Help us with a kid naming issue, OMG, SMH, IMO...
September 16, 2016 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Do you ever use your full initials including middle name(s) for anything? If a person's full initials spell out a common... ummm, mildly risqué word is that going to be a problem?

My wife and I are very particular about our kids names. We have a lot of rules, exclusions and prefer unusual names, although not "celebrity unusual". The arrival of our third child is anticipated in December. Her sisters have very unique names and we want to continue the trend. After quite a bit of research and many hours of reading lists we have finally found another unique special name for our next l'il pixl.

The problem is that the combination of first, middle and last creates the initials "BRA". I think you can see the issue. We are set on the first so we can change the middle but it is a family honorary name and goes perfectly with the first.

I have never used my full initials "RWA" for anything, ever. I always initial things "RA" or just "R". My wife has used her full initials "RMB" to initial things her whole life.

Molehills, mountains? Absolutely change the middle name? Don't change, not a real concern?
posted by pixlboi to Society & Culture (77 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My husband was concerned because our child's initials would include "OJ." Almost 8 years in and literally no one has said a thing. If you like the name, I really wouldn't worry about it.
posted by goggie at 12:11 PM on September 16, 2016

She will almost never need to use her three initials on anything until she is old enough where most people won't tease her about it, and even then she doesn't need to use all three.

I used to use mine when I got the high score on arcade games in the 1980s, but I don't think that's a thing anymore. Now I use them when I initial legal documents. That's about it.
posted by bondcliff at 12:13 PM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

I wasn't excited about M.E.H. for our daughter but it has been okay so far.
posted by michaelh at 12:14 PM on September 16, 2016 [65 favorites]

As a kid I had a friend whose initials spelled out ASS. We (very) mildly teased her about it, but otherwise it has had no impact on her life.

One thing to think about would be whether you are the type of people who monogram things, or are potentially raising that kind of person. As in, how preppy are you, exactly? Otherwise I really don't think this matters at all.

Re signing with initials and the like, I agree that this is a matter of personal preference. Someone with the initials BRA is probably not going to opt to use that middle initial if it's not necessary.
posted by Sara C. at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

I use all three, my spouse does not. it may be worth pointing out that for classically styled monogrammed things the last name is usually/sometimes larger and in the middle so it could be bAr.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2016 [11 favorites]

As a child with the initals "SHT", I assure you, only your child will ever notice. I've never initialed anything in my life with my middle initial.

Now, here in the south people (girls) monogram EVERYTHING with all of their initials (I don't get it) - so unless your wife is one of those moms, I really wouldn't worry about.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think the above posters are being wildly optimistic about teasing. I know for a fact kids got teased about this at school when I was young.

That said, kids will always find something to tease each other about, so it's perhaps not worth much concern.
posted by selfnoise at 12:16 PM on September 16, 2016 [20 favorites]

My initials are EAR. It's completely benign, yet I did get teased about it and called 'Ear' all the time in 1st/2nd grade because kids are little assholes. I'd avoid giving them such incredibly easy ammo as BRA if at all possible.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:16 PM on September 16, 2016 [26 favorites]

I am dead certain my friends would have mocked a female person with the initials BRA in middle school. But we mocked everybody, about everything, so if it wasn't her initials it'd be something else.
posted by the marble index at 12:16 PM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm MES. I"m marrying an h, so it's going to be MEH. I've had some comments, but many more about the last name Shove than what my initials spell.
posted by becomingly at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm used to full initials on legal documents but First and Last on things like "initial that you got a B on this paper" type things. I think on the grand scale of embarrassing things parents do to their children this is pretty small - when she gets to an age that she might not like it, you can let her know that she should be able to just use whatever she wants (including making up a middle initial that she likes) in almost all cases.

Is giving her two middle names an option?
posted by Candleman at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Just had this discussion as two of our possible middles names would result in future son being HOG or HAG. I had to convince my husband its a non-issue (as I see it!)
posted by DuckGirl at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2016

I use all three to initial. My first and middle initial could refer a sex act. Aside from my best frenimy pointing it out, it wasn't an issue, however I never, ever use first initial-middle initial-last name for this reason.

I don't think BRA is a big deal.
posted by TORunner at 12:18 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I actually think this could be a bit annoying, especially if they wanted to monogram things, as others have said. I have monogrammed maybe... one thing in my entire lifetime, but I do think I'd feel a bit annoyed at my name if I felt like I didn't have the option because it spelled out a weird word.

