Baby Names Are Getting Even Worse – Deadspin

 I am only slightly embarrassed to say that while my wife and I were busy explaining to friends and strangers that the answer to their “When are you having children?” questions was “Never”, we also brainstormed names for the little genius. I liked Romie Lane, the name of a street in a Steinbeck novel, East of Eden I think. She liked the sound of Roma. What can I say? There is either some deep psychological well to drill here, or we are simply pretentious semi-literates that enjoy naming things. The car, for example, is named Bess, after my wife’s grandmother, who had similarly sturdy, wide hips and a heavy backend. We also unapologetically and ruthlessly offer name suggestions for friends’ companies, boats, and especially babies. Yes, we know we are annoying.

At least none of our baby branding ideas were highlighted as ludicrous in Drew Magary’s semi-hilarious story: American Baby Names Are Somehow Getting Even Worse.

Now, you and I both know that Americans of all stripes have grown progressively worse at naming children. It’s not enough for your child to have a normal name and then try to stand out on their own merits down the road. No, no, no. Every parent now wants every child to be unique and special from the moment the doctor wipes all the amniotic fluid off of it, even though all babies look alike and contribute nothing to society.

There’s a bizarre assumption that if you can make your child’s name unique, the child will be unique. And that’s NEVER the case. Chances are, if you name your kid Braxlee, he or she is gonna end up bent over the sink in the back of a TGI Friday’s, offering tail in exchange for a better skim off the tip pool.

Magary seems to have a point, and I’ll bet that baby names become even more bizarre as expectant parents choose names based on the availability of their dot-com address on GoDaddy. (As I write this I think I might finally understand the inspiration for the name of that company…)

 

 

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Childfreedom: More Happiness

It may be my imagination, but my friends without kids just seem happier than those saddled with parental responsibilities. Parents certainly have more responsibilities than those of us not saddled with all the daily feeding, changing, driving, homework helping and the like so it makes sense that they are more tired and squeezed for time.

Then again, those of us without kids often tend to take on more (work, volunteer activities, friendships, social obligations and so on) and people expect more of us precisely because they expect us to have more free time without the burdens of childrearing. The end result according to research? Those of us without kids are happier. Childfreedom equals happiness. Having that extra time to ourselves (or to give to others as we choose) really does seem to pay off, apparently.

A panegyric on the happiness and

A panegyric on the happiness and “Pleasures of the Married State”, published in London ca. 1780. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Independent studies show that married people are happier than singles, but married couples without children are the most content. When couples do have children, their happiness increases dramatically once their children grow up and leave home. This is all revealed in a three-part PBS series called: “This Emmotional Life.” In it, narrator, writer and professor of psychology at Harvard, Daniel Gilbert explores the endless quest of the human species to find happiness. The series features various celebrities and non-celebrities (everyday people, scientists, experts in the field of psychology and the like) with their thoughts and studies on the search for a happy life. Daniel Gilbert explains some of these findings in an NPR interview below:

“Mr. GILBERT: It really is true that if you look at the happiness of people’s marital satisfaction over time, you’ll see that the day people get married, they’re extremely satisfied with the relationship, and it kind of goes downhill from there. Relationships usually are the gateway to hard work: the hard work of raising children, establishing a household, et cetera. The good news is it begins to go up again once children have grown, and according to most studies, it reaches its initial level, or at least very close to it, when the children leave home.

… without children, your marriage might be happier in the sense that you would report more daily satisfaction. People are surprised to find this, because they value and love their children above all things. How can my children not be a source of great happiness?

… although children are a source of happiness, they tend to crowd out other sources of happiness. So people who have a first child, often find in the first year or two that they’re not doing many of the other things that used to make them happy. They don’t go to the movies or the theater. They don’t go out with their friends. They don’t make love with their spouse. All the things that used to be sources of happiness are no longer there.

So yes, the child is a source of happiness. On the same hand, it may be that average happiness goes down.” (NPR)

What do you think? Do your childless friends and acquaintances seem happier to you? Does childfreedom equal happiness?

Here’s a sneak peak at “This Emmotional Life.”

Margaret Cho’s Controversal Baby Joke

Did Margaret Cho, the famously outspoken comedian, go too far this time?

English: Margaret Cho in 2009

From Perzitos.com:

Margaret Cho caused some serious eye-brow raising earlier this week on Watch What Happens Live when she made a seriously offensive joke regarding her fear of having a specially-abled baby now that she’s getting older, going as far to say “I get worried about that, as an older woman, I don’t necessarily want to have a retard baby.”

