3. Check out the ‘Most Popular’ Lists—Then Avoid Those Names
“Choosing a name at the top of the ‘Most Popular’ lists is an effective way to sidestep the prejudices against an ‘ethnic’ name,” says Satran, as those names transcend class, cultural and racial boundaries, but she actually advises that mothers-to-be avoid those names.
“One negative effect is that very popular names tie your child to a certain time period, leaving them subject to ageism,” she says. “People will assume that they’re either young, hurting them at the beginning of their career, or old, hurting them later on.”
This effect is easy to understand: If you heard that you were going to meet a woman named Tiffany or Jennifer, would you imagine a woman in her teens, 30’s or 50’s? Chances are, you would guess 30’s … and you’d stand a good chance of being right, as these names were some of the most popular for babies born in the 1980’s.
4. Consider Masculine Names for Girls … But Don’t Give Your Son a Feminine Name.
Satran points to a study by Professor David Figlio of Northwestern University that observed sisters who were both naturally good at math and sciences. “Girls with more androgynous names were more likely to study math and science than girls with more conventionally feminine or frilly names,” she said.
Considering that engineering, science, and computers and mathematics are some of the best majors for steady work and high earnings, a more masculine name for a girl could really pay off in the long run. Additionally, a study from Clemson Universityshowed that women with more traditionally male names made more successful lawyers and judges than women with more feminine names.
The reverse (giving your son a more feminine or androgynous name) proves to be a less successful tactic. Figlio, the same author of the study mentioned above, found in a separate study that boys with names like Ashley, Shannon, Jamie and Courtneywere more likely to have behavioral problems in middle school.
5. Seek Out Positive Initials (or, at the Very Least, Avoid Negative Initials)
“Positive initials are initials that spell out a word that we associate with something good,” says Satran. “This could be something like G.O.D.,” or A.C.E., H.U.G., J.O.Y., etc. Negative initials spell “bad” words, like A.S.S., P.I.G. or D.I.E.
Satran warns parents to avoid negative initials, pointing to studies like the one published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research that showed that males with negative initials died almost 3 years earlier than control subjects, while men with positive initials lived nearly 4.5 years longer. For women, positive initials led to an almost 3.5 year increase in longevity (negative initials were not found to have an effect on female subjects).
6. Don’t Forget About Baby’s Siblings
To ensure that your child has the most harmonious experience growing up, think about how your baby’s name will fit in with his or her siblings’ names. “Names should be distinct enough so that the child feels like an individual but compatible with his siblings’ names,” says Satran. “Jane and John and Joan may be overly matchy-matchy, but having some unity of style and feeling can promote family unity, which is usually a positive.”
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