Name first impressions

Sal - posted on 07/07/2013 ( 16 moms have responded )

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A UK tv personality has stirred up a storm during a debate when she said that you can tell the class of a child by the name and won't let her children play with kids with names she doesn't think are suitable...
While I don't think it is fair to judge a child on the name they are given I sometimes think that maybe parents don't really think through the names they give their children and the first impression that a name can form can be difficult to ignore...
What do you think, I hope the link works
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/entertainment...

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Chet - posted on 08/17/2013

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I should add too that I have definitely seen weird and uncommon names fail to do a kid any favours. Although I think people are very often inclined to just question the sanity of the parent who picked the name and move on, there are better things to be noticed for than having a parent who picked a weird name. I've taught a lot of large, first year university classes. I can input grades more quickly and with a much lower risk of error if I get somebody to help me. People always take note of the weird or unusual names, but not always in a good way. They'll note spellings from other countries and ask if Aimee is French or if Robbert is Dutch or if Klaudia is Polish usually because they're curious, but of course, if your name has a strong racial or cultural overtone that could hurt you if you encounter someone with negative feelings about that race or culture. And I can honestly say that I have never ever, ever had somebody look at a name like Makaylah and comment that she must be such a wonderful and unique person with such a unique spelling of traditional name. The demographic of people I know just don't respond positively to that sort of thing.

Chet - posted on 08/17/2013

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This shouldn't be surprising. It makes a lot of sense. You picked a name for your child because you liked it. People who are like you are inclined to like similar things... so groups of similar people tend to pick similar names for their children. Humans are very, very good at spotting patterns. They can't help but notice that certain names are more common in particular groups or socio-economic strata. And socio-economic status is correlated with parenting style (which includes how likely you are to scream at your kid across the playground). What's important to understand is that you can't use population data to describe individuals. You can say that DeShawn and Darnell are more common names among poor black families and that Molly and Claire are more common names among wealthy, white families. You can't assume that Molly is white, affluent or educated and you can't know for certain that Darnell is poor, black and uneducated. However, I don't think people make those kind of conscious assumptions so much as they just like the name Molly or Darnell and get a positive image or a negative image at a more basic level. Drug companies wouldn't put huge, HUGE amounts of money into choosing names that give people just the right gut feeling or association if it didn't matter. Drugs and other products wouldn't need to be released under different names in different markets if different groups and cultures didn't have different associations with words and names.

Chet - posted on 08/17/2013

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I skimmed the posts, and I don't think this was mentioned already... there is a whole chapter in Freakonomics about how not only do the names people choose for their children tend to reflect their socio-economic status, but names actually trickle down. The most educated and affluent set the naming trends, and the names tend to work their way from posh playgrounds, to middle class suburban playgrounds to trailer parks. I have definitely noticed this effect. We used to live in a very hip and trendy neighbourhood with lots of educated professional (doctors, lawyers, actuaries, accountants, university professors) and you heard totally different names in the school and on the playground there than in the middle class suburbs where our extended family lived. Now we live in a very urban area and our children go to an inner city school where most of the kids have parents who didn't finish high school. I have to agree that the crazy invented spellings are a lot more common among the less educated or less affluent families (right now at least, this wasn't always the case because of the trickle down effect)!

Sal - posted on 07/08/2013

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I dont think it is judgmental to have assumptions, I think the way you perceive a name relates to your prior exposure to that name, I had only met a girl jody so the first time I met a male jody I was surprised or i had a girl cody in my class and still think of a girl even though practically every other cody i have ever met is male, the same with Ashley or baily, levi or lindon , a friend just named her daughter named lindon and I immediately thought she'd had a son... The same goes with names of people you don't like ( I'd never use Scott) or love we all take our experiences with us everywhere

Sal - posted on 07/08/2013

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I agree I think the name of a child says more about the parent than the child..I think the name you give your child is with them always (well usually anyway) it's on their school reports and rolls their sporting awards job applications and it is often the first thing someone will know about them and we should be careful just because we know the reason behind an unusual name (for example I knew a girl called topia.. Her dad was tony and her mum pia and that is quiet a pleasant parent combined name) not everyone will, or what a "unique" spelling actually is xal, for example could cause confusion..(as could the spelling of my current fav girls name Niamh- pronunced neve) I also feel the same about very common names my hubby wants William for a son but I know so many I wonder if that would be a disadvantage later when job hunting etc..

