DEAR ABBY: I read the letter on Nov. 22 from the mother who was concerned about how her stepdaughter is going to spell her daughter's name, which will be Jasiela (pronounced Gisella). And you, of all people, agreed that she should speak with the mother about spelling?
Abby, that is the joy in naming your child! You get to choose the name and how to spell it. The unusual spelling of a child's name is what makes the child unique. For that mother to take that away from the mother-to-be, well, it's none of her business! The child will learn to spell her name, as she will other difficult words in life. I feel the mother is entitled to name her child whatever she'd like, as long as the husband agrees. -- SHAWN IN WEST VIRGINIA
DEAR SHAWN: One of the most interesting things about writing my column is not knowing how the public will react. When I answered that letter, I had no idea that some readers would react like angry hornets. I was trying to be logical, but there are strong feelings on both sides of the subject. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: As a soon-to-be new mom, I take exception to the arrogance people show regarding naming children. Because it is not a name that everyone is familiar with does not mean that it's not a good one. And spelling is in the eye of the beholder! I am appalled that people would couch their displeasure for a name under the guise of "for the sake of the child." I would encourage that writer to MYOB. I know if I were the stepdaughter and she said something to me, I would not be happy about it at all. -- FUTURE MOTHER TO IAN OR MIKAYLA IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR ABBY: I was given an unusual name. I have had to instruct everyone from teachers, students and co-workers as to how it is pronounced and the correct spelling. Does this mean my parents didn't know the "correct" spelling of my name? I wholeheartedly say NO!
I have also chosen to give my children unusually spelled names, names that were chosen with careful thought and consideration as to spelling and pronunciation. A name is something to cherish and live up to. My children have been and will continue to be taught this throughout their lives.
If the grandmother-to-be is concerned about the name, she should start thinking of a good nickname to give the child. -- KLISTA IN IDAHO
DEAR ABBY: I did a Google search on the baby name databases. One of the better ones I queried was Parenthood.com. It shows the male name "Jasiel" and identifies it as a biblical name meaning "the strength of God." Obviously, then, "Jasiela" is the feminine form of the name.
Your advice seemed off-putting. "Hesitant" is well-meaning, but she should mind her own business. And for you to assume that Mum didn't know the correct spelling -- well! That was a presumptuous remark and certainly not in your normally empathetic style. I think this is one of the rare times that you blew it, Abby! -- LEANNE R. IN CANADA
DEAR ABBY: My siblings and I grew up with unusual names for the United States -- Deirdre (dear-dra), Aisling (ash-ling), St. John (sin-gin) and, easiest of all, Becket, pronounced as spelled. True, it wasn't always easy, but our teachers learned something new, and today, as adults, we love our names and are happy our parents ignored convention. -- DEIRDRE IN EKER, SWEDEN
DEAR READERS: Tomorrow, I'll share some of the letters from folks who agreed with my answer. Stay tuned ...