Ethical Question -- Baby Name Edition.
May 6, 2016 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Is it okay to change my child's name in these circumstances?

I had a hard time naming my son in hospital. In the end, after a long, hard labor that ended in a C-section, my husband and I quickly picked a name we'd liked that was the also the name of a dear, elderly mentor of mine. Let's say the name is Frank (though that's not it). I really liked the idea of naming my son after this person (though technically it wasn't that he was named after him -- we also just liked the name.) We told the older Frank, who was clearly very moved by it and excited.

Several weeks on, I have decided, pretty definitively, that I do not like the name Frank. There was another name that I really loved and my husband liked that I just much, much prefer and overlooked in my hormonal state in the hospital. Now every time I look at my son, I see him as this other name, not the one we chose. It's making me very sad and anxious, and I'm worried it's affecting my bonding with him. Every time I say it, I choke. Yes, I know this might be postpartum anxiety, but I really think it's the name as well.

I would change it and face embarrassment EXCEPT for the mentor. I don't see him very often, but I would be very embarrassed to tell him we changed the name (or hear from someone else -- not likely, but I couldn't rule it out.)

My husband is indifferent about whether we should change it or not (he likes both names pretty equally) -- he just wants me to be happy & is worried that I won't be.

We've explored a few options:

1. Keep the name and hope it gets better for me (this makes me sad, but I do accept this as an option. We are not talking about a crazy name, but it just does not feel like the right name for this child, and I don't think we'll have any more children. I'm worried I'll regret this forever.)

2. Change the name, face the music with friends and family and NOT tell the mentor, risking he hears it from someone else -- unlikely, but possible.

3 Change the name, face the music, NOT tell the mentor, and try to tell the few people who might spill the beans, well, not to spill the beans.

4. Change the name, face the music, and TELL the mentor the truth. But this feels hard and unnecessarily mean.

5. Change the name, face the music, and tell the mentor a lie about why we changed it. No, we do not ordinarily lie, but perhaps this would be worth it. But what's a gentle lie to tell?

Any thoughts or other options?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (59 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you make Frank the middle name?
posted by handful of rain at 9:08 AM on May 6, 2016 [54 favorites]

Make Frank the middle name? Or a second middle name?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:09 AM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]

I would go with #4. You are overthinking this. "He doesn't look like a Frank to me" is a totally fine thing that is not hurtful in the slightest. Maybe you can honor your mentor with the child's middle name, using the same initial or something.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:10 AM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]

Give him a nickname you like.

These days kids mess around with their names and who knows what will happen after all the hormones flush out of your system. Ask me about my Goddaughter, Milo.

You have years and years to change your kid's name. Don't do anything yet.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:10 AM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's your baby!

Change the name.
Tell the mentor the truth.

It's not hard or unnecessarily mean if it's true that your baby just doesn't suit the name. Definitely agree you're worrying way too much about this.
posted by JenThePro at 9:11 AM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

Give the child the name you love as a middle name and use that name as what you call him. Frank James Anonymous, but Jimmy or James to friends and family. He'll grow up to be Mr. F. James Anonymous.
posted by girlpublisher at 9:11 AM on May 6, 2016 [41 favorites]

In Iceland, they don't announce the name until the baby's christening - the idea being that you get to know the child before you give them a name. Tell Frank honestly that you love the name but after a few weeks, it just doesn't seem to suit Frank Jr. He'll understand.

Don't keep a name you don't like - one of the most meaningful things about a name is that your parents love it and chose it specifically for you.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:13 AM on May 6, 2016 [19 favorites]

Even if Frank loses his goddamn mind, slurs you in the tabloids, and never invites you over for homemade lemon bars again, that is still preferable to you hating your baby's name. He might cut your baby out of his will, which will suck if he's wealthy, but wasn't something you were banking on in the first place.

