Creativity has given birth to many beautiful things. From Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” to Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” creative minds all over the world have made life more mystifying and magical for everyone. However, not everyone was born to be a creative genius, and despite what many soon-to-be parents think, “unique” baby names can be more problematic than they are precious. Ultimately, parents need to take into account the negative impacts a “creative” baby name could have on their child. Having a unique name can make finding a job more difficult, can hurt a child educationally and can be a source of emotional distress later in life.
Names that seem well-suited to a small, delicate baby can be deterrents when found on an adult’s job application. According to ResearchGate, employers are more likely to hire people with names that they think of as “common” or “popular” because they feel as though common names are better accepted by customers and carry more positive associations. To illustrate, according to catalog.data.gov in 2017, there were 196 babies born in the United States were given the name “Bear.” Although being able to call your precious, chubby-cheeked newborn your “Baby Bear” is endearing and adorable, the name is likely to make finding a job harder for them when they’re older.
Education is a key to success, and names which are viewed as common, popular or attractive are often viewed in a more positive light than unusual names. According to a study published by psycnet.apa.org, when 80 teachers were asked to grade essays written by fifth-grade students, the teachers tended to give lower marks to students with uncommon names. The teachers’ bias is unconscious, but it stems from man’s natural tendency to prefer information that is familiar and recognizable to them. Unique names stick out, so human brains have a tendency to label them as “wrong.” Although this bias is unfair and unjust, it exists, and it needs to be taken into account when a person is choosing a name for their newborn.
This bias toward the familiar isn’t exclusive to teachers, either. According to www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, students in grade school feel a strong need to belong. This leads them to put pressure on those around them to “fit in.” If a child’s name isn’t what a group finds acceptable, the children in the group are likely to bully that child. Children are required to work in groups frequently throughout grade school, middle school and even high school, and being bullied by your group members, who you have no choice but to interact with, can be further damaging to a student’s academic ambitions by making them form an association between school and emotional pain.
Some may argue that giving a baby a unique name is justified if it is a reference to family history, but naming trends have developed and changed over time. Names that used to be commonplace are now almost unheard of, such as the name Cornelius. Because of this, a name that was found to be acceptable in the 1920s might not be the best choice for a twenty-first century baby.
At the end of the day, every parent wants to do what is best for their child. Nobody names their child with the intent of giving them a more difficult life, but, unfortunately, a more difficult life is often a side-effect of having a unique name. Choosing to give your child a “normal” or “traditional” name may feel boring, but it can give your child a leg up in life. At the end of the day, your baby is a one-of-a-kind miracle, and you don’t have to give them a unique name to prove it.