The Long-lasting Effects Of Baby Names

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What’s in a name? A baby’s future, apparently. Laptops and tablets on, WiFi connection unwavering, search engines at the ready, sharp clicks of the mouse followed by the incessant clatter of the keyboard– that’s what occupies a significant part of a regular day in the lives of those embarking on a new journey, widely known as parenting. Choosing a name for the little being who will soon find a home in your arms can be challenging, but if it’s any consolation, most parents tread a similar path. From the traditional Alice to the never-heard-before XÆA-12, there is a world of names to choose from, and if you are doing this once, you have to do it right. Parents have struggled with baby names for ages. According to the Talmudic tradition, a baby’s name is the first present they receive, and even as we keep immersing ourselves into the digital age, choosing baby names initially remains a predicament for most.

If you’re wondering why baby name websites and books never go out of trend, it’s because parents are trying their best to give shape to their child’s identity. A name has a lasting effect on a child and stays with them well into adulthood. People pay significant attention to names, so it is only fitting that a name influences how someone sees themselves and how they think society perceives them.

A study suggests that one in seven parents regret the name they gave their child (1). While many were formerly happy with their choices, they grew to regret them either because of the unusual spelling or because the name suddenly grew in popularity.

How Do Names Affect Children?

Baby-names have long-lasting effects on a child. We have listed a few of them below. Let’s scroll down to check them out.

Names Affect Children

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Socioeconomic Status

First names are quite like a person’s attire or accent. People tend to assume someone’s societal background, mannerisms, and even personality traits by some external indicator like the name.

David Figlio analyzed over 50,000 names and codified the aspects of names more likely to belong to children from low-income families. He found that these children are more likely to perform worse than their peers in school– the more unusual the name, the worse the school test scores (2). Kids with names that do not sound proper from a linguistic perspective are more likely to be treated differently.

Feminine Names

Boys with feminine names are likelier to misbehave and cause mischief than their peers with traditionally masculine names. In elementary school, boys named Riddhi or Leslie may behave just like their classmates with names like Raj or Steve, but the discrepancies start once they reach middle school. They tend to be more unruly and brash if there happens to be a girl in the class with the same name. The self-consciousness mixed with the teasing quips from friends pushes them to redefine the name given to them, and during pre-puberty, rebellion is the only solution they find.

On the other hand, girls with masculine names are also affected in the long run. While girls with dainty, feminine names like Belinda or Sukanya choose advanced courses in humanities in high school, those with masculine or gender-neutral names like George and Max are more likely to pursue science and math, says Figlio.

Self-esteem

Societal assumptions aside, it is essential for a child to like their own name. How a person thinks of their name is closely linked to their self-esteem. Here’s a test: ask people which letters of the alphabet they like. Those with high self-esteem will most likely choose the letters in their name, especially the first letter. It does explain how meaningful a name is to a person. If someone dislikes their name, they hesitate to say it out loud, leading to low self-confidence issues, since most conversations start with introducing oneself.

Self-esteem

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Traditional Vs Rare

Have you ever noticed that we either meet people with names that we find everywhere or names as rare as a comet? There’s no in-between, no name that makes you think, “Huh, this name is neither common nor unusual”. When it’s time to pick a name, we usually find two groups– one that wants their babies to stand out with unconventional names, and the other that prefers a common name that has already been taken by hundreds.

Even if the name by itself does not make a difference in the child’s future, its position in the unusual vs. common scale does have a significant impact. It reflects the parenting style to some extent and thus the way the child is brought up. Parents who name their kids Amiah or Ezra probably have a parenting style that emphasizes uniqueness, while parents with kids named Jake or Amy prefer conventional parenting methods. It all comes down to whether the parents want their children to blend right in or create an intriguing impression by effortlessly standing out.

Many parents also prefer sprucing up traditional names by giving its spelling a twist. For instance, Alexandra becomes Alekzandra, and Ria becomes Rhea. However, Figlio’s study suggests that deviated spelling of a conventional name may impact a kid’s reading and spelling capabilities.

If the several scientific pieces of research on this topic are any indication, parents are rightly stressed over their children’s names. These names will have lasting effects over the course of their lives, so selecting a unique name is of the utmost importance for today’s parents. However, with millions of babies born every year, how unique does uniqueness remain?

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Soumita Ghosh

Writer, painter, and an avid reader, Soumita loves to indulge in the arts that she loves. She has a Master’s Degree in English and is a Brands writer at MomJunction. Her writing journey began in 2017, and since then, she has been swimming in the world of articles, social media content, travelogs, and web content, among several other things.

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