Childrearing

I Refuse To Read A Parenting Book By Anyone Who Names His Kid This

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9781476712659_p0_v2_s260x420There is no lack of parenting advice out there. Ask a question and you will find that hordes of authors have lined up to answer it. Sociologist by training Dalton Conley agrees, but still thought he would give the parenting advice genre a stab with his new book, Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know about the Science of Raising Children but Were Too Exhausted to Ask. It should be called, If You’re Wealthy Enough To Afford Therapy For Your Kids You Can Do Whatever You Want.

Conley told NPR he wants to make sense of the literature out there and teach them how to apply it to their kids. I’m admitting now that I am a person who rushes to judgment, because once I saw what he named his children I was done:

“Our daughter is named E,” he says. The “E” didn’t stand for anything, but the idea was to let his daughter pick her name when she was older. Instead, she chose to stick with E and he says she clings to it. His son’s name is even more conceptually bold.

“We went with Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles, and two of those he picked himself at age 3,” he says.

To quote my co-worker when I dropped this quote into our daily meeting, “What the fuck is happening?” I have no idea.

Conley’s research has led him to believe that children with unique names “were disproportionately represented in Who’s Who and had more socioeconomic success.” He also believes having ridiculous names teaches children impulse control, because they are constantly having to bite their tongues and/or not kick the shit out of everyone who is making fun of them: “You learn to bite your tongue,” he says. “You learn to … unfurl your fists and not react when people are taken aback a little bit by your name or might tease you.”

Conley also believes in something he calls “front stage and backstage behavior.” He describes this by saying that kids need an “outlet” and should be able to say things to you in the privacy of your own home like, “Why the fuck did you give me this stupid name you yuppie douche?” as long as they recognize that they should not talk to you like this in public: “Conley says he allows his kids to vent and curse at him in private as long as they’re doing their homework, for instance. But in public, of course, they need to be totally respectful.”

I do like the fact that he is wiling to admit when things don’t work. He started bribing his kids to do things like finish their homework and now nothing gets done unless there is some sort of quid pro quo going on: “Now everything in our household, at least for my son again, is a market economy. So if I ask him to do anything extra, it’s like ‘OK well, how much is that?'” he says. “I basically just embrace that at this point … but I would say that I would have preferred that my household not turn into a Turkish Bazaar.”

So, give your kids absurd names, let them swear at you in the privacy of your own home and pay them to do stuff. If these are the three pieces of advice he chose to share in his NPR interview, I think I’ll skip the rest.

(photo: Barnes and Noble)