Baby oh Baby Jamaica

I regret naming my daughter Beyoncé

I regret naming my daughter Beyoncé

Petulia Clarke

Jamaica Observer Monday, October 24, 2011

REPORTS were rife in parenting blogs last week about a study on, which suggested that eight per cent of United States parents regretted choosing the name that they did for their babies.

Some 53 per cent regretted the decision because they had picked a ‘fashionable’ name they later regretted, while 32 per cent said they regretted how ‘common’ the first name was.

Locally, the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) has a guide for prospective parents, warning that, “deciding on a name for the baby can be an overwhelming task.”

“Many cultures consider the naming process one of the most important phases in the child’s life as they believe the name will impact the child’s personality,” the RGD said.

The department advises expectant parents to choose two names (male and female) in advance. The RGD also makes available its book of names at the mother’s bedside in hospital for parents to make the last minute search for the ideal name.

The “ideal name” is something counsellor and kindergarten teacher Gabby McCook said should be given real thought and research.

“Remember, this name will define the child’s future. There’s no politically correct way to say that if you give your baby a silly name, it can ruin the child’s future — and believe me, I’ve come across some very questionable choices!”

One piece of advice she has for parents: “Say the name in a sentence. Introduce the child as ‘president so and so’, or ‘prime minister so and so’. If it sounds ghetto or strange or foolish, discard it. If the name sounds better being announced over a loudspeaker in a bar or a club, discard that too.”

The RGD said in studying the naming patterns of Jamaicans, information from its database reveal that more families between the period 1950s to the mid-90s gave their children traditional Anglo-Saxon names — with an added Jamaican flair.

“For instance in the United States and the UK where Lisa, Nicole, Kimberly and Carrie are names which dominated the late 70s, 80s and early 90s, the Jamaican twist to these names were Nicole-Ann, Kerry-Ann and Lisa-Ann.”

The RGD said Jamaicans also name their children based on events or influential characters. Following the passage of Hurricane Charlie in August 1951, over 48 Jamaicans were registered with the name in the first three months following the hurricane. In the case of Hurricane Gilbert, there were 10 children named after the hurricane during the first nine months of its passage.

Since the historic performance of Usain Bolt, over 20 children have been registered with the name Usain. Obama is also another name of choice that has been used by Jamaicans since the historic election of the first black president in the United States.

Daniel, Joshua, Jordan, Ricardo and Anthony were the top five boy names in Jamaica for 2008, the last year of stats provided by the RGD. In 2008, the top five female names chosen by parents were Brihanna, Rhianna, Ashley, Gabrielle and Abigail.

“We’ve seen an influx of the Rhiannas and Briannas — with all kinds of variations — the Tariks, Jhelanis, Jaydens, Tayshauns and the like over the last few years,” McCook said. “While I respect parents’ choices, I still have to ask why, why, why?

“Parents should bear in mind when choosing a name for their child that the name is central to the child’s identity. Most parenting websites and journals advise parents to take in consideration the first name and the last name before selecting the name for the child. The RGD further urges parents to ensure that they have the correct spelling of the child’s name,” the department said.

So do you have name regrets?

Here’s what some parents told All Woman:


I regret naming my daughter Beyoncé. It seemed like a cool choice at the time, but now everytime we say it to other people we get a smirk, or a raised eyebrow. I wish I could change it, but she has identified with it.


I named our son for my husband, at his request. I hate my husband’s name — Roger — it’s so old. So we call our son Michael instead, which is his middle name.


I must admit I jumped on the Kayla train. I thought I was cute by adding an ‘H’, so mine is Kaylah. Now there are three other Kaylas in her class, and the teacher is always getting the spelling wrong on school reports.


I don’t regret my daughter’s name at all. It’s Elizabeth. No one else in school has that name, and she’s heading for great things by being a strong woman with a strong name.


I wish I could change my girl’s name from Shaniqua, but she’s already half-way through primary school…

Read more:

About the author