My daughter just turned 11 and has for the past 6 months been wanting to change her name. We got her middle school class list for next year today and she saw that I hadn't changed her name as she requested and is upset with me. What do you think about kids changing their names (in this case it's a random choice, not like using a middle name, just a different first name altogether)? It seems confusing and honestly silly to me, but she's really wanting to go by this new name (I think it's the name of a character from a show she's watched or a book she's read). A couple of her friends have already told me that they won't call her by it and will continue to call her by her real name. Thoughts, ideas, opinions? Thanks!
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My 11 yr old wants to change her name
Maybe you can get to the bottom of why she wants to change her name?
My DD (12) used to sometimes call herself a totally different name when she was younger, and it turned out that she was afraid people would mispronounce her name. We told her she was welcome to use her middle name, which is very easy to pronounce, but it never came up again.
Now she wants to use both mine and her father's last names in middle school. I don't have a problem with it, but doing it officially means changing all of her district records (because she has been known by DH's last name all along), and our district is notoriously bad at bureaucratic stuff like that. I think I will tell her to simply "go by" this last name, write it on her papers, etc. Could your daughter do that for a while & see if she really wants this new name? I remember growing up a few kids changing from a first to a middle or a nickname to full name, and it was hard to get used to at first, but then it just stuck because they truly wanted the new name. Time will tell!
I agree with PP that it's important to get to the bottom of why she wants to change her name - is it just a passing thing with a book or a show, like you suspect? When I had just turned 11, I changed the spelling of my nickname - my full name is Jennifer, but I had always, from birth, gone by Jenny, and when I was 11 I decided that it HAD to be Jenni. That's a much smaller change, since it sounds the same out loud, but my family, friends and teachers still had to adjust.
My parents thought it was a phase, but as you can guess from my username, a decade and a half later it's still Jenni! FWIW, there COULD be something deeper: it took me a few years to admit to anyone that I changed it because there was a girl at my new school named Jenny who told me that I had "stolen" her name and went to huge lengths to "reclaim" her name among mutual friends. Childish, but very upsetting to me at 11 when I had just arrived as the new girl at school.
I would definitely say that a "trial" period of letting her go by the new name, without changing anything officially, might be a good idea - either she'll move past this name naturally, or she'll figure out what a hassle it is to change her name at this stage of life and go back, or she'll really love her new name and stick with it.
I still dislike my given name. Adding insult to injury, my family doesn't even use my given name!
I used to fantasize about all the different names I could have when I was old enough to change it. But, eh, I kept it, since I don't know what other name would suit me any better - they all seem equally unsuitable.
I agree, you should find out what's at the heart of this request. If it's something similar to what Jenni, above me, mentions, then you have an opportunity to help your daughter problem-solve while keeping her name. But, if she just dislikes her name and doesn't feel at home in it, with it, would you consider offering to fully support her changing it on her own once she's a legal adult? The gesture alone would have meant the world to me, and might to her... you might find her keeping her name but with a much deeper appreciation for you in that regard.
My 10 year old DS decided he didn't want to be called by is full name and gave himself a nickname. He asked him if I would only call him by his nickname - although I forget sometimes. I viewed it as one of those funny scenarios where mums only call you by your full name when they are annoyed with you..
I have spoken with a lot of people who use their middle name as they prefer it and very rarely does anyone call me by my first name in full..it is always shortened to Mel as some people cannot pronounce Melanie.
I don't think it is something to worry about although it would be interesting to understand why this is. It may be something one of her school friends does and she thinks its cool?
I can understand wanting to change a name and sympathize with that, but if it's wanting to go by the name of a character she knows, that doesn't necessarily sound like the same issue. I guess I agree - I'd want to know and understand why.
I agree that figuring out why is needed. I did not like my 1st name as a child, tho I didn't ask to be called by another. I don't think I ever complained about it either. But people were always misspelling it and then they would not pronounce it right, or give me a nickname, or call me by another name that sounds similiar, but is not in fact my name. Then as I got older I realized that I could assert myself and kindly, tho firmly, correct their mistakes and insist they not call me by nicknames or some other name. Is her name hard to spell or has an alternative/little used spelling? Maybe that is what is causing her grief. Could be as simple as that.