You can always let him know via email, or say nothing and if it ever comes up shrug and say, "there was some late-stage name-rearranging, you know how it goes sometimes." It's not his deal to get mad about, and even if he did you will almost certainly survive it.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:15 AM on May 6, 2016 [40 favorites]

Many kids are named one thing and end up being called something else because the name gets fooled with because it's fun or because it suits the kid better. Names are, um, nominal. Each of my two kids has ten variations on their birth certificate name and different people call them different things. It's no big deal. Keep the mentor name as a middle name. Or keep the mentor name as a first name and call your kid by the new middle name. Go hug your kid and call them what you want. Congratulations!
posted by firstdrop at 9:16 AM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd change the name to whatever you like best- he's your baby, you get to name him and if that means changing your mind, so be it! Could Frank be a middle name?

Do tell the mentor, maybe something like- "I wanted to honour you and I love the name Frank; as I got to know this baby I realized he felt like a Thomas- so now he's Thomas Dylan Frank! I can't wait for him to meet you and learn the story of his name!"
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:16 AM on May 6, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'd keep the (current) legal name and give the kid an extra name (legally, first or middle) call the kid exactly what you want to and feel good that you honored your mentor. Would that work? I sort of like the idea of a F. Chester Anonymous as a name. And you can him Chet and maybe Frank calls him Frank and you are all good.
posted by jessamyn at 9:17 AM on May 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

Change the name. On Frank, do not go with any option that involves hiding this from Frank, since one day your kid will be a kid, standing in the yard and Frank will yell over "Hey, little Frank!" and your kid will have no idea what's going on and it will come out at that point and be very wierd.

The only way to keep this from Frank is to move, which seems like overkill.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:18 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

The name I use (and have always used) is actually my middle name. It's fine. (And is also a great way to screen unsolicited phone calls FWIW)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:18 AM on May 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

Make one of the names the middle name, call him by the name you like, don't make a big deal of it with Frank-the-mentor. Next time you see him with the kid in tow (probably well down the road, right?), you can just say that the kid is still Frank, but somehow everyone calls him Thousandfur. (Or whatever the name is, obvs.) People are grown-ups, they know that folks often don't use their given first name.
posted by Frowner at 9:19 AM on May 6, 2016

nthing: keep Frank in the mix as a middle name, which avoids any concerns about the mentor, and add whatever new first names you want. Let the mentor know the way pseudostrabismus suggests.
posted by beagle at 9:21 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Keep the name legally, for now. You're still wrapped up in the emotion and hormones.

But you can call your child whatever you like. There are millions of people who are legally named Frank but called Joey. And it's often because there's a family/sentimental reason to have that given name, but another name is the "right" name for that child.

So keep Frank, call him Joey, and revisit it at his first birthday, or later. Or let him decide when he's grown. While his friends all know him as Joey, he might cherish the private connection to Frank, who was special to his mom.
posted by headnsouth at 9:22 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's making me very sad and anxious, and I'm worried it's affecting my bonding with him. Every time I say it, I choke. Yes, I know this might be postpartum anxiety, but I really think it's the name as well.

I vote this is very much post partum anxiety/depression/baby blues, but likely not exclusively. I'm not a fan of changing names for babies (or animals), but this is not my baby so you do as you think is best. BUT, you've already had one run with not liking a name some time after choosing it, so I would go for a practice round before changing the name on official documents. Start calling baby by the name you want it to be for now. Go with it and see how it feels. What's the difference in changing it right now vs in a few more weeks? Not much.

But if a lot of this is anxiety, I'd be concerned that after going to the effort of changing the name, you may find yourself still just as anxious about having changed the name. Because that's how anxiety works. It's squirelly like that and gets into all of your decisions.

So if you don't follow Jessamyn's advice (which I greatly approve and like), give yourself some time before leaping into this if your end goal is official changes on documents.

If your end goal is for the kid to be called something else, go for it. My grandfather's name was James. He had four different names he was called. And he responded to everyone -- James, Terrance, Hubert, Terry. I didn't know what his real name was until I was 10 because in daily life, every single one of them was his.
posted by zizzle at 9:24 AM on May 6, 2016 [10 favorites]

I think the mentor would be very flattered that you'd used his name, but not at all bothered if you changed your mind. After all, you meet people every day whose name you didn't use? The mentor shouldn't be any different. It's really not a big deal. Just tell people "well we originally chose Frank but then we realised he looks much more like [other name]!". It can just be a funny story to tell.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:24 AM on May 6, 2016

This happened in my family. Several times. Use Frank as a middle or first name. Let Frank think the baby is always called Frank. You don't see mentor Frank daily, so use your preferred name for everyone else. And if Frank finds out you're not using Frank much, tell him your toddler wanted to use the other name. It's not a big deal or hurtful unless you tell him you now *hate*!the name. Just let Mentor Frank think it's in constant use when it's effectively retired but still on a document somewhere. We've done this with about five people in my immediate-ish family. Two of them being my kids. One of them being my sister and one of them being my dad. The mentors never really twig. People do stuff with kids names all the time.

