Friday, November 17, 2006

On respect for our young people

Came across this article in the Times of London online (yes I read all kinds of things) and it brings to mind a long standing peeve of mine.

Stupid children's names.

The first instance I remember of thinking "Well his/her parents were obviously idiots" was back in the '70's when I saw, I swear, a man name Santa Claus interviewed on TV. It was a name given him at birth by parents with a twisted sense of humor or no concept of what they were about to do to this guy. As I remember he was very calm about it, and didn't see it as a big deal. My thoughts ran somewhat differently:

His parents should be flogged in a public place.

The Time article brought this to mind since they show that such dopiness has crossed the big puddle. Children named Reebok, Gandalf and Arsenal (which is a huge football (soccer) team over there. Kind of like naming your kid Dallas Cowboy). It's one thing to hear a name, decide you like it and want your child to have a beautiful name. It's another thing to name them after a sneaker.

Naming them after pop stars with unusual names is dumb. I mean these people do know that his name's not really Tiger right? Naming them after fictional characters is equally idiotic. Come on can you see this poor kid all through elementary and junior high school - "Is Superman Melman here? Superman...Melman?" He better be the strongest kid in class otherwise it's a recess punch fest everyday for years.

What really bothers me is the mind set for the parents who do this. This smacks of child-as-toy which is an utterly disrespectful attitude towards our young people. If you have that little respect for the kid at birth, how is it going to get any better as they grow up? When did child raising become a game for some folks?

I'm a firm believer that part of the role of parent is allowing kids to skin their knees, bloody their noses, and get their feelings hurt at times. We often tend to try and wrap kids in bubble wrap believing we're doing them a favor. Protecting them to this degree doesn't help in the long run. Our kids need to know, to KNOW, deep down in their bones that they can do what they set out to do. They know it to that deep level when they've tried and overcome obstacles. I've written before about how the opportunity to fail is every bit as important as the chance to succeed.

But sabotaging the kid before they even start is just cruel and thoughtless. It's strikes me as be what makes me happy now, rather than what affect it will have on the kid later.

Not everyone needs to be named Tom, Dick or Harry. But no one needs to be given the name Pixie Frou-frou at birth. When you grow up you can call yourself anything you like, even like the guy mentioned at the end of the Times article (looney!).


Do you know why you were named what you're named?

My name was my father's nickname, which he got playing a role in a school play. That I grew up (not really knowing the full story) and taking a degree in Acting struck me as strangely appropriate. When I was an adult my father formally relinquished his claim to the name (a source of ongoing confusion growing up. I was little, then young, then my name with my middle initial for years) It also had the advantage of being short, which my folks hoped would prevent it from being turned into some nasty nickname. They did the same with my two brothers. They pretty much failed all three times but they tried to make our lives EASIER rather than harder on the days we were born.



Anonymous said...

My name was Mom's office name when she worked for a photographic studio in Pittsburgh. My brother is a III and his son is an IV. Dad was Jack, bro is John and the youngest is Jay. I doubt there will be a V as Jay seems in no hurry to marry and if he does, the mother will probably be Asian and unlikely to want a JOH V.

I hated my name when I was a kid. Nobody could spell it and few can now. Worse yet, people always insisting on calling me Shelley Winters, who by the way could also spell correctly. My folks didn't know that the poet Shelley died on my birthday but in 1822, a few years before I was born.

Gman said...

I've always wondered this too. I mean Harry Butts ...what were his parents thinking? what was I thinking using him as a reference?

He was an elder @ a church I interned at. Harry Pitts - a retired pastor in Indiana I know. And then there was poor Mike Hunt; whose name was later changed to Paul because kids said his name too fast. Silly parents ... though I did almost name our first after Patrick Roy (Roy was my grandfather's name and my wife liked Patrick ... I didn't tell her until later it was a famous hockey player too)