Humans love patterns. Just look last year’s list of popular twin names:
Jacob & Joshua
Daniel & David
Jayden & Jordan
Ethan & Evan
Taylor & Tyler
Gabriella & Isabella
Isaac & Isaiah
Madison & Morgan
Elijah & Isaiah
Ella & Emma
Eight pairs start with the same letter. Seven have the same rhythm. Another seven end with the same letter (and many of these nearly rhyme).
For twins and other multiples, sticking with a name pattern is easy. You know the number of children and their genders ahead of time.
But what if you want a name pattern for an entire sibling set? That can make things tricky. You don’t know how many children you’ll have, or what their genders will be. You also don’t know how your tastes may change over time.
If you’re thinking about a name pattern to cover all of your kids, here are three pieces of advice to consider before you begin:
Don’t lock yourself into something limiting.
Let’s say you like flowers. You have a daughter and you name her Lily. You have another daughter and name her Rose. Then another, Jasmine. And then a fourth, but…you don’t like any other flower names. Iris? Too old. Poppy? Too young. Zinnia? Too weird. Amaryllis will never be spelled correctly. And Daisy is the golden retriever down the street.
Or, let’s say you have a son named Alexander. Then you have another boy, and you decide to name him Xavier so they both have that X in common. Then baby #3–a little girl–comes along. Well, you can’t do Alexis–that’s too close to Alexander. You won’t go near Maxine because you fear maxi pad jokes. Roxanne reminds you too much of that song. Xena reminds you too much of that show. And Beatrix makes you think of rabbits.
When you play chess, you have to think ahead several moves. Look at sibling name patterns the same way. Think ahead as many kids as possible. If you can think of 10 or more usable names that fit the pattern, it’s probably a safe pattern. If you can’t, the pattern may be too limiting to be sustainable.
Consider the pros and cons of visibility.
Have you heard of the Duggars? They have nearly 20 kids, and all of those kids have a J-name. This type of name pattern is one of the easiest to spot. (Especially in large families.)
But name patterns don’t have to be obvious. Let’s say your children will have a whole bunch of aunts and uncles you’d like to honor with baby names. You make a list of their names and simply pick from this list as you have children. In this case, the pattern (aunt and uncle names) is so subtle that it’s basically a family secret.
Here are some example name patterns, ranging from blatant to barely there:
Number of letters (Jason, Frank, Kelly, Alexa)
Spread-out alphabetical (Brian, Elaine, Laura, Paul)
Letter in common (Abigail, Sebastian, Tobias, Isabella)
Chain [last letters into first letters] (Michael, Lauren, Nora, Andrew)
How can you test the visibility of a particular pattern? Make a list of names that fit the pattern. Pick two at random and give them to a friend. Ask that friend what the two names have in common. Did she get it on the first try? Was she unable to guess at all? That should give you a good idea about where the pattern would fall on the spectrum.
Avoid sets of names that have an endpoint.
Your first son is Luke. The next is Sky. The next is Walker. And then…surprise! Son #4. Now what–Anakin? Darth? Chewbacca?
If you start off with a discrete set of names, the universe will laugh at you and you will either:
not have enough kids, or
have too many kids
to match the number of names in the set. Murphy’s Law in action. So don’t tempt fate–stick with an open-ended theme that could end at two names or continue to ten.
What other suggestions would you give to parents considering name patterns?