Also. I've been in your head space. Hoo boy. I totally have. Get some sleep, food, have a cry, some fresh air and a hug from an adult or a pet...and take some deep breaths. Yes, this feels massive because your body is regulating massive hormonal changes, but it's also ok to kinda hate a kids name. Ask my daughter how I know this.
posted by taff at 9:24 AM on May 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

It's so easy to just give your child the desired name as a middle name and use that from day to day. Don't hurt your mentor's feelings by changing it altogether.
posted by praemunire at 9:25 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

If anyone got offended that you'd decided not to name your kid after them, they're a dick whose opinions you shouldn't care about anyway.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:25 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just coming in to say that my parents did this, and it was fine. I started out as a "Mary" (not the real name) and was "Margaret" by the next day -- so a shorter timeframe, but I don't think it would matter if it was longer. Go ahead and change the name.
posted by tooloudinhere at 9:26 AM on May 6, 2016

In response to EndsofInvention- I don't think it's offense that might be given. But sadness or hurt might be felt. They're different. It's not like Frank demanded to have the wee bairn named after him!
posted by taff at 9:29 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's making me very sad and anxious

You carried your child, you gave birth to your child and you are your child's Mother, and I think you should do what you want to do here, because you are great and you deserve to name (or rename) your child however you want to. Frank already has a name, he'll be fine. Do your stuff. And CONGRATULATIONS!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:32 AM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]

Call the baby what you want, and then figure out how, if at all, you want that included in the baby's full legal name. Do tell Frank if you change the legal first name, but wait until the baby is sleeping through the night and you are in a better place.

My wife's parents have never called her by her legal first name. I've asked her many times why they named her something and then never called her that and she doesn't know. Maybe it was a situation like this. So, that's totally an option. Likewise, my Grandpa doesn't like his first name, Olaf (I like to joke that he's a self-hating Norwegian American), and uses his middle name. On documents and stuff, I think he goes as O. [middle name] [last name] (a college professor did something similar).

Go easy on yourself. You went through labor, then major abdominal surgery, and are now taking care of a newborn. You are exhausted and this will seem less daunting if you can get some rest. If friends or relatives are offering to help, take them up on it.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 9:37 AM on May 6, 2016

We changed our daughter's name when she was two. We had had a hard time deciding between two names when she was born. We went with one name on the birth certificate, but then started using the other one as a nickname. Over time, we came to use the nickname exclusively and began to feel that we had chosen the wrong one at birth. So we changed it. From that experience, I would offer this advice:

1) If saying "Frank" feels wrong, say the name that feels right. Let the kid get used to hearing that name.
2) It's possible that it works out just fine that "Frank" is the official name but everyone knows him by the nickname. Nothing wrong with that.
3) If, a couple of years down the road, you want to make an official change, it's not that hard to do. But it doesn't have to happen now. There's no real time pressure here--as long as you are changing the name to one your child is used to hearing.

Because there is a concern that you might be overly influenced by postpartum depression, this probably isn't the right time to make a binding legal change. But I don't see a downside to just using the name your prefer and seeing how you feel about making it official when the postpartum stage is over.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:39 AM on May 6, 2016 [13 favorites]

Did you fill out the birth certificate form with "Frank" as the child's name? I knew someone who several months in decided she like Adam better than Nicholas as her son's name, and had to legally get it amended, and I think that the legal BC still refers to the original name and fact that it was changed. "Adam" is his legal name now due to the change, but the other name has not disappeared from record. I do not know if you would have to go through the same procedure to add a middle name. There is a lot of scrutiny on birth certificates and legal ID that did not used to be there, but since 9/11 and identity theft, these things are pretty tight.
posted by mermayd at 9:40 AM on May 6, 2016

I'd keep the (current) legal name and give the kid an extra name (legally, first or middle) call the kid exactly what you want to and feel good that you honored your mentor. Would that work? I sort of like the idea of a F. Chester Anonymous as a name

Jessamyn's advice is spot on. My son's name is* Frank Ethan Richards Lastname, but is called Ethan by everyone. His first name honors several people, but is not a name that we wanted to use in everyday life. Nobody even blinks. Not ever.