Thankfully, she has come to here senses, and released the following statement:

I’m so sorry for my insanely offensive comments on Watch What Happens. I certainly didn’t mean to hurt anyone, and this is a good lesson for me to make sure I’m aware of the power of negative speech. Please forgive my ignorance as I have little experience with children and mothers and I’m often likely to act very childish myself. All my love and apologies to anyone who may have been hurt by my statements and my inexcusable remarks.

Kids’ Manners Matter

365 Manners Kids Should Know by Sheryl Eberly (Image via Rainbow Resource)Is it only my observation or have manners largely gone by the wayside these days? Moreover, how many really well mannered children do we all know?

Okay, so I’m giving away my northern location because generally, the kids I know from the South could teach the northern ones quite a bit when it comes to manners. However, It follows that if many adults aren’t too familiar or interested in basic etiquette, then their children won’t be either.

Are you tired of rude children in restaurants, airplanes, theaters and the like? Do you cringe when your favorite child rips opens your thoughtfully chosen gift with little notice of you or a thanks for the gesture?

Fear not. For those of you who long for a more mannered world, Sheryl Eberly has created the book, 365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children Learn Etiquette. It’s pure Genius. Has anyone attempted this before? If this kind of book has been offered in the past, it unlikely covered the extensive topics that Ms. Eberly offers. In this information-packed book, the author, a former employee of First Lady Nancy Reagan (well, no wonder – that explains some of her expertise), tackles every sticky etiquette scenario one could ponder.

Ms. Eberly’s advice roams near and far.

  • Anticipating the needs of others
  • Neighborly manners, sloppy language
  • Active listening
  • Writing letters with care
  • Everyday table manners
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion
  • The valued teammate
  • Be a model American
  • Be considerate to people with special needs

And my favorite, Environmental Manners, because “taking care of the environment is everybody’s responsibility.”

She also demystifies “netiquette,” (net etiquette) museum, travel, restaurant, wedding and even funeral behavior. In doing so she goes a step further by breaking down the important details of religious holidays and ceremonies in every denomination. Not sure how children should act at a Ramadan or Kwanza celebration or at a Mormon wedding? She has all the answers. It’s clearly as much for the parents’ education as for their offspring.

Good manners, the author advises should begin at the onset of a child’s birth and “involve more than simply knowing the rules about forks and finger bowls in formal situations – they include good attitudes, respect, and consideration for others every day. If we want our children to be confident, poised adults, we need to teach them the rules of etiquette today. Knowing proper behavior is an essential part of being prepared for life.”

Well said.

The book is informative, never preachy, and a great gift for parents (their children will thank you years from now, or maybe sooner if the lessons are well learned). The only question is how do we give this book without offending parents, without them thinking we’re suggesting their kids are ill-behaved? You’ll have to figure that out. In the meantime I’m passing it around to all my favorite parents. Thank you, Ms. Eberly, from the non-parents of the world.

“Where do your idle hands go while eating in America?” I quickly quiz my nephews on a regular basis.

“On your lap,” they sullenly respond. They’ve been through this before.

“And what if you’re in France?” I fire back.

“Wrists resting on edge of the table, fingers off” they dutifully retort. They are half German and part French so I have always found it important for them to distinguish manners in different cultures.

“What about your hands in Africa?” A harder question they don’t get asked as often, but they find the answer.

“The left hand never touches food, especially communal food. It’s reserved for the bathroom.”

Do they need to know this? Well, maybe if they live in Africa like me one day, or if they visit there, they will not offend. I am proud. At least their table manners are well rehearsed, but I have more work to do.

“Why do we need to know this?” they will occasionally ask.

“Because good manners are important and because you will dine with Presidents and Heads of State some day,” I proclaim. “Do you want to be forever embarrassed because you ate with the wrong fork?” They are not convinced but oblige their silly aunt nonetheless.

“How do you know we’ll ever meet Presidents?” they ask.

“Oh, I know these things.” And we leave it at that.

I suppose this book was just destined to find me.

Thanksgiving

Thankful for sunsets in Costa Rica

There are many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving and being child-free is just one of them…well maybe more than one.

1. I am thankful that I live in a time and a place that doesn’t require that I reproduce to fit into society.

2. I am thankful that my husband also believes that having children is a choice. And grateful that he chooses not to have children.

3. I am thankful for my godchildren. I am grateful for my friends and family who have children and share them with me. And for the friends and family who understand that I don’t want children but love and support me anyway.

4. I am grateful for children and the influence they have on my art and my writing.

5. I am grateful that my choice not to have children has given me many opportunities that include travel, and time to create art.

6. I am grateful for my health and the heath of loved ones and their children.

7. I am grateful that I have the freedom to express my opinion. And I am grateful when others chime in.

8. I am grateful that I have choices.

9. I am grateful that I have love in my life.

10. I am grateful that my life and family is complete without children. And I am thankful that I am child-free.