This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Baby Girl Townman or Balls

R. writes:
I have been reading your blog for a while now, and didn't expect to be writing to you so soon. I am expecting my first baby this summer. I am having a girl. The baby's last name will be either mine (similar to Townman) or my boyfriends (Balls). I am only seventeen (unfortunately not planned) but I am trying to be the best mom my baby could have. My boyfriend and I have a few problems. 1. We can't agree on any names 2. I want the baby to have my last name.

My list:
Rose (I like more classy, less common names)

Boyfriend's List:
Ava (Likes trendy, popular names)

What we agree(kinda) on:
Charlotte(both like but is getting a little popular)
Grace(I like but too common)
Amelia(same as above)

Names we can't use:
Cora(this is the only one I would have considered)

That's just the start of our issues. I really want my girl to have my last name. I love my boyfriend but I'm worried that we might split after the baby is born. Plus, his last name is Balls. He and his family always get teased about it. (unfortunately he has an uncle Harry Balls) He thinks that the baby should have his last name because that is usually what happens. It seems like we can't agree on anything!

Thank you!

It sounds to me as if it would be better for the baby to have your surname. While it's true that it's common for children to have their father's surname, it gets less common all the time---and in many cases, I think it makes more sense for the baby to have the mother's surname. If your boyfriend's surname weren't such a challenging one, I might suggest using his family name as the baby's second middle name, or hyphenating it with yours. As it is, perhaps it speaks poorly of my character to say that I might use the various reasonable concerns inherent in the situation as my excuse to get out of having to use his surname for the baby.

I am encouraged, looking at the lists of names:  the two of you have similar styles, and the differences are mostly a matter of commonness. If he already likes Olivia and Sophia, I can see leading him gently to something more like Violet---as opposed to what we'd be facing if his favorite girl names were Ryder and Storm.

Let's start with his choice of Ava and see if we can work outward to something more to your tastes. Eva would be beautiful, as would Eve. Or Audrey, or Ivy, or Genevieve.

From his Sophia, I suggest Fiona, Josephine, Phoebe, Phillipa, Simone, Stella.

From his Isabelle, I suggest Isadora, Annabel, Maribel, Rosabel, Clarissa. Annabel especially seems like a good compromise between your Annelise and his Isabelle.

From his Olivia, I suggest Liviana, Eliza, Molly, Lydia, Linnea.

If you like Cora but can't use it, is Clara too close to be considered? That's one of my favorites for classy sweetness, along with Eliza and Jane.

Or Nora? Too close to Cora, or okay?

I wonder if Emmeline would work. My guess is that he'd like Emma, but the longer variation is much less common and has more the flavor of Annelise from your list.

Name update! R. writes:
Hi everyone! Thank you to everyone who commented and for all the ideas! Im sending this right now so I don't forget later.

So in the end, we decided give our baby my last name. My boyfriend has had teasing in the past, and he decided she didn't need to get teased about her last name. We then tried to encorperate Balls into her middle name, by choosing Annbel.(Bel is close enough to Balls for us, and there are Anns on both my side and his side)

Her first name took a while. He actually like alot of the suggestions, but thought they were a little too "out there"(I'm not sure why, I guess names outside the top ten are out there for him!) But there was one name that he really liked- Josephine. I loved it alot because it honored my dad, Joseph, who goes by his middle name most of the time. It just so happened that she was born on my dad's birthday! Josephine Annabel Townman was born July 1 at 7 lbs 9 oz. Our little girl is so sweet! Thanks again everyone!


Nicole Trager said...

My mother was a teen mom with me. She gave me her last name and I prefer it that way as they did end up splitting up 2 months after I was born. It was nice to have that name connection with my mom and my grandparents, rather than having a last name of a family I never knew.
I would say maybe a compromise might be to use your surname and then tell him that if you are together for quite sometime maybe you can change her last name later. This happened to my brother, he had my mother's surname but his dad stuck around and was a great father and when he was 8 they changed his last name to his dads.. they threw a big party and made it fun.. but ultimately my brother got to decide if he wanted the name or not as it was Honey.. so you can see the big teasing potential in that last name on a boy.

