Posted by: Cathi Brese Doebler | January 15, 2009

Use their full names

Can you remember a time when someone used your full name? Perhaps it was when you were walking across a stage to receive a diploma, or when you were being confirmed, or when you were getting married. It almost sounds odd to hear your first, middle, and last name all said out loud together, because most of the time people don’t say them all together. My father was the only one who ever regularly called me by my full first name, rather than my shortened first name. He would say it often, and with affection. To this day, when I see my first name written out, I can “hear” my father saying it.

Now think back in time again…can you remember a time when your parent used your full name? My guess is that it was when you had gotten into trouble. “Samantha Ann Canterbury!” or “Alexander Michael Jones!”, etc. I remember hearing my name said that way too!

Well, I have also used that method with my own children. Then one day my oldest told his grandmother not to call him by his whole name. When she asked why, he explained that he only heard his full name when he was in trouble. After chuckling at this story, knowing full well that he was right, I decided to change the way he hears his name. I started to say his full name at loving times too, or I would sing a song just using his full name over and over again in a melody that was familiar. Of course, I still use the full name when reprimanding my children, but now I also use their full names at loving times too.


  1. Your post about the use of full names reminded me of our children and grandchildren engaged in a surprise project to honor my husband (their Dad and Pop-Pop) for his 65th birthday celebration. The task was for each to make one’s own “stepping stone” for Pop-Pop’s garden. Creativity was in abundance. But the defining moment was when the youngest said, “I want my whole name on Pop-Pop’s garden stone so he’ll always know that it is from me.” (Everyone followed suit!)

    • Love it! What a great idea…a fun way for everyone to be a part of his home.

  2. I know some people “rebuke” their children with their full name, but honestly, with 4 kids, I’m lucky to get their first name right. LOL! Usually the full name is said in love and maybe the first and last is said “harshly” as needed.

  3. At Addison’s baptism this past weekend, it was so awesome to hear her addressed by her full name. Full names are powerful. I think I’ll be more conscientious of using her entire name now (in sweet times!)

    • Absolutely!!

  4. hey cath- i love the blog!! (i’ve been trying to get mine up and running too- it might take another 5 years at this pace!)

    so true about teaching the joy of a beautiful name! names are so powerful and create your sense of identity (i immediately think about how strange it was to change my name when i got married- i still think of myself as “worczak”!). we seem to always make goofy nicknames for our kids, but they always stem from their real names (ella bella boo is what has stuck with my daughter- i’m sure she’ll love that when she’s a teenager!).

    thanks for the blogging!

    p.s. here is one of my favorite christian mom blogs……if you’re interested!

    • Thanks for the website…I’ll check it out!

  5. The local “Paradise News” – Feb. 2009 (St. Petersburg FL) ran a little piece about “What is Love?” as this question was posed to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds. One child’s response, in particular, fits right in as a response to this blog on the names/ways we use to address our children.

    This is from Billy, age 4:
    “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”

    • This is so insightful for a four year old! Thanks for sharing this article information Claire.

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