I may be imagining this, but it seems like I recall you writing once on your baby name blog about naming a baby with the intention of the baby going by his/her middle name. My husband and I are expecting a baby boy and are considering doing this--my only hesitation is the "pain in the butt" factor of having to correct people. Am I imagining that this has been a topic before? I searched the archives, but couldn't find it. If it hasn't been a topic, I'd be interested to get your readers' thoughts on this as it is a hard decision (and one I certainly don't want to regret if we wind up going for it and having to correct people daily).
Thanks for your help!
I know we've discussed it before, but darned if I can find it! Searching "middle name" gives me...pretty much every single post. And it might be one of those topics we've repeatedly discussed within a post, without it ever featuring as the main topic. So let's discuss it as the main topic now.
I think going by a middle name works fine, but that to justify the hassle there should ideally be a good reason behind it. Sample good reasons:
1. You absolutely must use a family name you hate. You use it, but use the name you actually wanted to use as the middle name, and have the child go by that.
2. All juniors, thirds, fourths, etc.
3. Compromises, when nothing else works. I went to school with a boy whose parents couldn't agree on the order of his names, not even at the very last second. So they flipped a coin, named him Adam Jason, and called him Jason. This made a good story on the first day of every school year.
3a. I can picture this also as a solution to a namesake issue, where the parents would like to honor both grandfathers but they want to make it as fair as possible, so they give the first-name slot to one grandfather, but the daily namesake use to the other.
Here's an example of a reason I consider not worth it, but of course it will depend on each family and how they feel about it: reversing the names to improve the rhythm of the whole name. I worked with a woman whose parents wanted to name her Joy and give her the middle name Linda, but thought Linda Joy sounded better. So they named her Linda Joy, and called her Joy her whole life. She thought this was a huge pain in the buns, and wished her parents had just named her Joy Linda: the upside of having a better name rhythm was minor compared to the downside of corrections and forms and confusion and explaining. (She said she'd planned to change it after they died, but by that time she was well into her 60s and the hassle of changing every single legal document seemed overwhelming.)
I've also seen people do it because they thought the honor name had to go in the first-name slot, but didn't want to call the child by that name. In which case I think it makes more sense to put the honor name in the middle-name slot, which is an excellent honor-name position and also removes the awkwardness about why exactly no one wants the child called that name.
I think, though, that regardless of the reason for doing it, the practice is common enough that the hassle, though steady and persistent, will stay at a minor and not particularly confusing level. "He goes by his middle name" is so short and easy to understand, and both you and he will get accustomed to responding to his first name at doctor appointments, on envelopes, at roll call, etc. It's something you'll have to say over and over again throughout your lives, but most of us have to say something over and over again about our names: "That's with an -en," "It's an EES sound, like in Lisa," "Yes, it's French," "No, I kept my own name," "The K is silent," and so on.
One more thing it's good to keep in mind is that the child himself may choose to go by his unused first name later. This particularly applies if the parents are using a first name they dislike: it's good to think out ahead of time that if the child prefers that name and chooses to go by it later on, it would be a tough argument to say that he shouldn't use his own first name.
There! Have we covered all the situations? Does anyone have firsthand or secondhand experience with this, and can report on the level of hassle involved?