Monday, June 27, 2011

The Art of Baby Naming

As a Sociology major in college (go Pitt!), my senior thesis was centered around baby-naming. I spent an entire semester researching the history of baby-naming practices, traditions from around the world, and even interviewing parents and expecting parents regarding how they had or were choosing names for their children. My research ended up in a kick-ass twenty page paper that outlined all kinds of baby-naming arts and trends, and I had the pleasure of presenting my work at the Penn-York Undergraduate Research Association conference in October of 2008, and again at my university's Honors Convocation the following spring. I was, and still am, proud of the research I conducted and the work I produced, but I have to say it made me a little cocky about naming my own children before I got pregnant...

My research concluded a multitude of things. Firstly, I had found that in current years, a major trend in baby-naming was to name a child based on who the parent thought or wanted that child to become in life. However, if you've ever read "Freakonomics" (best textbook I was forced to purchase ever), you'll recall the story about Winner and Loser (sadly, the story and names were true). Winner went on in life to become a criminal with a rap-sheet the size of "War and Peace" and Loser went on to become a big hero in a police department. Ironic, I know.

Secondly, another major theme in my research became the fact that boys in American culture tended to be named after something or someone special more so than girls. It was actually more common for girls to have names that I referred to as "trendy" because the parents thought they were cute or sweet. Where a boy might be named a family name, or saintly name, a girl was more likely to be given the name of a pretty flower than to be named after great-aunt Gerty.

When I found out we were expecting, I automatically assumed that because of all the research I had done, I would have the world's easiest time choosing names for my baby. I vowed to stay away from self-proficizing names (for fear of ending up with a Winner) for sure, and to make sure that my names had some kind of special meaning behind them somehow for both a boy and girl. And while I am getting what I want out of both of my names, it certainly took a while to get there.

I don't really want to delve into what the names are that I've chosen just yet, but let me tell you that my over confidence was truly a devil for me. I think I ended up having a difficult time, especially with my girl's name, because I was so over confident. It's funny how you think you may know so much about something, and just how you're going to to something...until you actually go-about and do it. It's the beginning of parenting lessons, I supposed....and it's the art of baby-naming :)

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