I'm the Victim of a Baby Name Thief!


I had a baby name picked out for about 10 years, and I made the mistake of telling someone about it. Not only did they take the first name, but they took the middle name, too! It's completely uncommon. I know full well that I have no ownership of the name, but whenever I see this person writing their baby's name, I actually feel betrayed. Is this completely insane?

- Confused in NY


Name thieves are the scourge of the baby-naming world. Visit any message board devoted to expectant moms to see how many cousins, colleagues and in-laws are guilty of breaking and entering into personal name storehouses.

When you invest time and dreams in the names you love, it's easy to feel that you do "own" them. It's the law of possession: You've been living with it for so long, it has become yours. How can Miss Sally-Come-Lately have the same claim on it -- especially when you did all the hard work of thinking it up? Surely courtesy demands some request for your OK before she waltzes off with your name.

So no, you are not insane. Your feelings of disappointment, anger and even betrayal are understandable.

And yet, they're not very useful are they? The baby's been named and that name isn't going to change. In other circumstances I might suggest a frank conversation with your friend about why you're upset, but I can't think of a productive way to tell someone that their cherished child has a name he or she doesn't deserve.

That means that the only way to make peace with the situation is to work within yourself. First of all, as hard as this may sound, try to see the compliment in the name burglary. A name that you invented impressed this person enough to choose it for his or her own child. That's a huge vote of confidence in you and your taste. Second, you mention that you see the child's written name but not that you see the child, which leads me to suspect that you're not especially close with the parents. In that case, there should be no obstacle to using the name yourself when your time to have children comes.

But if the thought of the earlier-named baby rules out your favorite name forever, take comfort in the fact that anyone with the creativity to come up with one great name has the creativity to come up with another.

Just make sure to keep that one a secret.

Do you feel possessive of your favorite names? Share your experiences here. And if you have your own 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.