As for first names I love the lists that Swistle gave, especially Fiona, Phoebe, Lydia and Clara. From your List I love Rose, how about Rosabelle as a compromise between Isabelle and Rose.. then you could shorten it to Rose?

Good luck! As a final not I would like to say that Balls is a really unfortunate last name.. personally I would avoid it.. I would use swistles number one suggestion about names: to imagine if you would want that last name.. and I would say no.. in fact even if he was the love of my life and I were to marry him I would probably keep my last name.

Heidi said...

I actually voted "I knew; it's not a deal-breaker," but for some reason this one has been nagging at me. Bracketing off for just a second the issue of the name's meaning and significance, I just don't GET why someone who's not Jewish would want to name their child this. For me, it's akin to someone Jewish, or of some other faith or none at all, to name their child "Christian." What's the point? Because the name sounds nice? There are lots of other nice-sounding names.

Fran said...

Not sure if the laws are different by state or what state the LW is in but where I live, the baby usually has the mother's last name if the parents are not married. It can be legally changed later in the child's life or not. The father's name is still on the birth certificate. I would have a hard time naming my child ______ Balls too!

Anonymous said...

From both lists I thought of Gemma. The baby should take the Mother's last name in this situation. You will save her a life full of teasing.

Laura said...

I think that if hyphenated, Townman-Balls isn't bad. That being said, I would advise giving the baby the last name of the main custodial parent. I grew up with my dad, not my mom, so things were a lot easier for me because I already had his last name. My best friend grew up with a single mom, and her mother chose not to revert back to her maiden name after she divorced her children's father so that she could have the same last name as her kids. She even kept it after she remarried. It certainly makes things a lot easier for teachers, doctors, etc.

Some of my suggestions that are different than Swistle's:

Marie Townman
Victoria Townman
Georgia/Georgiana Townman
Cecelia Townman

If you choose not to give your daughter his last name, perhaps the baby's middle name can be from his family? A feminine version of his name, or the name of his mother or a favorite grandmother?

Good luck with everything!

Kit said...

My friend's husband has a tease-worthy last name and they decided to give their kids her last name so they would not have to endure the teasing. So, even if you were married and planning a long life together, I would suggest dropping Balls. In your situation, I would insist that the baby have your last name.

As for first names, I would just go back to the three you can agree on and choose for those. While they are on the popular side, they are all lovely and classic.

Anonymous said...

I agree that if I had married someone with the last name Balls, I would not have changed my name and would have really pushed to give any children my surname instead of his. Add that to your age and the fact that you aren't married and already have fears that you won't stay together, you really should give the baby your last name. My mom was 17 when I was born and my bio-dad didn't stick around very long. I was very glad I had that connection to the family I was raised by (my mom & her parents) as opposed to essentially having a stranger's last name.
His first name list isn't bad, just trendier than yours. As a compromise to the baby getting your surname, you could give him a choice of 3 or 4 names that you both can kind of agree on and let him choose either the first or middle name (you'd have veto power of course). Swistle gave a lot of really good suggestions and the previous poster's suggestion of Gemma was also very nice. Of them all, I especially like Annabel. I'll also suggest Ruby, Cordelia (too close to Cora?), Ginevra, Caroline, Eleanor, Hazel and Vivian.

hillary said...

Agree 100%, avoid the Balls name if you can! I think the idea that you'd add his name to the baby's if you get married or are committed/living together in the future makes sense. As of now you are the custodial parents and it will be easier from a bureaucratic perspective for the baby to have your name...which is better anyway.

I think you'll be able to find a name you're both happy with. My husband and your boyfriend are similar in their love of popular names, and I also prefer names that are a little farther down on the charts. So I'll offer you a couple of names that my husband and I agree on:

Miranda (I like it for its Shakespearean roots and he likes it because...I dunno, it sounds like a cute girl?)
Juliet (ditto above..and recently heard of the nickname Jet, which may appeal to your boyfriend)
Penelope (I like the character in the Odyssey, he likes the cute nicknames: Penny, Poppy, Nellie)

Good luck!
PS - my mom was also young and she was/is a fantastic mother. She went to college while my sister and I were in elementary school and it was a great example for us. You can be a good parent and still follow your dreams. <3

Anonymous said...