That said, "BRA" is one of the less awkward monograms I can think of.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am obsessive about the name thing. I'm a girl and my initials are BJ. Pretty annoying in highschool
So if you love that name, add an initial! Boysenberry Anna Righteous Anderson. Then when she is 14 and decides (for like 2 months) that she totally hates her name! she can use Ana.
posted by ReluctantViking at 12:24 PM on September 16, 2016 [11 favorites]

I always use all three because first-last is TP and I was indeed called Toilet Paper or subjected to incredibly racist teepee "jokes" growing up. While I like my name just fine, I wish I didn't have to deal with it. I wouldn't use BRA.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:27 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm MAD and my mom (with her married name) is SAD. No one notices until we point it out. I personally like having my initials spell a word. BRA could go either way. Your kid could love it or hate it. I still shake my head that my friends whose daughter's initials are NASW didn't go for a name that would have made her NESW (all the cardinal directions). Also this is a long shot, but if they ever remake the A-Team, your kid could say the initials BA stand for Bad Attitude :)
posted by MsMolly at 12:27 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

My initials are my nickname (friends refer to me by that instead of "Sarah," and I didn't start it.) They are also my MetaFilter username!

In elementary school, there was a girl whose initials spelled out "sap," and because we were usually together people said "sap and spa" when referring to us.

And, many legal documents require me to "initial" line items, and my email addresses at several employers have included all of my other initials placed in front of my last name.

Anyway, I would say that initials and what they spell are important.
posted by SMPA at 12:29 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I processed name changes for awhile and I definitely saw my share of the initials spelling something out as a reason for the name change. Just one more view.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

My three letter initials make a very common TLA (like FYI or LOL common). Which is sort of irritating because I see my initials capitalized all over sites like Imgur.

They also create a ?phrase? that is comes across as braggy; something like Marion Ray Theo. Lots of people notice my initials spell something like MRT. This was more of a problem back in school where several instructors had us mark projects with our initials.

I only use first and last when initialling documents but that is partially because those two letters flow into each other.
posted by Mitheral at 12:34 PM on September 16, 2016

I use my first name as a first initial and then go by my middle name, so I do end up using all three initials. No one else I know does this, though. If I didn't have a first initial, though, I'd just use the two.
posted by heurtebise at 12:35 PM on September 16, 2016

My initials are DLD. Nobody ever teased me about it, even though it sounds like a common term for a "marital aid."

I purposefully chose the initials ERD for my son. That way he can say "I'm an ERD." Who knows if he ever will, though?
posted by tacodave at 12:37 PM on September 16, 2016

My Grandmother Swan was a very superstitious woman (she had a less than fifth grade education) and when she heard, as a mother of two, that it was good luck to have your child's initials spell something, she gave her third, fourth, and fifth children names that spelled words (JAR, FIR and HER, if you care to know). My father (AKA "HER") and his two siblings just thought it was funny, but even as a small child I thought it was absurd. I have a friend whose initials spell LIC and I know she hates it.

I'd change the name in some way so that the initials don't spell anything. Names really shouldn't be fodder for dumb jokes.
posted by orange swan at 12:38 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

First name starts with a K, last name starts with a K.

Mom wanted to give me the middle name Katherine. (She hated Catherine)

She decided that it was a bad idea to have her daughter's initials be KKK

So I am KAK instead.
posted by INFJ at 12:38 PM on September 16, 2016 [8 favorites]

My real surname is two words. If I write it as First-name Surname-part-1 Surname-part-2 it is very common for people to assume that Surname-part-1 is actually my middle name. So I usually write First-name Middle-initial Surname-part-1 Surname-part-2 and people don't generally make that mistake.

In other words, my first name is "Chocolate". My surname is "Dill Pickle". My middle name is "Kosher". If I sign "Chocolate Dill Pickle" lots of people will assume that "Dill" is my middle name. But if I sign "Chocolate K. Dill Pickle" then they don't make that mistake.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:43 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

My real name + initials is one letter removed from the BFG, and since I was unusually tall for my age during elementary school, I was repeatedly called [name] the Friendly Giant as soon as one of our teachers read "The BFG" to us in class.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:49 PM on September 16, 2016

I went to high school with a girl with the initials PMS. It generated some mild teasing, but it was friendly teasing, not mean teasing.
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:50 PM on September 16, 2016

What I think of when I see BRA. But I wouldn't associate your daughter with it unless I were to know her as an adult and she was working there and I had cause to be in contact with her, sooo......I think you're fine to name her whatever regardless of what the initials spell out. Or not.
posted by zizzle at 12:53 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

