Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Shiloh Effect

Moms Who Opt for Weird Baby Names Narcissists?
The study, published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that in recent years, parents have been less likely to give their children popular names. For instance, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, about 5 percent of babies were named the most common names then (John and Mary), reported LiveScience. More recently, that dropped to a scant 1 percent being named Aiden or Emma, this decade's most popular names.
The researchers even adjusted for immigration rates, which could arguably lead to fewer Jacks and more Juans. As Jean Twenge, PhD, one of the researchers concluded, "The most compelling explanation left is this idea that parents are much more focused on their children standing out. There's been this cultural shift toward focusing on the individual, toward standing out and being unique as opposed to fitting in with the group and following the rules." Then she went in for the kill: "I think it is an indication of our culture becoming more narcissistic," Twenge says.
I've been pondering for some time why I and others in the childfree community have such a visceral reaction to unique or trendy names. My husband and I both love how our names link us to our family history and cultural legacy, and I do think we're losing that sense. The kids are missing out, just a bit, on the way a family name links you to a great-grandmother you never knew.

Moreover, I think that unique spelling or trendy names show a lack of concern of the child. It will be the child who has to constantly respell the name (with three ys) into adulthood. It is the child who has to put Neveah or Madison on a job resume, and hope the person receiving it doesn't jump to conclusions (even subconsciously).

But perhaps this narcissism plays into it as well. Of course each human is unique, and completely fitting in isn't the ultimate goal. But shouldn't that be your son or daughter's choice? Each person is unique in their own way, not in the way their parents pick out for them. Isn't it better to let the child develop her own uniqueness? Let your daughter turn 6 and discover an obsession with Star Wars, let your son turn 7 and realize he wants to be a puppeteer. Until they find the qualities that define who they are, why saddle them with something that makes them stand out in a way that may well be a hindrance? Why not let them fit in just long enough to figure out how they want to stand out? The early years are the hardest to be "different", and a little conformity in kindergarten can be a benefit for psychological development. Also, it can prevent some psychological scars.

It is not the name Mykaylah that will make your daughter special. If it is, she's not that special. Indeed, the idea that the name you gave her makes her unique is narcissist. It also evinces a lack of consideration of your child as an individual separate from yourself. Making that child's life more difficult in order to satisfy what you want makes it sound more like you're having a doll than a future adult. It is no surprise that the same parents often coo over the trendiest and most expensive strollers and designer children's clothes. Are you having a child, or are you adding an accessory?

Technorati Tag:

No comments: