Are we being subtly narcissistic for naming our baby after us? This is a question that people often think about when we ask them the question why do they name their children after this. To answer this question we have to know a bit about our history and a bit of general psychology as well. As this topic is not specific to Nepal, we will be covering both the western concept as well as Nepali concept as well to find the reason why babies are named after their parents.
For those who are not familiar with this concept, this is a concept of naming where a baby or a child name is either directly derived from their parents (like the daughter of Sushant and Asmita being named Susmita) or named after a person/deity or thing related to their parents (like the son of Prabhakar being named Ujjwall where Prabhakar means the creator of light and Ujjwal means bright). Since there is a significant lack of research into the process of naming babies after parents in Nepal, most of what we say about history is more or less speculation done by the researchers involved.
History in the West
In the west side of the world, back in the days, there was a major imbalance of power within the gender due to which the naming of the babies was also affected to some extent. In those times there was a tradition where the babies were named directly after their parents or earlier ancestors. This practice which is also known as Patronym is known to go back far into the past going as far back as medieval times.
In this system, the child is usually named after the father or one of the earlier ancestors. Although this mostly applied to males, in some parts it also applied to females but for that to happen the female whose name was to be passed down had to come from either royalty or be famous and well known.
In the case of the males, however, this was a bit complicated as this process could be used on any male of any class for the most part with some exceptions. One additional benefit males had was that if their status was high enough in the society the name could be directly transferred from father to son by adding some suffixes like Jr. for Junior or adding the numbers to denote how many times the same name has been used in the family.
Although this may seem strange in our modern times this was seen as a prideful thing in the past as this meant that the family was well off and had enough status for its next generation to be named directly after the parents.
This later changed into something we are more familiar with in modern times as the practice of adding suffixes decreased after the onset of the early 20th century and the parents began to use words that were derived from the names of both of the parents.
It is to be noted that although the practice of naming babies by adding suffixes has declined over the course of the past century it has not yet stopped and we know some famous persons with suffixes like Robert Downey Jr. and Martin Luther King Jr.
The Decline in Naming Babies After The Parents in the West
From what the records show the practice of naming babies after their parents started to decline somewhere between the early to late 1960s. As one can guess the ’60s was not the best of the decade with events like the emergence of the Viet Cong and Martin Luther King opposing the war as well as the change in the entertainment industry with the death of Marylin Monroe, The first super Bowl as well as the invention of the first E-mail. What all of these events did was to make people want more freedom and feel like they are boundless to anything.
One way to express this was by breaking the norm of naming the future generation after themselves and setting an example of the rebellion of some sort towards the old days. With all of the chaos happening in the west and people feeling rebellious of everything, this decade saw an increase in babies with unique names. Why this happened is up to speculation but it is more or less a universal belief that parents of this decade just wanted to make their children feel unique so much so that they even enlisted the help of professional wordsmiths to get this done.
In the Context of Nepal
Now just to get this clear, as we have mentioned not a lot of research has been done into the historical reason why babies were named after their parents in Nepal. But a common belief is that it has something to do with astrology.
There is a belief in astrology that the fate of an individual is related in part to their name and the name acts as a guide to lead them into their destiny. Naturally, the parents want to be a part of their babies’ destiny as well. This is one of the speculations behind why babies are named after their parents back in the days.
Another more acceptable and easier to understand reason which has been speculated is the illiteracy rate in Nepal. Since most Nepalese people were illiterate in the past it was easier to name their babies based on their own name. This had two benefits. One was that the name was easier to remember and another was that if a child is somewhat lost which was rather a common thing back in the days, it was easier to locate their parents through their name in the olden days.
One can see that this is no longer the tradition in Nepal but despite this, we can still see this happening even to this day in Nepal. The major reason behind this is probably because the revolution of giving unique names to the babies came rather late in Nepal.
If you are older than 15 or 20 years of age and know more than two generations of your family you can still see your grandparents being named after their own parents with suffixes. Even a lot of our own parents are named after our grandparents and it is not uncommon to find names with suffixes even to this day.
4 General Reasons for Naming Babies After Their Parents
By now we know more or less guess how babies were named after their parents but now we will discuss the general reasons why this happens. One small reminder is that this part of our article will be focused more on the context of Nepal but since this is more generalized we can apply this to just about anywhere.
1. Naming your babies after yourself creates a subtle but stronger bond
While this is purely psychological and as we all know that every psychology is different, we can say that when we name things after ourselves or things that are close to us, we feel some form of a subtle strong bond with that thing. This is the main reason why some of us named our stuffed animals or toys when we were children.
This same logic and feeling apply to the names of the babies. Since the parents want to be a part of their children’s lives forever, giving their children a name which is derived from them will make them feel like a part of their children a bit more than usual.
Now, this brings us back to the question that we asked at the beginning, Are we being subtly narcissistic for naming our baby after us? Here the answer is No again as by naming our babies after us we are just doing our best to be a part of their lives and this feeling of wanting to be a part of their lives creates a subtle sense of being connected to our children through their names.
2. It saves the child from being made fun of
This is something that all those who have unique names have experienced. Children with unique names get made fun of and it is a fact regardless of wherever you go. One of the main reasons being is that it is easier to relate the unique ones to many unique things that are not relevant in our lives. If a child is named after their parents, we can’t say that they will not be made fun of based on their name but it will certainly decrease.
The main reason for this is that if you make fun of such a name, you will also be making fun of the parents and since we are children we are taught that making fun of elders is disrespecting them and we should always respect our elders. This subtle psychological concept will make the lives of the baby much easier if they are named after their parents
3. It gives the babies a sense of belonging
This is again something that people with unique names have felt more often than not. People with unique names find it harder to fit into a group in the earlier stage of their lives or when they move to a new place. Regardless of what you do and where you do when you are a child, you are more sensitive to the changes around you and easily made fun of. Again this goes back to the same thing of people with unique names being made fun of.
Since they will be made fun of, they will find it harder to fit into any group in their initial phase but if a kid has a familiar name, s/he will be more easily accepted into groups. Parents will always care for their children and they know what happens during childhood. Along with this, they want to reduce the risk of their babies being outcast as well. So for the reason for this, they name their babies after themselves.
4. Easier to remember
One thing most people forget is that unique names are harder to remember and pronounce. People of Nepal are especially familiar with this phenomenon as the children of this generation all have met at least one of our relatives who don’t remember our names or misremember our name as something else or at the very least don’t know how to pronounce our names. This is due to the fact that a lot of them don’t have much education and along with that new and unique names are not familiar to them.
If a parent names their babies after themselves, not only will it be familiar it will also be easier to relate the name of the kid with their parents and see them as a whole family rather than a pair of couples and their kid with a weird name that they can’t remember.
With all of these being said, giving the babies a new and unique name is a practice that has just appeared in the world just a bit more than half a century ago and even less so in Nepal. This is a new practice that parents use to ensure that their babies are remembered as well as a form of expression as well.
With that being said if you are a couple and want to make a baby but your relationship has become stagnant you can follow this up with our list of “10 Best places in Nepal for Couples to Refresh Your Relationship“.