My mother, DAM, was teased enough as a child to make sure our initials were neutral/non words. I'd avoid BRA, but a fourth letter would avoid it of you really like the B and R.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:54 PM on September 16, 2016

There are no safe initials! Mine were perfectly innocuous at birth, and then three years later a foreign right-wing nationalist party claimed them. Fortunately none of the kids I knew growing up were concerned about global politics enough to give me shit about it. That said, the potential awkwardness of BRA is immediately evident to you; were I in your position I would go with something different.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:57 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I used to go by all three initials, but after I got married I ended up with 4 initials and now I just use 2 when I need to initial a legal document or similar (which is really the only time I can recall needing to use initials). Also, having gone through the legal name change thing (I did something weird with my name upon getting married and so I had to do that rather than any of the married person shortcuts), it's mildly annoying but really not a big deal. You could set aside $200 for your kid if she ever decides she hates her name and wants to change it.

Although I agree there is room for mild teasing at the elementary/middle school age, will tease if they are going to tease. I had unremarkable initials, and it's not like I avoided all teasing as a kid! I think kids are easy/not easy targets for teasing based on factors other than names -- if you're considered "cool", people will think your weird name or funny initials are awesome, if you're not, they will surely find something to pick on. Plus, I think schools are getting more serious about bullying since we grew up, and that's something to look for/push for in schools regardless of your child's specific name.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:58 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I weep for third child, that she will not be born unto the golden age of coin-op arcade machines, each with a persistent high-score list tracked by initials.

Maybe by the time she can reach the controls, they'll be hip and trendy again.
posted by sourcequench at 1:05 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

A classmate with the initials IRS was never once teased about her name, while I, with innocuous JAC initials, was called Joshie Squashie. Teasers gonna tease.
posted by bluejayway at 1:07 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have known a few people who have disliked it. Consider naming her RBA and calling her by her middle name, I know a lot of people who do that. (I always initial using all three letters.)
posted by jeather at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2016

It probably won't be a big deal in practice, but I'd be pretty annoyed with my parents if they chose to give me those initials.
posted by lalex at 1:27 PM on September 16, 2016 [11 favorites]

My middle name is the same as my mother's and her mother's. I find that very meaningful to me and really love the connection it gives me, so I always include my middle initial when writing my name or initials.

For most of my life this hadn't really had any impact, but over the last few years the term SJW has become ... A thing ... and those are my initials. So, you know, even if you do go out of your way to give your kid a name whose initials don't signify anything now, there's no guarantee they won't eventually become some sort of internet acronym. Personally I'm still happy to rock my SJW - so my vote is to not sweat it too much.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:32 PM on September 16, 2016

I have a son with the initials WAD and a daughter with the initials NAD. They were both mildly teased in school because nad = slang for testicle and wad = slang for semen. I got a few "gee mom thanks a lot" comments from my daughter, who secretly loved having NAD as her initials, as she confessed as a teen. My son has never thanked me, the ingrate.
posted by the webmistress at 1:32 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Initials are used often in my line of work. It'd be a constant annoyance if mine spelled out something like BRA.
posted by grouse at 1:34 PM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

I write my full initials on a lot of things in the laboratory - probably dozens of times a week right now, to label culture dishes. I use my middle initial professionally because I have a really common first and last, so I've extended that to labeling stuff. I wouldn't do that if it spelled something super weird, probably - I'd just go with first+last initials. Wouldn't be a big deal though.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:41 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

As a kid, a classmate of mine was teased quite a bit because his initials spelled GAS. Kids are mean. And I worked for a large corporation where everyone's email address was their People snickered at the woman saddled with PMS as her identifier. Adults can be childish. Given the focus on initials at the company, several folks remarked on a coworker's decision to name her daughter a nice name that gave her the initials STD. So some people will notice, though whether you should care is another question.
posted by cecic at 1:43 PM on September 16, 2016

Seems to me from this thread that, while this sort of thing wouldn't bother EVERYONE or even the majority of people, it bothers enough people that I don't think I'd roll the dice on it.

Imagine your kid DOES wind up hating the name, googles 'BRA initials' someday, and finds this very thread. How totally pissed do you think she'd be to know that you knew she might wind up hating it or getting teased for it, and decided to go ahead and saddle her with it anyway?