*not actually

When he was born, a dear friend told us the story of her grandfather. Apparently, when that baby was born, his father said to the mother "you can name the baby whatever you want, but I'm going to call him Jim" and so friend's grandfather spent his whole entire life as Jim Smith, even though Jim (or James) was none of his legal names. Its fine to do this.

Also, as someone who had really severe PPD, please do talk about this with someone. It might not be PPD (or anxiety) but it also might be.

Bottom line: call the baby what you want, and don't worry about what his legal name is.
posted by anastasiav at 9:42 AM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

With respect to the middle name idea, I think that's a good way to handle it. I know many people who go by their middle names and you barely even know their legal first names. To give one perhaps extreme example, my father-in-law is called "Dick." I had dated my husband for literally eight years before I learned that my father-in-law's given name is actually "William Richard Doe" (not really Doe, but you know what I mean), and the only reason I learned it at all was that he witnessed our City Hall marriage and signed his full legal name on the papers. If if weren't for that, I'd still have no idea whatsoever.
posted by holborne at 9:51 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

With respect to the middle name idea, I think that's a good way to handle it. I know many people who go by their middle names and you barely even know their legal first names.

I understand people suggesting this option, but it does seem an extra pain for your child to have to deal with his whole life just to appease an exaggerated sense of guilt you have over your mentor. This seems like really extreme lengths to go to. You may be catastrophizing a bit here. I'd just start calling your child by the name you like, and go the legal name change route a bit further down the road to make sure that's what you want (in case hormones/anxiety, etc are coloring your perception as you seem to fear a bit).

I think a bit of social discomfort now is worth it to get this right. And I like the idea of telling your mentor off-hand at some point (sheepishly, maybe), that the name just didn't seem to fit your child. It's really fine.
posted by JenMarie at 10:26 AM on May 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

Either Mentor Frank will be delighted you didn't use his potential hurt feelings as a reason for causing you pain or he's a monumental arse.

So I'd change the name, tell Frank and be ready for him to be all "don't be silly of course I'm not upset"
posted by fullerine at 10:29 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Change the name to what you and your partner want. Do not not change it based on mentor Frank. He will get over it and he will always know that you thought of him.
posted by AugustWest at 10:35 AM on May 6, 2016

Change it. My mom's parents changed her name at three weeks. It was fine. Make sure you get the birth certificate updated.
posted by Kalmya at 10:35 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Change the name. Put Frank as a middle name. Tell Frank the mentor that he just looked more like a Jimmy, and Frank is his middle name.

It is your hormones that are making this feel hard. You'll feel much better once you go ahead and do it. Hugs to you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:35 AM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]

you made a tiny human person inside your body and carried it around for 9 months. you get to name it whatever you want.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:03 AM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]

Either Mentor Frank will be delighted you didn't use his potential hurt feelings as a reason for causing you pain or he's a monumental arse.

Having someone name a baby after you is a big honor! Having the honor rescinded has got to hurt. A reasonable adult isn't going to sue you over it or anything, but that doesn't mean he's not going to feel bad about it. Why would you cause that pain to someone you like and admire when there's a very simple and common solution that allows you to avoid it and still call the kid whatever name it is you actually like?
posted by praemunire at 11:20 AM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

Keep Frank as the first name and make the "right" name the middle. My brother shares his first name with our father, so he's gone by his middle name his entire life. When I look at him and think of him I see the middle name (his "real" name) and never think "oh but his first name is X."

I understand people suggesting this option, but it does seem an extra pain for your child to have to deal with his whole life just to appease an exaggerated sense of guilt you have over your mentor.

I can't think of a single time going by a middle rather than first name was in any way a pain for my brother. It's pretty common!
posted by sallybrown at 11:23 AM on May 6, 2016

It's your baby, for crying out loud--you get to name him what you want to! Your feelings about your child's name are more important than mentor Frank's, period. Change it if you don't like it.

