Don't name your child Brenden. I mean Brandon.

This post is not an indictment of the name Brandon or Brendan if one of these names happens to be your name or if you have assigned your child one of these names. 

I've had friends and former students named both Brendan and Brandon, and are perfectly lovely people.

But if you're in the market for a future baby name, I suggest that you avoid these two names completely whenever possible. They create constant confusion and force the bearer of the name to repeat his name again and again, emphasizing pronunciation in order to avoid confusion.

In just the last two weeks, I have watched two Brendans go through conversations almost exactly like this:

Brendan: Hi, I'm Brendan.
Other: I'm sorry. Is that Brendan or Brandon?
Brendan: Brendan.
Other: Brendan?
Brendan: Yes, Brendan.

This doesn't seem like a big deal, but try doing it again and again for a lifetime. 

Naturally, Brendans and Brandons will tell you that their names are perfectly fine and the occasional confusion and constant repetition isn't a big deal, but this is because they have lived with their name for all their lives. It's part of their identity. Of course they like their name.  

Only self absorbed drama queens (both male and female) and people who hate their mothers complain about their first or middle names.   

Objectively speaking, Brandon and Brendan are difficult and cumbersome when compared to most other names. Spare your child a lifetime of confusion. 

If you're trying to choose between Brandon and Paul, go with Paul.

Brendan or David? Go with David.

Brandon or Brenden? There's no hope for you. 

The Name Game

My daughter, Clara, turned seven on Monday. Tomorrow we host a birthday party for friends and family. 

I was telling Clara stories about the day she was born, and this story came to mind, which I wrote about at the time (to Clara) and thought I would share here.

It's a testament to my wife's ability to remain cool under pressure.

During labor, many people were in and out of our room. Nurses and doctors surrounded the bed, constantly introducing themselves and stating their positions.

“Hi, I’m Doctor Smith, the attending on tonight.”

“Hello, I’m Doctor Jones. I’ll be administering your epidural.”

“I’m Doctor Andrews. I’m here to turn down your epidural.”

“I’m Doc Simpson. I’m here to look at your vagina.”

Most remarkably, your mom seemed to keep track of all these people amidst all the contractions and pushing. At one point a doctor introduced herself to us, consulted with another doctor, checked in with a couple nurses, and then turned to leave just as your mother began pushing again. But before she did, she took a moment to look up and say goodbye to the doctor, addressing her by her name.

Katherine, our nurse, turned to me and said, “How can she possibly remember all these people’s names?”

A few minutes later, Katherine asked a nurse to arrange for "Petey" to come down to our room. Considering every other person in the room had been introduced either with their title of doctor or by their first name in the case of the two female nurses, the thought of some guy named Pete, who apparently insisted on being called by his first name, coming to the room alarmed your mother.

“Wait a minute,” she said. “Whose Petey?”

“Not Petey, a person,” Katherine explained. “Pediatrics. They’ll need to be here at the delivery.”

Half naked, contracting and pushing, your mother was still on the top of her game.

My namesake discovered 42 years later

My daughter’s name is Clara Susan.

Her first name comes from the protagonist in The Van Gogh Café by Cynthia Rylant. My wife loves that book, and it’s where she fell in love with the name for the first time. 

Her middle name was my mother’s first name.


My son’s name is Charles Wallace.

His name comes from the character by the same name in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. We both loved that book as children.

We are also fond of the poet Wallace Stevens, which helped cinch the deal.


My name is Matthew John.

Yesterday I learned that I was named after my father’s platoon leader in Vietnam. According to Dad, my namesake was a man “who was fair and honest, and the kind of guy who never tried to pull rank.”

My middle name was chosen because my parents felt that it went nicely with Matthew.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to learn this. Up until yesterday, I was under the impression that my name was chosen simply because my parents liked it. I had no idea that I had been named after another person. 

It’s a shame that it took me 42 years to learn this fact.

If you’ve been named for a person or even a fictional character, you should probably be told this much earlier in life. Don’t you think?

As with most things, my family does things a little differently.

Best hurricane naming system ever

I love this idea. It’s brilliant. It’s hilarious. It may not change minds, but it might shame and embarrass the criminally stupid and make the rest of us laugh in the process.

Sadly, radical ideas like this rarely see the light of day.