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Friday, November 9, 2012

Discussion Topic: Do Your Friends Have the Same Naming Style as You?

I have a question, and I'm not quite sure what it is. So maybe what I have is a discussion topic. The discussion topic is about whether your friends tend to have the same naming style as you or not---and how far off do they get.

And, backwards from there: if you met someone with a wildly different naming style than yours, would it feel like it Meant Something? That is, would you think to yourself, "Oh...her kids are named ____, ____, and ____?" and get a little sinking feeling because it seemed to indicate that the friendship might not work out?

My friend Mairzy and I have what I consider easily-friendship-compatible naming styles. The styles are different, yet we can both appreciate the other one's style---and we have areas of overlap. We are an "I like it for someone else's baby" friendship. We can discuss names recreationally, and we both tremendously enjoyed discussing name possibilities for the children who were born after we started being friends.

I have another friend who is more like Top 10 names for boys and girls, while I'm more like Top 50 for boys and Top 1000 for girls. If she were more interested in baby names, we'd be able to discuss them recreationally: I don't flinch from her choices and she doesn't flinch (much) from mine. Her choices have in fact given me a greater appreciation for Top 10 names.

I have another friend who has two children with names of my style, and one with a name that's quite different and of a style I dislike. I felt a little dip at the announcement of that third child's name---a feeling of "Maybe we don't know each other as well as I thought."

I was stressed when my friends who are also my brother and sister-in-law were expecting their first child. The subject felt fraught with meaning. I was intensely relieved when they picked something great. It wasn't the same style as mine, but it was in one of my Style I Admire categories rather than in one of my Style I Dislike categories.

If I meet someone at kindergarten drop-off/pick-up, and I ask the names of her children and she says names of a style I would never, ever consider because I dislike it so much, I admit I do think, "Huh. Maybe this isn't going to work out." But I'm always aware that my initial reaction might be completely unfounded, and I don't seriously ditch a potential friendship based on it; it's just one piece of information in the information-gathering stage of getting to know someone.

But it does catch my attention, just as many other not-necessarily-(but-maybe)-relevant-to-friendship details do: "Oh...they live in that absolutely enormous and beautifully-decorated house?" "Oh, she loved [movie I hated]?" "Oh, she dedicates two hours daily to housework?" "Oh, she doesn't know where the library is?" To me it's one of many indicators of compatibility: just as I'd make certain preliminary (not conclusive, but preliminary) assumptions about a family with a giant house and more luxury cars than adults, I'd make certain preliminary assumptions about a family with children named Apple, Pax, and Pilot.

How is it for you? Are you dying to know the names of a new acquaintance's children because it seems like Interesting and Important Information? Do the names add to the information you have about the person?

And how do the naming styles of your established friends compare with your own style?

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a friend (from before we had kids) who names her children in a style I Very Much Dislike. As the children have gotten older, it seems to have been the first indication that we weren't going to be the same kind of parents. The naming style itself hasn't created distance in the friendship, but the underlying fundamental differences in the way we approach parenting has.

Alice said...

Yes, I experienced this recently. A friend of mine who I grew up with came to visit me. She is my oldest friend and when we were kids and into our 20s, we were best friends...totally inseparable and basically shared the same brain. Then we moved in different directions, she married and divorced and married again and I moved overseas with,y husband and had a baby. When she came to visit, I hadn't seen her in two years, and she announced she was pregnant. I was excited of course and we naturally proceeded to talk about names. She said, "I really need you advice because you're so good at names." Of course I was excited for the challenge and asked her to give me some examples of her style. She said, "I love Hudson with a y for a girl." My heart sank. There's nothing wrong with that name per se, but it could not be farther from my style...and to be honest, I did have a moment of, "who are you? I don't even know you anymore!" Over the next few days, I think I managed to sell her on some more in line with my style (which I would call quirky vintage), but generally speaking I couldn't stop thinking about how different we had become!

Anonymous said...

One of my closest friends and I have vastly different naming styles. Love her to death, but wouldn't choose any of her names. I don't think it would have kept us from being friends, but we were friends before kids.

I am pregnant with #2, and I asked her for suggestions... she gave me a whole slew of names that my husband would turn down faster than I could say them. I guess some of her names are endearing to me, but I probably wouldn't give them to any child of mine.

Her names: Pax (girl) and Fletch (boy) vs. my biblical name: Noah.

In some ways, it is NICE not having a friend with the same naming style because then I don't feel competitive over a name (like... hurry up, lets get this baby out so we can use the name FIRST!). :)

Rayne of Terror said...