Where I live the baby automatically gets the last name of the mother if she is not married. With consent of both parents, the last name can be changed to the father's name. So, although I am sure you want to keep all parties happy, my suggestion to you is not to give in and give her your name. It is ultimately up to you. If later on in life you two were to get married and you decide to take his family name, you can also change your little girl's name. Maybe he will find this a comforting thought.

I am also an unmarried mother (by choice) and we decided that our children have my last name. So, you are definitely not alone. I think your BF needs to let a bit of his manly pride go and do what is most logical for his baby.

Just wanted to add the suggestions of

Florence (Flora),
Aurora and
Olive (Olive Balls! lol)

which may fit the bill for you both! Good luck deciding!

Anonymous said...

Oh, or Eleanor (Nora) is great too!

Homa said...

My daughter was in a similar situation when she had her daughter. She decided to hyphenate her last name with her boyfriend's and she put her name first (L-C) That way whenever names would be alphabetized, my granddaughter would be in with the L's.

Anonymous said...

My mother was young when she had my twin and I and opted to give us her last name (her maiden name) at the time. I am so thankful she did as I have no contact with my biological father and absolutely loved my mother's maiden name. Now that I am a mother-to-be, I am giving my child my maiden name and my mother's maiden name. As all have said, you have the choice later to legally change the last name if you and the dad choose to stay together.

liz said...

I would not give her his last name. It's really an unfortunate one. However, where I live in Virginia, there's a Metro stop called Ballston, which made me think that perhaps there's a way you can combine your two last names into one that would work for her? But only if you would all three change your names to it.

Anyway, if you are not going to give her his last name at all, I would go with Charlotte, which is classic and no kids in my son's elementary school of over 1000 students has it as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the names on your list made me chuckle a little when paired with his last name. I definitely would go with your last name, with the option of hyphenating it or adding his name to the middle name spot if you end of getting married. That being said, if his name does become part of the name in the future, you wouldn't want a daughter with the name Violet. I love the names you agree on. I think I like Amelia the best. Good luck :)

jerilyn said...

I would never take-or give- a last name like that and I am usually very traditional. My husband agrees with me but luckily his last name was "normal."
I like the suggestion of gemma!

christine said...

I like all of the names you've chosen! And for the love of Pete, go with your maiden name. For the reasons you state, but also: Balls.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine got married this weekend, her husband took her last name simply because his name sounded better with her last name than the other way around. We live in a modern world! There are many reasons to keep your name, zero to change it to his.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the comments, but I wanted to suggest the name Aria :-)

Brooke said...

I like many of the suggestions, especially Lydia and Gemma. I agree that your baby gets your name. You will ALWAYS be her mom, and unfortunately, dads have the ability to come and go. You are young, and you're going to learn a lot about yourself in the next 10 years, even without a baby. If you get to a point where you want to commit to your boyfriend and marry him, you can change both your names. Until then, she is yours. Period.

Anonymous said...

When we consider first names for children, we look at how they will go through life with it- is it teaseworthy, embarrassing, offensive, hard to spell or pronounce, etc. If your situation is genuine, Balls does tick a few of these boxes, so I would avoid it as a surname. Where I am from in Europe, girls ALWAYS get their mums maiden name. Women dont change their name when they are married. This is also the case in many Asian and African cultures, so I would definitely INSIST on it in your case. Where I live now, Not Europe, it isnt that unusual for blended surnames to be used- my cousin by marriage invented a new surname for the family before their son was born. Perhaps if you do end up with this fellow, you could invent a different take on your surname....anyway, Georgia, Gemma , Emma or Emmaline are beautiful, and I think are the classic look you are after with a modern flair for him. A flower name like Rose in the middle spot is gorgeous, but maybe pick a list of say 20 names you would be happy with in middle spot and tell him he can pick any one of them. Or as another gesture, offer to look through his family tree for names from his side of the family which you like enough to use in first or middle spot. And having a daughter on your Own is absolutely magical- i was a little older than you but my daughter and I are so close. Best wishes to you all.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte Grace or Amelia Grace are perfect. Nicknames are Charlee/Lottie or Milly/Amy. Avoid Balls.

ilybabydoll said...

Well I deffinately think giving the baby your last name is a good idea.

