A few weeks ago, the Saturday Sidebar question here on World Moms Blog was about how we chose the name for our children. As I shared, we named our little one after his great-grandfather on my husband’s side, and one of his uncles on my side. Two great men, two great names; it was an easy decision for us.
My husband’s grandfather passed away days before Christmas. As we reflected on the man he was and the life he led, we were so happy that we’d chosen his name for our son. We did it not only to honor a man we respected very much, but also as a gift to our child. We see it as an honor to share a name with someone who embodied many of the qualities we hope to instill in our son.
Our baby’s great-grandfather was a man of integrity, patience, gentleness, kindness, and faith. His uncle, my brother, is a much younger man, still creating his life. He too possesses many qualities we deeply admire; he is funny, generous, loyal, and dependable.
Here in South Korea, a person’s name is made up of their father’s surname, followed by a two-syllable given name. For male children, and increasingly female children, the second syllable in the given name is usually the same for each child in that generation. So, a Korean child may have the same second syllable as his siblings, as well as his cousins. Interestingly, there is no gender associated with specific names, unlike in the Western world where most names are clearly masculine or feminine. My understanding is that it is common for given names to be passed on through generations.
I have heard recently that some folks think it is not an honor, but a burden to carry a family name.
Perhaps it does not offer the child enough individuality, or puts pressure on them to be like the person they are named after. While I can see why someone may have those concerns, I do not share them. For us, naming our son after two men we love and admire so much was another way of expressing our love for him, as if the two names carried with them the weight, not of expectation, but of the love and memories we have associated with those individuals.
On the Night You Were Born is one of our favorite books to read with our baby boy. Honestly, I can’t get through it without tearing up a bit. It’s so beautiful. Part of the story says, “The sound of your name is a magical one. Let’s say it out loud before we go on.” I remember the very first time I read this book to our sweet baby boy. He was days old, and as I said his name out loud, all of the emotions associated with that name came up. Since he’d only possessed the name for a few days, much of that sentiment was attached to the people we had named him after, and it seemed like a big name for such a tiny boy.
Now his name has become his own, and when I read that page, I am filled with emotions associated with my dear son, his life up to this point, his perfectly pleasant personality, and, yes, the characteristics of his great-grandpa and uncle. Think of how much more meaningful those names will become for us as the years pass, and our son’s character and strengths become even more evident.
What’s in a name? A lot. In the case of my son’s name there is memory, tradition, and honor, but mostly, there is love.
What is the story behind your child’s name? Was your child named after someone?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from mommy-of-one and yogi, Ms. V, in Korea.
Photo credit to Jack Dorsey http://www.flickr.com/photos/jackdorsey/170257936. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.
I think it’s a wonderful thing to have that special connection with someone in a previous generation. All of our boys are named after relatives in one way or another. For the older boys they have said it has deepened their relationship with those people and like to see where they fit in overall the family picture.
I enjoyed hearing the story about how you named your son and how names are passed down in your culture. I wrote a post awhile ago about how we named our sons. I will link it here rather than rehash 😉
Names can carry so much meaning, and I really like the idea of keeping family names alive through the generations. It creates opportunities to tell family stories and keep some form of an oral history alive.