Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

February 3, 2013

So what's in a first name?

(Continued)

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Why are names so important to our society? An article by parenting.com states many parents believe a name holds the power to shape a child’s self-esteem and identity. Plus, our culture has created a society where first names hold power. Hello Madonna, Gwyneth and Oprah. Furthermore, the article also states that many parents are afraid their children will be stereotyped by their name or teased by others. (That didn’t stop Gwyneth from naming her daughter Apple.) The importance of a name puts parents on a nine-month mission to find the best possible name for their baby. There are plenty of ways to find new names, or revisit the familiar names of the past. There are books, magazines, name games at baby showers and one of the most reliable sources — the U.S. Social Security Administration’s website. You can search popular names by year or decade. In 2011, the most popular names were Sophia and Jacob. But if you’re a child of the ’80s, you might remember another way to pick out baby names. My friends and I would play a version of the old-school fortune teller game M.A.S.H. We followed the same rules, but at the end, we picked out the names for our future children. I was only in the third or fourth grade, but I recognized the importance of a first name. Of course, I picked out names that were popular back then — Brittany, Amber, Jennifer and Amanda. Names that might be outlawed in other countries.

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In the U.S., we have the freedom to select a child’s name without any resistance from the government. (The opinion of your family is a different matter). It is a tiny freedom compared to others, but nevertheless, I appreciate my name even more now. On page two of the Lifestyles is a regular feature I love to read every week. It is the listing of area births in the two Virginias. In today’s society — where Facebook announces a baby’s arrival — there is still something comforting about reading the names of new residents of the two Virginias in the local paper. It is the first time those tiny babies get their name in the newspaper. To baby Troy, Dalton, Linda, Jeremiah, and Eli in today’s edition of Lifestyles and to all new babies, I hope you make the most out of your name.

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com or follow on Twitter @BDTParsell.

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