DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Confuzzled in Florida" (March 24), regarding parents who give their children one name but demand they be called something different.
I am an administrative assistant in an elementary school in New Jersey, and I have encountered the same problem with parents who register their children for kindergarten.
I must check the child's original birth certificate to verify the birthday and to ensure that he or she is registered under his or her legal name and that it's spelled correctly.
Abby, I've had parents tell me that "Little Johnny" does not know that "Franklin" is his legal name, and I should register him as "Little Johnny." I then have to explain to the parent that we DO have to register him as "Franklin" because that's the name he'll have to learn to write in kindergarten, as it's his legal name. I also explain that when "Franklin" starts school, he can tell his teacher he prefers "Little Johnny" and can then be called whatever name he chooses in the class.
I advise parents to make sure the child knows what his or her legal name is before starting kindergarten. This is the name that will appear on all records throughout the school years. -- JERSEY GIRL (NOT MY LEGAL NAME)
DEAR JERSEY GIRL: Thank you for writing. I heard from many readers who wanted to weigh in on the custom of using a name other than the child's legal first name. They admitted the practice can be bothersome, and offered ways to manage the confusion. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: As a travel agent, I run into many unique names. Some parents do it to honor relatives; others do it to be funny. (Mac is the legal first name of a boy who weighed 11 pounds at birth -- as in Mac truck.) Other parents try to be cute and use the same first letter for each kid's name, then they run out of more common names.
The solution is to use the child's given name rather than the nickname on official documents such as a library card. This will eliminate future problems, like the name on his or her library card not matching the driver's license, or the one on his or her airline ticket being different from what's on the passport.
Anything "official" should have your legal name. -- JOHN IN BAXTER, MINN.
DEAR ABBY: I use my middle name -- or rather a shortened version of it. My childhood was spent as a victim of abuse, and after a few years in counseling, I was able to break that cycle. Part of that split from my past was to start using my middle name instead of my first, to take charge of my life and never fall into that victim's role again.
Years later I married. My husband's family has a tradition of the males all having the same first name and being distinguished by their middle names. This goes back 15 generations. It's confusing at times when we go to the doctor and need a legal document processed, but where possible I always add a notation about the names my children and I answer to. -- BEKAH IN KISSIMMEE, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, his brothers, father and nephew all go by their middle names. It may seem confusing, but there's also a benefit. If anyone calls asking for him by his legal name, my husband knows it's a telemarketer. -- RACHEL IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: My suggestion to parents is, when picking a name for your child, remember that you could be yelling that name in its entirety 20 times a day for the next 18 years -- so make sure it's one you like to hear. -- HOARSE IN NEW JERSEY