I was hoping to get your opinion on name choice for a baby girl (baby no. 2.  - older brother is Anson Douglas):

Malin Helena

She caught us by surprise and arrived really early.  We hadn't agreed on a name yet and my husband let me choose (Malin would not have been his choice).

I love the name Malin but have since come to realize that she will forever be telling people how to pronounce it/spell it and this is starting to cause me to second guess my choice.  Should I care?  Will she care and curse me forever?  Do the names I've chosen for my kids complement each other or is this a display of poor naming form?

An honest second opinion would be appreciated.  Thanks!


When we started doing this column, I decided that I wouldn’t use any letters from people whose kids were already named.  What’s the point?  I love being judgy, but what good is it if I tell you that Vincent and Jessica don’t go together when they’re four and seven years old?  Also, I suspect that some of those letters are being written all “Didn’t we do a good job?” and the answer would be to stop your humblebragging.

But I am making an exception for this letter, because something about the way you’ve written it makes me think you’re in that place where you might actually go ahead and change it.  Any second now.  Am I right?

I’ve heard of this – one woman I know had her name changed when she was about three weeks old, and another is called two totally separate names by two sides of her family.  These stories fascinate me, and usually come down to some sort of birth-time schizophrenic feelings like you mentioned.

Let me address your questions then so you can either get down with young Malin or erase her history and convince her she was always called Audrina (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Okay.  In order, will she be telling people how to spell or pronounce it?  Not that much. I mean, how many other ways are there to spell “Malin”?  I had an unusual name, and the time of reckoning was always when a new teacher read the attendance list (do they even do that anymore?).  What they will say is “Oh, do your parents looooove Malin Ackerman?” as this is the only reference people have.  Also, kids will not know this reference, so she will mostly answer her friends’ parents that way.  Yes, it will be annoying.  Absolutely.  But at the same time, it will set her apart.  She will learn to talk to adults in a way that Isabella and Sophia won’t, because they’ll never be asked such questions and will have already run upstairs to play.

Will she curse you forever?  I highly doubt it.  With all my name obsession, I’ve never met a soul who says “I really wish my parents had named me something else”.  They joke about their names, they roll their eyes in some cases, but they’ve learned to live in them, as we all do.  Nobody ever reaches the age of majority and goes “F*ck Roland, I’m going to be Troy”.   They don’t.

Does it go with Anson?  Actually, it totally does.  Both have first names somewhere on the androgyny spectrum with middles that aren’t in the mainstream.  No complaints here. Oh, and is it a nice name?  Unequivocally.  It’s a woman’s name that can also be a girl’s, it ends in a consonant sound, it’s fresh.

But what if everything I’m saying doesn’t matter?  What if the unthinkable has happened?   Do you and your husband look at her and think there’s a stranger in your house, because that’s not the name you wanted for your daughter?  If this is the case – and I hope for your sake it’s not, but just in case – then think about modifying the name in a way that makes sense, not just turfing it for Sarah.  Would Marin make you any happier?  How about Melina? If it was that first syllable that struck you, would Mallory hit you where you live?     

The other option, of course, is to go with her middle name.  I know so many people like this – more men than women, but still – and it confounds the hell out of me but maybe this is one of those places where it comes from?  Because the original decision isn’t quite right but the second name fills in that gap?

Biting my nails on this one.  Let me know what happens!