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Unique Baby Names: Are They Harmful?

Baby NameWhen hip-hop royalty couple Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z gave birth to their new baby girl earlier this month (January 2012), only a slight few were surprised when the couple gave their daughter a “unique” princess-worthy name—Blue Ivy.  While some scoffed that her name sounded like a new strain of marijuana, others congratulated the couple for choosing a name that was so personable to them. In fact, many non-celebrity parents have begun following suit and are now donning their newborns with non-traditional names too. But will straying away from the baby books potentially cause havoc on your child’s self-esteem and success rate later on in life? Some researchers believe so.

In a 2010 study, British researchers evaluated more than 3,000 parents who had either given their child a unique name, unique spelling, or gave their child a “unisex” name such as Taylor, Ashley, or Bailey. What researchers found were pretty astonishing—20% of surveyed parents wish they could change their child’s name. Why? They found out a little too late that a name is someone’s identifier and can cause several consequences for them later on in life. To learn how, continue reading below.

Unique Names can Affect Self-Esteem

Unusual and unique names that are hard to pronounce can actually lower a child’s confidence, according to another 2005 study led by researcher David Filigio. This is because being teased for having an uncommon name and always having to correct individuals on how to say it can make a child grow up feeling insecure and self-conscious. In fact, 8% of surveyed parents admitted they were frustrated with the amount of people who struggled pronouncing their child’s name.

The same study highlighted similar consequences for boys who have “feminine” sounding names—they are more likely to rebel and have behavioral problems in the hopes of proving their masculinity.

Unique Names Can Lead to False Judgments

As hard as it may be to swallow, educators admit to judging their students by simply looking at the names on the roster. If the student is named something that is commonly tied to the lower-socioeconomic bracket for example, the study shows  teachers already expect that child to be troublesome, less likely to achieve, and will treat them differently. With already pre-low expectations, it can affect the way your child views the education system.

On the other hand, if the name is really unique but “free-spirited” (something like Sunday or Apple) teachers not only already have a predisposition about the child, but even begin to question what the child’s parents are like—some automatically assume the parents will be less involved in their child’s academic life for example and treat them accordingly.

Unique Names Can Affect Intelligence and Course of Study

Even giving your child a variant spelling of a “traditional” name like Brittany vs. Brittni can have negative affects too. Researchers say that students with unusual spellings typically have a harder time developing their reading and writing skills.

Your child’s name may even also help direct his or her career path—for example girls with really feminine-sounding names are more likely to study the humanities, as opposed to girls with more masculine-sounding names who are more likely to study math and science.

While giving your child a unique name may be banned in some parts of the world, you are still welcomed to name your child whatever you want in the states. But before you register your child as Arlo, Hattie , Clover or Haven, think about the affect it could have on your child later on in life.


Special Thanks to My Guest Blogger.

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @ gmail.com.


Last Updated: January 20, 2012

About the author: This blog post was written by a guest contributor. If you’d like to guest post for Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies, please read my Guest Writing Policy for a guideline of what I am looking for. All guest posts need to be at least 500 words and be original to this site only.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Jennifer January 20, 2012, 2:54 pm

    My husband really wanted to name our son Kermit. Thankfully both children turned out to be girls. No more kids for us… I don’t want to risk having a Kermit (just imagine what that name could do for self-esteem)!

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