I don't know how it took me this long to find your site but it is the single best naming resource I have seen in 8 months of searching that is entering panic phase, I really appreciate the insightful (and non-judgemental) approach of your and your readers. Here is my dilemma and I am hoping you can help: I am due March 9 with our first baby. We do not know the sex. I feel that my parents set an impossible bar because they gave me a very unique name that I have grown to love: Tysen (yes I am the mother). I have spent my whole life being complimented on my name, people commenting how surprised they are when I show up (I work in construction and they always expect a guy). My husband has an uncommon family name and goes by his initials. I feel big pressure to come up with a great girls name though I know "unique" names are more the norm and am fine if it is not utterly original.
My husband and I have settled on a boy's name, Xavier. This is the only matter of taste he and I have ever agreed on when it came up while we were dating years ago, he has backed of it but I am insisting we should name a son Xavier in honor of the blessed occasion of our only spontaneous agreement. We just completed renovations on our house without ever agreeing on one single thing: paint, furniture, counters...you get the idea. I like all things unusual and he likes traditional. He strongly favors family names, though there are some slim pickings on the female side in this regard. On his list of likes are Alexandra, Angela and Nicola (nikki). I like the sound of those, but they are far to common for me. Nicola might work, but I think of the 50 Nicoles I know. Like one of the posts I saw from a previous reader, I think he thinks of the girls he knows from college and can't break out of the box. I might be making too much of this, but I am passionate about travel and languages and having diverse interests and have a very strong aversion to naming my kid (esp. daughter) something too common or conventional.I have been doing battle for Sloane for months and am close to giving up. Other names I love that are out: Lane, Rory, Evan , Ellis, Elliette (vetoed because we know people with these names or close to them). Avery (too trendy). Other names I like that I am considering to put on the table are: Emery, Owen, Lowen, Emerson, Auri and Cole. Lennox is one I just saw tonight and am liking but might be tough with baby's last name (Arnold) and might be a weird boxer theme with my name? Cameron is on our very short list of mutual consideration.I am reluctant to suggest any of this latest name crop now and have them get shot down summarily as every other name I had pitched for the past 8.5 months. Family names that I could probably get approval for are Hunter (trying to get buy in that this works for a girl) or McNeill.So do you have any tips on what names might work for both of us or any thoughts on which ones of these are the strongest to your ears? I am so frustrated now that I don't even know what I like, I suddenly feel for the US congressmen trying to find a ugly compromise that pleases nobody. I think something Scottish or Irish could satisfy the family part but I haven't found the right one yet. Do you have any tips on how to strategically broach the polar opposite taste issue? My only current idea is to hope he will take pity on me after watching the birth and agree to something I like that is not too outrageous.Help!!!
I think it can help in discussions to separate out each parent's preferences, to make it more clear when one parent is getting something or giving something up, and to make it more clear when both preferences can't simultaneously be satisfied and so there is a need for bargaining and compromise. "Okay, well, I know you want to use a family name, but then maybe we can go with my preference of having it be an unusual name." "Okay, so what if we use the traditional, common, feminine family name you'd like to use, but we'll put it in the middle name position---and then maybe we can go less common for the first name, as I'd prefer." "How about this: it can be clearly feminine, as you want it to be---but then very unusual, as I want it to be." "How about this: we'll choose something more familiar, as you want---but something unisex, as I'd prefer."
I think it can also help to have parents choose from each other's lists. It's easy for one parent to just say no to every name they hear the other one say; better progress can sometimes be made by trying exercises where each parent MUST choose their top three from the other parent's list. It shifts the mindset from "This name isn't a name I came up with, so it's automatically out before I've even really let it sink in" to "What names that THEY like do I ALSO like?" And it would be helpful to know which of the names from your lists he finds even slightly tolerable: from there, perhaps you could find something he likes even more.
You might make some headway by explaining that your wish to choose an unusual name for a daughter is a sort of family-name situation for you: not merely an issue of personal taste but of carrying on a new tradition.
The main difference I notice in your tastes is that you like unisex/boyish names and he likes very feminine names. If you plan to have more than one child, it will save suffering later to spend some time now sketching out a rough concept of how you'd like those names to go. It's difficult to picture sisters named Nicola and Evan, or Hunter and Alexandra. It's also useful to think ahead about sibling combinations such as Xavier and Hunter, where Hunter is a girl; or Xavier and Cole, where Cole is a girl.
From your list, I think you will find Emerson and Cameron too common for your tastes. They're a bit stealthy on the charts, because of all the different spellings. And because they're used for boys as well as for girls (especially Cameron), that dramatically increases the chances of two in a classroom.
I think what I'd do is look at each name on your lists and try to find something similar that might interest the other parent. For example, you have Owen on your list, which is very uncommon for girls (only 17 new baby girls named Owen in 2011, according to the Social Security Administration) and would in fact make a nice brother name for an Xavier. You also have Lowen, which has a more feminine sound but unfortunately also has a Lindsay Lohen association. Would Rowan also be to your tastes, while also being more feminine for your husband's tastes? Or Gwendolyn? Or Elowen? Or Bronwyn? Naomi? Cleo? Romilly? Imogen?
Or, he has Alexandra on his list. I wonder if we could shift that to something more unusual like Anastasia or Athena or Azalea or Lissandra or Allegra or Artemisia or Arabella or Antonia or Aviva. It combines his preference for feminine with your preference for unusual.
Which brings me to another possible type of compromise: you could use a name he likes, but something with a nickname you like. For example, you could name her Alexandra but call her Xander. He could still use the full name if he preferred, and the two of you could agree on a plan for what you'd use as the default for relatives and preschool and so forth. (At some point, she will get involved in that decision as well.) A name like Augusta is feminine but unusual, and would give you Gus. Francesca would give you Frank. Frederika or Winifred would give you Freddie.
I see you have Rory and Auri; would you like Aurora? It's quite feminine, quite unusual, and you could use both Rory and Auri as nicknames.
If you like Sloane, I wonder if you'd like Simone?
Nicola seems like a very good compromise name to me. Nicole was in or around the Top 10 all through the '70s and '80s, but now it's not even in the Top 100---and Nicola isn't even in the Top 1000. Nicola McNeill Arnold, Nicola Hunter Arnold, Nicola Lennox Arnold.
Or do you like Annika? It sounds like Nicola, but without all those moms named Nicole.