Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What Were You Thinking When You Named Your Child?

Selecting a name for your child can be difficult. Of course, if there are two parents involved, you’ll need to pick a name that’s agreeable to both of you. But beyond that, there are other things to consider. Will the name sound too “trendy” ten years down the road? Will it result in an undesirable nickname? Will your child’s name affect the respect that he or she receives as an adult? Do you want to carry on a family name? Most parents think very carefully before making this important decision.

Some parents, however, seem to take this task less seriously. Fortunately, the New Zealand courts have stepped in when parents’ brains have stepped out. One divorcing couple temporarily lost custody of their 9-year-old daughter until she was renamed. It seems that their child, Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii, was so embarrassed by her name that she refused to give it to her friends, insisting instead that they call her simply “K.” Justice Robert Murfitt ruled that the name “makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap.”

But Talula’s parents aren’t the only ones who have saddled their poor child with a horrible name. Other names given to children in New Zealand include Number 16 Bus Shelter, Midnight Chardonnay and Violence. There’s even a set of twins named Benson and Hedges. Fortunately, the registrar general of Births, Deaths and Marriages refused to accept the names Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, and Stallion. Names that are more than 100 characters, include punctuation or numbers, or are considered offensive “to a reasonable person” are also rejected.

The baby-naming game is big business now. Some parents even hire baby-naming consultants to help them select names that are somewhat unique but not in poor taste. Perhaps some day we’ll go back to giving our kids names like John and Mary and Thomas and Jill. But, until that day comes, the courts may need to decide if we’ve chosen our child’s name wisely.

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2 comments:

  1. Interesting, Susan.

    For me, I wanted my twins to have very different names from one-another (jane and jack were not going to make the cut).

    My son's name was a name I'd heard several years earlier and proclaimed that if I ever had a child, I would name him this name. I did.

    My daughter was named after a name that I wanted to be elegant, soft and feminine and still strong. It took me all of the first two pages of a baby naming book on the floor of a Barnes & Noble to figure that one out -- never had to buy the book.

    I had some other criteria: nothing cool or trendy (although both are now in the top 50), nothing stodgy or stuffy and nothing that could be shortened (my name is shortened all the time and I really don't like it).

    Fun post. Thanks.

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  2. I did the same thing with my twins. I wanted them to have their own unique names, which they do. They are also difficult to shorten. Many people shorten my name to Sue, which I'm not fond of, so I was very conscious of that, too.

    It's interesting that some of the traditional names are coming back, or maybe they never quite left. I know two families who named their sons John recently. I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to do that, but I hope they'll think of their child's welfare before saddling them with a name like Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii!

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