Hi Duana,

Where to begin? We already have gorgeous Felix (almost 3) in our lives and with him we were somehow able to agree on the name no problem.

Now we don't know the gender of baby number two who arrives in 4 weeks and we are having difficulties with both boy and girl names. It's the girl names that I am really struggling with, as my husband likes flowery, girly, cute names like Daisy, Scarlett, Clover and I just want a girl's name that inspires - if it is a girl then I want her to have a name that shows strength and tenacity. I swear the name Malala appeals to me although of course the husband is not up for that.

We have come up with a list of names that I'm still not 100% on. I feel like this time due to health and family and work stuff we just haven't had the time to take a leisurely approach to sorting out a name and I am worried even with these names I'll just choose something half-heartedly because I'm just too darn tired to think hard about it. (Sleep and health have been of an ongoing issue this pregnancy.)

Ok, so middle name will be after his granny (May), and first name list consists of Estelle (lovely but maybe too soft?), Annika, Violet, Alys and Iris. You see the flowery ones I have succumbed to? I can't tell if I am being worn down or if I really like these. They just all seem a little bit girly although if my friends named their kids these names I would think they were amazing names.

I just want a daughter who could be an ass-kicking CEO one day if she wants to and has a name that people will take seriously from the get-go.

That all sounds like we are assuming we are having a girl, but I really have no inkling either way. Felix is such a wonderful hilarious cuddle-filled sweetheart that I am hoping just as much for another little boy. For those names we are still not on the sweet spot although there isn't so much a quest for a 'strong' boy name as most of our names are ones that would be taken seriously (I think anyway). Duncan (my current fave but still not 100%), Joseph, Isaac (maybe too popular?), Gus (no agreement on the long form so don’t think this one will fly in the end), and Moses (we both like Moe although not sure about Moses).

Ahhh, I am doubting my every decision and husband keeps postponing a time for us to discuss so I would love a bit of guidance.


Apparently, it is very normal for a first child’s name to be obsessed over incessantly, but for a second child’s name to not even make it to the discussion table until they are crowning. So if you or anyone reading is feeling residual guilt about this, don’t—it’s just the way it breaks down sometimes.

Which brings me to another, possibly annoying, reality of parenting. Your daughter (let’s assume) is only going to be a little girl for a while. You are actually naming a woman. Sorry. Sorry! I know, this is not what you want to hear when someone is little and cute. But it’s the reality, and keeping it in mind is what you want to think about when you’re cycling through names. Imagine women with the names above coming into your workplace and meeting you—what picture of them do you get? Of Estelle, of Annika, of Iris? Do they all feel similar to you, ‘soft and ‘girly’? The goal, of course, is not to find something that is unfeminine, necessarily, but to counteract ‘girly’ with ‘womanly’.

Daisy, to me, feels slight in that regard. Scarlett, too—even though statistically speaking, that name is popular enough that it will be on some very powerful women when the girls of 2008-2013 grow up. 

I think what you’re confusing here is wanting something romantic, or lyrical-sounding, and thinking it needs to be literally flowery. Which isn’t the case—think about names like Valeria or Cynthia or Amabel or Celeste (the inverse of Estelle) or Bethany or Emmeline—they’re all quite romantic and ‘flowery’, and don’t have harsh consonants in them (as opposed to, say, Renata or Imogen or Francesca), but they’re not babyish names that won’t stand up on a grown woman.

Imagine her on a soccer team. On a stage, accepting an award. In a boardroom. Imagine someone saying “…..’s office”. Imagine her name being called at the doctor’s office waiting room when she’s 15, or 45.  If you start feeling uncomfortable with the idea of Clover or Alys or Violet in any of these situations, then you know.  Alternately, if the more you say it, the more you love it, and you can see the all the different kinds of persons she could grow up to be and the name helps her rather than hinders her, then choose the one that makes you happiest.

Let me know! PS, as is well-documented, I love Felix and Duncan too.