I'd agree to compromise and talk with the school about making sure she's called by her preferred name. I wouldn't however, make it legal. She's old enough to be able to understand that changing your name legally requires a lot of paperwork and money. For that, I'd tell her that she was free to change her name legally when she reached 18, and I'd do everything I can to make sure people call her by the name she wants to be called by. Either she'll be over it in a few years or she won't. But I'd be really hesitant to make a 12 year old's idea permanent, since things change so rapidly for them at this age.
As a professor, I have one or two students each term who don't go by their given names. It's no big deal, I just have to do a little mental translation.
I'd also try to get to the root of why she hates her name. Do kids make fun of it? Just not her? I never really liked my name, and I'm still not fond of it. But I'm not changing it because it is who I am. Your daughter may feel differently.
The teachers always ask on the first day what name kids prefer when they do roll call. I would tell her to be sure to tell the teachers what name she prefers and leave it at that until she is older. I went through several nicknames in Junior High and High School before settling on one as did many of my peers so I think encouraging her to use the name informally for a few years makes the most sense.
I agree with just using it as a nickname, she can see how it fits. I remember desperately wanting to change my name at that age to something exotic, like Chantal. I did a very short attempt to go by my first and middle names to set myself apart from the other girls that shared my same name. My DD1 did change her name to a variation of her original name she was younger. We used it as a nickname for while and then legally changed it when we added my last name onto her name.
I think in this case I'd respect her desire to be called a different name, and support her when it comes to having teachers and family call her by it. But as far as changing it legally, I'd make sure it took first.
My almost-12yo wants to change his middle name; he's hated it since he was old enough to know he had a middle name. We have no idea why, he's always said he just hates the sound of it. The only thing that's kept us from changing to the name of his choice legally is that we're worried about getting it all squared away with DH's company for his insurance and benefits once it's changed.
When my brother was 11, he went from being Jamie to being Jim (his given name is James) and when I was 11 I went from Elizabeth to Liz. When I was 18 I went back to Elizabeth, and now I find it irritating when people call me Liz (except for the people I knew when I was a teen...) My younger brother had a middle name that I have always disliked, and if I'd been him, I would have wanted to change it. My son has been called a nickname since birth. My mother-in-law voiced the idea that it might be hard for his kindergarten teacher to remember which name to use. I thought about that and (using my inside-head voice) reasoned that if the teacher couldn't figure that one out, we might have bigger issues than just names in kindergarten.
I agree with the idea of using the new name for now but not changing it legally for awhile. I wouldn't necessarily leave it until she's 18, though, if she really likes the name. It may be better to graduate from high school with the name you intend to use (or a very close approximation) than to have to constantly provide documentation. I'm 50 years old, and just applied to go back to school, and I had to show my high school transcripts. There was room on the application form to provide different surnames that I had in the past, but not different given names.
For a long time, My oldest DD wanted to have her name be Beverly. She didn't want the name to be changed, she just wanted to whine about it. "Why couldn't it have been Beverly..." You know. I asked her why she liked that name so much, and she said that the real Beverly, who was in her class, was very pretty and her name sounded exotic. OK.... Then again, she is also aspiring to be an actor, and wants her name to be Janna. Janna, because it's pretty, and also she said that that way she won't ever completely forget her name (it's close enough), and the last name is the last name of a famous star that she loves who is now dead, but if she changed it to her first name as well, she thinks she could be sued. OK. Interesting thinking going on here....
(last name hidden for privacy)
I wanted to be more exotic too...I wanted my name to be Venetia (I've never actually head of anyone called that but when I was a child I really thought it was great idea.)
I was too shy to actually ask people to call me something else, but I did try to make Venetia my confirmation name. But I couldn't find a saint Venetia so it was denied. Then I switched to Felicia but the closest saint I could find was Felicity. The people in the church sort of chuckled when the name Felicity was announced among all the 'Mary's' and 'Ann's'. (This was in the 1970's...before the 'Felicity' TV show.)
I still do not care for my name...but I am glad I didn't change it to 'Venetia'!
As someone with a more unusual given name, I'm shaking my head here at the ones that want an "exotic" name. I would have KILLED to be one of the 5 or 6 Jessicas in my class.
And I just dated myself. Heh.
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