We are all given a name at birth. Some like the name their parents gave them, and some do not, but our given and family names are what we go through life with and as.
Parents-to-be give much thought to what their children will be called, choosing carefully a first and middle name, sometimes selecting the same name as a parent or other loved relative, or even a special friend. Great care can be given to a name’s sound, meaning and even what initials the child will have.
Some people alter their given name, shortening or modifying it to a preferred sound, look or style. Some choose to use their middle name. Others legally change their name. Some go by a pen name or stage name for their profession.
If a child is given the same name as a parent, a nickname is usually convenient. A tag we are labelled with might be an alteration of our given name, condensing names to two initials, or it could refer to a physical or personality trait. Some monikers are unflattering….we hope they will be forgotten or fade over time, or we do our best to shake them by showing or stating displeasure when they are used. How we respond to a name often reflects the tone in which it is spoken.
Other nicknames are perceived as endearing and we embrace them, owning them as part of our identity. In some cases, it could have to do with the best pronunciation a young child can manage. Because of the person who speaks it or the way it is spoken, love is felt at the mere sound of its utterance. We feel special and cherished when we hear it. Sometimes, the nickname dies when a loved one passes – then its sound and the feeling it elicited is missed.
Giving your own child a nickname can be a special thing you share. Whether its used daily or only when special nurturing is needed after a physical or emotional hurt, it creates and enforces a special bond unique to your relationship. Even as an adult, I am comforted when my mother uses her special name for me. On rare occasions, an aunt still uses her unique and silly name for me; and when I hear it, I both giggle inside and feel my heart warmed.
I confess I did’t think much about this whole nickname placement thing while my own children were growing up. We gave them strong gender names that we were especially fond of, and naturally we enjoyed using them. My husband was creative when they were young and used particular names when they were babies/toddlers; but no point was made to repeat them through the years, so they faded over time. If I could go back, I would use special nicknames to reach into each of their hearts at times when I wanted them to feel the strong love I have for them as their mother, and hope that it would bring comfort to them when they most needed it.
If you have a nickname you have accepted, then I would guess it gives you that feeling of being someone special to the one who says it. Or maybe you give that feeling to someone else by creating or using a nickname. Everyone longs to feel special, and loving nicknames are a way we can instill that feeling in others.
Parents, name your children well; but also consider giving them each a loving nickname that connects you in a separate and special way. Once it sticks, it will be theirs forever. You don’t have to be a parent to give one. Even common terms of endearment like honey, sweetie, buddy, sweet pea, pumpkin, angel or princess can be heard as special if they are repeated toward a loved one.
Not everyone has one to claim, but I do think that everyone would benefit from having one.