However, I love the idea of just adding in a second middle name to fix the problem.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:45 PM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

I worked as a medical device tester at several different companies. We had to initial lots and lots of test documents with the date (and sometimes the time of day) to record who had done what test steps and when. I used all three initials by preference, but it was never mandatory. Many of my colleagues used only two initials.
posted by Bruce H. at 1:58 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Those who are mentioning monograms - there are two monogram styles, BRA and bAr. So monograms aren't even a particular problem, if she's that sort.

I do feel like I use my three-letter initials sometimes, but I can't really remember why. You could add a second one, but eh, I think choosing a first and middle name you love trumps some semi-whatever initials.

Bra isn't even that bad, in the scheme of all three-letter words. Nobody over, say, 15 finds it remotely funny.
posted by R a c h e l at 2:00 PM on September 16, 2016

I think this is a 50/50 thing & tend to fall on the side of not saddling a young woman with "BRA," as initials. I know you have very specific naming criteria, but speaking as someone who does not have a middle name, you could go that route and avoid the whole issue. It's never bothered me that I didn't have a middle name.
posted by katemcd at 2:01 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

My initials growing up were "HAW". It was annoying when some kids poked fun at me saying, "Hee-haw! Hee-haw!"

I specifically wanted to avoid this issue with my children. My first child was named with the initials "ALS." No big deal until 2 years ago, when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a big deal. She griped at me for having her named for a disease. I pointed out to her that I didn't know that it was a disease named that (I knew it as Lou Gehrig's!)

In the South, initials can matter, especially if people are into monograms. So be kind.
posted by heathrowga at 2:03 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

My initials, as in my username, are MCE. I never write M.E. on things for the obvious reason.

As an adult I often go by Mike but in grade school it was always Michael - born in the 70s I don't think I ever had a class with fewer than 3 Michaels in it and it just isn't fun to go through life as Mike-E. I very nearly stopped eating breakfast cereal altogether.

In short (as mentioned various ways above) kids are going to pick on other kids - if it's not one thing it'll be another. I would consider Candleman's suggestion and maybe think about two middle names?
posted by mce at 2:10 PM on September 16, 2016

It has been 20 years but I still remember the departmental secretary who proudly appended her initials to every document she created. They were PMS. As such she was asserting that there was nothing at all special about this three letter arrangement, so don't ask.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:15 PM on September 16, 2016

My initials are FZZ. Someone in middle school started calling me Fizzy, and the name has stuck to this day - I just turned 37, and am not a fan of nicknames. Fortunately, it's kinda cute and fits my personality (or so I'm told), so it doesn't bother me too much. I do, however, let certain people, like my boyfriend, know that they can't call me that.
posted by Everydayville at 2:19 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

My initials are EEK; I thought it was awesome and Halloween is great because I can find monogrammed cats and witches and stuff.

Kids notice when initials spell something; I wouldn't give a daughter (who will already grow up sexualized without her consent) an easily sexualized set of initials. I would really, really, really would advise against it.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:26 PM on September 16, 2016 [11 favorites]

This is basically why I always try to use TYP instead of TP. Makes me miss my pre-marriage initials a bit.

At my old job it was standard practice to name files using one's initials. BRA would have caused a lot of secret titters among my coworkers, but I suppose she could just use BA.

Not really applicable, but my sister's initials conveniently spell her first name, which I always thought was pretty neat.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:37 PM on September 16, 2016

You guys must have had easy childhoods who are saying that problematic initials are no big deal. As someone whose maiden name was Smith, you wouldn't think that kids would find a way to make fun of that, but they did, oh yes they did. It brought me to tears more than once, especially during middle school. My answer is, please for the love of god, do not give your child an name, nickname or initials that are teasing fodder. Thank you.
posted by Lynsey at 2:47 PM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

I use all three at work; there are some shared documents where we parcel out tasks by initials, and someone else has the same first and last, so she and I use all three initials to differentiate ourselves.
posted by Stacey at 2:56 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Lawyers sometimes refer to each other by all three initials. It's fairly common in a law firm for timekeeping purposes etc.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:04 PM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

My name and initials are perfectly innocuous and I was never teased for those things. But I still became suicidally depressed as a kid, mainly because of how shitty other kids were to me.

These kind of questions basically boil down to "How do I protect my kid from jerks forever?" The answer is, you can't.
posted by a strong female character at 3:05 PM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Second middle name. That's our M.O. Otherwise my Youngest would literally be SOL.
posted by tilde at 3:27 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't swap her initials around and then call her by her middle name as suggested above. Everyone has one of those teachers at some point that is a sanctimonious asshole about names and will refuse to call her by her preferred name and use her official first name instead. And she'll also have to explain to every teacher, official etc. in her life to please call her B not R. That's tiresome.

