Care And Feeding, Slate, 31 October 2021:
Dear Care and Feeding,
My tween has requested they/them pronouns and a new name. We are changing our habits on the pronouns, but we haven’t gone along with the name change. Though their first name is stereotypically feminine, we more often use the shorter stereotypically masculine form (think Samantha to Sam). Their middle name is gender ambiguous. These names were chosen with much love following a family/cultural naming tradition. While we are supportive of using any version of these given names to reflect our child’s gender, we aren’t on board with a name change. We will not call Sam(antha) Simon, Stevie or Susie. Is this so wrong?
—What’s in a Name?
Dear What’s In A Name?
I can’t think of any family tradition more important than making sure children know that they are beholden to the whims of their parents forever, and that they must never be allowed to assert themselves or self-advocate in any way that does not entirely comport with their parents’ personal preferences. After all, it was your child’s decision to be born to you personally, and now here they come tap-dancing into the world as a full-on independent human as if they didn’t specifically ask Baby Jesus to assign them to you! They had every opportunity to choose to be born to any other family on earth, but they didn’t, and so now they’ve thereby agreed to have every part of their identity dictated by you, indefinitely and without even the mildest opposition.
The last thing you want is your child growing up to be a self-assured, independent human who knows their own mind and can ensure that their needs are met on planet earth! That’s not what parenting is all about! You lovingly gave them a name and you will lovingly use it at them no matter how much they hate it, lovingly!
Anyway, you said it yourself: what’s in a name?? It’s such a tiny, piddly thing — since it doesn’t matter at all, and it’s practically not even worth caring about not even a little bit, and it really is just wholly inconsequential, it’s genuinely just downright silly that anyone cares all that much about what they’re called, like truly, who could even be bothered? Not you, that’s for sure! That’s why you can only call your kid one of two names that you came up with a decade ago and nothing else ever no matter what!
What could be more loving than honoring your child’s name and pronouns? Why, forcing your child to use the name you gave them because your personal preference is more important than your child having the core of their identity respected by the most important people in their life, of course! Nothing wrong with that! Stay strong in your convictions, and you will enjoy many great opportunities to call your child by the name you gave them in the coming years — to their voicemail, to their email “spam” folder, and in text messages to phone numbers they no longer use.