From ‘Apple’ to ‘E’- What were they thinking?

African American Baby Name Unique Ethnic MeaningsI sat there, 8 months pregnant at the gathering as different individuals expertly shot down potential baby names. From “That was my ex’s name” to “Is that really a name?” I was amazed by how many friends and family felt compelled to offer advice regarding the best name choice. I held my breath hoping they didn’t slam one of my likely favorites, knowing that they might feel bad when our child arrived. It was partially for this reason that we decided to keep our son’s name a secret when I was pregnant. Between our scheduled C-section and the common knowledge that we were having a boy, it seemed most of the suspense had been robbed from our first childbirth experience. I also believe that once the child actually owns the name, many people take a liking to the name out of love for the child, regardless of negative preconceived notions.

For those of you who are easily influenced by people in your life, consider keeping your unborn child’s name a secret. Choosing a name should be a process shared exclusively by the parents. Many people often later resent the fact that they have given up the dream of a certain name based on family and friend opinion polls. It is my opinion that the parents should only have to give account to one person for the choice of the name – the child, him or herself. And, thankfully, this backlash doesn’t occur for many years and often reverses later. The sociologist, Dalton Conley, shares the story of his decision to name his daughter “E” (yes, just the letter E). He defends his choice of giving her a name that expressed the unique qualities he was certain she’d possess. Conley predicts that E would probably like her name as a child, bitterly change it to “Elizabeth” or “Ellen” as a young teenager and by young adulthood, she’d be back to “E” again. This was the case with a close friend named “Tria” who experienced similar feelings but now as a young adult, wouldn’t trade her unusual name for another.

In an age where kids are named anything from Apple to E, parents must consider carefully the name that they choose for their child. I tend to embrace unique names as long as they’re somewhat easy to spell. I’m sure many of us can recall the roll-call butchering of well-intentioned uniquely spelled names by childhood teachers. Even teaching in a college setting, I’ve had students approach me before class to ask me not to use their “proper name” in front of others. Clearly throughout their lives, they’d been forced to “defend” their name and would now rather skip that process altogether. An unusual name can definitely be a creative blessing, but it’s up to the parents to show the child the unique value of his or her given name.

African American Baby Name Unique Ethnic MeaningsIn my home, another reason we didn’t disclose our son’s name was because my husband and I couldn’t agree on one. An outstandingly agreeable man, I was shocked to find he had such strong opinions regarding name choices. He was against many “trendy” names simply because they were trendy. I, on one hand, greatly feared giving our child a common name that he’d share with others in his class at school. I thought that sharing a name with so many other kids would deny him some individuality. So, the arguments ensued about our potential choices. It even became a discussion we avoided but stressed out over whenever someone asked us if we had made a decision. We then started going out for ice cream while we discussed our choices. Somehow, turning this seemingly challenging task into more of a date made the process more enjoyable and productive. Thankfully, by the time we were actually in labor we’d narrowed our choices down to two. It was then that we realized the value in polling complete strangers. This was helpful because we knew their opinions would be honest; yet, we’d have no remorse about going with a different name. From this moment on, everyone from the nurses to the anesthesiologist was asked to take part in our “name focus group.” We finally have our answer after our son arrived. While the journey was long, the decision was right. The good news about this is that the ultimate name choice usually ends up fitting the child with a certain ownership, thereby erasing the memories of friends’ ex’s and other horrible people also sharing that name! Our son is now a toddler and we couldn’t imagine calling him anything different. Occasionally, I’ll look at him and try to picture him as a Tyler, one of the potential names on our list and I wonder how we could’ve even considered anything but Luke.

Author: Stephanie F.

African American Baby Name Sites

* – All of the name resources found in this site list the gender, meaning, and origin of each name.

* – The is an Afrocentric resource for African personal names.

* – This site offers a wide variety of names that will enlighten and educate you in the culture and heritage that is Africa.

Find Unique African American Baby Names with our Baby Name Chart!

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