First of all, congratulations! You’re about to welcome a new child into the world.
That’s a big deal. As you’re well aware, for parents, a new child is a one-way ticket to a life forever changed.
One of the many, many things you’re going to need to think about between now and whenever your child arrives is what to call the baby.
You probably have some names picked out already. Maybe a couple sex-specific names each, or names specific to just one sex if you know what it’s going to be.
There’s a pretty good chance that those names are formal. Or, if you’d prefer not to think of them that way, that they’re longer versions of more commonly used names. Commonly shortened names, you might say.
If that’s the case, you might ask, why not just start your kid off with the shorter name on their birth certificate? They can always go by the longer version, if they really want, or even legally change their name when they get old enough. But if the alternative is choosing “Kris Duggan” over “Christopher Duggan” or “Kat Simmons” over “Katherine Simmons” from age six onward, what’s the point of Christopher or Katherine to begin with?
Fair question. Let’s walk through it.
The Advantages of a Longer/Full Name for Your Child
Call it the “traditionalist” case. You might want to choose a longer or “full” name for your child because:
- It’s a family name. Sure, most people go by “Chris” these days. But what if you want to honor your child’s grandfather Christopher Duggan with a full-on “Christopher”? You should have that right.
- It sounds better in professional settings. You might think traditional names look better on a business card or letterhead. That’s a valid opinion.
- It has a nice ring to it. Longer names tend to be more sonorous than monosyllabic nicknames or shortenings. Your mileage may vary, though.
- It has a history. If you’re big on the history of names, you have every right to choose one whose pedigree stretches back centuries (or longer).
The Upsides of Shortening From the Start
Here’s the “revisionist” case for choosing a shorter name or nickname for your kid right from the beginning:
- It rolls off the tongue better. Shorter names and common nicknames are faster and easier to say than longer names, especially family names no longer in common use (or subject to mispronunciation).
- It’s more friendly-sounding. Short names are more casual and friendly-sounding. Again, that might be a good or bad thing in your book, but it is what it is.
- It’s less likely to need a nickname. Short names might not be nickname-proof, but they’re definitely less likely to require one.
It’s Your Call
Okay, let’s step back for a moment. We’ve covered many of the pros and cons of shortening (or not shortening!) your new child’s name. This is the point where we recenter the conversation on those who’ll actually be making the decision — that’s you, your partner (if you have one), and eventually, your child.
Ultimately, whether you shorten or decline to shorten your kid’s name is your call. You have the support of your fellow Kris Duggans in either case.