Alison Bolakis is mum to Ayden, nine, Eleni, three, and Demi, two. Ayden is from a previous relationship, while Eleni and Demi’s names are nods to the Greek background of Alison’s husband.
I’m Australian and my husband, Jim, is from a Greek background, where it’s tradition to name children after family. He felt strongly about this and raised it when we were dating. I saw it as an easy compromise, a sign of respect for him and his family – they’d welcomed Ayden and me with open arms.
Even before I was pregnant the names had been decided – Eleni for a girl, after Jim’s mum, and Emmanuel for a boy, after his dad. Along came Eleni Maree first. Her middle name is my mother’s name. Our second daughter was born a year later. Although we couldn’t use Emmanuel, I still looked for a Greek name as I wanted both my girls to be able to celebrate a name day, which are bigger than birthdays in the Greek culture. Demi was perfect as it’s the girls’ version of Jim’s Greek name, Dimitri. Jim and Demi share a name day, while Eleni and my mother-in-law share one, too.
A name is for life and both parents have to be happy with the choice. I love that my kids get to experience two different cultures. If you’re having a child with someone from another culture, my advice is to discuss preferences. In some cultures, going against tradition can be a sign of disrespect.
Raising a bilingual child
Photo by Dragonflyportraits.com.au May 14, 2012