Hi Duana,

My husband and I are expecting our first child (a little girl) at the beginning of June. Before knowing she was a she, we had already picked out a boys name that we both loved to no end. To our shock (since boys run in the family), our little "he" turned out to be a "she". She will be the first little girl on my husband's side in 60 years. Despite an ever-growing list of names, we are having the hardest time agreeing.

I have been obsessed with Harper for as long as I can remember. I realize it's become quite popular but, it is still fairly unknown in our area. A bonus, Harper is my grandfather's middle name and I so desperately want to honour him. The trouble is my husband despises it (due to a Prime Minister that shall be left unnamed).

Our personal preferences differ quite heavily: I was a "Meghan" in a whole host of them while my husband being a "Tyson" never shared his name with anyone. I want something unique, gender neutral, but known (Harper, Carys, Finley, Asher, Avery, Elliot, Wren, Avelynn) while he would like something more common (Julia, Jocelyn, Charlotte).

I feel like I've read every baby name book and site and everything else offered up to me I shoot down with a quick "no". I'm not certain if it's because I'm so set on Harper or if I can't imagine naming my child something I'm not totally in love with. Perhaps I'll hold out until the delivery room and use that as my bargaining chip?


So today’s letter was chosen for a few reasons. First of all because of that early June due date, obviously, but as I browsed the June letters, I discovered that, um, you June parents are having some DEEP issues. There are threats of divorce, of stealing the birth certificates. This letter about holding out until the delivery room is one of the gentlest methods of conflict resolution we HAVE in June. WTF, you guys?

I also wanted to include this letter because in a twist, YOU’RE the one who’s shooting down everything offered to you. Usually that person is not the one who’s writing in, and often the person is writing about their male partner, creating the illusion that it’s men who can’t be satisfied, namewise—so I love the twist here. (Incidentally, in my somewhat limited experience, there do seem to be some LGBT parents who have an easier time with the name thing, agreement-wise—but surely there are also many of you out there who are ready to kill each other. Hit me up.)

What’s interesting about your choices is that even though they all line up, in terms of having the visual effect of being gender neutral, which is the funniest thing I’ve ever typed, they aren’t necessarily – Carys and Avelynn are overtly female, Harper may as well be (I don’t know any male Harpers, actually), and Wren is only a homonym for Ren, as in McCormick, and DON’T TELL ME THAT KIDS DON’T KNOW WHO THAT IS I DON’T WANNA HEAR IT. But otherwise, Wren is female too.

Whereas your husband’s choices are, yes, more traditional—but they’re also just different types of names. Look at the Js! Remember when J was THE most popular letter? Julia and Justin and Jason and Jamie and Jessica and Jordan could be in a group project together between 1986 and 2000, and nobody would have batted an eye.

So the solution in this case? Slightly more modern-seeming ‘traditional’ names that have some of the sounds and letters you like. Hazel is an example here, as is Liesl or Esther or Meryl or Zara. How about Seren, or Marin for that matter? Where are all the Marins these days? How about something like Adair? Fleur?

Then, stay with me for a second, I thought of Faith, which obviously has some serious connotations, but has that –th sound I wanted to replicate (sort of) from Asher, without heading to Ashley, which is now the ultimate mom-name. There’s also Thea, and the amazing Althea and Anthea. Or, jumping off Wren, names like Renata and Ramona which are underused, or, instead of Avelynn, Vada, which is poised for a comeback and don’t act like you haven’t been waiting 25 (OH MY GOD) years to use it.

As for Harper…I hear you, but I have to shoot you down with a quick ‘no’. The name is in the top 10 in the U.S., and I assume the hated former PM is the only reason it’s not that high here. (Avery is #6.) Put Harper in the middle spot and she’ll be right on trend, but try to find something for her first name that can be all her own, which I promise promise promise she will thank you for.

Anything? Did we get anywhere? As a bonus, if one of these speaks to you, you can ‘fight’ for Harper until the delivery room and then ‘concede’ at the last minute. 

Let me know what you decide, and thanks for ushering in the month of HARDCORE June namers – this is going to be fun.