Fun Friday Question: Did your devotion to your children’s name saints come first or second?

I’ve often had parents tell me that they like such-and-such a name, but they don’t really have a devotion to the saint who bears the name, so it feels a little weird to them to choose it.

On the other hand, I’ve also heard from parents who have allowed their preference for a name to introduce them to a new saint, and they’ve cultivated a devotion from there.

I’ve experienced both: Some of my boys’ names were chosen because we had a specific devotion to a specific saint, while others have names chosen more because they’re important family names or simply names we liked, and we “backed into” a patron saint — and a new devotion — from there.

What about you? What has your experience been in this regard? Have a great Friday and a great weekend, and Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms and all the moms in your lives!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Fun Friday Question (on Monday!): Did Mom name the girls and Dad the boys?

I meant to post this last Friday and forgot, and I’ll be off the blog this coming Friday in observance of Good Friday, and I don’t have a consultation to post today, so Fun Friday Question on a Monday it is!

In last week’s consultation, we read about how Mom would be choosing the baby’s name if they have a girl, while Dad would be choosing if they have a boy. I’ve known of other families who have done this, and I’ve always been intrigued by it. So my question is a simple one: Did you do this in your family? Did your parents? Do you know of others who have done so? Is it usually a fairly peaceful process in your experience/observance, or do you know of situations where the parent who didn’t get to choose really hates the name the other parent chose? Do you have any examples of extreme style mismatches in a family because of this practice? (You know I love a well-matched bunch of sibling names, but I actually also really love to see siblings with an eclectic bunch of names!)

I hope your Holy Week has started well!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Fun Friday Question: What is your Name Fuss threshhold?

Happy Friday everyone! By special request of one of our readers who is homebound because of the coronavirus, here’s a Fun Friday Question for you: What is your Name Fuss threshhold?

This is inspired by this post over at Swistle — it’s an older post that I came upon this morning, discussing the name Imogen (which I was surprised to see that some say it differently than me — I say IM-o-jen, how about you?), and Swistle said,

I do think you and she would spend some time spelling it and pronouncing it, and there will be a few people who haven’t heard of the name before. It kind of depends on how much you think that would bother you: everyone has a different level of tolerance for Name Fuss.”

I love that: “tolerance for Name Fuss.” I think my threshhold as a parent is fairly high — I don’t mind having to explain how or why we chose a name, I don’t mind correcting pronunciations, and I love nicknames that may or may not be related to the given name. But hubby and I have also chosen names that aren’t really that “out there” — maybe I just haven’t been in a high Name Fuss situation before? I also think one’s tolerance might change as one ages, to become either more or less tolerant. Do you agree?

And of course, on the flip side, in my encounters with other people, you know I LOVE an unexpected name or nickname or whatever, and I always want to hear every detail — give me all the Name Fuss!

Where is your threshhold? Have you crossed names you like off your list because their level of Name Fuss Potential is too high? Or what about the opposite — is there a name that might normally fail your Name Fuss Tolerance Test, but you just love it so much that you just went for it? How about in your encounters with others — do you tend to be irritated by high-maintenance names, or do you delight in them?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

[Not Fun] Friday Question: How to approach naming in a foster-to-adopt situation?

Happy New Year to you all!!

This is the latest in my “Fun Friday Question” series, but it’s more sobering than fun, hence the title. A reader asked,

As foster parents, I often think about what we would do if we adopted from foster care (which we hope to do at some point). With the kids being older, changing names often doesn’t seem like a possibility or in the best interest of the child, but I worry about their names setting them apart from the rest of the family, since our kid’s names are more traditional and our girls names especially follow a pattern and we’ve very intentionally included saint and family names in our children’s names. I’m curious what other people do in similar situations. Maybe we should have given less matchy names so that adopted children would be able to blend in easier (too late for that now, but should that have been a consideration earlier on). Or since we have no idea if an adoption will ever happen, is it best that we used the names we really wanted. How should plans to adopt from foster care affect naming of biological children? What are some ways to help incorporate an adopted child’s name into the family without changing it? How should someone respond to comments of one child’s name not “fitting in” with the rest?

I know there are a bunch of you who have fostered and/or adopted — I hope you offer your thoughts/experiences!

