Hello Duana,

My daughter was born last year and we were one of those couples that didn't want know the gender. We had the boy's name set but we waffled on girls names. Adelaine? Sorcha (he vetoed)? Aurelia? Ariel? We finally settled on one...Claudia. But my ESL in-laws couldn't pronounce it. So we used Claudia as her middle name and asked THEIR opinion for a first name...which is Annabel. We love how her full name flows even though it's a mouthful-"Annabel Claudia Typical Asian Last Name" but from the moment we met her, we knew she was a Claudia.

Our current challenge right now-we call her Claudia and our friends call her Claudia, but my in-laws (stubbornly) continue to call her Annabel. She's now old enough to know and respond (turns her head) to her name and they get upset when she doesn't turn towards them when they call her so...

1-Should we keep her "stealth first name"? And keep going as we are right now?
2-Should we legally change it to what we wanted all along? (thus forcing them to call her Claudia).

The thing is, Claudia Annabel doesn't seem to flow as well (IMO) so if we do change it, what would you suggest? Immigrants who move to North America change their names all the time so I think we would only look strange to our friends and Claudia wouldn't care so much.

(Note-I may be asking more for validation that Claudia is a good choice more than anything as eventually, my in laws will have to call her something that she will respond to.)


**We are expecting #2 in September 2017 so the girls names are still on the table (Sorcha, Claire, Noelle and Aurelia) but we're now hesitant on the boys names. Titus? Solomon? Daniel?

I want to honor my grandfather (who died just after I got married). His Chinese name is Jui Meh...which when he moved to Canada, he changed to Jimmy (which sounds phonetically the same as his Chinese name. Can future potential son be a Jimmy? Or would James work better and use the nickname Jimmy? Would it go with his older sister? And same with the girls names (Aurelia and Claudia)?


I’ve heard the idea that a name doesn’t seem to ‘flow as well’ in a given configuration any number of times. In a lot of cases I even agree—but it can nonetheless be a very funny metric, because when do we use all those names together? Incredibly rarely, as we know. There’s the birth announcement, and then maybe some sort of religious-significance ceremony, if your family does that, and then… that’s it for the saying of the full name until your child graduates something significant enough to signify an announcer painstakingly mispronouncing your kid’s name no matter how well they’ve phonetically spelled it out.

That’s it. Three instances… maybe four if law school is involved or they get married or all of the above. But I’m not sure, from where I sit now, that I think it’s that important to have the out-loud flow if it means subjugating a name.

I also think (don’t kill me) that your in-laws might be a little justified in this case. Hear me out! I’ve gotten tons of letters from people whose parents are pushy or judgy or worse about names, but in this case, not only did you tell them her first name was Annabel, you actually asked for their opinion on what the best name would be! And then they told you, and then you used it… you know what I mean?
Which isn’t to criticize you but to say that I’m not sure changing her name around legally would ‘force’ them to call her Claudia, because see above where parents, whether yours or your partner’s or anyone’s, can be extremely stubborn…

That said, you’re already doing the best thing—which is letting your daughter handle it. I am continually amazed at how children end-around things that adults find extremely difficult, and your daughter’s doing it before you’ve ever taught her the term ‘passive-aggression’. She is responding when you and friends call her Claudia, and not when your ILs call her Annabel – so they’ll get the message. Or she’ll ask one day, “Who’s Annabel?” and you all can laugh explaining the whole story. But Claudia – which of course is an incredible, light and lilting name that I wish was used more often – is her name, and she’s personifying that every day. Whether you choose to change it legally later to make it easier for her later is up to you, but you know it’s her name, and you already know she loves it. You’re doing really well.

As for your #2… matching sibling names does come up more so I appreciate the attention paid! I’ll be honest, while I fully appreciate wanting to honor your grandfather, I don’t think Jimmy goes with Claudia at all, nor does it fit with your other choices. Of course, you’ve thought of one option already – James, nicknamed Jimmy—and while Jimmy’s an uncommon nickname these days, you might be attracted to the retro feeling of it… but it does seem fairly down-home or ‘everyman’ compared to the rarity of Claudia.

When I read your grandfather’s Chinese name, though, assuming I’m reading the pronunciation correctly, I immediately thought of Julian… which seems to fit with the style you’re going for. There are those who would say Julian and Claudia together are a bit too Roman Empire, but can you ever really have too much Roman Empire? Party of Five says no…

But generally I find Titus different from Solomon which is different from Daniel… I’m not sure if what you want is something to match Claudia, or something that makes you feel as happy as it did. What about Judah or Lionel or even Llewellyn? Phineas or Pascal or Felix or Darwin, which always gives me a moment of pause before I hear it and go ‘but why? It’s a great name’?

As for girls’ names, I think all of them fit with Claudia so you’re in relatively great shape, but I think most of the readers would love to know how you managed to get ‘Sorcha’ back on the table after it had been eliminated the first time? That’s some Master Class work right there.

You’re doing great – keep it up!