My very good friend Derek and his wife Sue just had their second baby girl, born Friday August 29th at 8:23am. Coming in at 8lbs, 49cm, I’m sure that she is a healthy happy bouncy baby. However she has a bit of a problem.. she is nameless.
Once Derek told us that he and Sue have not picked a name yet, it was of course an opportunity for myself and Amy (another good friend) to start issuing unprompted suggestions (ok, mostly it was me) about how the baby should be named.
I’ve made many colorful suggestions, but this opens up a bigger discussion on the purpose of naming a child. Many people who have children go with names that they are familiar with, or names that were also the names of other members of their family.
For example, the name John is probably a very common name in North America. If you were to follow the reasoning that the purpose of naming your child is to differentiate that child from every other, then naming that child John is a contradiction.
Most people may say “well, thats what middle and last names are for”, but if your last name is “Smith”, you may want to consider re-thinking your choice.
A more personal example for me would be the name “Bobby Lopez”. The name “Bobby Lopez” is surprisingly common, especially when you do a search on Google. For years, I have differentiated myself by prefixing my first initial to my name, “J. Bobby Lopez”. This makes all the difference in the world when it comes identifying who I am on the entire planet, let alone at the office, or in my city or community.
Now names like “John” or “Joe” may be very common in North America, or other predominately English speaking countries, but they are far from common in the global community. The majority of people in countries like China and India, which hold most of the worlds population, most likely would not consider “John” as a first or second choice for their newborn.
So is it possible that names which were once used to differentiate people from each other, are now used to protect the identify of a culture? Maybe naming a child John has nothing to do with giving the child a unique name, but everything to do with promoting that child’s origin, background, or beliefs (as would be taught by parents).
I don’t know if parents from any cultural background go through the thought process of naming a child with such depth, but it is very interesting to see the names that first come to a parents mind when they have a new child. It’s a very exciting and emotional process, and I’m ecstatic whenever I get to be a part of it.