New CatholicMom article up

My June CatholicMom.com article posted yesterday, and I’m eager to hear your thoughts on itcatholicmom_screen_shot-06.16.16 — it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about for a while: Name definitions vs. name meanings

I have a few people to thank for their role in the writing of this article — Jen, for sending me the Brandon Vogt FB post that he then published on Catholic Pop (and Brandon Vogt himself, who wrote the post that Jen sent), and Abby at Appellation Mountain, whose Mallory quote I’ve been thinking about for a long time and I’m delighted to finally use it in a piece. Also the mama who I was emailing with recently who was worried that Lydia didn’t mean anything more than “from Lydia” and would therefore make a questionable name choice. I hope this piece is helpful to her and anyone else who feels hindered by name “definitions”!

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6 thoughts on “New CatholicMom article up

  1. I REALLY enjoyed this article–very interesting, with much food for thought. I must say, much as I like Brandon Vogt, I have to disagree with him semi-strongly here. I can see where he’s coming from; after all, naming your baby is a pretty important undertaking, and you should think about it seriously. But it sounds like he’s saying, “if you’ve named your baby something because it sounds nice, it means you haven’t thought about it seriously” which seems wrong to me.

    For instance, I nannied for a long time for a family who named their first son the ultra-popular Kaden because, well, they really liked how it sounded. (I’ve heard an interesting analysis of megahits such as Kaden/Jaden/Aiden/Jaycie/Kylie/etc. as being “bells” when called on the playground–“JAY-cie! KY-lie! KAY-den!” It actually did make me rethink my initial judgment of these names!) They then went on to name their second son Kyler (another bell name). Now at first one may think, “ugh, so trendy and matchy-matchy. And that name doesn’t even mean anything.” But it does–they didn’t name him Kyler just ‘cuz. Their closeness as a family is reflected in their sons’ names, in a “two peas in a pod” kind of way. It’s not what I would choose to do, but it’s the quality they wished to emphasize, and you know what? Good for them, I say!

    I also can’t help thinking about my own son, whose name is Corwin. Now, Corwin IS a “real” name (in the same family as Edwin and Godwin), but we found it in a fantasy novel and…liked the sound. We held off because we were concerned that it sounded too made-uppy and considering a variety of other boys’ names, but when he was born we looked at him with his head of ginger hair and said “that looks like a Corwin.” (Bell name! LOL.) Does it emphasize our love of books? Reflect my own Anglo-Irish background? Look, I dunno, we just liked the sound! Heh.

    Finally, I think it’s important to consider that some cultural groups, African-Americans in particular, have strong naming traditions which emphasize a unique sound beyond meaning. To many, a beautiful or unique sound is a meaning in itself.

    Sorry, I didn’t intend to write a book here! LOL. Anyway, I thought this was a really thoughtful and interesting article and am always interested to see different peoples’ perspectives on baby names.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love, love, love this article. Did I say I love it? Haha. THANK YOU. I am a big fan of considering meaning when choosing a name… but beauty is also important and something we as Catholic value. When I was pregnant with my first, I believe St. Elmo was an intercessor for him. I will never forget the role St. Elmo played. That said, the second St. Elmo popped up on my radar, I told him, “St. Elmo… thank you for your intercession! I am sorry to say I can’t name this child after you, though, because culturally, it wouldn’t fly. But thank you!!” The name Elmo just wasn’t something we would enjoy calling out on a day to day basis, nor would it resonate well with us anywhere on his birth certificate (in hindsight, I probably could have gotten more creative on finding ways to honor this Saint, but hey, it was my first, and I was new to naming, mmkay?). I will say, I sometimes feel our culture overvalues being unique to our detriment… not just with our names, but in many areas. That doesn’t mean the quest for an underused or unique sounding name is wrong, though. Lastly, this post resonates so much because of one our few-shared favorite names between me and Dh: Julia. Most name websites will say it means “bearded.” Pretty much no parent ever would choose such a meaning for a sweet little girl (probably because it is the feminine of Julius, so the meaning “carries over?” Not sure how reliable that meaning is, but it’s everywhere). For the longest time, this really irked me, and made me hesitate on this lovely-sounding name. But when you have a husband who is very picky, and it’s a name you ACTUALLY agree on, well, you start to have to expand your way of seeing a name. This article really solves such dilemmas… we chose a variation of this name because there are several worthy St. Julias/Julianas, including one connected to the Sacred Heart. I am so thankful for our Catholic faith, so rich in history and heroes to choose from… makes naming that much more rewarding and is a great source beyond poorly-researched naming websites that may or may not get a meaning correct :).

    Liked by 1 person

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