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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Same Traditional Middle Name for Two Brothers

Alicia writes:
I have a question about middle name etiquette.
We had our first son November 2007, and named him Browen Montieth Binkle. The reason his middle name is "Monteith" is because it was my husbands Grandmothers maiden name, which was then passed onto my husbands father as a middle name, which was then passed on to my husband as his middle name. So, we only found it fit to keep the honour and tradition going and use it as our son's middle name. We are soon due with our 2nd son (July 23/10) and we weren't sure if we should give him the same middle name (Monteith) since he is also a "Binkle" boy, or if we should go another route and make his middle name after my father - which would be Michael?
I would LOVE to hear what you think of this particular situation.

Is there family protocol you can follow? That is, does your husband's father have any brothers and/or does your husband have any brothers, and if so, did those brothers get the same middle name?

If there's no precedent to follow, I suggest thinking about the precedent you'll be setting. Of course none of your descendants will HAVE to do it the same way, but with three generations doing it so far, there will be some not-insignificant pressure to continue it. It seems to me that it's best to make the tradition LIGHT, so that no one gets overwhelmed and says "Let's just forget the whole thing!" In which case I recommend making the tradition that the firstborn son gets the middle name Monteith, and that's all.

I like your idea of using another family name as the middle name: that doesn't put any pressure to continue it, especially since it isn't parallel to the other tradition (that is, you're not now going to use the mother's grandmother's maiden name), but it gives each child a significant family-meaning name.

What does everyone else think?


Susan said...

I think you could do as you please without any problem. Too late for this suggestion, but another way a family might handle it would be to use the family name as a second middle name for every boy (and/or girl for that matter), as in "Nathan Edward Montieth Binkle," "Ivy Louise Montieth Binkle," and so on. That reduces any pressure on future generations by altering the tradition as well as allowing the parents to savor a favorite family name for each child.

Fran said...

Just picture how proud and honored and happy your father will be when you tell him your son's name and you will have your answer!!

Bethtastic said...

My brothers have the same middle name. Ronald. It's our Dad's name. Brent Ronald and Brad Ronald. My Dad's name is Ronald John. His Dad was John - with no middle name, because he's Ukranian, and apparently his family did'nt do middles.

Anyway, the situation is slightly different, but still brothers with the same middle.

They like it. They like that they both have that connection to Dad specifically.

In the end, I agree with Susan. Do what you prefer. I don't think you can go wrong either way. Since there are lots of perks that go with the first-born status, I like giving both sons the traditional Binkle middle.

Jenn said...

I think if you do one family name, or one name with meaning to you, I think it's nice to make your subsequent children's names also meaningful or family connected. (Rather than "we just liked it") That way each child feels like they have something special. Since both of your options do that, I don't think you can go wrong.

Suzanne said...

I love the idea of using your father's name.

Our first baby is Evan Richard III, because we wanted to continue the tradition and, actually, as far as legacy names go Evan was really nice. But it means my side of the family was totally cut out of the naming options. So if our second child (due on Christmas) is a boy I'm using two names from my side - my maternal grandfather's name and my paternal uncle's name. I feel very strongly that if the first child has a family name subsequent children should too. Just not necessarily the same one.

Jodi said...

I agree with Swistle about keeping the tradition "light"! I, too, would vote for a different family middle for your second son.

As much as I love the idea of using Michael for your father, it *sounds* too much like a filler middle name next to big brother's family name. I wondered if there are any family surnames that might honor your dad just as nicely? Perhaps his mom's maiden name or even your own maiden name? I always think a surname in the middle sounds regal on a boy. Just a thought.

beyond said...

My husband and his two brothers all have the same middle name. It's not a family name, nor is it a name that has a special meaning for their mother; it's just a name that she liked. I've always thought this to be vaguely strange.
I like the idea of another family name for your second son, but you really can't go wrong with any name as long as it has deep significance for you.

Rayne of Terror said...

I like choosing your dad's name or maybe a maiden name on your side for your second son's middle name.

My great uncle and his brothers had the same FIRST name, Joseph, and all had different middle names that they were called by.