Why do parents saddle their children with weird names?

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Woman, pregnant

What makes parents punish their children with ridiculous names? Names that make them the laughingstock from childhood and through their lives. That is if the children don’t change their names as soon as they can. Sadly, children have no say in the matter. Most importantly, there is nothing wrong with treating a child as a special and unique little snowflake. However, that cannot last forever and there comes a time when being introduced to strangers can have that same little snowflake wishing to melt and disappear.

There is no getting away from the fact that no choice of name would meet the approval of both sides of the family, friends and more. However, parents who want their child to have an original, unique, exclusive, different or rare name would be wise to stop and think about it before going ahead. After all, names lay the groundwork for how people see themselves. Ultimately, it sets a stage for interactions with others throughout life. A ridiculous name could play a significant role in how others perceive a person burdened with a name that had a special meaning for nobody other than the parents.

What brought on this tirade?

The parents of a little Californian boy named X Æ A-12! Yeah, I’m sure you know about SpaceX and Tesla chief, Elon Musk and singer Ginger, who welcomed a sweet little boy earlier this year. Here is the image I see in my mind. I see two people fresh out of ideas in choosing a name for their child. To ensure they get the necessary attention, it has to be sensational. They solved the problem by pulling numbers, letters and symbols from a hat, and voila! Putting them together led them to call their child X Æ A-12, even though nobody will know how to pronounce it.

Are such names legal?

Different states, as different countries, have various ways to remove free reign from parents when choosing names. Although some laws are arbitrary, they exist in the law books. Interestingly, some states have no restrictions. However, names that are too long, contain numbers or obscenities are prohibited in other states.

Darling little X Æ A-12 was born in California, a state typically regarded as laid back, but with strict name-related laws. The Golden State mandates that names cannot contain letters other than the English alphabet’s 26 letters. Although appropriate punctuation is allowed, accents and diacritical marks such as José, are not allowed.

Names, tag
Dash, Dash, Dash…

How can you get past the laws?

How, might you ask, does Elon Musk get away with it? California allows birth certificates without names. That’s right; you can fill the forms out with single dashes in place of first, last and middle names. Reportedly, dashes are what Grimes and Elon chose to put on their son’s birth certificate.

Can a person go through life without a legal name?

There is no law against having nothing but dashes on your birth certificate.  X Æ A-12 will never be arrested and charged for a crime of going legally nameless. However, problems may arise when things like a passport, Social Security number and driver’s license come into play. His parents might follow the lead of the Beckhams. David and Victoria got away with spelling out Harper Seven, the name they chose for their daughter.

Other name restrictions in the U.S.

Due to software restrictions in the record-keeping systems in Arkansas, a list of prohibited names is available for parents. These include, among others, Unk, Test, Baby Boy, Void and Infant. Similarly, New Hampshire restricts the parents to no more than 100 characters for first, middle and last names. In contrast, parents in Hawaii are free to include symbols when naming their children. However, they must include one number for each symbol used.

Court decisions are often strange

A New Jersey court had no problems with parents whose chosen name for their child was Adolf Hitler. However, a judge in Tennessee ordered a couple to change their child’s name from Messiah to Martin. The judge’s ruling that only Jesus Christ earned the title Messiah was later overturned. Parents in Georgia found the court objecting against them using the name Allah for their daughter’s surname. Reportedly, the court had nothing against them using the word Allah, but their problem was that neither the mother nor the father’s last name was Allah.

Strange names chosen by celebrities

There was no shortage of competition for Elon and Ginger in choosing a name that will have peoples’ tongues wagging. For example, the American magician Penn Jillette chose Moxie CrimeFighter as the name for his child. Similarly, Nicolas Cage named his son Kal-El Coppola. In this case, the strangeness is in the first name of Kal-El, and not the surname. Born a Coppola, Nicolas later changed his name to Cage.

How do European countries deal with names?

Parents in Denmark have to choose a name from an approved list. Furthermore, special permission is necessary for using unlisted names. The German authorities say seagulls are pests and nuisances. Therefore, parents may not name a child Möwe, which means seagull. Similarly, the name Stone is forbidden because a stone is an object with which a child cannot identify. French parents may not choose names that would cause mockeries of their children, such as Mini Cooper and Prince William.

In conclusion, strange name choices will always provide something to talk about. Right now, I can think of two current rugby players named Wilson Rowntree and Harry Potter!

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