When her second child was born, Lena Corner struggled to name him. After six weeks of struggling, she and her husband finally settled on the name Ralph. Six months later, she decided Ralph was all wrong.
"I thought he might grow into it but found myself flinching every time I heard someone say it," Corner writes in The Guardian, "I never called him anything but 'the baby'. By the time he was six months old, I realized having a child whose name I couldn't say was a problem." After discussing it with her husband, Corner decided to change the baby's name—to Huxley. While Corner and her husband felt comfortable with the switch, she says it was tough to break the news to certain friends and family members, who expressed concerns "about me and the future identity crisis I was creating."
Corner claims that her experience is part of a larger phenomenon, known as "baby name remorse," wherein parents suddenly regret the name they've chosen for their child and wish to go back and name the baby all over again. Meg Ryan famously renamed her adopted child, first calling her Charlotte, and then changing her name when the girl was a year old, as "I thought she was Charlotte and she's just not - she's a Daisy." But it is it okay to turn a Ralph into Huxley, or a Charlotte into a Daisy? Yes and no, apparently.
Psychologist Oliver James tells Corner that the fact that Ralph/Huxley was only six months old when his name was changed means that the switch won't harm him much: "A six-month-old couldn't care less what you call it. But from the age of 18 months most children have two-word utterances. So from the age of about two onwards, if the name change wasn't something that came from the child itself, it might be highly puzzling for the child involved." In other words, if you change a baby's name early enough, there won't be many repercussions. But wait too long and you are, in fact, stealing a bit of their identity away.
Commenters on Corner's piece are pretty brutal, mocking her for being shallow, picking the name "Huxley," and noting that perhaps she should have bought a dog instead of having a kid. But Corner and her husband seem happier with the change, and it was done before little Huxley would know the difference, so I suppose things worked out for the best, though one wonders which name little Huxley would prefer, and if he'll ever be mad at his parents for renaming him.
So what do you think, commenters? Is it okay to rename a baby? Or is the excuse that a child hasn't "grown into" his name more a reflection on the parents for not being able to accept their own choices?