Dads, stop name-jacking your baby girls - they deserve better

Rosa Silverman
Serena Williams poses with her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. - REUTERS

When I was expecting my son, my husband suggested we call the baby Ross. Setting aside my dislike of it, I had an even more pressing objection: it's only one letter different from my own name. We'd be a laughing stock - wouldn't we?

Apparently I was wrong. Serena Williams has just named her daughter Alexis Jr. Why is that noteworthy? Because her fiancé, the baby’s father, is also called Alexis. He is Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, and, yes, his daughter has been named after him. 

But before you scoff at the folly of celebrities, take heed: naming your baby girl after the father is a legitimate branch of nomenclature. There are whole discussions devoted to it on Mumsnet (where else?) and websites advising parents-to-be of the options, (“for the daughter of Nathan, try Natana,” and so on.)

It seems Nigel Lawson was an early adopter when, 57 years ago, he named his daughter Nigella.  

Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit, father of Alexis Jr Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

In other words, it’s no longer enough that a baby, of either sex, almost always takes its father’s surname. Now some girls are also lumbered with his first name, too, poor mites.

Take this example from an online discussion on an American baby website: “My husband's name is Jamie and when we were pregnant with our first I asked him if he ever wanted to name his son (if we ever had a boy) after him. He said "NO!" So, we named our daughter after him. She's seven now and thinks it's really cool.”

No. Just, no. As baby naming trends go, this is certainly among the sillier. There are somewhere north of a bazillion options when it comes to picking names these days. In this country at least, almost anything goes. From Allura to Zyra, the field has been thrown wide open when choosing what to call your daughter.

So although boys have long been named after their fathers (somewhat unimaginatively), why anyone would fall back on the paternal moniker for a girl is hard to understand.

Nigel Lawson was an early adopter of the dad name-jacking trend when he called his daughter Nigella (pictured) Credit: Francesca Yorke/Getty Images Europe

Sure, you want your child's name to pass the 'CEO test' - but must they really pass the 'Dad test', too?

It’s tough to imagine this happening the other way round, with a son named after his mother. A boy named Sue is not real life, it’s just a Johnny Cash song. And we, of course, didn’t call our son Ross. 

So listen, mums-to-be: keep your heads. When you come to pick a name, stay cool. Don’t panic, look around the bedroom and name your baby girl after the first man you see.

Alexis Jr can probably pull it off. But if your other half isn't the founder of a global social media platform, do your daughter a favour and give her her own name. She'll be sure to thank you for it later.