I changed my child's name but I have no regrets!

It's no-one else's business if you change your baby's name, says writer Amy Sinclair

July 24 2018

Is it ever ok to change your child’s name? That’s the question Australia was asking recently after a mum announced plans to change her four-year-old daughter’s name. It seems the little girl - called Esmee - shares the same name as two other girls in her class, prompting the mum to want to change it so it wasn't a ‘common’ name. 

The mum’s stance sparked a wave of criticism from fellow parents and experts alike, with many slamming her plans as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘harmful to the child’. 

But while I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with the idea of changing a four-year-old’s moniker, as a mum who changed her own child’s name I feel sorry for the mum in question in a few ways. 

For as long as I can remember, I had always dreamed of having a little girl and naming her Queenie. I always knew the name was unusual and I’m not someone who’s usually drawn to unique names - my two sons are called Max and Gus, very common names - but I just loved it. And so when my husband and I found out we were having a little girl, we immediately knew that we would call her Queenie. 

So what was the problem? Well whenever anyone asked us what we were going to name the baby - while I was still pregnant - we would be honest and say ‘Queenie’ and every time we were met with horrified looks and lots of ‘You can’t call a child THAT!’ comments. My parents loved the name, but that was about it. 

And by the time I’d given birth to our little girl, our love for the name Queenie had turned to fear that everyone hated the name and so we called her Scarlet. 

But the truth is she never felt like a Scarlet and we always felt like idiots for bowing to pressure, wishing that we’d called her Queenie. And so, just after her first birthday - without telling anyone - we did just that, finding a Justice of the Peace and changing her name by deed poll to Queenie. 

Of course there was backlash from friends and family who thought we’d lost our minds, and it took three months of us continually correcting people from calling her ‘Scarlet’ to ‘Queenie’. But just as we thought we’d got through it all, we got a serve of our biggest criticism yet. 

At the time, I was editing a magazine and the Daily Telegraph found out about how I’d changed my daughter’s name from Scarlet to Queenie. What followed was a nasty piece in the newspaper about how horrible her new name was, how I’d opened her up to a lifetime of ridicule and school bullying - painting me as some kind of attention-seeking parent who did it all for the shock value. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. 

So I feel for this mum. There’s nothing worse than being told by a whole lot of strangers that you’re a terrible mum, that you’re trying to harm your child. Should she have kept her intentions to herself? Maybe - but people would’ve found out and she would’ve been slammed eventually. 

But the truth is, who are we to tell anyone what to do? If the mum wants to change her daughter’s name, she should change her daughter’s name. It might be nice to ask the little girl’s opinion - but again, it’s their business. 

My daughter is now 12 and has grown up just fine - there’s been no lifetime of ridicule, we haven’t scarred her in horrific ways. The name suits her perfectly and what she has now, in fact, is a fun story about how her parents changed her name a few weeks after her first birthday. 

I still cop it sometimes - one school mum came up to me once and said ‘I just had to meet the woman who decided to call her child Queenie of all things!’ - but I don’t really care. And I hope this other mum doesn’t either. You have one life, do what you think is right.