Our closest sets of parent friends all share the same style, modern surname. We go antique charm. If I meet a family and their name choices are also antique charm, I think to myself, I bet we'd get along. But if I meet a family with name choices I don't like it doesn't make me assume I wouldn't like them.

Saly said...

Most of our friends and our family who have had kids within our timeline have naming preferences similar to ours.

I have a newer friend/more of a colleague who, when I heard her kids names, I thought "Oh, one of those...we will never be friends."

Email or DM me if you want those names (trust me, you want them). She follows me on Twitter so I've never even brought it up.

Michelle said...

I would not put that much pressure on naming styles. That would be like saying 'I don't like like her taste in home decor, so I don't think it's gonna work out.' Maybe it's human nature to want to surround ourselves with people who think just as we do. Maybe doing so validates our own choices.

My closest friends have kids with names I love and names I would not choose in a hundred years. The one thing we all have in common is that we love the names we've chosed for our babies.

So, in short, no, it's not an indication of compatability. But neither is taste in movies, food, clothing, etc. I don't need friends who are exactly like me. I love them for their honesty, kindness, wisdom, loyalty AND their individuality.

Bethany Haid said...

Yes, yes. This is very evident to me when we are at playground or story time at library and parents of kids same age as mine go around in a circle. I cannot blame the parents if they have weird or unsavory mama because it was their parents' choice. Not judgement at all. But when they tell their kids' names, it's a different matter. I realize their tastes and parenting style and personal lifestyle choices could be really different than mine an we may not be compatible. It's not a real cruel judgement to make, more like discernment.

ALSO since you use fake kids' names here, who knows if we could be pals! My Elsa Kate and Daniel Henry SEEM like they could fit in with your style, but what I'd Elizabeth and Henry's real names are Jaydyn and Cayden? Who knows if we are compatible then, Swistle!!

Anonymous said...

I think that names do catch my attention and I make some kind of inference from them, though whether it ultimately affects the relationship, I'm not sure. I do have a good friend with a different naming style, but I already knew we we had different approaches/views to many things, so it didn't matter. Though I do have to say, thinking about it I find myself not surprised that she chose "those kind" of names, and now I feel a little bad about thinking that!

Ginny said...

I do consider it one of those vague little indications, because I think name preferences can be cultural markers: not just the race/ethnicity kind of culture, but things like where you and your friends like to spend time, and what kind of entertainment you like. I don't put a lot of stock in it, but it gives me a ballpark guess about someone, which I then look for other indicators to confirm or disconfirm.

My very best friend's top two names are Harper and Jackson, which is perfect: I like both names, but they're not in my style, so we probably won't ever be competing. The sibling I'm closest to is similar.

Anonymous said...

We have a family friend who, when he & his girlfriend(!) were expecting their first, told me their top choices were McKensi and Sierra, and I remembering thinking "Phew, no risk they'll be stealing any of my favorites." Seven years later, they now also have a little boy with a name that I'd never ever pick but that I definitely warmed too as I embroidered it onto the quilt I made for them, I've realized that Mickey is an adorable nickname for a little girl, and of all the parents we know they're some of the ones we admire most. Now I've just got my fingers crossed that my brother doesn't actually name his daughter Riley...but if he does, I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Anonymous said...

I feel like you do - I immediately think "oh we probably have absolutely nothing in common" but then am rational enough to reserve actual judgment until getting to know more about them. Just because our styles are different doesn't mean we can't be friends! I'd say I'm probably more likely to pursue friendships with people if I love their kids names. Just as if we share any other style/preferences.
One thing I can't quite let go, though, is creative spellings. We know a 'Jadeynn' and I don't like to admit it but I judge her parents.

Angela said...

I definitely judge people based on their children's names! It's not a "oh my god I never want to talk to you because you used a top 10 name" judgement but more of a "Oh, so you're that kind of person," judgement.

Not so much old friends because I know what they are likely to name their kids based on their personality. One friend declared she wants all girls, and her favorite girl name is Kayleigh. It fits her perfectly. Not my style, but since my friend is very feminine, grew up in a house of all girls, etc. I can see exactly why that name would appeal to her.

Another of my friends is very whimsical and grew up with a nickname-as-given-name, so it makes perfect sense that she would like creative, long-form names like Avaline with cute, trendy nicknames.

So yeah, I definitely make inferences about a person based on their favorite baby names!

Teej said...

I have been comforted by the fact that my closest college friends who have had babies have given them names of which I heartily approve and like. It does seem to futher underline the compatability I already knew that we had.