I don't make judgement because I don't particularly like a name I know people who dislike my children names ( my son hates my daughters name Ursula) but sometimes I feel a little forthought by parents would be a good idea, my son was once in a cricket team with 5 boys named jack one mack and a jake those boys always got nicknames and their parents all thought their son should be the one to use his real name no one was happy or the little girl who's mum misspelt her name as kerosene...

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Julia - posted on 08/24/2013

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Does this woman not realize that she only has the power to pick her kids friends for a few short years, and some day when her dear little India wants to rebel she will probably pick a gentleman who the least of moms worries will be his name 😄.

That said it is human nature to group people and things and to judge. I have read Freakonomics as someone else already mentioned they make some interesting points about names. Also, as a career counselor I can say, unfortunately, I have seen people held back by there names. This usually applies to those with highly unusual and difficult to pronounce names. We usually have a nice discussion about their middle name or nick names they can use. Look at how many actors go by other names professionally. Didn't you hear Ashton Kutcher is really a Christopher.

Kristi - posted on 07/21/2013

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Tracy Stuart-- "When seeing some extremely oddly spelled names, it's often (not always) true that the socioeconomic background of the parents is reflective of lower educational achievements and lower incomes."

Is it just "extremely oddly" spelled or does it include "extremely oddly" named, too?

"Prestigious names or common names are similarly indicative of higher income or educational levels."

Please define "prestigious."

Are you referring to first names or last names or both?

Does Hollywood fit into either of your stereotypes? The most recent chart topper on my list of "Are You Really That Cracked?".... North West, Kanye West and Kim Kardashien's baby. Seriously, do you already hate your kid that much?!

http://www.posh24.com/top_lists/top_list...

Your post is polite and you are very sure that we know you know not to judge a person by their name alone but you make two bold judgments with no factual back-up. First of all, you're assuming everybody spells with the same alphabet and in the same language that the US does, of course, I'm assuming you're in the US. Even then, there are many reasons why someone's name is spelled "extremely oddly." (which, by the way, is also subjective and technically, improper grammar.) Your opening line says a person can certainly tell a lot about a family's social and educational background by names. I'm going to assume, again, you're referring to their first names and you'd have to be judging by the children's names because the adults are two separate, previous stories.

I would love it if you would humor me and apply your theories to the following names. Just copy and paste the list. Type what you believe to be the child's parent(s)'s socio-economic status and educational backgrounds are. These are all people I personally know. Please do this.

Alivia
Jianna
Dalton
Audrianna
Wyatt
Alethyea
Lucas
Andin
Bodhi

Ok, that's good enough. I'm really not trying to be snotty about this. I really am just curious. Actually, I encourage anyone to use Tracy's guidelines and see what they come up with. It could prove interesting. ; )

Amber - posted on 07/18/2013

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I knew a kid named Margarita (sp?). the parents reason was because they were drunk on it when the conceived her. Kid was a brat too!

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/15/2013

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I am horrible with names. I know many people who can tell ethnicity just by the last name, or even a first name. Not me. I don't give a shit quite frankly. My daughters name is out there. I am sure this women would have a lot to say about her name. I don't care what others think. I love it. That is why I chose it.

Tracy - posted on 07/13/2013

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Names can certainly tell you a lot about the social and educational background of the family. Should this be grounds for choosing who to interact with or not? Never. When seeing some extremely oddly spelled names, it's often (not always) true that the socioeconomic background of the parents is reflective of lower educational achievements and lower incomes. Does this mean they are someone not worth knowing? Hell NO! Prestigious names or common names are similarly indicative of higher income or educational levels. Again, not a determining factor of whether I want to know these people. I suppose my point is that even though certain presumptions or judgments can be made based on name alone (and even that isn't aways accurate) that doesn't mean that all assumptions or stereotypes are true. Each person needs to be judged on their own merits on not preconceived notions.

