What's In A Name?

Baby names, baby names, baby names... this is a topic I talk about on a weekly basis.  Many of my friends are pregnant or new mothers and the topic of what to name their little new bundle always comes up.

When we were pregnant with our first, we knew before we even knew the sex, that if it was a boy it would be Marco.  Our only question was as to whether we wanted it to be Marcos or Marco.  But it was decided rather quickly and easily.

With our second pregnancy, it was a little more difficult.  We had tossed around a multitude of names and couldn't settle on any one name decidedly.  People asked us EVERY day what his name would be and we couldn't decide.  In my drug infused state, I almost allowed Mauricio to name him Ayrton... thank God I had a moment of clarity!  We actually didn't finally decide on Jonas until I was being wheeled into the operating room for my c-section!

So what's in a name?  Is it really THAT important?  Is it more important to show your culture, to express your individuality or to blend in?

A few years ago I saw an incredible documentary called Freakonomics, which is also a best selling book.  And last night, I re-watched the portion about baby names and it's significance.  If you haven't seen it, I HIGHLY recommend it... and it's on Netflix Instant!
Basically it says that statistically speaking, the name you choose for your baby will obviously impact his/her entire life.  According to the documentary there are two ways in which a name will impact the child.

The first way is what the name says about your social economic status.  It provides an example about a mother who wanted to name her child Tempest (after the Cosby show daughter) but accidentally named her Temptress.  And Temptress inevitably was a problematic child, promiscuous, arrested for petty theft and sent to juvy.  The question was whether or not the name itself caused the problem... and what they found was NO.  The problem is not with the name itself, but rather with the parent who would mistakenly name her child Temptress.  This mother was clearly low income, low education, and misspelling her daughter's name was the least of her problems.  But in choosing a name that is unique or purposefully misspelled, you may be singling yourself out to appear to others as a lower class person, on paper at least.

The second way is how the name will affect your child in the adult world.  They did an experiment and sent out identical resumes with only the name changed.  One had a predominantly "black name", Tyrone, while the other had a "white name", Greg.  With exception to the name, everything else was the same.  And much to no one's surprise, "Greg" got called back 33% MORE than "Tyrone"!  That means that if they were both real men looking for jobs, while it would take Greg 10 weeks to find a job, it would take Tyrone 15 weeks!  Racism?  Yep.  But it's statistically proven.

So the question arrises... Should I name my child something that resonates with my heritage even if it may hinder their chances at a successful adult life?  There's no right or wrong answer.

This is another section of the documentary that I found fascinating... it's about name popularity.  Watch.

The reason I even began thinking about this in the first place was because I was having a conversation with my MIL who is an ESOL teacher.  Her students have the WORST names ever.  A lot of them are blatantly misspelled or sooooo hispanic that they'll never be taken seriously outside of Miami.  And how will these unique names affect their futures?  Personally, I just shake my head and wonder WHAT these parents were thinking?!

And then I turn it into my own life and wonder if WE made a good choice when choosing names for our children.  Are they masculine enough?  Are they strong enough?  Will they be (terribly) made fun of?  Are they too cultural?

We KNOW that when someone hears the name "Marco", that the first thing to enter their heads is "Marco Polo".  We know.  But, we don't feel like that's such a big deal.  I mean, there are MUCH worse things a child can be called.  And we felt like Marco is a strong and masculine name that commands authority.  It means "warlike".  That's pretty badass.

And with Jonas, we know that when someone hears it they think of "The Jonas Brothers".  But that's a passing fad and I'm sure that once he's in school, NO ONE will even know who the Jonas Brothers are anymore.  And besides, HE's a Jonas Brother... his name is Jonas and he's a Brother.  :)  We loved the fact that Jonas was a softer name... a little more gentle.  And the name Jonas means "dove"... which is the symbol for Peace.

So we have War & Peace.

I don't know if we chose correctly.  Really, there is no right or wrong answer.  And what matters more than the name you choose, is the way in which you raise and nurture your child.

If you haven't seen the documentary, I urge you to do so.  It's so interesting!  And even if you just have time for the name part, it's only about 20 minutes long.

I'd love to hear from YOU.  How did you choose your baby's name?  What do you think about these statistics?  Have you seen the documentary?


The Esparza's Exposed said...

Very interesting! Thanks for this. It was a fabulous read! When we found out we were having identical twins, my husband wanted girls and we already knew one girl name but just had to decide on another. Low and behold there were two BOYS in there so we had to start from square one. We knew we wanted triple "E" initials cause that's what my hubby & his brother have. We decided to give both boys my hubby and his brother's middle names as their middle names. My mother in law said she'd always like the name Elijah and Elijah is another form of Elias which is my brother in law's name. So Elijah became Elijah Edward named after his Uncle. Then we needed a first name for the other baby that would match up good with Enrique - for my husband's middle name (also his grandfather's first name). I used to watch a TV show a long time ago with a main character named Ephraim (anyone heard of EVERWOOD?) Anyways, when we researched the meaning it meant, doubly fruitful and I figured that was pretty appropriate for twins. It's always pronounced wrong so I'm pretty sure he won't love us for that in the future. And Elijah gets called "Litas" for short cause that's also what his Uncle got called as a nickname. But Ephraim doesn't really shorten well. I'm pretty satisfied with our boys' names.... now we just need our third baby to be a girl so we can use our female name of Eliana Elizabeth and I can close up shop. HAHA!

Anonymous said...

First baby boy was easy! We quickly decided on Bas. Then shortly before he was born Ben thought to make it more American since he was going to be... well American :0) So he became Bastian.
With our second baby boy, we narrowed it down to 2 names very quickly. But I just couldn't decide, so again Ben chose the name: Finn! Although Bastian kept calling Finn 'baby Jonas' the first couple of weeks :0)
I still love them both, and I sure hope my boys will too.
big hug for you and your boys,

Steve Hubbard said...

Hi there. Its Maryam from MOPS. Just watched the name section but that it was interesting... will try watching the whole thing when babies go ni-night.
First of all, this is my first blog. yay!
Second of all, our first was named from a cultural perspective since I'm 100% Persian so it was an executive decision namely by me. Sorry Steve... you're white so you're the mutt of the two of us. It was either Amira (princess) or Jasmine (flower). "Jasmine" would be named 50% Persian and 50% everything else European. After all, the origin of Jasmine is Persian and also acceptable in Western culture so it meshed well. The second was named over a bet; one that I lost so Steve got to pick. And although he's not Greek, he chose "Athena" b/c he liked Greek mythology and liked her character as the goddess of war and wisdom. Maybe Marcos and Athena will marry one day... we'll see! And there it is. I also read an article on Yahoo about names today that was interesting. Here it is... check it out! http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/most-popular-baby-names-2011-vs-1911-william-163322452.html

Amy Sullivan said...

I've wanted to see that movie forever, and always being one of four Amys in my class growing up, I have quite a bit to say about names!

Callie Nicole said...

This is really interesting - I think I'm going to have to rent that documentary!