Thursday, December 17, 2009

In Perspective - The ABCs of Naming Your Child

By Rodney Hays
If you are having a baby this year (or buying a dog for Christmas), you need to read this column.

Naming something ---whether it's a child, a dog, a fish or a car -- is one of the most important acts any parent, guardian, pet lover or vehicle owner can do.

I did a quick search for the most popular names for 2008 on the Internet -- The Source of All Truth. It turns out the Social Security Administration (the agency that regulates the U.S. National Lacrosse team) has kept up with the most popular names for some time.

The top boy's name for 2008 -- the most recent year available -- is, get ready for it, Jacob, followed closely by Michael, Ethan, Joseph and Daniel. The top five girl's names were Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison and Ava.

I thought that was pretty cool. These are all good names. A child's name is important on so many different levels.

My name is Rodney and has been for most of my life (for a brief period of time, I was known as Prisoner No. 438724). My mother named me after a character on "Peyton Place" played by Ryan O'Neal called "Clem."

Haha. That's a joke. Of course, everyone knows Ryan O'Neal actually played Rodney Harrington on the now famous show, which also starred Paul Langton as Leslie Harrington. My mom has told me how much she liked the show and how much she was in love with Ryan O'Neal (who wouldn't be?). She also named my younger brother Ryan after, of course, Paul Langton.

Another joke, he was named after Ryan O'Neal. My youngest brother was named Russell. He wasn't named after anybody that I know of, we just needed another name that started with a "R" and Radcliffe seemed a bit stuffy.

Rodney was actually a pretty popular boy's name in the 1960s. In 1966, it was the 35th most popular name. It finished right behind Douglas, Matthew and Tootsie.

Since coming up with a name is so important, I've compiled a list of ABCs to remember when naming your child.

A) Avoid Silent Letters - There's nothing more frustrating for a child than to have to spell his or her name repeatedly for operators on the Home Shopping Network.

Operator: So you say your name starts with a "P"?

PKIORK: Actually it's P-K-I-O-R-K. And it's pronounced "Kirk."

Operator: Oh. I see. Did your parents ...

Pkiork: Yes, they did use massive amounts of drugs.

B) Be Careful of Biblical Names -- Most biblical names are solid choices for young people -- David and Moses come to mind. Mary and Rebecca are solid choices. There are, however, many pitfalls to avoid when coming up with a good strong biblical name. For boys, it is best to avoid the names Nimrod and Pontius Pilate. As for the little girls, they might struggle with names like Exodus or Rahab the Harlot.

C) Cut Out the Hyphens -- Hyphen use is not a good idea when it comes to child names. John Mark is fine. Jean-Marc is not. Ann Marie is fine. Half-Wit should be eliminated.

D) Don't Make the Bully's Job Easy. When considering names, be careful not to name your young son something that people will make fun of the rest of his life. Names like Michael, Jacob, Rocky and Thor are all very strong sounding names that will make most of your son's classmates bow with fear. Try to steer away from boy names like Softy, Accident and Tabitha.

Girl's names should also be well thought out based on the rule of you-know-how-mean-kids-can-be. If you want to raise daughters who aren't scarred for life keep away from names like Pebbles (or any cartoon name), Trixie (or any stripper name) and Peaches (or any edible name). Also if your last name happens to be Lee, stay clear of "Ug" and "Home."

These easy to use rules will make naming your children a fun exercise and could help eliminate a potential problem for your child and will probably save thousands of dollars in therapy.

Another important thing to remember is meanings of names are very important. My name means "famous one" or "famous one's island." I guess my mom was pretty prophetic. I'm just glad she didn't stick with her first choice for my name: Tootsie.

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