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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Okay to Use Part of a Child's Babyhood Nickname as a Subsequent Child's Name?

B. writes:
My husband and I are going round and round discussing whether or not it is appropriate to use the name we like for our future son. Our first son had multiple nicknames and was called "Buster Malone" for about the first two years of his life. Malone is not even CLOSE to his real name in style or rhythm and only shares one letter with his real name. Over time that nickname has drifted away and hasn't been used at all in several years. My husband and I often reminisce about the old nicknames our kids picked up (we've had three more kids since then) and we both really want to use Malone for our son to be. But we don't know if it is appropriate to use one child's nickname as another child's name.

Our first son is much older now and does not even remember the nickname. I am not too worried about him being upset if we use it but I worry that if we do name our son Malone he will resent having his name be a hand-me-down from his oldest brother. The likelihood of keeping the origins a secret are next to impossible. All of our kids know where their names came from and the stories behind them are often shared and remembered. What do you think? Is it inappropriate? Am I setting my son up for disappointment because I gave him a "used" name? Or does it not matter at all and I am worrying about it for nothing?

My opinion is that Malone is available for use as a name, and that in fact it improves the nickname stories. I'm imagining telling the stories to my own kids, and their faces when I say that Firstborn's nickname was Malone. To me it doesn't seem so much a handmedown as an inspiration: that is, that the nickname made you think of the name as an actual name candidate.

Namesake names are not exactly the same situation but have some parallels: it doesn't diminish the name that someone else had it first, and in fact that is the very thing that improves the name and makes it a candidate to consider. And I don't know if the dynamics will be the same in your family, but in our household the youngest boy greatly looks up to the oldest boy and would likely be as thrilled to have a name connection as he is when we say "You know who used to wear this shirt? ROB!!"

Let's have a poll over to the right to see what we think as a group. [Poll closed; see results below.]


A said...

It doesn't seem that weird to use Malone when you had the nn "Buster Malone" for another child. I would run it by that oldest child first though. You may think he doesn't remember but odds are he has heard it at some point of his life where he would remember it: like watching a video from his babyhood at an older age when the nn was used; cards he may have recieved and you kept; or notes in his baby book about nn. Play it safe and don't surprise your first son with this news before you make sure he has no attachment to the nn.

Kathryn said...

I think it might create a nice connection between the two. It doesn't seem like it would be considered a "hand me down" just that you fell in love with the name.

I read something by a mom a couple years ago that gave two of her sons the same name. I think the first one went by his middle name and she started wanting to use the first name for her next son. So, they ended up with the same first name. They were in the 10-12 age range and didn't seem to mind.

Kathryn said...

Found it.

Anonymous said...

I love that you and your hubs are having the debate / name conversation in a round-and-round kind of way. This seems like a distant comparison to me. The fact that you are debating it could become part of the myth-making and family heritage that really makes the family story. Use Malone. Make it part of the story.

Brittany said...

I'm another vote for using Malone! It's a cool connection for the two brothers to share. I second the poster who suggested talking to your older son about it. I agree that it makes the name more special to have it shared, like a nickname namesake.

I have a cousin named Jeffrey Alexander, and my aunt and uncle called him Jeffy Joe or J Joe for several years. If they'd had another son and named him Joe, I wouldn't have thought a thing of it, other than they decided to use a name they clearly loved!