Lana - posted on 07/09/2013

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Any person, company or any person at all willing to outright ignore or mishandle my daughter Judah based on her name is a person I will thank. They do not deserve the company of such a delightful, and intelligent person if they are small minded, and stupid enough to judge her based solely on her name. Judah will be a joy as someone's else's friend and an asset to someone else's company. So I really don't care what people think of her name. Passing her up will be their loss.

Jodi - posted on 07/08/2013

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But this is exactly why we shouldn't judge a child's name based on our own cultural exposure. That's the point I am making. I know Dennika isn't actually judging, but even making small generalisations is still a form of stereotyping based on a name. The difference is that the women in this story actually acted on it - she was just a totally snobby bitch. I can't wait until she has teenagers!!!

Jodi - posted on 07/08/2013

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LOL Denikka, Ashley was a boys name well before it was a girl's name - I have a brother named Ashley......

My daughter's name is Taylah.

You are still being pretty judgmental.

Just saying.

Denikka - posted on 07/08/2013

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I think there are definitely some names out there that would make me wonder enough about the PARENTS of the other child that I may be reluctant to be comfortable with my child associating with them.That being said, this *lady* (term used loosely) is a self righteous, snobby twit.
There are definitely some pretty terrible names out there. And I will admit that, in general, I may make some generalized assumptions when first hearing a name (Ashley is a girls name to me, Taylor is a boys name. Wendy would tend to be more a *white* name, while Shaniqua would be African America, or Mandeep would be East Indian) But it's not something I would hold against a child just to assume that they come from a lower/middle/higher class income family or neighborhood.

I feel that a name should be chosen carefully for your child. I feel like it's a wish or desire for what you want for your child.
My kids have fairly unique names. Torin, Linnaea, and Keagan. I wanted them to stand out. I believe names are a very important thing and contain hopes, wishes, dreams, etc from the parents to the child.
Torin is my first born son. His name means chief. I wanted him to be a leader. As the oldest, I expect him to set the example, to watch out for his siblings. I want him to excel and be a leader on his chosen path, not to follow others into negative situations. I want him to be strong and confident in himself.
Linnaea is a type of flower, which I found out after I had chosen it. It's also called a twin flower. I want my daughter to be beautiful, inside and out. It's a hardy plant that can grow even in challenging conditions. Which is what I want for my daughter. A different type of inner strength than her brother, but strength and beauty none the less.
Keagan means small flame. I want him to be a light in our lives. I want that flame to burn bright. I want him to be passionate, but controlled in his passions so that they don't overwhelm him, or others.

Most people won't know what their names mean, and that's fine. It's a personal thing. Even if my kids never knew what they meant, *I* know and that's enough for me :)

Jodi - posted on 07/08/2013

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I saw this the other day and was absolutely horrified. This clip, for me, was about far more than judging children by their names. It was about making assumptions about an entire "class" of people and then making decisions about who your children could and could not associate with based on that. Don't get me started.......

Mary - posted on 07/07/2013

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You're right - no one should make judgments about a child based on nothing more than their name. To me, it seems pretty asinine to make assumptions about a child's "suitability" as a playmate based on his or her name.

Naming a child is such a personal thing; names that I like, or think highly of, might seem horrible to another parent - and vice versa. I love my daughter's name, Molly Kathleen. I come from an Irish Catholic family. Both my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were named Kathleen Mary. I wanted to honor these women with naming my daughter after them, but did not want her to have the exact same name. Molly is a diminutive of Mary.

After she was born, I came to realize what a popular name it is for the family dog - particularly black Labs. As well, in recent years, it has become a slang term for ecstasy. Now, neither of these associations were in my mind when I was naming my daughter, but I am sure that there are some people whose minds make that connection as soon as hearing the name Molly. They may very well wonder what in the hell I was thinking naming my child after a dog, or a recreational drug, and find her an "unsuitable" companion for their precious little child. They would be dead wrong about the reason for her name, but that would be their (erroneous) impression of her and her parents.

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