The Art Of Baby Naming in a Multicultural Family

Choosing a name for your little one is an honor, but it can pose quite a challenge. Toss in being a multicultural family, and the challenge gets that much harder. You want to make sure that you combine all aspects of the family’s cultural and spiritual traditions but still want the name to sound beautiful.

How can you do this? While it might be a bit more challenging in situations like this, it’s not impossible. Below are some tips on how to come up with a multicultural baby name and what you should avoid.

How to Decide a Baby Name
The first thing to do is sit down with your partner and hash out what the two of you consider the most critical factors of your child’s name. Some examples include:

Multi-heritage or Multi-religious Names

Many couples come from different heritages and religions in today’s world, or they are part of mixed heritage or religion themselves. So, what do you do if you’re Polish and your partner is Japanese? What if you’re Christian, and your partner is Buddhist?

One option is to choose a first name based on one parent’s heritage or religion and the middle name based on the others. You can also combine two names into one, forming a multi-heritage or multi-religious name. For example, the lovely name Asa is a branch between the Bible and Japanese background. 

If you plan to combine words to make a name, start by analyzing the origins and meanings of both names. Then, discover the meaning of the words put together. Is it a new word with a new meaning or an existing worth with an entirely new meaning?

Family History

Another common tradition in multicultural families is to name the child after a family member, past or present. This is considered a great honor in many cultures. However, some consider it as a loss of personal identity. It is important to know how your partner, and culture as a whole, would feel about using a family member’s name. 

If you decide to pass on a name from a family member, make sure you choose an individual(s) who meant something to you both and whose characteristics you would love to grow in your child.

Trust Your Instincts

Keep in mind – just because you come from a multicultural family, it doesn’t mean you have to choose a name that demonstrates as such. A name can still be meaningful and special without cultural or religious ties. For example, if you want to simply name your child Alex because you like it, then go right ahead. It’s your baby!

Take A Mindful Approach
Whether you choose a cross-cultural name or a name you simply love, there are a few things to consider before finalizing your choice. Take these questions into account before making a decision:

Is it trending?
Do you remember the era when every girl seemed to be named Brittany? Check the popularity of your child’s potential name. You don’t want to choose anything too trendy. Otherwise, they may end up in a classroom with three other children with the same name.

What does it mean in every language?
Names don’t always mean the same thing in every language. For example, mixing the Japanese name Sakura with the Polish name Kalina creates Salina. Salina is an existing name that has various meanings across the world. While it means moon in Arabic, the Latin meaning is salt pit. That said, the botanical origins no longer work as you may have hoped.

What nicknames can stem from it?
Plenty of names can be shortened into nicknames – some cute and some not so cute. That said, try to identify every nickname that can stem from your baby’s potential name, good and bad. Remember – children can be cruel. If you can think of an unsavoury nickname, it’s likely a fellow student will be able to, too. The last thing you want is your child being teased due to their name.

What do their initials spell?
Don’t forget the initials, either! Even the most beautiful names might need to be rethought due to the awful initial lineup. For example, the name Sarah Heather Timmons sounds sweet, but the initials are S.H.T. Not exactly the most desirable combination.

How will others pronounce & spell it?
Uniquely spelled names can make your child’s name special, but they can be a big pain, too. Take, for instance, the name Kaizyle, which was designed to rhyme with Paisley. Most people would see the name and pronounce it as “Kay-zel,” which is not the intended pronunciation. If you’re unsure how a name would be pronounced, give it to a few baristas and see how it comes out.

Also, is your potential baby name a mouthful? Your child will have to write their name on every school assignment, art project, and job application in the future. If it’s going to take them five minutes just to write their incredibly long name, it’s not going to be a happy time for your child.

Can they grow with it?
Make sure the name will grow with your child. While a name like Ollie is a super cute baby name, it doesn’t fit a grown man very well. 

Remember – your baby’s name will likely be with them for the rest of their lives. It will be a significant component of their identity. As a parent, it is your responsibility to choose a name that emulates your hopes and dreams for your child while also being a name they’ll love.