Parenting Question: Would You Let Your Child Change Their Name?


If you and your partner are anything like me and my husband, you deliberated over what to name each and every child. In fact, we "deliberated" so much, we finally had to put a moratorium on the baby name discussion with our last child to avoid getting in fights over the name choices. Apparently, many people have this issue given the number of books, articles, and online guides produced on the subject.

After you discussed, put thought into, and researched names' meanings, how would you feel if your child asked to change his or her name? Would you try and understand the reason behind the change? Would you go so far as to encourage him or her? Would you embrace the change and call your child by the new name or write it out using a changed spelling? Why or why not?

Many of you know me as Jyl or @jylmomIF. But, if you take a close look at my most important legal documents, specifically my driver license and passport, you'll find that I'm really just Jill, spelled J-i-l-l. The secret is out! But why? Here's the story...

When I was six years old, I started noticing that all of my friends had cool "other" names. Christine, for example, also got to be called "Christy" or "Chris." How cool was that? Julie got to be called "Jules." Even cooler! So, I started thinking about the awesome nickname I'd have everyone call me—a fabulous way to shorten my name. But, without changing the entire essence of my name, I kept drawing a blank. So I stormed home after school one day, stomped into the office where my mom was sitting at her type writer, and demanded to know a suitable nickname.

After coming to a similar conclusion, my mom uttered five life-changing words for me: "Why not change the spelling?"

We sat at the type writer together, typing out the possible solutions. First, we changed the "J" to "G." G-i-l-l. Oops! I'm not a fish. And finally we landed on J-y-l. Wow! Wasn't that beautiful! So me!

Now, more than 30 years later, no one other than the driver license division and the passport office (and now you!), knows me by J-i-l-l—not even my bank or mortgage companies.

I never thought of the impact the name change had on my mom and what my whole-hearted embrace of it required of her until my second son, named Connor, decided to become a Ninja Turtle and call himself Leo, short for Leonardo. We moved to a new neighborhood where, upon welcoming him into the children's class at church, Connor announced himself to the group as Leo. Two weeks later, when I was looking for him after school one day, I went up to the door of a neighborhood friend and asked if Connor was there playing. In response she asked, "Do you mean Leo?"

I recalled all of the debate over his name, the care we put into choosing it, and how excited we were to announce it to the world. But, I laughed, thinking that this little Leo was truly my son—ushering in a new era of name changing.

How would you feel if your child wanted to change his or her name or the spelling of it?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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