But when I hear a name that I don't like, I don't automatically assume that I won't like the parents or have anything in common with them, though I do roll my eyes at their naming style.

Jill said...

I'm terrible for doing this, but I am really picky about names! When one of my good friends in 8th grade told me she was naming her two new kittens D'kota and Cheyenne I almost couldn't stand it! And those were pets...and it was 8th grade! My best friend since elementary school has very different tastes than me, but because I've known and loved her for so many years prior to kids I don't think their names changed my opinion of her, more than they confirmed the neurotic personality I already knew lurked within :) To give you a taste, she named them according to the alphabet, and got pretty creative trying to keep the pattern. The plus side is we have no fear of being in competition for names! Another of my friends has such a similar naming style as me, that when I told her my top choices at the time she said "I love them!!! I'm going to use ____ too! They can have the same name, wouldn't that be cute??" That is the last time I ever discussed name choices with her! So there's the flip side, if your tastes are too similar you can resent someone for having found a perfect name before you, or for adopting one of your favourites with no idea that you'd take offense. I'm just glad I've found THE name since then and that I love it so much I wouldn't particularly care if I heard it one someone else (I never thought I'd get to that point, because popularity of a name is a huge turnoff for me since my first name, not my middle name Jill, was incredibly popular when I was growing up).

Anonymous said...

My brother and sister in law have scary name choices up until the very end, when they always settle on something lovely and very much my style. I admit, if I imagine their kids with some crazy-cre8tiv names (J'Karleigh or Blayzz or something) I would be really put off and wonder about the parents' sanity. I agree that it would make me question our compatibility! They're waiting to reveal the name this time around which is killing me, lol.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the opinions here, but there is not enough hours in the day for me to even worry about someone else's naming style. In considering new friends I tend to look more at character and integrity instead of if I agree with what they named their child. If that were the case, I would have missed out on many a good friend. As a fellow name nerd it is an added bonus when I find a fellow name loving soul and we can chat about names. Those conversations I find are still minimal and make up a tiny percentage of the conversations we have over the lifetime of a friendship. I am actually in awe of how this is such a serious issue for some that they would base an entire potential relationship on it. To each his own!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:58- Good for you, selecting purely on character and integrity! You're being kind of an ass, though. We've all been really clear that we think of this as only one of many things that give us an impression of a person. I guess there aren't enough hours in the day for you to read carefully or be nice to people, either.

Lauren said...

I think it can be an indicator, but probably not a deal breaker in an otherwise great friendship. I have some friends with mildly different naming styles and some friends with VERY different naming styles. I admit there will be much eye rolling behind closed doors if I think you are very silly with your namin choices. But I can still think you are an otherwise great person.

I actually prefer differences in naming styles over the situation with my SIL, who I am very good friends with. We have exactly the same naming style. To the point that her two babies got my secret #1 names. I had to mourn my names while welcoming my niece and nephew. I did call dibs on my new #1 name with her, even though I generally don't believe in calling dibs on names.

Anonymous said...

1) I don't ever think about whether I'll be friends with someone based on his/her child's name. I believe I can honestly say that. I hear a kid's name and repeat it to remember, make some sort of internal mental note to remember, with *comment* if I find it unusual or WAY common or whatnot, but that's it. I can honestly say I don't think I've ever considered it some kind of reflection on a parent. But that said, I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, so odds are I've already been sizing the parents up in some way before I even know the name of their child(ren).
2) Naming *has* annoyed me a bit with friends, but I'll tell you it's not because it affects our friendship, but because they themselves put so much weight into the names/naming. Particularly, I have several friends who have insisted on having the only child named "X" ever, which, of course, is pretty much impossible. But it has also made naming issues with them, someone else said it, eye-rolling. Also, it's made some of them a bit obnoxious about the reveal: like "get ready to hear the greatest name you've ever heard and you'll ever hear and you'll wish you thought of it"...OMG, the kid will probably have a nickname the first 19 years of his/her life anyway. (<--I say this with all the love.)
Don't get me wrong, I think names are important, and I think we should consider them carefully since our children will (presumably) have them their entire lives, but making such a production of *how* and *why* and *what* they're naming the kids has made me think of more than one friend that they are trying to win some kind of naming competition that no one else seems to be competing in (these *several* friends I am thinking about were not in proximity to each other when they were naming/having kids). Anyhow. That's that. I love their children and their children's names. I think they could've kept everyone's stress/eye-rolling levels to a better minimum with all the Naming! Games! going on.
Phew. That was a rant, huh? Anyhow...