Anyway, I sometimes initial things with all three of my initials, especially pottery. I see it on other artwork too, like if you sign a painting you made. But signatures on that sort of thing are really up to you.

I would change her middle name--BRA is just too soft of a target.
posted by purple_bird at 3:29 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

My birth name 3 initials spell the name of a tree. My nickname, also assigned at birth, plus surname = BM.

I love my nickname a heap but when using initials I go only ever with birth name initials cos no bowel movements thankyewveddymuch.
posted by mcbeth at 3:44 PM on September 16, 2016

I use all 3 for things only because mine are CPO, and you know I'm finding a way to slip the 3 in there somehow.

But that's only because I like the connection. I'd just stick with CO if I hated it.
posted by theichibun at 3:53 PM on September 16, 2016

We gave our son an extra middle name so his initials would not spell DEA.

My SOs initials spell BRA. I think it's amusing but then I freely admit to having a sense of humor as sophisticated as the average 8 year old. I've never purchased anything monogrammed for him for this reason.
posted by jamaro at 3:55 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

My initials are the same initials of a horrible disease, that my grandfather actually died of (when I was 8). Almost nobody notices.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:07 PM on September 16, 2016

I think EAR, DEA and HAW had it easy. BRA?! That equals torture from 2nd to at least 8th grade. BRA?! Tell your wife to think back to 6th grade and the emphasis on growing breasts. And what if she is flat chested? Or large chested? Those would amplify the problem. I'd change the first name and keep the ancestral middle name... or change the order, maybe. RBA is pretty safe. BRA is just asking for trouble. Big no vote.
posted by mulcahy at 4:39 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

children are fucking miserable little creatures who will, no matter what you name your kid, find some way of making fun of their name. or their face or their hair or or the way they say "orange" or YOUR name or the car your partner drives or the street you live on, etc etc etc. however if you can avoid something as obvious as having a bunch of little brats shrieking BRA BRA PANTIES UR A TITTY HOLDER PANTY LOL at your daughter then you should do so.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:45 PM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

At the university I attended, our username for online services (including our email address itself) was automatically our first, middle, and last initials followed by a series of numbers. I.e, if you were Abraham Simon Smith, your email address would default to something like I don't know how much trouble it might have been to change it.
posted by AndrewInDC at 5:36 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you love the name, go with it. She's going to be teased about something, and being teased about BRA isn't likely to leave life-long scars. As for monograms, isn't the surname initial usually in the center, and larger, than the first and middle initials, e.g., using case for size, b A r.

And anyone over the age of about 12 who is giggles and/or is uncomfortable with the word BRA has their own issues, which shouldn't be factored into choosing your child's name.
posted by she's not there at 5:52 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Reading these responses, my vote has changed from probably don't to HELL NO. Think of it as the first of many times you'll have to quash your own desires to protect your child's interest.
posted by lalex at 6:01 PM on September 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

My last name is a homophone for an innocuous word that can be used as slang about a sex act. Even so, and as a super awkward kid, the only teasing I ever got was good-natured and mostly from friends. I think you're fine!
posted by marmago at 6:01 PM on September 16, 2016

I have a family member with the initials BUM, and had a female friend growing up initialed HIM. We good-naturedly tease both of them, in the same way they tease us about silly meaningless things. I don't think it's that big of a deal.

Also, we only knew about the HIM initials because she had a monogrammed backpack. How do all these kids know each other's middle names?!
posted by raspberrE at 6:51 PM on September 16, 2016

In my experience (in Australia) full initials are not uncommonly used for:
1) bureaucratically issued usernames and email addresses; and
2) things like internal memos (including on sticky notes), minutes of meetings, to show who has been allocated work on eg project status reports etc.

So to answer the question - you or your daughter may not choose to use all 3 initials, but someone else probably will in the course of her lifetime, and she may get a work issued login of BRA42. How much this would bother her, I can't say. Personally, I wouldn't do it. All the other answerers are right in that kids will find something to tease about no matter what, but your daughter may not thank you for giving them an obvious target.
posted by pianissimo at 7:19 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes. I have had two wildly different professions (research science and legal) and I used my three initials extensively in both. Initial documents, recording notes, office memos, etc.
posted by tippy at 8:29 PM on September 16, 2016

a strong female character: "These kind of questions basically boil down to "How do I protect my kid from jerks forever?" The answer is, you can't."

