Saturday, 9 February 2013

Naming a child-Trendy or Traditional?

So call me old fashioned but I dislike the trend of names that basically can be googled to reveal when a child was born. The idea of calling my child Banana, Syrup, Kryptonite, Hashtag or SMS freaks me out in a bad way. Do these parents understand the amount of jokes that will be made about their child or the potential opportunities of bullying? However most parents that name their child an unusual name expect their child to grow into the name and have a strong backbone in terms of how they deal with others-okay I get it. You are trying to create a strong personality for your child. But really? That name?

Celebrities of course want their child to be an individual and want the column inches in the print media so an ‘unusual’ name will do the trick. Why would you the average parent want to call your child after a brand? Or worst still your favourite motor? I mean Porsche?! Really?! Apple anyone?

Now trendy names get under my skin; and I make no apology for it. When my little girl was born I had an old Islamic name (similar to a Biblical name) for her. It had meaning, it had grace. It would stick out and would be easy to pronounce. Yes people may not be able to automatically guess her ethnic origin but why should that put me off?

But whilst I had an old name with zest sorted my in-laws based in Pakistan had other ideas. They suggested names that went through me like nails on a chalkboard. I wanted to scream the Hospital room down. I had just gone through a traumatic birth and my in-laws didn’t like my name because ‘a family friends granddaughter has the same name’ and ‘it’s an OLD name’. Oh my apologies Mother-in-Law; I shall consult someone and ask them to revamp a 1430 years plus religion and come up with meaningful names that are new and fit in with your artificial pride. No one really wanted to listen to me and I ended up comprising on my little ones middle name to keep all the backward thinking people happy. It still upsets me that people can make such a pure and innocent moment dark and gloomy.

I did worry about naming my daughter a name that has deep roots in religion; however my worry was short lived. As soon as I told my friends her name everyone was happy and supportive. Those who had no knowledge of Arabic names were able to pronounce her name easily which was what we wanted considering our child is growing up in the West and we cannot expect teachers to learn all accents and develop a knowledge on worldly names.

I did have an interesting conversation with my Mothers cousin. He thought we had named our child after a food company. When we explained the difference he soon changed his tune.

My in-laws were never happy, and still are not. They actually call our little girl by her middle name. I guess that’s them giving me the finger. Oh well.

So what is wrong with old Biblical names or the Quranic version? I mean what’s wrong with the name Eesa (arabic of Jesus). The man stood up to bullies like no ones business. And Musa (arabic of Moses) I mean some on; he parted the red sea with his hands! Okay so it’s mainly boys names and the only biblical girls names that spring to mind are Eve and Mary. But their are plenty of girls names that are steeped in tradition and sound good too.

What about Eva, Maria, Olivia, Penelope, Eve, Belle and Tabitha? All these names are pretty and yes old fashioned but at least they are not names randomly picked from a dictionary. They all have meaning and are either traditional or religious. But that doesn’t make them bad. And there is certainly no need to be ashamed about giving your child such a name.

Luckily during 2012 in the UK we saw a trend in naming that involved giving children names that were indeed old fashioned but pretty/handsome all the same. These included Isabella, Grace and Alice. For boys names such as Harry, Jack and Oliver. These names make me want to swoon over little bundles of joy. Such nice names.

However amongst a large group of Pakistanis the names that are currently trending include Anjalie, Manoor, Zain and Arooj. Both modern, and to some extent are universal and yes indeedy fashionable. Naming children after characters of the latest drama on Geo/Star Plus is also a favourable way of picking a name. It degrading in my opinion for a child to be named after a soap opera character. Now naming your child after a literary hero in my opinion is acceptable if they have a name that is ‘easy to digest’. Harry for example (as in Harry Potter) is fully acceptable. Christian Grey? No thank you; we seriously don’t need our babies reminded of them being a part of a certain ‘baby boom’.

I have been lectured many times on how women in the West blur the lines of religion and don’t understand our religious duties thus we look for a career and want it all. What we do understand is one of the first responsibilities of a Muslim parent is to give their child a pious name that has meaning. A name is something that will follow a child throughout life. They will of course be known by it. Why would you not wish to give your child their first right in favour of a name you’ve heard on TV? This is life; not a screenplay and we are not Shakespeare; any name we give will stick with a child throughout life unless they become a big celebrity and change their name to Tomato Ketchup-well you never know do you?

I just hope my little girl realises how hard it is to name a child with a name that fits their personality before they are actually a fully grown person. Lucky for us our child is growing into her name and we are so grateful for that; her name is not only beautiful but it’s connected to the Revelation of Islam. It’s a big hearty name which we hope our little girl enjoys being called and doesn’t regret the fact we turned down a list of names that would have screamed ‘baby of 2010’. So as we prepare for baby number two; the quest is on for a name that will be fit for them. Any suggestions welcome but if you suggest a name that is trendy, I will not be held responsible for my actions.

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