Opinion | You guys suck at naming babies

By Paige Wasserman, Senior Staff Columnist

This Thanksgiving break, I was bored, so I joined a Facebook group where moms and moms-to-be talk about baby names. And by golly, these people have lost their goddamn minds.

Between grossly misspelled normal names, made-up gibberish and other absolutely absurd choices, the names that certain people have conjured up for their children speak to a deeper issue within the reproducing populus, one that encompasses self-obsession and individualism at the expense of the child’s quality of life. 

A brief disclaimer — I’m not a complete jerk. I understand that many names have cultural significance, and those are not the ones we will examine. These are names that white, with a capital W, Americans are inflicting upon their spawn. 

“Someone please help me … We have 3 daughters Aleighia, Aumriee, and Aquinnah. We are having our fourth girl in May! I have looked for hours upon hours for an A name that is unique and not common and I don’t care for any of them,” said one mom. 

So much to unpack here. First of all, I have zero idea how to pronounce any of these names, and I won a prize in fourth grade because I was the only person in my class to correctly pronounce deoxyribonucleic acid. It was a slap bracelet. I still have it.

If I, the supreme champion of pronouncing difficult words, cannot for the life of me pronounce your child’s name, how is a normal person going to pronounce your child’s name during roll call? Or at graduation? Or at a dance competition? Your child has a lifetime of frustration and inconvenience ahead of them. 

Furthermore, what is with this obsession with uniqueness? Perhaps it’s yet another symptom of American individualism. Everyone wants to be special, an exception to the rule. Newsflash — your kid’s “unique” name may be the only unique thing about them. Your daughter, Unicorn Foryst, will probably grow up to only wear neutrals, take a couple honors classes, go to a state school and major in communications. If you’re the wackiest, weirdest, most exceptional Sarah there’s ever been, that holds a lot more power than the name Unicorn.

“Thoughts on the names Reighan and Nixon for twins?” another mom asked.

First of all, this misspelling of Reagan is a “tragedeigh.” It’d be really fun to constantly get Starbucks with your name spelled wrong. 

Second of all, naming your children after the dude who did nothing to prevent 89,343 gay men from dying of AIDS and the dude behind Watergate is definitely a choice. It’s like naming my kid Bernie Madoff Wasserman.

Third of all, why must you coordinate their names? 

I’m a twin, and I can say for certain that coordinating twin names is corny, and it is simply the wrong way to lay the groundwork for raising multiples. Dr. Barbara Klein, an expert on twin identity, suggests that parents should raise their twins to have their own identities. This entails not coordinating their outfits, putting them in separate classes and encouraging them to have different passions and interests. 

But obviously, the parent considering these names doesn’t care about that. They saw a sonogram with two bodies and said, “Oh, that’s so cute! I get to buy a bunk bed from Ikea!” Unfortunately, you have to parent with your children’s interests in mind –– there are people beneath those pink and purple coordinated dresses. 

“Thoughts on the name Prayer for a girl?” inquired another creative mind.

Children are not billboards for your fandoms, and the fandom in this case is the Jesus fandom. 

As of 2019, two-thirds of religiously raised young people stopped going to church upon leaving the nest. By those standards, it’s highly likely that the child that you named Prayer might later become an atheist.

This is the crux of the issue. Parents raise their children with these lofty hopes and dreams of who they will become. In this case, it’s an exceptional, Godly child who will run a Fortune 500 company and fund their megachurch’s high-tech Christmas spectacular

What happens if your kid doesn’t have a good relationship with religion? What happens if they’re plain and normal and middle-class, just like you? What happens if they don’t live up to the names you’ve given them? Will you still love them? 

You might wonder, “Why does this even matter? Why do you care so much about other people’s decisions when they have no effect on your life?” And sure, they don’t have an effect on my life, but they sure as hell have an effect on your kid’s life. 

People are naming children as if they were pets, not complex human beings who are going to live in the world. Human beings who might experience bullying if they have a weird name. Human beings who will have to make reservations and apply to jobs and fill out forms. Parents should name their kids so they can have better, easier lives.

Why must your child’s name be unique and flashy? Their uniqueness pleases you, but your child might not like it very much. Maybe blending in is okay. Maybe the end goal should be happiness, health and self-reliance. And if you’re raising –– and naming –– your child to be a vessel for your failed aspirations rather than a fulfilled individual, please, just don’t have kids. Get a dog instead.

Paige Wasserman (she/her) writes about the arts, pop culture, campus culture and things that make her want to scream. You can reach her at [email protected].