FLASHBACK to December 1987 and the most popular boy's name was Michael. Seven simple letters, can be shortened to Mike, Mal, Mikey. Understated and easy to remember.
"Hi, my name is.... I know, not even I can believe it!"
Fast forward to 2017. Not content with the simple names of our youth, this year's parents have taken unusual names to the next level.
According to Nameberry, an American website devoted to baby names, 2017's most popular name for boys is... Atticus. Yes, Atticus.
Say that three times over. Now say it fast, across a playground. Now try shortening it. Now scream it down your hallway when you're sleep deprived: "Atticus give your brother back his toys!"
First some facts...
Atticus means "from Attica" and was an important Roman literary figure named for the Greek region around Athens. And according to Nameberry, it made the number one spot mostly as a result of its connection to Atticus Finch, the 'hero' character depicted in Harper Lee's best-selling book, To Kill a Mockingbird. Old School Hollywood actor Gregory Peck's 1962 depiction of Atticus Finch actually earnt him the tag of 'greatest hero of American film'.
The Nameberry peeps also think it has 'trendy' Roman associations and was a popular choice among Hollywood royalty; actors Daniel Baldwin and Isabella Hoffman and Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix named their sons Atticus (albeit back in 1996), and its been on the upward trend since 2004.
Won't someone think of the children?
Leaving aside obvious life challenges like learning to spell and say the quirky name, apparently our modern penchant for the unusual, isn't necessarily a great thing for a kids.
Back in 2012, social researchers found 'strange names' can skew people's perceptions; in fact the more unusual the name, the more likely that person will be regarded as risky or dangerous. Conversely, simple or 'familiar' names engendered a bit more trust. Researchers also found that simple statements were more believable if they were made by a person with a simple name, versus a person with an unusual name.
Think that sounds a bit unfair? There's actually a logical reason according to Eryn Newman a lead researcher at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
"From other research, we know that people think that food additives with easier names are safer than those with difficult names. So we don't think it is a stereotype about foreign names. Instead, we think that the easy names just feel more familiar or easy to process than the difficult names. To the Fred Flintstone parts of our brains, that feeling of ease or familiarity signals something that we can trust, but information that's difficult to process signals danger," she said.
So what's really behind all of our strange baby name choices?
Maryanna Koritess, founder of the The Baby Naming Experience reckons our parenting generation are just attention seekers! "It's the combination of being a creative person (like actors and musicians) and liking the attention that the name gives not only to their child, but to them for choosing it. "When you tell people your child's name, it will lead to a lot of questions--they'll want to know the back story. So it does put the parents in the spotlight."
Although she also puts it down to resentment from our own childhood experience; 'perhaps parents themselves had ordinary names and maybe spent their school life in a room with three or four other children with exactly the same name."
Advice for choosing a baby's name
While we're all for creativity, and would never agree you have to listen to anyone when it comes to naming your kid, how they feel matters more than anything, right? So why not spend a little time considering how your child will feel when they turn up at pre-school clutching bunny and their crazy name.
Here are some cool ideas
Try it out in public: When you're ordering your next coffee, use your baby name and think about how it makes you feel, says Jennifer Moss, author of The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book and founder of BabyNames.com. Ask yourself: what kind of reaction do you get and how does it make you feel?
Approach someone you know with that name and ask them what they did and did not like about it
Write it down. Send yourself an email or a letter addressed to your future baby. Does it look like you want it to on paper?
Think of all the potential nicknames that could be created for the name and ask yourself, if that's really going to work.
- Imagine their personality. Ok! So you're not psychic but there's a good chance your little person will resemble you and your partner, so how'd either of you go through life with the name on your list?