With the Internet, TV, and movies all readily available, new parents now have an infinite amount of resources to consult when choosing a baby name.
It is normal to be afraid of making the wrong decision. What if your child spends the rest of their life being teased for an unusual name? Is a unique variation of ‘Hailey’ worth a lifetime of misspelled names on Starbucks cups?
One expectant mother in Australia recently discovered that the world—especially social media users—is not exactly sympathetic to parents who saddle their children with strange names.
Is This Name Appropriate?
When she recently shared her burning question online, the new mom placed herself directly in the line of fire for commenters to criticize and ridicule her name choice.
Writing in a Facebook group for parenting advice, the Melbourne mom innocently asked, “Is the name Smokie really such a bad idea for a little girl’s name?”
“I keep coming back to that name, and everyone keeps telling me it’s a no-go, but I’m so in love with the name I can’t change my mind…” she wrote, explaining her internal dilemma. “But [I] don’t want to make a mistake with the name.”
Although the name pays homage to her sister, the suggestion has sowed division among her family: “I’m thinking of naming my little girl Smokie-Marie, Marie is after my sister, so I’m wanting that as a full name … The name flows together nicely for me, but [I] don’t want to set my kid up for failure with a name not everyone agrees on!”
What Do You All Think?
Torn between following her heart and listening to her family’s criticism, the Melbourne mom then decided to ask an unbiased public to weigh in on such an important, personal decision: random Facebook users.
“Does anybody else have the name Smokie for a baby other than a pet name? Honestly, I heard it one day and loved it,” she confessed. “I don’t like common names, I like names nobody else has.”
Social Media Users Reacted to the Post
Online users were quick to point out that if the mom had not heard ‘Smokie’ used as a name before, it was probably for a reason. In fact, some commenters were kind enough to outline, in great detail, all the good reasons why she should not choose that name.
“Smokey is the nickname of a machine that produces too much smoke. A train, a tractor, a car with a bad exhaust,” replied one such commenter. “It is also used as a name for gray-colored pets. Then there is the Australian slang, ‘smoko,’ [which are] short work breaks traditionally used for smoking.” Readers in the U.S. might be more familiar with a similar expression, ‘Go for a smoke.’
A fellow Australian warned the young mom: “It doesn’t matter if you want to call your kid Smokie, or Durrie, or Ciggy—Births, Deaths, and Marriages very likely just won’t let you.”
Rules for Naming Babies in Australia
In Australia, births and other records are reported to the local registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages (BDM). According to the BDM in Victoria state, where Melbourne is located, baby names cannot be obscene or offensive, impractical for daily use, or contrary to public interest.
Even when the name does not fall into the aforementioned categories, the BDM will take in other considerations before stamping its approval, like “how the name is perceived in the community” and its “suitability of the name for legal identity and administrative purposes.”
Don’t Hold Any Regrets
“Just remember you’re not only naming a baby, you’re naming a school child,” wrote another user, who asked the young mom to consider, “Will they get teased? [As] a young professional, will they be hired and taken seriously? … Don’t let your crazed whim be a burden for the rest of your poor child’s life.”
Some helpful users suggested more common alternatives: “What about Misty instead? Similar but sweeter?” Likewise, an apparent Kardashian fan followed up with the recommendation, “How about a Stormy Marie?”
The youngest sister of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Kylie Jenner, notably named her daughter ‘Stormi’ in 2018. Jenner has notoriously had her own naming regrets with her second child, a boy born in February 2022. More than a year after her son’s birth, Jenner legally changed his name from Wolf Jacques Webster to Aire Webster (pronounced ‘heir’).
However, the overwhelming consensus in the mom’s comment section was that Smokie is not an appropriate name for anyone: “Smokie is a name for a dog, cat or rabbit. Not a human child who has to grow up to be an adult applying for jobs and getting their resume laughed at and thrown out.”
One straightforward commenter shared their unvarnished opinion, “Smokie sounds like the nickname of a fifty-something-year-old woman with a raspy voice that has been chain-smoking her whole life.”
Not everyone in the comment section was as negative. One brave soul defended the mom’s right to name her child as she pleased. “What the hell… it’s your kid. If you want it to be called Smokie, that is totally up to you!” they reassured the pregnant woman. “It’s the name you chose for your child… some people need some respect… how dare anyone make you feel bad.”
This article Should I Ignore Critics and Give My Daughter an Unconventional Name? was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching.
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.