Latest generation's names are a good start at setting it apart

December 17, 2008 | By Rob Simon

I owe you, Queenie! That’s my nickname for Ann Miller of WMFD-TV, who gave me the idea for this column, which is about names.

And then some.

The News Journal ran a sweet extra called “That’s My Baby” recently.

There were a couple hundred photos of kids from the age of a few weeks up to pre-school.

Babies are a delight to look at, but what caught Queenie’s eye were the names.

In my long-ago day the most popular names for babies were John and Mary.

Of the top 10 baby pictures selected, only a few had what might be considered traditional first names.

The winning child’s first name was Miah. Some other first names from the top 10 list included Ayden, Ra’Kyah and Finnegan.

Quite a few first names jumped off the pages at me.

Here’s a partial list: Plessie, Kayleigh, Xadrain, Vegas, Blade, Azuabam, J’Shawn and Heaven.

Or how about Atticus, Chloee, Quistis, Dustiny, Dockquice, Trenity, Blaze, Cyntara and Alegacy?

Moving on we come to Elyse, Breyonia, Adviney, Xander, Ray Ray, Indago, Malynki, Ahzirrea and Jersee.

The tiny charmer who lives next door is Zoey.

It’s pretty obvious new parents are giving their children’s names a lot of creative thought.

It’s equally obvious John and Mary are names that have found our cultural attic.

Of equal interest to me is these children represent the first birth cohorts of an entirely new generation of Americans.

It’s a generation that has yet to acquire a moniker.

The last of the “Lost” generation born between 1883 and 1900 are gone now.

The “G.I.” generation born between 1901 and 1924 are fading fast. These are the people sometimes referred to as “The Greatest Generation.”

The “Silent” generation born between 1925 and 1942 (this writer included) is mostly retired.

The “Baby Boomers,” who came between 1943 and 1960, are running the world now.

"Generation X” who followed them from 1961 to 1981, are starting to show some gray.

Then come the “Millennials,” 1982 to 2002.

This group, now having their first children and giving them the above different names, is special.

They are the subject of a book written in 2000 by Neil Howe and William Strauss called “Millennnials Rising—The Next Great Generation.”

Howe and Strauss created this whole generational thing with their first book, “'Generations,” which was published in 1991.

The subtitle of that book was “The History of America’s Future 1584 to 2069."

The authors traced the American generation pattern to the beginning. They claim our generations come in cycles.

On a larger scale these were the Colonial, Revolutionary, Civil War, Great Power and Millennial cycles. As a member of the “Silent” crew, I was born at the end of the Great Power Cycle.

The current “Millennial” crew may not be the end of the current cycle. Those babies in the “That’s My Baby” tab Dec. 6, may be the final product of this current cycle.

At any rate, each generational cycle has four and sometimes just three generations inside it.

Howe and Strauss say first generation is almost always idealist. The second is reactive and the third is civic in nature. A fourth is adaptive.

So far, looking at our experience in living through the era of the Boomers, Generation X and the Millennnials, these ideas seem to be holding up pretty well.

I thought “Generations” was one of the best books I ever read. Which is why I back-ordered to pick up “Millennials Rising.”

Howe and Strauss think the kids born between 1982 and 2002 are very special and will, once in charge, change things for the better.

This is a generation that has some respect for American values and very little of the nastiness we experience with the last “Me” generation.

But remember, it was the “Me” bunch that gave birth to the Millennials.

Howe and Strauss believe Boomers and Gen Xers wanted those children and planned to raise them to become the next great generation. Cultural changes don’t just happen, the authors say.

At any rate, my grandchildren, John and Heather Brady, are Millennials and real achievers.

I look at them and believe what Howe and Strauss are saying.

This brings me to all those tiny faces in that News Journal tab.

Here is the next generation which, if it’s part of the Millennial cycle, will be adaptive in nature. Or like my own crew from the Silent generation.

I don’t know how they are going to turn out, but I do know they will have the most interesting set of first names I’ve ever seen.


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