Should I change my child’s name because it’s too popular?

That’s the question posed by the mum of a four year old girl called Esmée.

A mum’s question

The mum posted the question on parenting website, Mumsnet. She said that she had given her daughter the name as she believed it was very original and hadn’t heard another girl called it in a couple of decades. The mum goes on to explain that when she started nursery, another girl had the same name (though with a different spelling) but soon she is due to start school and there will be two classmates with the same name. She expressed her annoyance and said that it upset her as she was one of five with the same in her own class at school and she had “lived through this”. She changed her own name as soon as she could. The mum asked if she was being unreasonable to want to change her daughter’s name before school starts as she hates that it is so common now.

Changing a child’s name

Now I’m sure many of us have had second thoughts about the chosen name for our baby, and changing the name before registering the birth is not uncommon. But to change the name when the child is four years old, already aware of their given name, with friends and family who know her by that name … that’s a little more out of left field.

I can only recall one child with the same name as me throughout my entire childhood. My own kids have names that are very uncommon and it has taken until year 9 for one of them to finally end up with a child with the same name in their class. It has caused some issues with the roll call. So while I’m not that au fait with the issues that have obviously caused this mother such distress, I can see how it might be frustrating.

But, to quote Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, “That’s life”! Life is going to offer up circumstances that you will have to deal with; that will be frustrating, annoying or even disturbing. Having the same name as someone else seems to be pretty low in the bag of what life chooses to throw at you next! What happens when she chooses a different name, goes through all of the complexities of getting everyone used to the new name and a kid with the new name moves into town and joins her class? What about the following years at school with different classmates?

Some commenters suggested reverting to a nickname or using a middle name rather than going all out and changing the child’s name.

Sharing a name

In 2017, the most popular name for baby girls in New Zealand was Charlotte. In fact, there were 277 babies given that name. For boys, Oliver was the most popular baby name in 2017 with 314 taken on the name. Whilst there is a huge range of names every year – over 13,000 last year – almost 40% of babies had names within the top 100 of names chosen. So the problem is one that is bound to be experienced by many kids and their parents.

Is it really so wrong to share the same name as someone else? Maybe it gives the child a connection to someone else who may also be starting school and looking for a friend? And after all, your child is so much more than just a name.

Did you reconsider your baby’s name? Have you ever wished that you had chosen a different name? Join our discussion in the comments below.

This article was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ.

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  1. felicity beets 04/08/2018 at 6:44 pm

    I think that if it is such an issue then the child can easily use a nickname or their middle name. It does not mention here if the child wants to change their own name – they may not even want to change it themselves.

  2. Shelz69 02/08/2018 at 7:55 pm

    I love my sons name James and he loves it to. Yes it popular but we don’t really mind, it my daughter Brooke who does not like her name, she feels it doesn’t suit her and in a way I agree with her. If she came to me and was seriously upset about her name and wanted to change it , I would. It just a name but the nick name idea would be a first option.

  3. kymmage 01/08/2018 at 3:56 pm

    I had an “unusual spelling” growing up and I hated it, still do. I wanted to be Michelle – the other name on my parents’ list. But then I would have been 3rd or 4th in the class. I get where the mum is coming from, but there are lots of ways to check the popularity of a name before you commit. Once it’s done, it’s done. The kid is old enough, she has an opinion. So I’d say she is stuck with it.

  4. Alezandra 31/07/2018 at 10:08 pm

    A name doesn’t make a person. I know it can be tough sharing the same name with someone and sometimes be miscalled etc. It’s what you make out of it. Sometimes having a second name helps too, what are the chances your two names is exactly the same as another person in class? 🙂

  5. Mands1980 30/07/2018 at 11:36 am

    We named our children there names as we liked them before they were born. One of our sons has the same name as several others at school and he has 3 in his rugby team called Harry it was obviously a popular name to have but to be honest it doesn’t even worry me that heaps are called Harry as they have there nicknames as well. So my answer is that no I would never change my 3 kids names just because others have the same name.

  6. Bevik1971 24/07/2018 at 4:12 pm

    Don;t you give your child a name because you like it? That’s what I thought? I guess there are some people around that name their children because it’s “trendy” at the time, which I don’t really think is a good idea, but each to their own. We named our 5 year old daughter Peyton, we both liked it, it was different but not too different I guess 🙂

  7. Jen_Wiig 24/07/2018 at 9:17 am

    Ive been really lucky i guess in that my 3 boys names have never festured on the top list names until recently and their now all older, what i have found though is because similar names more popular teachers and other adults have assumed that thats what their name is eg:Roman gets Ronan alot and Silas gets Cyrus ….thats annoying more so than if another kid had their same name …which is yet to happen , ive deff heard other babies with theor nales but there so much tounger it hasnt bothered me . Mykah my youngest is particularly unusual as its spelt differently and given hes a boy.
    I personally dont get hung up enough on a name to want to change it like the mum in this discussion but hey your kid so if want to go to that extreme so be it.

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