Frank as a middle name is a lovely nod to your mentor. I don't think you need to clear this with him or announce it in a serious way, but yeah, mention at some point, in a lighthearted way, that your baby is just not a Frank so it's now his middle name, ha ha, etc.

I think this seems like a huge deal right now because you are dealing with so much. I don't think guilt about older Frank's feelings is useful to you in your new-mom state and I would disregard any advice to put his feelings before your own here.
posted by kapers at 11:38 AM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]

"Name regret" is a thing that happened to me and I've heard about it from some friends (mainly people who are very analytical - are you a big over-analyzer like me?) For me, I think naming was such a big decision that I just really, really analyzed it and then second-guessed my decision. I remember a few days of almost hating my daughter's name, but now she's five and I LOVE IT. Best name ever! The babies grow, their name becomes them and it's just their name and how could their name be different? Or they find their way to a unique nickname or they grow up and want to be called by middle name or last name, etc. I think you can change the name or call baby by preferred middle name or keep Frank as 1st name but call baby your favorite name. It's really up to you, and then one day it will ultimately be up to him. Keep the "Frank" tribute somewhere in the mix. I think it's nice for kids to grow up with a connection to a mentor like that. But it's all going to be okay! Once kids get a little older, you're also not constantly repeating their full names or name origin story. That's a thing we do with babies because it's a conversation piece, but it's less sort of "huge" when they're older.
posted by areaperson at 11:41 AM on May 6, 2016

I haven't read all the responses, but: my eldest has three names and they don't match up to sound good. Her middle name is the one we use. It is unusual and the nicknames she gets from it are really bad. There is a history to this name that might make her vulnerable in some contexts.
Which is why she also has another first name which is first on her papers. This is the most popular first name of her generation. We didn't know at the time, but we wanted to give her a "normal" name, and she does use it in situations where she doesn't want to stand out or spell her name.

When we had agreed on these two names that don't fit very elegantly together but function for our daughter, I called my best friend since I was 10 to ask if she would be her godmother. She said she couldn't be there for the christening, but reminded me that other friends had named their children after each other. I took the hint, and our daughter now has three names. It's a bit as if she were a royal (haha).

More seriously: they actually do what they are meant to do, and she and we like them for that. First name is normal, indicates our hopes for her future and works for her in situations where she wants to be private. Second name is her real name and is laden with everything we hope for her and love her for. Just a week ago we met an old gentleman who was completely smitten by her, and understood exactly why she had the name she was given. Already, several small girls are named after her. Third name is an indicator of my friendship - and a reminder that my friend has a special responsibility for her. My friend loves that, and so does my daughter.
posted by mumimor at 11:55 AM on May 6, 2016

You shouldn't give the mentor's potential reaction any weight whatsoever in this decision. You give your baby the name you want, the end. Fuck Frank, if he doesn't like it.

I noticed upthread some suggestion that maybe this is a postpartum depression thing and you could wind up dissatisfied with the new name, too. I have no idea if that's right. But it's those kinds of things you should be thinking about: What name is best for me, my spouse, and my child? Not how your mentor will feel about it.

I'm sure you won't regret this forever, no matter what, though. At some point soon your kid's going to become a real person with a personality all his own, and that's who he will be to you. The significance of the name itself is just going to fade away.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:15 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

Frank is your mentor, not the baby's close relative. Don't worry so much about offending someone you hardly ever see. Feel free to make up some crazy excuse to tell Mentor as to why you changed the name. Say you've discovered some weird reason the name has bad connotations for your family and felt pressured to change it (though you are so fond of Mentor).

Here are some ideas:
- "Turns out my aunt's first ex husband was named Frank and he was sent to jail for (insert crazy thing here) and she left him ... I never knew about him but my mom and whole family were so mortified they never spoke of him"
- "My (jerk) brother-in-law's family apparently had a horrible dog when they were kids, they'd named it Frank and it was known for (disgusting, BAD DOG behavior). When he learned about the name he kept joking about it."
posted by lizbunny at 12:17 PM on May 6, 2016

If you want to change it, go ahead, but I'll also throw in I think the middle name suggestions are a very good route. My first name is the same as my mother's (both of us named after another relative who I've never met). My middle was a popular name at the time I was born that my mother really liked. Since I was a child I've gone by a third name that's a derivative of the middle name. It's really never been a burden to me, even now when I freely switch between firstname and derivativename as what I introduce myself as.

