Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve always wondered why parents of large families sometimes give all their children names beginning with the first letter, as in, “Hi, I’d like you to meet my kids: Connie, Carla, Christopher, Caligula, Charles, and Conner.” How long has this trend been around?

A: Having all the kids’ names start with the same letter or sound may make them feel connected–to their siblings and the family as a whole–particularly if a child is adopted. It might also be a memory aid for those time (and all parents have them) when they call their children by the wrong name or the dog’s name or can’t remember the right name at all.

There’s a lot of research on how children’s names influence their future. By as young as 4 or 5 months, children tend to prefer their own names to the names of others. And when they start trying to spell words on their own, they tend to use the letters in their first name more often than other letters. Other research indicates that children with certain names are more likely to be successful in life than those with other names. Some researchers have found, for example, that boys with unusual names have more emotional problems than boys with traditional names (Hmm. Does Armin count?) Overall, the best thing you can do for your child is give him or her a name that’s unique but easy to spell, pronounce, and remember.