Baby Names and Getting Your Own Way

How to Get Your Own Way on the Baby’s Name

September 2, 2016

How to Get Your Own Way on the Baby’s Name

How to Get Your Own Way on the Baby’s Name
Your partner’s wrong about the best baby name. They just don’t realize it yet. Here are five strategies to help them see the light (and five strategies to peacefully reach a compromise). How to Get Your Own Way on the Baby’s Name

Are you arguing with your partner about what to name your baby? You’re not alone! Half of parents disagree with their significant other about their baby’s name. And sorry gentlemen: one study says four out of ten mothers will disregard the views of the father when selecting a name for their new child. (Ouch!) If you’re one of those couples who likes to peacefully come to consensus and work as a team: congratulations on your excellent marriage. For those of you who are bent on getting your own way come hell or high water, here are some power plays you can make to ensure that your favorite baby name prevails!

Ways to win the name game

  1. Victory by majority. Talk to your friends and get them all on your side. Then invite them to a party and casually start a baby naming conversation. To your partner, it will seem like the room spontaneously loves the name that you chose. Brownie points for getting your friends to hate the name your partner chose! (Just kidding: that’s terrible. No brownies for you.)

  2. Brainwash your partner with the power of repetition. While the baby is in the womb or on the way, simply call the baby by the name you have chosen, consistently every day. They may hate the name at first, but after hearing you use the name affectionately for nine months, chances are they’ll feel differently. Familiarity makes the heart grow fonder.

  3. Lower the bar. After your partner is worn out with arguing, suggest that you change the standard from “we both have to love the name” to “neither one of us can hate the name.” That makes it easier for you to prevail.

  4. Start strong by bidding high. Suppose you want a middle name you know your partner will hate. Start out from a strong negotiating position by saying you’ve got your heart set on it being the baby’s FIRST name. That way, making it the middle name seems like a compromise. This strategy can also be applied to first names. If you want a first name that’s a little strange, pretend to want an unbelievably bizarre name, then “back down” to your real choice.

  5. Plan far in advance. When you’re getting engaged, make it a condition of your marriage that you get certain input into your children’s names. If your partner protests, point out the children will legally be allowed to change their names when they turn eighteen.

Ways to peacefully compromise on a name

So you think that the cornerstone of a good relationship is compromise? Lame. Where’s your drive to win?

Just joking!!! Obviously, a desire to compromise is a good thing. So many BabyList parents are right there with you: when disagreement happened, they set their heart on coming up with a solution that was fair and made everyone happy. Here are some strategies we learned from their stories.

A conversation about names is sometimes actually a conversation about identity and values

  1. Develop a system. One BabyList parent’s baby naming strategy was as follows: “Give a list to my husband of my favorite names then let him pick his fave. Whatever name he likes is the name we choose. I like us both to agree and have input in naming our children!” (We’ve also heard of a variation on this system where one partner highlights a baby names book with all the names they like. That gives the other partner a ton of options to select from.)

  2. Take a break from conflict to let feelings work themselves out. This parent wrote, “We had to take a break for a few months on trying to pick a name because it got really frustrating agreeing on any name. One night, just relaxing and talking, we decided to give another go at agreeing on a name. And ten minutes later, miraculously we agreed on a name that we loved. We knew it was the perfect name because we felt so at peace the moment we said it and we both were smiling from ear to ear.” This story is pretty beautiful, isn’t it? It’s hard to resist the impulse to hammer things out when emotions are running high. But sometimes, if you just back away and give things time to simmer, good things can happen.

  3. Divide up naming privileges fairly. This parent wrote, “Bad news: my husband & I do not agree on names at all. Good news: we’re letting each other pick what we want as long as the other person doesn’t hate it. He currently has the choice for boy names and I have the girl name!” Letting women pick girl names and men pick boy names is actually a pretty common strategy. Alternating siblings is another common strategy. If you’re just having the one child, you could flip a coin to decide who gets the first and who gets the middle name.

  4. Be understanding rather than defensive. We also found this very insightful advice from a social worker. “For a lot of people, the name is tied up in their own identity,” says Potthoff. “When their partner rejects it, it feels like a personal rejection. Consciously remind yourself that your partner’s feelings about the name have more to do with their attachment to their own ideas and identity than with any rejection of you.”

  5. Address underlying feelings. The social worker really put her finger on why things get so heated. A conversation about names is sometimes actually a conversation about identity and values, so it may be helpful to dig deeper and find the underlying reasons for the conflict. It could be a whole range of things: family names can be tough with those who have mixed feelings about their family. The whole conversation about unique vs. normal names could have a lot to do with your partner’s strategy for approaching life: do they think it’s better to stand out or fit in? Names can also suggest affiliation to a class or ethnic identity which can come with its own set of emotional baggage.

The more compassionately you can address the underlying issues, and your partner’s aspirations for your child, the less heated the naming conversation will become. It’s definitely hard, but we have faith that you will GET YOUR OWN WAY (cough, cough, we mean, compromise and respect your partner’s feelings). Good luck!

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