I have my mom's last name. When my daughter was born her father and I decided to give her my last name also. I'm really glad we did since he is now out of the picture.

The Mrs. said...

First off, good for you for choosing to make the best life possible for your daughter. It takes a lot of courage to be a parent.

Secondly, regardless of the circumstances, this man is your child's father, and I appreciate how you've taken his opinion on names into consideration. That shows maturity.

Third, I agree that this child should bear your surname unless you and her father are married... surely he can understand that if he hasn't made a commitment to become a family, you can't be committed to using his last name. And, yes, Balls is particularily unfortunate.

Finally, do you like:










Best wishes to you all as you expect your sweet little arrival. Please let us know what you decide!

Jenny said...

Good luck! I wonder if, rather than using the father's surname, you could incorporate a first or middle name beginning with B. Or if you go with a -bel/-bella name, you could use Bella as a nickname.

R. "Townman" said...

Thanks for all the comments!

My BF and I have decided that she will get my surname(thankfully) but incorperated his name somewhere in the name.

We both love Josephine, Fiona,Ivy, Phoebe and Clara. (I got him to change his taste-Thanks Swistle!)

I acctually have family connections with Josephine (my dad is Joseph) and Clara(cousin Claire) so those are my favorites now. My boyfriend and I both have connections with Ann so Annabel will probably be a good middle name. WDYT?

Thanks again!

Jan said...

I think Josephine and Clara "Townman" both sound great. I'm curious by how you will somehow incorporate his name. His last name? Is the Bel in Annabel close enough? Maybe you could give her a middle name that is the female version of his first name or middle name.

Natalia said...

If the "bel" is enough as a reference to your bf's surname, what about Josephine Clarabel "Townman"? You could also spell it Clarabal... I've also seen girls named Isabal, although I think it sounds too much like "is a ball".

If he wants a more obvious reference to his surname, maybe Ballari is a good option. Josephine Ballari... Or Balle. Also Kimball or Campball. None of them are consistent with your taste, though.

Maybe you could find some sort of anagram with your bf's surname or even incorporate the letters of his first name, since the 5 letters in Balls aren't enough to form a proper name... I thought of Sally, Alba (or Allba?), Bella... not easy!

Hope you find a beautiful name that make both of you happy!

Veronica M. D. said...

As far as the last name issue goes, I know it might be hard on him, but in this case, I would give the baby my own last name too. If you two end up getting married in the future AND you decide to change your last name to his, it is not that difficult to change the baby's name as well. He might be hurt by this decision, but if you plan on having his name on the birth certificate, it has nothing to do with rights to the baby. Good luck. I know this must be a difficult fight to have, and I hope things turn out okay.

Jessica said...

I'm very glad your boyfriend has agreed to give the baby your surname. Aside from the inadvisability of passing on a name like Balls, I do think it makes more sense for you and the baby to have the same last name. Good luck figuring out the rest of the name!

Nedra said...

I agree that your baby should have your last name. It makes sense for a variety of reasons and it is not uncommon at all for the baby of a single (unwed) parent to have the mother's name.

I think Charlotte Townman sounds particularly nice.

If you DO decide to go with his last name, though, I would avoid the name Rose. Rosey Balls might not be as bad of a tease as Harry Balls, but it's not great either.

doahleigh said...

First names are tough and I don't have a good suggestion. But as for the surname, "that is usually what happens" is not at all a compelling argument. You guys have to decide what is best for you and your child. There are a lot of things to consider, and it appears you are very aware of that. Just please remember that this is a unique decision that each couple/family has to make, and nobody's idea of "what is normally done" or "what should be done" can override what you guys decide is best.

mary said...

I think Rose Sophia or Violet Isabelle would be great!

Patricia said...

What a lovely name you chose for your little girl. Josephine Annabel Townman seems just perfect for her. Congratulations!

jerilyn said...

CONGRATS! I just ADORE Josephine! (never had a girl :( ) and how sweet she shares a birthday with your dad! <3

Leslie said...

Josephine Annabel is a gorgeous name! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous name, with a beautiful story!

Laura said...

Congratulations! You chose the perfect name for your daughter!

Veronica M. D. said...

My daughter is Josephine Isabelle, so I must say, I adore your choice of Josephine Annabel! Beautiful! :)