(My brother on the other hand has both first and middle names of my dad's friends, but literally nobody calls him by his middle. I suspect most don't even know it. Some people shorten his first name but not many.)

The point being I guess that names are frequently fluid in certain cultures, so there are ways to make it work. ^_^
posted by Stupidratcreature at 12:37 PM on May 6, 2016

My parents were pressured by their families to call me Helena (family name, very important, Auntie Helena will love this) so on my birth certificate, my name is Helena.

But not one single person has ever called me Helena; always instead calling me the name my parents always really wanted for me, Dana.

All this means as a factual point is I have a fun story to tell people when at those things where you have to share an interesting fact about yourself.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:39 PM on May 6, 2016

Middle name or don't change the legal name and call him what you want. My brother William Edward has always been Ed and my first wife Augusta Ann to her family was always Tina.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2016

My father hated his given name and went by "Sam" which was never his legal name.

My mother was not quite out of anesthesia when she wrote my name...wrong...on the birth certificate form (she wrote down a name similar to mine, but not mine). My family took me home and called me by the name she thought she had written down. But when it came time for me to go to school, she and my dad had to go to court to change my legal name to the one they actually wanted me to have so that my records would be right.

And then 18 years later I decided screw that, I'm going by a completely different name because I like it better.

All this to say: don't be too hard on yourself. Change it to the one you want, break the news gently to Frank Sr. when you get the chance, and it will all blow over.

And your kid might very well grow up and decide that he wants a different name anyway.
posted by emjaybee at 1:14 PM on May 6, 2016

My brothers both have weird nicknames -- one has a name like George Jackson Lastname, and goes by the equivalent of Jack. The George is never, ever used, to the extent that some family members forget his first name.

The other one has a super traditional first name, something like Robert, and goes by something that is not normally a nickname of that, like Bill. My mom felt obligated to name him after her FIL, but didn't like any of the nicknames associated with it. So she just picked another one.

You're totally allowed to do whatever you like with names.

And for other people: you don't have to name the baby before you leave the hospital. It took us over a week to name our oldest, and I know other people who've gone longer. The birth certificate lady was cranky at us, but she put down "Baby Boy Lastname," and I changed it when we'd figured out what to call him. If you do it before the baby is 1, it's a non-issue (or it was 5 years ago).
posted by linettasky at 1:15 PM on May 6, 2016

Data point: My brother and SIL changed their daughter's name three times in her first 12 months. Each name was very different, as in "not-even-remotely-like-the-previous-one". Family reaction ran from "whatever you two want" to "dear God, just pick a name already!" My niece is now four and seems very well suited to the name they stuck with. My SIL is happy, my brother is happy, and all of the grandparents have calmed the fuck down, so it's all good. Bottom line: it's your privilege as the parent to pick a name you like. Nothing says you have to get it right the first time, the second time, or even a subsequent time. You don't even need to give a reason for changing it. Just change it before the child gets too attached to it, as you don't want the pain from the selection process to spill over to the kid.
posted by mosk at 1:29 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

My sister is named Suzannah. We have called her Frankie for 35 years.

So, change it or don't change it, but either way please get screened for post-natal depression. This should not be impacting your ability to bond with your child. I'm sorry you're caught in such a struggle over this.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:49 PM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]

Ancedote, but it took a week to name my third child (I had a name I was set on but my husband refused to entertain it), he named the child something I did not like (I had to give up the fight because he was not willing to consider anything else) and two weeks later someone made a comment to him about the name he choose that totally put him off, so he came home and said I could call the child what I wanted. I never liked the name he gave our child, even though I tried to warm up to it and accept it was his forever name. So my child had their name changed at one month old. I am SO GLAD I changed their name - everyone comments on how their name really suits them perfectly. Change the name. I did not have hormones or PPD, it was just that the name was a bad fit.
posted by saucysault at 2:03 PM on May 6, 2016

Call your kid whatever you want. They'll grow up and go by the name they want.
posted by Marinara at 2:22 PM on May 6, 2016

My husband goes by his middle name. It's occasionally like one second of hassle to explain it to someone and show an ID. It's not a big problem for him or I, even traveling or doing legal things.

