Should We Stop Complaining About Weird Baby Names?

I like articles that challenge my assumptions—like the piece in XOJane.com by Joanna Shroeder. Shroeder’s article is so much fun to read, I’ve saved it for you.

            Stop Complaining About So-Called Weird Baby Names

Celebrity has a baby. Celebrity gives baby an unusual name. Maybe it’s Pilot Inspektor. Maybe it’s Moxie CrimeFighter. Most likely the one that sticks out in your mind is North West, daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

Cue people complaining about “names these days” and concern-trolling the poor little dear. “What kind of life will these children have? Won’t they be teased?”

Let me tell you about the life North West will probably have: She will be very loved, as it seems every member of the Kardashian/Jenner family has been so far. She will never lack for proper nutrition, never go without medical care. She will probably go to the best schools and get an excellent musical and artistic education. She will meet celebrities and people whose names are in history books. Judging by her parents, she will probably be beautiful.

Now, I’m not saying her life will be perfect or that Kim and Kanye will be the best parents ever. I don’t know them. I don’t follow their lives outside of the inescapable headlines that come through my timelines and the occasional gluttonous “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” marathon when I’m sick.

But if you’re clutching at your pearls because of the names people are giving their babies, you might want to look into getting a new hobby, because unusual names are here to stay.

Of course there are lots of pundits posting blogs on social media about the excesses of attention-seeking, self-centered celebrities and the awful names they foist upon their kids. As it happens, I recently created a list of 24 notorious celebrity baby-name “blunders” to help parents avoid making the same mistakes.

Although Joanna Shroeder may be unfamiliar with my “Baby Names in the News” blog (or may be taking dead aim at it), I’d like to stake out the opposite position, for your consideration and amusement.

When celebrities announce names likely to subject their children to embarrassment, teasing or bullying, responsible parents may recall awful names we considered (but decided against) for our children when we were young and foolish. Or we may mention notorious names as examples of the kind of names to avoid, when we are discussing names with expectant couples looking for feedback about names they are considering.

Those of us who write about names use celebrity blunders as opportunities to discuss baby-naming techniques with people who seek out our commentary. Most pundits don’t advise readers to avoid names that reflect their ethnic, national or religious backgrounds. We tend to like names that reflect people’s interests and values. But our main objective is to help parents find names that are likely to be a pleasure for both parent and child and a plus for the child throughout his or her life.

So when we hear about celebrities who pick names that are likely to demean or embarrass or be a needless source of frustration  for their children, it’s reasonable to use those examples for educational purposes.

That’s why names like North West, Blue Ivy, Pilot Inspektor and Moxie CrimeFighter are on so many “worst” or “weird” or just plain “awful” baby name lists: to help parents avoid embarrassing, shaming, demeaning or subjecting their children to needless discomfort and frustration (and in the process. glamorizing such irresponsible behavior).

I agree with Joanna Shroeder that children of celebrities are likely to receive many benefits that money can buy: good nutrition, a good education, and excellent health care. But there is one thing that money can’t buy: caring parents willing to spend the time and effort to take loving care of their children. And let’s face it: parenting is a serious job and parents are on the job 24/7.

Parents who care deeply for their children’s well-being will do everything in their power to pick names that will be a joy and a pleasure and a benefit to their children. If they fail in that pursuit, it won’t be for lack of effort. But parents who pick names that are demeaning, embarrassing or frustrating for their children are demonstrating their inability to align their own “pursuit of happiness” with their children’s well being.

In foreign countries there are judges who disallow certain names they think are “harmful” to the children’s welfare. And in the U.S. there are pundits who try to help Kim and Kanye’s fans understand why it is harmful to pick a name likely to make a child the butt of a bad joke.

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