After Katie Hopkins appeared on This Morning today talking about children’s names I couldn’t help but shake my head in both amusement and disgust. Now I know good TV isn’t made from everybody agreeing and saying nice things, presenters want a reaction from their audience by delivering content that is both controversial and newsworthy, and nothing speakers higher than viewers and feedback reports.
So when the snotty mother-of-three Katie Hopkins told Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield “I think you can tell a great deal from a name. For me there’s certain names that I hear and I think, ‘Urgh’. For me, a name is a shortcut of finding out what class that child comes from and makes me ask, ‘Do I want my children to play with them?‘ As a mother of two I almost clenched a fist in anticipation of the names she was about to reveal. It seems Katie focused her frustration on the self-appointed ‘common’ names Tyler, Charmaine and Chardonnay which left me breathing a sigh of relief.
Is it fair to call another child’s name common? Or to feel slightly grateful that a complete stranger hasn’t flagged your child’s name as unsuitable? As parents we have a hard enough time simply justifying our actions; the age at which we choose to have children, whether or not to breastfeed, striking a balance between childcare and returning to work, the correct diet and exercise for children, a proper education and extra curricular activities. It seems all we do is face criticism as parents, torturing ourselves over each and every decision and forever feeling completely unprepared for the responsibility of another’s life and upbringing. As a mother of two I’ve made important decisions such as healthcare and education for my children and tooed and fro’d up until the last minute as to whether my decision was right. So in my eyes there is no black and white answer to child related matters, it is all a grey area so to speak and common sense and intuition must be used at every turn.
Therefore when Katie ranted about her precious children Poppy, India and Maximilian being discouraged from playing with such common named children I wanted to tut in disgust, until she spoke of their behaviour. A Christian name is something that a child cannot influence, but their behaviour is certainly down to the nature versus nurture debate. If a rock star were to raise their daughter “Princess” on a diet of fizzy drinks, sugary sweets and popcorn then it would come as no surprise to see the child bounce off of the walls, fail to pay attention and disobey the rules. The same can be said for a piano teachers child called “Elliott” who listens to classical music, attends a private school and speaks three languages; surely the essence of the child’s characteristics and behaviour stems from their upbringing and environment and not the syllables of their Christian name.
But I do have to agree with Katie on some levels. She is wrong to call certain children’s names common, because in a world of diversity and division who is anyone to say what is and isn’t common. She has rightly identified a characteristic in a child who has not been given the same care and attention as they should and perhaps behaves in a negative way because of it. Working class or not, the name bares no resemblance to the outcome of their future.
Fellow guest Anna May Mangan argued “This is snort-worthy Katie. I can’t believe that you’re such an insufferable snob. And I can tell you that if you do let one of your little darlings go and play with a working class child, they certainly won’t come home singing ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’. But I have to confess I’m slightly offended by her derogatory stance on the working class, being poor and proud or suffering but still happy.
I can see the point of Anna May, that just because a child is working class, as is the majority of the country, it doesn’t mean to say that they are common or beneath that of a posh child, especially not because of their name. But this argument screams ‘victim’ to me. It’s the cliche of rags to riches, the prince and the pauper, the triumph of good over evil. Children are children, they can only learn from the behaviour that they are taught and the environment in which they are raised.
I believe we can all learn from both sides of this argument here, and smudge the black and white version into a mid-grey which becomes more digestible for us all. Clearly as parents we would hope that our children would try hard at school, remember their manners and make us proud by their behaviour when in the presence of others. Having a rude and obnoxious child over to play from school, smashing the place up and stomping muddy shoes across the bedding would be my worst nightmare, but it has nothing to do with the child’s name and everything to do with the child’s parents and the upbringing they have bestowed upon them.
The most important thing we can do in life is give our children time, to listen to them, encourage them and give them the ability to reason and understand a situation from both perspectives. People have sadly been judged unfairly every second of every day since the beginning of time and there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon. But what we can do is give our children a balanced and well thought out upbringing. To culture our children and raise them in an environment where they see all walks of life, all manners of behaviour and make their own decisions as to what is right.
If one hundred naughty children played in a room together they would only ever know naughty to be normal. Just as if one hundred shy children all sat in silence in a room together they will only ever be shy in life. You need that 3% of quirky, 7% of loud, 10% of eccentric, 8% of daring and so on and so forth to make us all level and well rounded people.
And whether or not there is a correlation between the amount of money in your bank account and your ability to name an unborn child successfully is anyone’s guess. All I know is that my children Millisent and Gabriele are sweet, caring, thoughtful and funny little sweethearts who fill my home with giggles, always manage to somehow get paint and glue in their hair, leave shoe scuffs on the skirting board and pick wild flowers for me on their way home from school. Your children are who you help them to become in life, but discrimination is the elephant in every room.