True, but one can at least attempt to minimize the low hanging fruit.
posted by Mitheral at 11:39 PM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

I appear to be in the minority but as someone who uses initials at work all the time I would notice that hers spell a word in passing and I'd find it helpful because easy to remember but then I'd move right on and wouldn't give it a second thought. I was teased mercilessly at school but not for my name so nthing that people will find something to tease her, if not this then something else. Especially if her name is going to be unusual the initials are probably the least of your problems.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:22 AM on September 17, 2016

Aside from the "do you live in a world where monogramming is a thing?" (which I don't understand so will not comment on), my question would be "is the first name + surname unique enough that your kid will never need to use her middle name or initial to differentiate herself from others?" My first name is common as muck but my surname is pretty unique. I'm lucky. I only ever need to use my middle name on official paperwork (passports / immigration / bank accounts), and I ignore my middle name otherwise.

Reading all the comments, she might be lucky and no-one will ever notice / tease / bully her about it. But why take the risk?
posted by finding.perdita at 4:16 AM on September 17, 2016

I was with you until I got to BRA. Nope, no way. I don't consider "middle name is a family name and sounds right" nearly a good enough reason to give a child initials as potentially problematic as Bra. I would pick a different family name for the middle.
Congratulations on the baby!
posted by areaperson at 6:50 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I write my full initials on a lot of things in the laboratory - probably dozens of times a week right now, to label culture dishes. I use my middle initial professionally because I have a really common first and last, so I've extended that to labeling stuff. I wouldn't do that if it spelled something super weird, probably - I'd just go with first+last initials. Wouldn't be a big deal though. deludingmyself

I went with first+last initial at work, until I took a job in a lab that already had someone with my initials, who'd labelled lots of things with our combined initials already, and had to switch to include my middle. Can't really count on not having to use the middle.
posted by SandiBeech at 6:55 AM on September 17, 2016

I think you should keep in mind that email or other accounts may result in handls like BRAtwoodm BRAndersen, BRA531.

I would not use initials that spell something that could be teasing fodder. I saw lots of kids mocked for having those sorts of names. I think it hurt them. You can't plan for everything, but you can control this.

I remember having class assignments where we wrote out our three initials to learn how to do fonts like bubble letters, block letters, etc. It caused a lot of upset.

The suggestion of going by middle name is not an easy one. It can be a headache at the bank, doctor's, etc. I hate being called by the wrong name and I'm not cued to hear it.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:52 AM on September 17, 2016

My whole life I always just used my first/last initial (AA), completely ignoring my middle initial. After I got married I continued this habit, and, in fact, when I'm signing my initials (rather than printing), I still actually sign AA (and not my married initials). I can't think of any place where I have been compelled to initial with all three letters instead of just, you know, the mark you use to identify yourself (in my case 2 initials). This turns out to be useful because my full initials now spell ASS.

The only time I've used all three of my initials has been doing night-time security checks in the army, where I was required to initial a bunch of places throughout the night, and I wanted to express my opinion of the whole activity... and maybe also give the next person on duty a little chuckle.

While I have never been teased about my initials (probably because I gained them as an adult although TBH I can't say that I ever had an awareness of any of my classmates' initials as a child and am struggling to think of a context where that would be common), I did get teased throughout childhood with silly, vaguely rude and disrespectful mispronunciations of my full last name.

So you might be worried about BRA now and go with something else, but you can't predict, as others have said, what seemingly-innocuous initials now may wind up as some scandalous meme as your daughter gets older, or, as in my case, if she changes her name at some point and that creates a new mildly rude word, scuppering your carefully-laid plans, or if you're completely overlooking that maybe a single letter or a syllable of her full name might be amusingly altered by some junior wordsmith into a hurtful epithet that'll follow her around for years, regardless of what her initials are. If kids want to tease her, they'll find something to tease her about no matter what you do.

I'd say if the names are meaningful to you, there is no reason not to give them to your daughter. Why live your life (and hers) in fear of what future ASSholes might or might not say about something so trifling?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 7:13 PM on September 18, 2016

I don't think, in the comparative universe of kid things to be teased about, BRA is very scandalous.

That said, in my whole initialing-things career, it's always been any combination of initials I want to use. In fact, in my work community, your 'initials' preferably aren't even literal legible letters, they're a super stylized 'mark' like a very short signature. Documents we pass around for initials indicating "I acknowledge reading this" end up looking like someone's doodled on it while talking on the phone.
posted by ctmf at 7:27 PM on September 18, 2016

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