Dear Duana,

I'm having a hard time with my family and the name that my husband and I picked out. I have always thought my Mom’s taste to be superior to mine so it can F#$% with my thinking because she hates it. My husband and I are having our first child which was a feat in and of itself, its a BOY and we have to pair it with our last name which ends with O. The whole ending in O has its challenges. We are going with Rocco James, but my family literally sits around and talks about how they can get me to change it....I loved it but now I'm back on the fence. James is my father and brothers name.

Any other name suggestions in your all your naming expertise??

Thanks so much, L


L, dude. There is a lot to unpack here. Who says your mom’s tastes is superior to yours? Or, if you want to go at it another way, if you believe her taste is in fact better than yours, then don’t you think you ought to have taken after her a little bit, and/or who says you don’t?  

Regardless, you are now in a situation. So you’re having a boy named Rocco, and your last name ends with O also. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume your last name is DiSpirito.

Okay, I’m kind of joking, but actually your last name makes a difference.  I love a middle name but of course this kid is going to be called by his first and last only. So Rocco Dispirito works, because there are different numbers of syllables. But if for example you have the last name of a guy I went to school with, Porco, that might be too close. Rocco Porco?  

When I have kids, their last name will end in “er” which eliminates Walter and Arthur and Cooper and mostly boys names, now that I come to think of it. It’s unfair, but it is what it is.   

I don’t know what you have by way of last name but I’m trying to think of what’s eliciting such a strong reaction from people. I know it’s not James, because as you say, it’s everyone else’s name. So the issue here is Rocco. It doesn’t bother me, even though there’s a strong tough-guy element to it. It kind of rolls off the tongue, and it’s short enough that nobody’s ever going to bother with “Rocky” (which I do have an issue with). But if it’s now completely ruined for you, I don’t mind you continuing with the O theme, so here are a couple of thoughts.

You could go with something longer. Domenico or Alejandro or Leonardo. But these become very clearly of a certain ethnicity, and maybe that’s not what you were looking for.

You can go with the hipster boys names that are on the super-rise right now. Milo and Hugo and Marco and Matteo. You’ll know whether or not the syllable count works well for you, and whether these names speak to or against the picture you have of your kid.

But of course, the bigger message here? Don’t tell your friends or family the name you’ve chosen. Just don’t. You can tell them decoy names if you want to, or if the custom in your family is to tell the name well before the birth, just piss them off and tell them you’re not going to, for exactly this reason. In fact, L, if you want you could “change” to another name and then go back to Rocco once he’s born – maybe it would make a good nickname for Rodrigo?

Also, unless you are truly ready to handle the consequences, don’t be these people. (Thanks Jessica for the tip). You’re the parents, and your choice gets to rule. (Then, in the weirdness of our culture, everyone else gets to judge and you’re left holding the bag.)

Let me know!