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The Debate on “Stealing” Baby Names


The Debate on “Stealing” Baby Names

We’ve all heard dramatic stories about parents “stealing” baby names — when a mom chooses a baby name that a friend, coworker or family member had planned to use, or even already used.  While the term "stealing" clearly has a negative connotation, not all moms agree that the practice it describes is necessarily bad. Here we've rounded up some of the diverse perspectives that moms have on this baby naming issue.

Name-Stealing is Rude and Hurtful

Certainly, one of the widely expressed views in Circle of Moms communities is that expecting moms should steer clear of baby names that close friends and family members have recently used (or will use). As Sharon C. shared: “In close friends/family situations, I do believe there should be a certain level of mutual respect towards a name. There were a few names I would have considered for my son, but on both sides of the family, the name had been used.”

For parents who deliberately choose an uncommon baby name, copycat naming behavior is especially frustrating. As Krista E. notes: “Everybody likes to feel as though their kid is special and unique…Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can also be annoying.”

 

In some cases, having a baby name borrowed is not only frustrating, but downright hurtful. For example, Marina G. came up with the baby name Eva-lyn Graciela to honor two of her deceased family members, only to have a “friend” use the exact name, hyphen included! “This name meant a lot to us,” she shared, and it was “ruined by someone else being lazy.”

Are Names Meant to Be Shared?

On the other end of the spectrum are moms who don't think baby naming “stealing” is a big deal, and that women shouldn't be upset if their favorite names are used by others. 

Some moms, like Jane M., are truly surprised that name-sharing is considered rude, since in many cultures having family names is the norm: "There are so many Franks and Peters [in my family], I can't even count them. My four cousins (all sisters) used Rose as the middle name for all of their girls because it was their grandmother's name and [they] wanted to honor her with each of their children. In an Italian family, you'd be hard pressed to find an original, never-used name. No one ever gets offended by using the same name as someone else."

Similarly, Karen B. says she would take it as a compliment to have her baby name choice 'copied': "If I came up with a name and someone else used it after me I would be honored." She also argues that every mom has the right to pick whatever name she likes most. “I refuse to give up a name I love for my child just because someone else is using it and I don't care if it is an acquaintance, friend or family member. I named my daughter the same name my sister-in-law used knowing she would throw a tantrum (which she did...I told her to get over it). Now she loves the pictures she takes of the two Megans together and says how cute it is."

 

The one piece of advice suggested by both perspectives in this debate? Once you've got your heart set on a particular name, keep your lips sealed! As Cherry W. advises: “I would just keep the baby's name a secret...especially if you have friends or family who are expecting! ... This sort of thing happens all of the time.”

Have you had an experience with baby name “stealing”?


Related Articles:

The Politics of Baby Names

An A-Z of Favorite Baby Names

The 20 Least Favorite Baby Names

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