When a social phenomenon becomes so widespread that everyone knows about it, it’s time for the papers to step in and cover it. In this case, the papers have decided it’s time to let us know that many parents are attempting to “reserve” their baby names in advance.
For some, it’s a simple matter of just telling everyone they know what name they have chosen for their impending offspring, with an implicit or express command that nobody else having a baby can use it.
Others send out official notices, get the name embossed and embroidered on everything they can find, and open a Facebook and Twitter account in their unborn baby’s name.
Social researcher Mark McCrindle (from the same company who did the national baby name popularity chart) says that this all part of the movement of wishing our children to be “unique”, and that naming then becomes akin to getting your own “brand”.
Parenting author Maggie Dent notes that this is a step away from tradition. In the past, parents kept their baby names a secret, and often didn’t name a baby until several days after birth, in an effort to get a feel for which name would suit them best.
Swinburne sociology lecturer Deb Dempsey, who is doing a study on baby naming, says that while many parents are still keeping the name a secret, others are going public, and even involving others in the decision, such as asking people on the Internet to help them choose between several different names.
Without disagreeing with any of these people, I would say that this is part of a greater trend – of growing acceptance toward pregnancy and children. While once women were expected to hide their pregnant body under smocks, and to leave their children at home with a babysitter if they went out, we now feel comfortable showing off our baby bumps (celebrities even show their pregnant bodies naked in magazines), and we can take our small children to restaurants and breastfeed in public.
In the same way, we feel more comfortable talking about pregnancy, and that includes sharing the baby names we are thinking of, and posting our ultrasounds on social media. We feel able to ask other people for their opinions, and post polls as to whether they like Madison or Kayla better.
When it comes to actually staking a claim on a name and forbidding others to use it, even if the name is an extremely common one, such as Cooper, or even if the person isn’t yet pregnant (something the papers didn’t cover), then I think that goes a bit past just wanting to be open and share.
A buzz word that gets thrown around a lot when discussing modern life is entitlement, and it is hard for me to understand how you can believe that you deserve the right to claim exclusive rights to any name in advance without a fairly decent-sized sense of self-entitlement attached. I am curious as to where that sense of self-entitlement comes from.