Erin said...

Funny you ask this now, as I've been thinking about it a bit lately. A close friend (who's son's name I love, though I wouldn't use it for my own kid) is nearly set on a name for her daughter and I HATE it. It's not only Not My Style, but it's a name I actively hate within a style I dislike. When she first mentioned it and said "Isn't that pretty?" I sort of gave a noncommittal "Um", but I don't think she was really looking for my opinion because she's still trying to sell her husband on it. (I really hope they don't pick it because I don't think I can stand hearing that name every day forever. Is that terrible of me? Probably.) However, another friend is expecting and I don't care for the names she's chosen, which surprises me because she and I are very similar in most other aspects. (I don't care for the names, but I don't actively loathe them like the other friend's.)

Generally I think most of my friends have similar naming styles to mine -- and if the style isn't exactly similar, it's at least not one that I'm averse to. And if I meet someone whose kids all have names within a certain category (very biblical, for example, like Noah, Luke, Abel, and Mary; or very you-neek, like Ma'Kenzii), I tend to assume we likely won't have much in common. But I won't necessarily not explore the option of becoming friends based on that. (Usually, though, it proves true, because I find that people whose naming styles are drastically different also often have drastically different parenting styles and inherent personality types.)

Bethany Haid said...

I bet it's different when you have 8th grade kids you are meeting parents of vs. you are mom of newborn meeting aim of a newborn. Probably perspective changes. (?)

When I meet an older mother with kids in school, I think differently than when I meet a newborn's mom.

Phancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
phancymama said...

My brother and his girlfriends recently got a dog and named it a very very very creative spelling of a great name, (replacing s with z, c with k, removing a vowel), and I couldn't help but cringe.
So yeah, I do have a little judgement about naming styles, but then again it is nice to have friends that I won't be in name competition with! And I agree with others who have said that often very different naming styles tend to indicate very different living styles, where we don't find much common ground.

Manday said...

Most of my closest friends do not have kids yet, so who knows... I think they will be near to my style but not quite on top of it, which would be a good fit. I guess if I met someone whose kids names were WAY out there, it might strike me as a bad sign... but it would have to be pretty extreme.

Eva.G said...

I would say I wait with bated breath to hear what a friend or acquaintance has named their baby, and I definitely have an opinion about it that I only share with my husband! :-) But as much as I may judge the name itself, I don't judge their personalities or assume things about them based on names, and I hope others wouldn't of me as well. Several previous posters said name preferences are indicators of personalities, which I disagree with, because what about someone like me who has different styles? I love word and noun names, such as Atlas, Noble, Story, Geneva, Evening, and Honor. But another part of me loves quirky vintage names, like Calvin, Hayes, Raymond, Walter, Nora, Pearl, and Vera. I will confess I strongly admire people who use word names for their kids, because I love those names so much and hope to be brave enough to do it!

All our friends have named their children Top 100 names - so they're pleasing to my ear, as they are to most people, which is why they're Top 100 names :-) I like them, but wouldn't use them based on their popularity. Also, none of my friends who have kids are name nerds, like me. I wish we could talk about names in depth, but when I ask what their favorite names are, they don't care so much and just have a name they like, but aren't open to discussion. Boring! If I were meeting a new friend, I wouldn't care if they had an extremely different naming style than me, as long as they were a name aficionado like myself! Then I think we'd be instant friends!

British American said...

I have friends with very similar naming styles to mine. So much so that my husband & I wanted to name our baby a certain name and our friends wanted to name their baby the exact same name. Our babies were born 8 days apart. (They were different genders, so they don't have the same name.) It was not good for the friendship at the time.

Another friend also once told me that she would have used a certain name on her son, if we hadn't already used it on our son two years earlier.

At the library storytime I am drawn to families who have naming styles that I like. Not that I actually befriend anyone these days, but if I were going to start up a conversation I would gravitate toward Roland's Mom rather than Jainsely's Mom. (Actual names of local toddlers.)

My oldest is in school, so it's more about who she befriends rather than what names I like. I do think it would initially be easier to hit it off with someone who named their child with a similar style to myself or a style that I somewhat liked.

My brother doesn't have any children - or a girlfriend right now - I will be very interested to see what he does name his children one day. I may feel slightly awkward initially if he marries someone who likes Not My Favourite Style of names.

Sunk Costs said...

I'm most apt to be disappointed in too-common or 10-years-past-their-prime names. 2012 and you chose Madison? Or Ashley? womp womp.