My initial thoughts, for what they’re worth, are: I think it’s so loving that this family is grappling with this question! What a wonderful thing, to try to do everything possible to enfold a child into the family.

I would think that using the names they want for their biological children makes the most sense, especially since — at least for this reader — there’s no guarantee that “an adoption will ever happen.”

Some ways of incorporating an adopted child’s name into the family without changing it could include bestowing a nickname similar to those of the other children (e.g., if they all have Skip/Buddy/Princess-type nicknames, it would be fairly easy to come up with something similar; if all the biological children have Spanish names, maybe a Spanish nickname for the adopted child’s name or similar could work).

As for questions about one child’s name not “fitting in” with the rest, I’d try to come up with some go-to reply, like, “Yes, isn’t it lovely?” Or, “It has such a great meaning that totally fits his personality,” or … ? Something that doesn’t focus on its difference, but rather its strengths, and maybe avoids the fact that it doesn’t match the other siblings’ style? Or maybe embracing its difference is better? I know you all will have some great ideas!

Have a great weekend!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Fun Friday Question: What name “rules” have you heard?

ETA: I forgot to start out by wishing you all a happy feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim!! I just finished a novena to our wonderful patroness St. Anne, which I offered for all of you and your intentions. ❤ ❤ ❤

I regularly hear from parents that they can’t use this name or that name because of some name “rule” they’ve heard or created in their own minds. I don’t mind rules at all, if that’s what you’re into! Name rules can help narrow down a long list of possibilities, and help clarify for parents what characteristics are important for them in the names they end up choosing for their children. Sometimes rules are even best served by being broken — for a parent to break his or her own rule in choosing a name for their child shows some real love for the chosen name — how wonderful! For my husband and I, our rules include (1) strong, saintly name, (2) gender specific, (3) traditional spelling and pronunciation, (4) sounds nice with last name, (5) honors family, (6) hasn’t been used by our siblings for their children (though this is more because we don’t want to offend others and less because we don’t want first cousins to share names), (7) fits with our older boys’ names in terms of style and feel, and (8) has a good nickname.

But these are all very subjective. In fact, I’m not sure “rules” is the right term — “preferences,” even “strong preferences,” even “non-negotiable preferences,” might be better.

Then there are the Objective Rules, of which there are … none. I’m not talking about requirements of the faith, like how for Catholics there’s the rule against bestowing names that are “foreign to Christian sensibility,” or how most Ashkenazic Jews won’t name babies for living relatives (though I’m very interested in hearing about “rules” in other faiths and cultures!), I’m talking about objective American naming rules. There are recommendations, sure. Bits of wisdom, yes. Cautions and advice, plenty. But rules? I’m not talking about “computers won’t allow for accents on official documents,” I’m talking about rules like:

–> The first and last name can’t start with the same letter (alliteration).

–> The first name and last name can’t have the same number of syllables (especially when it comes to one syllable).

–> A daughter shouldn’t have the same name as her mother.

–> You can’t give your child the same name as your niece/nephew/cousin/cousin’s child/friend/neighbor/acquaintance’s pet.

Those are some that I’ve heard explicitly from parents, or sometimes they’re only alluded to when parents are explaining their name dilemmas, and it makes me feel badly because sometimes parents get themselves all tied up in knots over things that they really don’t need to worry too much about. Swistle deals with this regularly in the letters parents write to her, and Abby from Appellation Mountain has tackled this as well (I love this):

I stumble across rules for naming children all the time. Sing along with me: no invented names, spell things correctly, use names for the appropriate gender … and on and on and on.

But language is slippery, and rarely obeys our efforts to put it into a neat little box. The same person who insists that names must have roots and be spelled properly will love Ryan (a name new to the US Top 1000 in the 1940s) and Connor (a 1980s debut … and didn’t the single ‘n’ spelling come first?)

Just recently a worried mother asked me if it’s true that first names and last names can’t have the same number of syllables, which actually inspired this post, so I compiled a list of famous people (real and fictional) with such names, which I think is a good demonstration of how little such a thing matters.

I’d love to hear from all of you: What “rules” have you heard? Did they affect your naming process and decisions? What preferences do you have that are non-negotiable? Have you ever broken one of your own rules? Happy Friday!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Fun Friday Question: What name pocket are you in (if any)?

