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Gender specific names vs. Neutral names

One of the first questions that a parent is faced when trying to name a child is whether to use a gender neutral name or a gender specific name. Neither is better that the other, but rather both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. So, which one is right for you?

These days there are many parents that prefer to give their children gender neutral names, while others rather stick to the gender specific name. The benefit of gender specific names is that they are traditional. They are safe and comfortable. Just by the name, people will instinctively know whether the child is a boy or a girl. This make people feel safe and secure.

However, this is also the reason why many people are now opting to use gender neutral names. The proponents of neutral names claim that gender specific names reinforce the traditional gender roles, where the girls are supported to be seen as soft, frail, and girly, whereas the boys are supposed to be rough, tough, and masculine. There are many parents who are now trying to avoid pigeonholing their kids into these stereotypes.

In fact, research shows that girls with gender neutral names are more likely to study mathematics and science rather than girls with traditional names. Girls with gender neutral names feel that they are accepted to be more equal to boys in professional environments rather than girls with traditional names. Of course, they are still not considered to be completely equal.

Still, many girls do not like it when they are mistaken for boys. They are also faced with the “oh, I though that was a boy’s name” remark quite often. Some girls have reported being bullied, teased, and harassed because of their names. Things only get worse for boys. Boys with gender neutral names are often bullied or teased at school and the playground. The chances of being bullied or teased go up significantly when there is a girl in the class or group with the same name. This increases the chances of the boy to grow up with a complex, or feel ashamed of his name. Boys with gender neutral names may also face challenges later in life, in a professional situation, where they may be mistaken for girls.

So, gender specific names or gender neutral names, you decide. But before you do, take all things into consideration such the impact on the child while growing up and when grown up. After that, remind yourself that a baby’s name is between the baby and the parent. If you love the name, if your significant other loves the name, and if you think the baby will love their name, then nothing else matters. Everything else will fall into place.