Name Shame


When I was pregnant, one of the most exciting things I did was to choose a name for my baby. My husband and I had some very specific criterion for the name. We wanted one that was short and easy to pronounce by both Indians and westerners. We wanted the word to have meaning in either Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu or Bengali. We also wanted the word to mean something special to us. With all these constraints, choosing a name was challenging but fun. Finally, when we found one we both liked, it was quite satisfying.

So when we came across this article about the naming constraints imposed on parents by the government of Denmark, it made me a little sad. It seemed to me that the government was stealing away something magical from parents.

Yes I know Shakespeare said that A rose by any other name smells as sweet. But children are not roses. They identify with their names. Names can impact and shape their personality, though not always in the most obvious way. For example, having an unusual name may make one feel special and motivate one to explore uncharted territories.

Some names can have a negative impact too. Some kids are bullied for having strange or different names. It may make them depressed or determined. But the government of Denmark thinks parents having the freedom to name their children as they like is not worth the risk of them being bullied.

Although their hearts may be in the right place, I don’t think this is a good approach. Having common names shared by everyone creates uniformity and that is one way to reduce bullying, but not the right way. The right way, in my opinion, is to teach kids to embrace diversity.

What do you think? What was your experience with naming your child?


You can read Lavanya's take here.

Tags: laws, baby, Nina and Nana, parenting, values, humor, family