My daughter’s name is Klaire, she’s 12. She hates her first name and wants it to be “Ace”. She wants it legally changed. Both her mother and I are against that.— Jason Ernst (@Geranthrimin) September 21, 2020
I hate it. I said it’d be ok as a nickname but she’s not okay with that.
What do I do?
Both of my parents grew up using names other than their birth certificate names. They made what amounts to common law name changes. Within my family--in my parents' and grandparents' generation--common law first name changes were typical. Of eight siblings in her family, my paternal grandmother was the only one who used her birth certificate designated first name, but common law name changes were easier to execute in those days. These days, to persuade legal entities such as the Social Security Administration to change one's name in their records and issue a new card, a court order is helpful.
Legal name changes are cheap and just require completing some forms and doing the legwork. I know someone who went to court with her mother and legally changed her first name when she was a young teen. She's nearly forty now and has no regrets.
Most people on twitter are saying that Klaire's parents should call their daughter by her preferred name, Ace, but tell her she must wait until age 18 to legally change her name. Then she can do what she wishes. That strikes me as a standard-issue parental response to many childhood requests. I would agree with that in many matters, but not this one.
I don't have time today to fully discuss my rationale, but my suggestion to the father requesting advice would be: Tell your daughter that you want her to really think this through. Call her by the preferred new name immediately, and tell her you will support a legal change if she "tries on" her preferred name until she's age 14 and still wants to legally change it. Have her sign an agreement that she is on her own if she ever wants to change her legal name again. In so doing, you can respect her autonomy, teach her a bit about patiently thinking things through, and living with the consequences of her decisions.