I have a relative with children named Caspian, Azriel, and Sebastian. Because I KNOW the family, I can say that it's a disastrous mess of a girl trying for attention and fanciness. Not my style names and DEFINITELY not my style of name selection. Even when I don't LIKE people's name choices, I tend to accept them, because in my mind their name choices seem to fit their characters- traditional, vintage, trendy, boring, my-style weird, not-my-style weird,...

also sometime, somewhere, i read about Democrats tending toward older more traditional names (james, victoria, etc) and Republicans tending toward modern names (riley, mason, etc). No idea the source or validity, but now I think of it when i hear someone else's kids' names.

Anonymous said...

I put myself in the privately judgmental camp. I tell my fiancé my opinion on every bad name I hear, much to his chagrin I'm sure, and many of those names are my friends' #1 faves (eep!) But while I may jump to a conclusion about a particular name upon hearing it, and perhaps the mental state of the namer (jk!), I don't think it would keep us from being friends if they proved otherwise likable. I would probably still have my initial "Can you believe her kid's name??" private one-sided rant to dear hubs to be ;)

Anonymous said...

True story: I found a family blog through a mutual friend where everyone was hailing this girl's baby daughter's name. Her name was REBEL. That person I would have a serious problem with right off the bat, however judgmental that may sound! I could not respect someone who set her daughter up with a name like Rebel! That poor little girl! Of course that's an extreme case...

Anonymous said...

Oh, such a good topic! My best friend has a naming style that I don't dislike, but would never ever choose for myself. However, I suspect that she strongly dislikes my naming style. She's respectful about it, but I can tell she cringes a little inside, so we mostly don't talk about it. My other more casual acquaintance friends have the *exact* same naming style as me, to the point that I'm very anxious that someone will beat me to my top pick. There are three pregnant girls on Facebook I've been keeping a close eye on and crossing my fingers.

I think someone's baby naming style can tell you a lot about the person, and I think there's a spectrum as to how much it could affect the possibility of friendship.

Anonymous said...

This is very timely! I've been thinking about naming styles amongst my friends a lot recently, since several of them are expecting/have just given birth. Almost universally, I have disliked their name choices. I vent about it to my husband, but other than that I try not to think too hard about it because it physically bothers me when names are awful. Not just the names, but how they sound in a sibset, how they sound with the middles and surname, etc. I'm super neurotic about it and I realize that. I've never chosen to NOT get to know someone because of their children's names, but I will admit that if I meet a parent of a creatively named child (or girls with surname-type names, which bothers me) I don't actively go out of my way to pursue friendship. I actually never really noticed that before now.

I think my problem is more that I adore talking about names and all the ins and outs of selecting them - and so I assume (usually wrongly) that other people do too! I think my friends get a little annoyed when they're expecting because I'll ask them their name lists or what have you, and as a general rule they are no where near as pumped for the conversation as I am. And I have to be careful not to give my opinion - I'm still working on cultivating a 'smile and nod' persona when I come across MacKynzie and Zenilla.

Noelle Spooner said...

Yes, I do this too. I am really into names and just don't get it when someone doesn't care. I don't think it would stop me from being friends with them though.

Anonymous said...

I am super picky about baby names. They can't be made up, can't be in the top 20 (at least), should be in the same genre as the siblings, same genre as the last name, all 3 names must flow, names must all start with a different letter, etc., etc. I also think I must have a "different" name style myself because I can honestly say, when I hear the names my friends have chosen I almost always don't like them. It is a rare day indeed when I am blown away like "wow! I really like that name!" Of couse I am always polite when I hear the choices I don't like, but inside I know I would never name my child that.

So in answer to your question, no, I don't judge based on names because I've grown used to liking very few names I hear. Not many people around here have the same style as me anyway, which is just fine, because I think my kids have the best.names.ever and no one else is in competition for them!

Tara said...

I had a big comment all typed out and Blogger ate it. So I'll keep it shorter this time. :)

Short answer: no, naming styles don't affect my friendships, but I don't tend toward the same style as my friends. In one circle there are: Abbie, Kade, Madison, Jennifer; Ava and Levin; Wiley; Kenley and Sawyer; Caskey; Tanner and Cole; and my Eriana (other names we had considered: Nicolas, Isaac, Annalisa, Natalia).

In another circle are: Celia and Eliza; Aubrey and Ella; Amelia and Norah.

I think when we were naming Eriana we were looking for something uncommon but not off-the-wall, that would allow her to fit in in our conservative, very religious community, but also in a more liberal/not religious area (where we hope to escape to... I mean move later).