January 23, 2017

Horse 2215 - Parental Advice For New Parents By Someone Who Has No Idea About Parenting

At this moment in time I know of at least three sets of prospective parents, who are looking forward to the arrival of their first child. As I have the social tact of a sledgehammer meeting an egg, I shall now offer some unsolicited advice.

If I seem like the most unqualified person in the world to give out parenting advice, you'd be right. I don't have any children of my own and to be perfectly honest, the thought that it I did have children, that they'd both inherit a host of my neuroses and genetics, is too scary to contemplate. The world does not need that sort of punishment inflicted upon it.

Having said that, there is one area in which I feel more than qualified to dispense advice but only because I've seen the results, time and time again. That area is one of the very first decisions that should be made upon the arrival of a baby and I think should be made beforehand. That is deciding upon the baby's name.

My advice is legion, for it is many.

1. Don't spell the name differently.

Your child will be unique; that much is obvious. They will live in a different era to you and they will more than likely have experiences which you can not even imagine. The world will change several times over and by the time that they are old, it will look so different that it will be unrecognisable to you. Not that you'll mind much by that stage because you will probably be dead.

The one constant throughout your child's life will be their name. It will appear on every important document that they ever receive and on every piece of mail, email and other correspondence that they get. This being true, at some point they will have to give their name out on the telephone or in person. If they have to spend at least threescore years having to spell it out for people because you decided to spell it weirdly, then you have failed in your job at naming them.

Please think ahead of time before you unleash the weird spellings of Mychal, Genifur or Kiileegh into the world. Moreover, please think about the number of times in their lifetime that they will be needlessly forced to spell their name out to people because you decided to inadvertently punish them forever.

2. Don't be fashionable.

At the turn of the century, there were lots of baby girls who were being named Britney. The name achieved worldwide fame thanks to one particular songstress and consequently, I now prepare the Tax Returns of 17-22 year old ladies who are being  given extra income as the result of being old enough to be a useful tax advantage for their parents.

I guess that this is similar to the echo boom of children that I am a cohort member of. In several classes in school, I was one of three or four Andrews. This probably helps to explain why I was given several nicknames at various times, as a way of distinguishing between us. Having been a child with the same first name as multiple others, I can tell you from first hand experience that it gets kind of wearisome at times when you hear your name but it isn't for you. That sort of thing is like Pavlovian random reinforcement.

3. Think about the year 2077.

Probably everyone who is reading this (including myself), in the year 2077 will be dead. If I should survive that long, then I will be 99 years old and incapable of reading this anyway. However, a child born in 2017 will be 60 years old and that poses an interesting problem.
A name that sounds cute at age 3 might sound really strange on a 60 year old person. The name Carly is fine for someone who is seven years old but 66 year old Professor Carly who is working as a molecular biologist will still be ruing the decision made by their parents more than six decades ago. Also, a name which sounds odd for a small child might be completely respectable and even wondrous for an adult. Benedict Cumberbatch is possibly the single most brilliant name for any human being in existence today.

4. Play with rhythm.

Test a prospective name to see how it sounds. Jacqueline Jones, Robert Atherton, Antonia Pestalozzi, are all names that sound like proper people. A name which sounds nice by itself, might not work with your surname. Beware though, your daughter might marry someone who has a name which just doesn't fit. Unfortunately, you can't do anything about that.

5. Don't name your son Judas.

If you are Spanish then the name Jesus doesn't sound all that strange but in English it's something which you probably shouldn't do. Likewise, there are some names like Judas or even Adolf which have been tainted so much that even their utterance brings about unpleasant connotations.

6. Don't name your daughter Chloe.

Just don't. It sounds like a dog's name. Sorry to all the Chloes in the world but I instantly think of a big fluffy sheepdog.

7. Break any or all these rules as necessary.

It's your child. Who am I to tell you how to look live your life? If you want to give your child some weird name because it means "lovely afternoon" in a foreign language, then do so. I'd still advise you not to name your new daughter Chloe.

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