Go ahead and do it!

(My mom has never called me anything but Rosie, which is a cutesy form of my middle name, and no one else has ever called me that. So many people in highschool called me Chuck that sometimes people were surprised to learn it wasn't my name. I will still answer to either, or my actual first name, or any of the pet names that boyfriends/husband have bestowed on me over my life. Names are pretty easy to get used to for humans.)

I say, experiment! Just start calling him the name you like better, see if it sticks. If it does, legally change it if you like! It's not like kids have a ton of ID or credit cards or something, so it's pretty easy to do a name change. ;)

I hope you start feeling better!
posted by euphoria066 at 3:37 PM on May 6, 2016

My dad was named for a beloved, dead friend of his parents. But they didn't want his nickname to rhyme with his brother's, so he has never been called by his legal first name, or even the proper version of his middle name, in his entire life. It is no big deal to do this sort of thing.

Also, one of my favorite naming facts: in some cultures, children don't even get names until a specified length of time has passed. So it's totally within human social norms for naming to be offset from the time of birth!
posted by SMPA at 3:45 PM on May 6, 2016

My guess us that the post birth hormones are making the part about telling Frank a whole lot bigger than it is. You seem clear about the name you want, the hard part seems to be the adult Frank's response. I would consider telling Frank what's going on and let him assure you its fine either way. If he doesn't do that, change it anyway. Names matter. Pick whatever name you want, and only make Frank a middle name if that feels good.
posted by orsonet at 3:59 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Go with choice 4. I doubt the mentor will really be all that broken up and you have good reasons for doing it that have nothing to do with him. It's not like you found out something awful about the mentor and therefore can't bear to have your child named after him. Change the name and be happy!
posted by Mrs Roy G Biv at 4:55 PM on May 6, 2016

I imagine if this were me, it would mostly be my hormones freaking out and causing extra anxiety. I also do not think telling the mentor "ha ha we changed it to the middle name because he ended up being a Paul Blart instead of a Frank!" is a problem whatsoever. It's still highly flattering that you thought of him after all that trauma and I doubt a rational person would be offended.

FWIW I very much dislike my given name and the nickname that everyone has always called me*, and I don't think that this has resulted in anything bad in life. It never really occurred to me just invent my own name or whatever (until I was like, 25), and who cares? It's just what people call you. No matter what you name your child, he or she is still able to hate/love/be neutral to it for reasons probably completely different from your own.

*don't tell my mom!!
posted by shownomercy at 6:35 PM on May 6, 2016

I have to tell you that after I named my older daughter her name, I sort of decided I hated it. And felt really panicked about it. By the time my second daughter was born I couldn't imagine a more perfect name than the one my older daughter had. I reluctantly agreed to name my second daughter a very popular and trendy name because her dad loved it and in his culture it was not as popular as it was in the U.S. My girls are now in their mid-teens, and I love both of their names, and both feel like "them" to me and I can't imagine any other names for them. I have seen this happen time after time with friends of mine. You should do what's in your heart, but know that you eventually might be not only totally ok with the name "Frank" but you might actually come to really love it.
posted by momochan at 7:09 PM on May 6, 2016

I have been in your mentor's position- my childhood best friend told me she would be naming her daughter after me, but for family politics reasons, it didn't work out. The daughter is named another name, which is lovely and suits her.
I do not resent it. That's life, dude. Occasionally I feel sort of wistful about it- it's such a huge, lovely gesture, to name another entire human being after someone! But mostly honestly I forget that it ever happened.
posted by Adridne at 7:35 PM on May 6, 2016

Yes, change your baby's name. If you keep Frank's name, make it the middle name.

We named our baby after my father, and then used the name we really loved, and the one we always called him, as his middle name. This was a big mistake, which became evident once he started school. Getting the teachers to call our son by his middle name -- the only name we ever called him -- was just impossible.
posted by merejane at 6:55 AM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

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