Baby Naming Today: The Person Makes the Name
Congratulations on your pregnancy! This time of your life is nothing short of a magical voyage that lasts (give or take) nine months. While you anxiously wait for your son or daughter, you have a very important decision to make: what will you name your precious baby?
As generations have passed, we’ve learned from psychological studies, case histories, and experts in onomastics—the scientific study of names—about overwhelming evidence that names and personalities are interwoven entities, and that what you name your child will impact his or her future.
Many of our own parents believed that a popular name was the most desirable choice for a child because of a flawed yet well-accepted study indicating that kids with popular names do better in school. More recently, published research says that a child should have a unique name to feel confident and special; likewise, namesakes, stereotypes, and spelling variations are often frowned upon. While this is interesting edification, what continues to be overlooked is that expectant parents have a natural and intuitive image of what their child may be and what name will suit him or her.
Religious parents often choose a biblical name, creative parents may go for something more unique, while conservative parents tend toward something popular but safe. So while it can appear that the name makes the child, it seems logical that parents naming a child with certain expectations and raising a child in a particular manner potentially define or stereotype that name.
Fortunately, there’s enough media exposure to a myriad names in our increasingly diversified culture that perceptions and stereotypes are now skewed. While it’s interesting to see what impressions are associated with a name, today’s society is less likely to judge people solely on their monikers.
In the popular movie There’s Something About Mary, the beautiful Cameron Diaz portrays a strong-minded and funny woman in her role as Mary Jensen Matthews. Who doesn’t remember Julie Andrews as the delightfully proper Mary Poppins? So the perception of Mary as a biblical name is now mulled with a musical, magical nanny and a gorgeous blond with unusual hair gel.
Similarly, everyone knows good Johns and bad Johns, and homemaker Marthas and convicted Marthas, not to mention endearing hippopotamus Marthas.
Love the name Hillary but fear the former first lady has that name cornered? Think again! The teen pop star Hilary Duff is making a name for herself, and the stereotype couldn’t be more different.
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