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Zion. Seven. Jermajesty? Celebrities come up with some pretty, um, unique names for their kids, but how do the rest of us decide what to name our children?

Last week my son startled me with the question, “Daddy, why did you name me Justin?” His self-awareness has been on overdrive in the last few months and this was the latest in his exploratory series of “who am I?” questions. I wish I had a definitive answer for him,  but honestly, my wife and I made a list and whittled it down to two names we both liked. Justin just had a nice ring to it for a boy. While I wasn’t going the “Jr.” route, the J name was close enough to his old man’s for me. Turns out Justin was a very popular name in 2002, as he has two other classmates named Justin, making it necessary for him to be tagged “Justin B.” in school.

Picking the name for his sister to be was a bit more of a process, and still is. While we eventually settled on Sabrina for a first name, it wasn’t the 1,2,3 process of the first go around. Names like Britney were thrown around, but anything that reminded me of a pop star didn’t sit well. My wife suggested Sabrina and while it didn’t grab me at first, it rattled around in my head for a while until one day it just sounded right. So we chose that.  The middle name is a little trickier.

For those not familiar, for Catholics your middle name can double as your St. name if you don’t choose to have a separate Saint name. With boys it’s a little easier because many St. names are common names, period (Michael, James, Matthew.etc.) But with girls, the list seems to be a little limited. Elizabeth was tossed into the ring and got a positive response, but this wasn’t even the issue this time. My wife is named after her grandmother and wanted to do the same for our daughter’s middle name, naming her after her mother, Roselle. I didn’t object to this outright but it made me think about my own mother, Gemma. Why not honor her as well? Maybe it’s a matriarchal thing. It never occurred to me to name Justin after my dad, but her request gave me pause. We discussed it for a while and came up with a few permutations, one of them being Emma-Rose. Phonetically it sounded better than Rose-Gemma but I could tell that it wasn’t sitting well with my wife, since it was her idea to use her mother’s name for the middle name. I wasn’t trying to impose on her traditions; I just didn’t want to leave my mother out if it was possible.

This is further aggravated by the fact that we are certain this is our last child (another blog for another day), and there would be no other opportunities to pass on names. I countered by suggesting the names of two of our late aunts, Jacqueline and Agnes.  After thinking it over my wife felt that was something best left for their own children to do, our cousins. Ok, so it was becoming clear to me that this was not going to get resolved easily, but I was out of compromising suggestions.

A few weeks later my wife offered the compromise of Rose-Agnes, considering that our daughter is due to be born around the feast of St. Agnes (coincidentally, our mothers’ birthdays are both in late January as well). This seemed like the most reasonable compromise and I quite frankly didn’t want to debate it any more. It’s not a bad name and I felt like I was the one dragging the issue out. So I conceded. Of course, a few days later she muttered something about Elizabeth. Sigh.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see what she looks like.

How do you decide what to name your child? Tell us your naming stories.

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