Don’t forget to enter The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life giveaway if you haven’t already! You have until Sunday at midnight!

My dear friend KZG, who I’ve known for over twenty years, and with whom I lived and traveled while young, and who was a bridesmaid in my wedding and godmother to one of my boys, has also been one of my longest readers (in the beginning of the blog, she and my mom were my only two readers!) and biggest supporters/cheerleaders. She’s also the one who lets me know any time anyone in the Catholic blogosphere is pregnant — she has “introduced” me to so many of you! I gave her a special shout-out in my book for all the ways she’s been a bright light to Sancta Nomina (and always to me ❤ ).

So anyway, this past Tuesday she texted me, “Have you written about how popular Rocco is?” and went on to tell me that it’s super popular where she is (downstate NY), especially in the 4-6 year old age range (in her experience). So I responded how interesting that is, and that not only is it not terribly popular nationwide, it’s also on a downswing, so she must be in a pocket and I wondered why?

rocco

She reminded me that there’s a high population of families with Italian heritage where she lives, which makes sense, and we continued our text convo about other things and I mentally made a note to write about Rocco at some point in the future.

THE VERY NEXT DAY Laura Wattenberg, aka The Baby Name Wizard, who has a new web site called Namerology (she’s no longer at the Baby Name Wizard site), posted Maeve of Massachusetts, Meet Magnus of Minnesota, which was all about name pockets due to high concentrations of certain ethnicities (specifially Irish in Boston/Massachusetts, Swedish in Minnesota, and Italian in New Jersey [I would add downstate New York — Duchess and Westchester Counties, New York City, and Long Island — which borders New Jersey]).

SHE ACTUALLY SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED ROCCO!

The Swedish immigrants who flocked to Minnesota are recalled in the modern popularity of names like Ingrid and Henrik, and the Italian immigrants who helped shape New Jersey in names like Francesca and Rocco.”

Of course I texted her right away!! KZG is amazing!!

I can’t think of any names that are particular to my area as opposed to the rest of the country — I know loads of kids with the new top ten names, and the top names in New York State specifically (which KZG also sent me, name genius that she is) aren’t that different, and no names are coming to mind as those I hear that wouldn’t be as known to other places. (I will say that Sancta Nomina provides a Catholic name pocket though! 😂 The beautiful names of our faith are so familiar to me through interacting with all of you and the research I do for the blog/book/social media, etc. that I forget not everyone is as familiar!)

What about all of you? Do you hear names on the little ones in your town/area that aren’t common in other places? Happy Friday!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Follow-up to yesterday’s post: My dad’s picks!

It appears I jumped the gun in yesterday’s post on listing the names my dad would like if he got to choose today, without my mom’s input! He texted me his faves today (not including the ones he’s already chosen with Mom, as he was sure to point out ❤ ), and I was so surprised — pleasantly so! I love being surprised with names!

Yesterday I’d said:

… these are names I remember him talking about since I was little:

Girl
— Maureen, nicknamed Mo
— Samantha, nicknamed Sam

Boy
— Daniel (not sure about a nickname?)
— Sebastian, nicknamed Seb(by) (Dad often referenced former track and field Olympian [and current British politician] Sebastian Coe when he talked about this name; it was the nicknames Seb and Sebby that he really loved, I’m not convinced the full Sebastian is actually his style)

Dad loves girl names that can have a boyish nickname!

But THESE are the girl names he texted me tonight!

Sabrina
Gabriella
Rafaella
Genevieve
Antoinette
Anastasia

How frilly! How gorgeous! And nary a nickname (boyish or otherwise) in sight! My favorite is Genevieve, because it’s my mom’s Confirmation name — she wasn’t given a middle name, so her Confirmation has a middle-name feel for her. I love it! If we’d had a bunch of girls, I would definitely have tried to work Genevieve in somewhere. ❤

For the boys, he had Daniel and Sebastian, as I’d expected, but he added:

Raphael
Hamilton

Wow! So much more adventurous than I’d expect! Hamilton is actually a family name for him — a first name of an ancestor — and he’d suggested it to me (with the nickname Hammy) when I was pregnant with Luke, but not only is it not really my taste, I admit I thought he was half joking (especially because of Hammy!). Apparently not! (Not even about Hammy, I’m sure!)

What a fun Saturday night!! 😀


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!