Like every other pregnant woman, I visit babycenter.com rather frequently. By which I mean, I get weekly emails regarding my baby’s development, and also a “daily digest” email summarizing some of the forum activity. I firmly believe that online communities are, in general, a major factor in the decline of human intelligence so for the most part I don’t actually participate in the forums, but I do read threads that sound interesting or ask a question I myself would like to know the answer to. I have noticed a disturbing trend in which the title of a new thread – and there are many, MANY of these – goes something like this: “Told so-and-so the name I picked (or made up) and they hate it!” and, if I can bring myself to endure the torture of actually reading a few responses, find them to be almost uniformly something like this: “Well you shouldn’t tell people your name, it’s none of their business, you get to pick whatever name you want because it’s YOUR baby.”

The thing is, it’s not YOUR baby. I mean, obviously you are the child’s parent, but babies are born as part of a family, part of a society. So if everyone in your family hates the name you choose, maybe that is a sign that you should reconsider that name. Names are very social things; it is the first thing you tell about yourself and the first impression others have of you. And I’m not gonna lie, I have met people whose names made me instantly think “Your parents must have hated you” or “Your mother could not spell at all, that’s not even remotely phonetic.” SURELY that is not the introduction you want for your kid?! Picking a name for someone is a huge, huge responsibility. This is not your golden opportunity to dazzle the world with your creativity or express your own personality; your baby’s name is not about you. It is about your baby. You should be trying to find a name to express his or her personality, and seeing as you haven’t met them yet that is kind of a tall order. Maybe you should be spending your time coming up with a name that will give your kid a solid start in life, with other people, than trying to figure out how to switch c‘s and k‘s or add in a y and an extra n to an otherwise reasonable name.

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