My Friend is Spelling her Baby's Name Wrong

Filed under: Baby Names

Is there a way to tactfully suggest an alternative (read: more traditional) spelling for a friend's baby name choice? A good friend of mine is giving her child a name with at least a dozen spellings and is using the one most likely to be misspelled. Oh, and get this: The name is also similar to that of a pseudo-celebrity with a less-than-stellar persona. I don't think my friend is doing it to be different. She just thinks it's cute.

- Concerned friend

We all know that bashing a friend's baby name choice is a fast-track to bruised feelings. But what about the name's spelling? Is it possible to suggest a more standard spelling without causing offense? The answer is often yes, but you have to tread carefully.

Here are some do's and don'ts for advising "kreative" spellers:

Do start by telling the mom-to-be how wonderful you think the name is, in its essence. The flattery will help take the sting out of any negative comments, and your arguments will be more persuasive if she feels that you're on her side.Don't attack the whole idea of creative spelling. Saying that non-standard spellings are "self-indulgent" or "low-class" comes across as a slam on the mom's character. That's the wrong battle. Remember, spelling isn't a moral issue, no matter how strongly you feel about it.

Don't criticize the name based on your own taste and impressions. Saying "Jazzymyne is uglier than Jasmine" or "Jazzymyne sounds like a pole dancer" will just raise the mom's hackles -- and in a battle of your taste versus hers, hers will win every time.

Do point out situations beyond your control that could cause problems for the name. The internet is your secret weapon here. Do a search and check out the unusual spelling. Then, report back your findings. For instance, you can say, "I read a message board where a Jazzymyne said her name is always getting mispronounced in the ugliest ways! It would be such a shame for that beautiful name to get mangled." Or even, "I feel funny saying this, but I did an image search for Jazzymyne and it brought up a lot of really inappropriate photos."

In your case, the tacky celebrity could turn out to be your best friend. Play up the celeb's link to the name, and the low public opinion of her. Do it with compassion and you should be able to come across as the concerned friend you are, not just another name basher.

Ever talked someone out of a terrible name choice? Share your experiences! And if you have a question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.