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An Italian Court With Too Much Time on Their Hands

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Imagine you name your child. Five months later, you're doing some paperwork with the government and you put your child's name down on the paperwork.

Ten months later you find yourself embroiled in a legal battle with the government because they are forcibly changing your child's name to something they feel is more appropriate. You're told the name you gave your child would keep him from developing "serene interpersonal relationships" and that it will open him up to ridicule by his classmates. The government wins and changes your child name. You appeal and you lose.

All for naming your kid the absolutely outrageous name of..."Friday."

I guess they don't watch Mr. Rogers in Italy...

The mother told Reuters:

"My son was born Friday, baptized Friday, will call himself Friday, we will call him Friday but when he gets older he will have to sign his name Gregory."



  1. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 11:12 AM |  

    Doh! Imposter mom, I accidentally just deleted your comment. Sorry bout that!

    To others: she said...

    "That is absolutely appalling."

  2. Blogger Crystal R. | 11:33 AM |  

    I read something similar recently about a European country who wouldn't let parents name their child Metallica.

  3. Blogger Lesley | 12:48 PM |  


    That is the craziest thing I have ever heard.

  4. Blogger Rebekah | 1:14 PM |  

    I'm having a baby in Denmark in a few months and the Danish government will have to approve the name I give my child as well.

    I must say that "Friday" is a pretty dumb name though.

  5. Anonymous jayzee | 7:34 PM |  

    I think this is how things work in Germany too - I've heard something about having to get names approved by the government there too.

  6. Blogger Amy | 8:21 PM |  

    Yeah, I've heard of that sort of thing before. There are a number of European countries that have an official register of names and you must choose one of them in order to get a birth certificate, health card, passport, etc.

  7. Blogger mommymichael | 9:33 PM |  

    crap. we want to name our first girl Caoilfhionn Chicora (spelled the irish gaelic way, pronounced kee-lin, meaning slender/fair) and chicora is after the chicora indian tribe, and my middle name.

  8. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:45 AM |  

    In English speaking countries it's obviously not so uncommon to name your children after a day of the week or something else. Please note that in Italian and many other languages a day of the week or a name of a month (April, Tuesday) as a personal name sounds really really, competely and utterly absurd.
    In many EU countries there is legislation that prevents parents form giving the kid a "harmful" name, e.g. you can't name your son Stalin or Hitler. So yes, in some cases such a legislation actually proves quite useful for the poor baby.
    Sorry to have to dissagree with you but you also have to understand the context of a different language and culture to yours!

  9. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:35 AM |  

    I cannot even imagine living in an environment where I have to ask the government's permission to name my child.

    Last I checked, they were my kid.

    So does this mean adults in those countries don't have the right to change their name? I mean can Friday/Gregory legally change his name BACK to Friday when he's an adult and past the stage of being teased by bullies?

  10. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:55 AM |  

    Anonymous, it's not about understanding the context of the language. I don't care if they named their child the Italian equivalent of "snarf-blat."

    It's about the stomach-churning disgust for a government that decides they always know better than the parents.

    I mean geeze...what's to stop a country that already has that much control from dictating what medical treatment you give your child, what career path they take, what friends they keep, etc?

    Oh wait...that probably already happens quite a few place. Yuck.

    "Green" sounds like a darn strange name to me, and yet, that's the Japanese translation of Midori Ito's name. Seems to work just fine for her.

    There was a girl in my home town named "Snowflake." Her parents were immigrants and it was the first time they'd seen snow. She had no problem with it. It made her unique.

    Anyway, along with commenting they need to watch Mr. Rogers, I'll also comment they need to listen to, and digest the song "A Boy Named Sue." ;)

  11. Blogger Shay | 5:02 PM |  

    While I do not like the idea of the government saying what one can or cannot name their child, I can see the point. This man grows up and puts Friday as the first name on a job application. Said boss thinks the kid is being a complete dork and throws out the application. I have always planned giving a child of mine a more common middle name if we pick a unique first name. As the owner of a first name few could spell or say correctly half the time I understand.

    A friend of mine, a male, had the name Angel, he almost died and his mum called him Angel...sweet but he had to show his ID to people all the time to be taken seriously.

  12. Anonymous Anonymous | 1:49 AM |  

    Jennifer, of course adults have the right to change their name, but the same legislation applies - he still won't be able to name himself Friday once he grows up.
    It appears you are all really upset about this - for me as a European it's really no big deal: just as there are child services to safekeep the children, protect them from parents mistreating them etc., there are laws that protect them from getting a really stupid and potentially harmful name.

  13. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:19 AM |  

    I don't know that I'm upset so much as annoyed. Americans, in general, are pretty touchy about soverenty. (sp) I see this as an issue of parental soverenty.

    I have zero issue with governments stepping in to protect children from abuse. ZERO.

    However I find the definition of "unusual" name as abuse to be astonishing. His mother has a point. He'll grow up going by one name and have to sign another. That's fine if you go by a nickname, but when it's because a government with too much time on their hands and mixed up priorities renamed you? Yeah, annoying.

    I do wonder if my readers would have problems with a government who "protected" their kids from other things that many believe will "harm" them... You know, like breastfeeding "too long", homeschooling, home birthing, deciding not to give some faxes, and so on.

    The lines can get dangerous when the state starts deciding they know what is best for your kid.

    But, I also sometimes forget how many of my readersvlean far to the left, so I shouldn't be surprised so many disagree with me.

