman makes me cringe. Like you, I like there to be a cadence and flow to a full name. I keep trying to tell myself that after the birth announcement and any baby blankets that are made, I'll rarely see the whole name strung together. Am I lying to myself and signing up for a lifetime of baby name regret? Our backups are possibly my husband's middle of Christopher, Michael as a family name from my side, and William as a family name from both sides.
Thank you so much!
The first question brings up one of my hot-button naming issues, which is this: Naming a baby is not a game of King of the Mountain, where a name stays at the top unless it is knocked down by force. That is, your husband may SAY that he'll never like any names better than Charlie and Harper, but this doesn't mean that those names must be used unless you persuade him otherwise. It isn't your job to find a name he likes better while he sits back comfortably and waits; this is a mutual decision, and he too is responsible for questing for names the two of you can agree on. MANY A PARENT has had to give up MANY A NAME because the other parent didn't want to use it. It makes me a little cranky when one parent seems to be saying, "Hey, it's up to you: find me a name I like better."
Okay, now on to the questions you actually asked. No, wait: I have another digression. It's that Charlie Harper is the Charlie Sheen character on the TV show Two and a Half Men, and is also similar to the name of the artist Charley Harper. I don't think that rules out using them as sibling names (I'm not sure many people would make either connection except to think, as I did, that those two names sounded remarkably natural together), but it's the sort of thing I like to think of beforehand, rather than having someone point it out to me after the children are already named.
NOW on to the questions you actually asked. The name Charlie is hard to evaluate: the Social Security statistics don't tell us how many Charleses and Charlottes are going by Charlie, and it's hard to say how these names will feel to us later on. And "how a name feels" is so subjective: to me, Charlie is adorable and fresh and goes beautifully with all the Sams, Maxes, and Olivers---but to someone else, it could sound...well, like George (although I think George could be the next Sam/Max).
I notice that although the name Charles is very gradually declining in use, the name Charlie as a given name is increasing in use. And although Charles is declining, it's still in the Top 100---so at least a Charles/Charlie would have company, whatever the associations of the name.
It sounds to me like you have several legitimate arguments for not wanting to use it:
1. You're worried it might end up going the Old Man route.
2. You're worried about the effect of all those Charlotte-based Charlies.
3. You're not sure if "Charlie Lyman" works.
4. You're just not 100% sold.
I'd be worried about that second one, too. But without statistics, I don't know whether I should reassure us or validate our fears. I DO think a lot of those little Charlottes are going to go by Charlie---but I think a lot of them will go by Charlotte, and a lot will go by Lottie. Maybe it will stay a clearly "fine for boys and girls name" like Sam: the presence of a whole lot of Samanthas going by Sam hasn't hurt the boy name Sam. (Er, I don't THINK it has. Again, I am lost without statistics to examine.)
Now, as to your second question, again I am unsure! I've found I can argue either side of this: I can dismiss arguments that "it's just a middle name, no one will ever say it" OR I can make those arguments myself. I DO like a name to have a good flow---but I think in the end I put that consideration second place to names I like and names that honor someone. So although my kids all have names that I think flow pretty well, there were some possibilities we considered that would have had a BETTER flow, but we instead went with the honor-name or with the name we liked best. And in the case of my daughter's name, I think a different number of syllables would have been way better for her middle name---but after Paul agreed my first-name choice for her was his top choice as well, he wanted to use his previous favorite girl name as the middle name, and that seemed more important.
Charles Evan Lyman falls into this category, I think. It doesn't SING, but it's not bad. And when I say it repeatedly to myself, I find I come to like it: I know some people avoid having the same number of syllables for each part of the name, but I find I'm very positively drawn to the 2-2-2 pattern.
I feel similarly about Evan Lyman and even Benjamin Lyman: they are perhaps not ideal, but they're good enough that if you love the names I don't think the rhythm/sound is a big deal---and when I say them over and over, I come to like them. I've noticed when I look over a class list for one of my kids' classrooms, I'll see a lot of first/last name combinations that seem Not Ideal---and yet, it doesn't really matter. And yet another "and yet," if you said you didn't want to use them because you didn't like the sound, you'd find me solidly in your camp: I've rejected many a name combination because of issues I DID think were minor---but nevertheless preferred not to choose.
I think for me it must come down to how much I love a name. If I think to myself, "I MUST USE THIS NAME, IT IS THE ONLY NAME I TRULY LOVE"---well then, I'm much more likely to dismiss issues with initials or sounds or rhythms. But if I'm deciding among a list of names I like quite a bit but am having trouble choosing from, well then I'm much more likely to say "Not the one with the initials I.P., and not the one that repeats the ending-sound of our surname." So if you say to me, "I LOVE the name Charlie Evan, and this means my husband gets the name he wants and I get the name I want!," then I say to you "GO FORTH AND USE IT!" But if you say to me, "I'm not sure---I like a lot of these names, but none of them seem to work well," then I say to you "Let's keep looking! And tell your husband Swistle says he needs to help!" (Maybe Everett or Elliot, if you like Evan? Maybe Jonathan or Christopher if you like Benjamin?)
So, okay, I kind of WENT ON there for awhile. What does everyone else think on these issues? What sort of path do you see the name Charlie heading down, and do you think all the Charlottes will affect that? If you like a name to flow well, what sorts of things make you willing to compromise on that?
Name update! Chris writes:
Just wanted to send in my update to you and your wonderful readers! Thank you for reassuring me about the name Charlie - our Charlie was born on September 29! His full name is Charles Oliver Lyman; I decided to keep looking for a middle name instead of using a family name I wasn't totally sure about, and as soon as Oliver crossed my mind, I was in love.