Between 1890-1940, John, Mary and James were by far the most popular baby names that you would find in the greatest percentage of new born babies. Today, that situation has dramatically changed.
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Between 1890-1940, John, Mary and James were by far the most popular baby names that you would find in the greatest percentage of new born babies. There was also a tendency for parents to care very little about having common names in the neighborhood. This scenario has drastically changed if you compared the baby names of the 1800s, the 1900s and the baby names of the 2000s.
Some of the reasons given for this dramatic change in baby names from those hitherto considered popular like John, Mary, William, Barbara, James or Anna is attributed to the change in culture of the parents from one that applauded uniqueness and individual names that tended to stand out. In my city of Kampala, there is tendency for young parents to name their babies after celebs and outstanding personalities. I do recall when Bill Clinton came to Uganda in about 1999 with his wife, nearly all babies born in Kampala hospitals were either Clinton or Hillary. Football loving parents have tended to name their children after soccer stars like Thierry Henry, Ronaldo, Sanya and many others. Popular names such as John and Mary are becoming very rare even here in Africa.
Whereas there is great evidence to believe that the shift away from common and popular names is being propelled by the desires of parents to appear unique, recent studies of about 350million baby names recorded by Social Security Administration in America a from 1880-2007 revealed that parents were less likely to choose popular and common names as time went on. This explains why today in the 2000s, the so called popular names are almost discarded by parents altogether as they go more and more for celebrity names that increases the uniqueness of their babies.
The other angle being advanced by researchers is that most parents have increasingly over the year’s embraced narcissistic tendencies as they wholesomely pursued uniqueness and the individual character of their baby names. It is well known that in the 1940s for instance, there was emphasis on obedience by parents-today, parenting has become more permissive and more child-focused and parents are much more reluctant to be authority figures. This has helped in the growth of narcissistic tendencies around naming of babies.
Published in: Family