Unique Baby Names Affect Schoolchildren; but how?

Picking out a unique baby name is one of the first decisions over which many a parent agonizes for extended periods of time. What is sometimes lost in the shuffle of excitement over unique baby names is the fact that said babies will grow up to become school-aged children.

Looking even further down the road, any unique baby name that may have a parent proudly pat her/himself on the back is also a name that in about 18 years will show up on someone’s resume. This presents an interesting dilemma: are unique baby names going to present problems for school-aged children and young adults in the long run?

Cases in Point

Perhaps the honor of providing the poster child of a unique baby name is reserved for the fictional Mr. and Mrs. Clapp, who in the 1600s named their child ‘Through Much Tribulation We Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven Clapp.’ Young Master Clapp promptly shortened his name to Tribby Clapp. (1)

In the real world, unique baby names have little girls facing life with the name Ariel (no, not the mermaid, but instead the translation of “lion of God”) while boys proclaim themselves to be Reuben (translated as “behold, a son”). Historically-minded moms and dads may introduce little Thibault (which is French for “bold”) or adorable Emeline (French for “rival”).

Unique Baby Names and the School-aged Children Who Bear Them

When it comes to more modern names, there oftentimes is an overabundance of odd spellings – frequently the insertion of a silent ‘h’ or ‘d’ – apostrophes, and little used consonants jostling for space in one short name. The New York Times (2) weighed in on this issue and outlines that school-aged children with weird names would get worse grades and had a harder time in social interactions during elementary school.

The Times also suggested that these kids with their unique baby names would grow up to be unemployed adults. Perhaps the most telling suggestion is that kids – once teachers and prospective employers can associate a face with them – have the same odds as other children devoid of unique baby names.

Of course, in a day and age when data does not come with faces attached and hiring managers sift through stacks of resumes to even narrow down the number of potential interviewees, this may be a tepid consolation.

Unique Baby Names: Yea or Nay?

In the midst of the election I did an offbeat news story about a “Baby Named Sarah McCain Palin.” Then there was the issue of “Adolf Hitler Campbell;” in both cases the youngsters were saddled with names that identify their parents’ strong beliefs and political leanings but which open the doors to uncounted years of hardship and struggle.

So what say you: are unique baby names a go or should a parent forego her/his penchant for the unique baby name in favor of the school-aged child’s ability to fit in with peers?

  1. American Masonic record, and Albany Saturday magazine, Volume 1 (accessed February 7, 2010)
  2. New York Times. “Boy Named Sue, and a Theory of Names” (accessed February 7, 2010)