There may still be such a thing as childhood innocence–but the days of parental innocence are long gone.
As the world’s population continues to grow on a planet with limited resources, parents know their children will be living in a competitive landscape. Before many children are even born, their parents are already busy networking and negotiating a future that will offer their offspring access to the best schools, the best jobs and—in theory—the best lives.
That entire process begins with conceiving/adopting a child, of course–and then the personal branding begins. Everyone asks expectant parents if they’ve considered a name–and it’s a dumb question. Of course they have; in fact, they’ve probably bandied about dozens of options, running them through that emotional Rolodex of acquaintances in their heads and trying to remember whether Cliff was a bully in grade school or Samantha was that girl who got kicked out of high school for smoking weed in gym class.
Choosing a name is a daunting endeavor for parents, because they usually approach the deliberations with airline-loads of personal baggage. Then they’re subjected to the personal baggage of others—from prying mothers-in-law to gruff strangers on the subway.
Life is hard by nature. The last thing anyone wants to do is burden a child with a word that will impede his or her chances at success in life.
And yet, even though this article claims that parents seek names that are original to help their kids feel unique, we can’t help but think that the top names for girls and boys in 2012–Sophia and Aiden, respectfully–aren’t really pushing the envelope too hard (if at all). Sophia is now a three-time returning champ, and Aiden has been the most popular boys name for eight years in a row. (BTW, Sex and the City ended eight years ago. Coincidence? We think not.)
As PR professionals, we can’t really blame them. Names can shape, to varying degrees, the ways in which others perceive us from the day we enter this world. Whether we’re preppies, punks, farmers or day traders, our names serve as indicators of the families that created us, and that—unfair as it may be—can be a powerful force in life. It’s basic advertising (or “personal branding” if you will). But as with many big decisions in life, people tend to embrace the more conservative option when they have a choice.
So we welcome you, Sophias and Aidens. We hope you have lovely lives. At the very least, when it comes to your names, you’ll never be alone.