Researchers find that the search for unique baby names may lead to confusion and regret – Baby Bozo is not an option.
Researchers are telling parents that they need to take greater care when consulting popular baby-name books to find the best moniker for their youngster. More choices, they say, often lead to more paralysis and regret, and that includes choosing baby names.
According to one psychologist, parents want the perfect name for the baby and the name they choose will affect their child for the rest of their lives.
Sometimes the choices are obviously going to be problematic. For example, boys given feminine names experience more disciplinary problems in school, probably related to teasing and insecurity. Studies have also shown that a name’s racial background can send signals to hiring managers, with one well-known 2003 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finding that resumes with “white” names were more likely to receive callbacks than identical resumes with “black” names. Unfair and discriminatory for sure, but true nonetheless.
Name Options Exploding
The explosion of unique baby names has been documented. It took a list of six names to cover half of the population of children born in England in 1800 (U.S. Social Security Administration records don’t begin until 1880). By 1950 in the United States, that number was up to 79. Today, it takes 546 names to cover half of the population of U.S. babies born.
That indicated that names are chosen to send specific messages about a child – more so than when Johnny and Mary was a no-brainer as a baby name.
But, choosing a unique name can create problems. Parents may be looking for something appealing but unique – which is getting harder and harder to do. So, frequently parents turn to baby name books that have become more popular and have expanded in size. One book now has 140,000 names. But, researchers have found that having more name choices isn’t always better.
More Choice, More Stress
One researcher has suggested that the more choices we have, the more stressful those choices become. And even if we make a perfectly serviceable choice, we’re more hampered by regret. Some parents become frustrated because their unique baby name keeps getting mispronounced. Others learn of some distressing association with the name after they chose it. Many parents find they would have felt better if they had chosen another name.
The researchers suggest that parents not get to worked up. Often children will grow into the names they are given. But if the parents aren’t sure about their name selection choices it may be best to consider that before the baby is born. If you’ve perused thousands of names you may be beyond the point of good decision-making. Narrow you focus, choose what works best and leave it at that. Endless searching is not likely to be neither productive nor satisfying.
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Published in: Family