Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Response to "What You're Child's Name Says About You"

So this article has been making the rounds around baby name blogs called "What You're Child's Name Says About You." I wasn't offended by it, but I thought it was slightly ridiculous. Apparently I'm not the only one.

I agree that a child's name says more about the parents than it does about the child. But the rest of the article is just silly. It reminds me of those Internet quizzes that I used to take when I was in high school like "Which mythical creature are you?" or "What city should you live in?" The assumptions of the article are too simplistic.

Let's take a look at the author's assumptions and my response:

If you're child has an unusual name, you crave the spotlight.

I disagree with this opinion for two reasons. One is that the term "unusual name" is so porous that it could literally mean anything depending on who you ask. Secondly, I don't believe for two seconds that people give unusual names to their children to get attention, especially not the type of judgemental attention that Pilot Inspektor, Apple, and Kal-El got.

I'll be the first to admit that I have a fairly unusual taste in names. I would not be giving these names to my children so that it would get a reaction from other people besides, "Oh, how lovely!" I would give these names to my children in order to bring as much inspiration into my family life as possible, and I couldn't possibly care less what anyone else thinks about that. Therefore, if you're child has an unusual name, you dare to be different. But that description was given to another group of people in the article...

If you're child has an old-fashioned name, you're on the conservative side.

Again, "old-fashioned" could mean anything! And the examples she used (Agnes, Homer, and Tabitha) don't strike me as being conservative at all. Instead, I would assume that they wanted names with historical gravitas.

I can understand the conservative tag if we're talking about George, Elizabeth, and William. But Isadora, Leocadie, and Alphonsus? Not so much.

If you choose a creative spelling, you dare to be different.

No. If you choose a creative spelling (and we're not talking about Isobel instead of Isabelle, she means Cyreniti instead of Serenity), you don't like to read.

This reminds me of a anecdote on a baby name website told be a teacher. She said (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here) that whenever she looks at the call list and finds a name like Aayden, she inwardly groans. Because she knows that the family that child comes from does not value phonics. And low and behold, she finds that the child is a terrible reader and writer. I believe every word that she says and not what some other sources say, that teachers give children with strange names worse grades just because of their names.

If you look at the list I made of real witchlets, you will notice that there is a complete lack of kre8tively spelled names. Journalist Margot Adler conducted a survey of Neo-Pagans for her book Drawing Down the Moon. Do you know what quality all Neo-Pagans have in common? A love of reading.

If you choose a family name, you're sentimental.

I suppose that's possible, but I don't think that's the case most of the time. I think either they value tradition or they were pressured to conform to tradition. But that could be my baggage flaring up again. It depends on why they picked the family name.

A pop culture name means that you're looking for a confidence boost.

This is the only one that I actually agree with. Nobody names their children after icons they don't like, unless they weren't aware that the person or character existed. They do it because they believe that the namesake has favorable qualities. Whether or not this works out in the long term is not something people can control.

If you name a child after a destination, you're adventurous.

...What? That theory that people who use place names are world travelers is such nonsense. People who watch samurai movies don't all love to fight.

If you go with a unisex name, you focus on success.

If by "unisex" she means "traditionally masculine names on girls" then I agree. People may give these types of names to girls because of the belief that it will help them do better in the workplace because guess what? Men do better in the workplace. Meanwhile, a man can't name his son Meredith without the naming police getting on his case. I believe someone who gives their son a unisex name like Juniper may be focusing on emotional success. Making sure that he is nurturing an introspective, qualities traditionally associated with women. But when most people say "successful," they're referring to careers.

I encourage you to read the original article and draw you're own conclusions. What do you think?

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