    This certainly isnt a post I expected to spark debate though... ;)

  14. Blogger Lesley | 6:37 AM |  

    Jennifer I'm totally with you on this one...where is the line drawn? Today They get to decide what your child's name will be...Tomorrow maybe it's what you can teach them or what clothes they can wear. It's a slippery slope.

    And for the record, you can be made fun of for pretty much every single name on the planet. My Dad has a real talent for coming up with a way to twist a name to make it into an insult (which was very frustrating to my mom when they were trying to name us kids).

    I think unless they are trying to name their child "Satan", the gov't need to just stay out of it (and frankly, someone trying to name their child "Satan" would send off many other alarm bells too).

    Naming a child Friday is not abuse, it's not going to be detrimental to the child's upbringing. I totally agree with Jennifer's assessment that this gov't body has too much time on their hands and are wasting money that would be more wisely spent elsewhere.

    What I also find very interesting is that the mom states in the article that there are some famous Italians who gave their children a name that might be considered "weird"...but did not face legislation making them change it. Hmmmm...very interesting indeed.

  15. Blogger Mojavi | 7:32 AM |  

    you know I am all about personal rights, and I don't think the govt has any say in what you name your child... but sometimes..... the court is right lol..... I mean FRIDAY?? Come on.. why not Spoon? Fork? Toilet? There are some things that are just silly. LIke Price naming himself a symbol.. so everyone had to say "the artist formerly known as PRINCE because there was no word for the symbol!

  16. Anonymous Abby | 8:47 AM |  

    Actually, in some European countries, children are "protected" from parents who want to homeschool. There was a big scandal in Germany about this about a year ago.

    I agree that the government does seem to have too much time on its hands, and that they need to find something better to do.

    Personally, I would be very annoyed if I chose a unique name and was told I couldn't use it.

    If America was like this, there would be far fewer "original" names out there, and everyone would have really boring names. I don't like every name that people choose for their kids (ie Hollywood), but they have the right to do it. I guess that's what you get for living somewhere that the government finds it necessary to take over the job of parenting.

    We both chose VERY unique names for our daughters, even though they are similar to more a common name. Ironically, the only person who ever said anything negative about our child's name is my husband's Egyptian grandma. And it's an Arabic name.

  17. Blogger JudyBright | 8:41 PM |  

    Pleez mr goverment man, I can haz my health cair and my kidz name pleez?

    I prefer cultures of personal freedom, where the government isn't my daddy, or big brother. I find it sad that people think it's perfectly normal for the government to know best and intrude into every aspect of private life.

    I can haz my surjeree now pleez? ;)

  18. Anonymous Anonymous | 1:50 PM |  

    I would just like to say that as an American living in Europe for several years now, I do not find this a big deal at all. It is simply a different culture, they are not wrong for wanting to do things the way they do them. We should not call them wrong for being different. In Europe there are Name Days (although I am not sure about Italy, but countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovkia etc). Each approved government name corresponds with a day on the calendar. A child's Name Day is a huge deal -- it is bigger than a birthday. There are parties and everything. I love America and am proud to be an American, however I find it interesting that we seem to so often know what is right for other cultures. This is not the Italian government trying to run everyones life, this is simply the way they do things. Maybe we should back up sometimes and instead of bashing a culture for something show interest as to why it is that way -- like Name Days, or other reasons for which we have no idea.

    On a completely other note, Friday is a stupid name and I feel sorry for the kid who goes to school named Friday.

  19. Blogger Ethel | 3:07 PM |  

    I honestly don't have a strong probloem with a government that isn't mine doing this. Now, if the Italian people in general have a strong issue with this, and the government still does it, that's different. But if it's just a different culture, and one family at odds with the culture, then I really can't see a major issue. Yes, it's a bit silly . . . but if their culture values a certain set of rules for names - so be it.

    My sister has a son named Angel and a daughter named Daffyd. Angel is a common hispanic boy's name, apparently, and my (European white) sister loves the Hispanic culture. Daffyd is based off of my middle name, and yes, it is a boy's name. But rare enough that no one recognizes Dafydd, the original Welsh name. She just likes breaking gender stereotypes.

    I'm glad she lives in a country where a strange name isn't a problem, but I don't see the event in Italy as being very different from a housing association that requires the entire neighborhood to paint their house a certain color and only plant certain types of trees. I wouldn't want to live in such a housing association, but if the people in the neighborhood are mostly okay with it, I'm not too concerned. If my own housing association wanted to institute those rules, however, I would argue with them - and if I lost, I'd make up for it by exploiting loopholes to get an interesting outdoors decor anyways, and decorate garishly indoors.

    I think it's great that the mom is still calling her child "Friday". Good for her.

  20. Anonymous Megan | 4:43 PM |  

    Hey Jennifer,

    Have to second you on the "Boy Named Sue" song reference! Great song and great point overall.

    We live in Massachusetts the land of socialists and regulators! We homeschool our kids and that right is threatened more every day by our legislators and fellow citizens. Thank God for organizations and lawyers who advocate for home education, but it is a very real issue for us. Leave parenting to the parents! Haven't any of these people ever read 1984.

  21. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:49 PM |  

    Friday may sound silly to you, but my name is Domenica and I have had several compliments on it. It means Sunday in Italian and I was given the name because I was born on Easter Sunday. I, for one, am glad my parents could give me such a meaningful name, but if I felt sensitive about it I could certainly change it as an adult.

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