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Friday, May 11, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Using the Same Name Twice; Honoring the Same Person Twice

Laura writes:
I have a question and i was wondering if you can help me answer it. Here it goes i have a son John(after his father) but he only go by Jack and his middle name is michael. My father died 1 month before jack was born so at the last minute we decided to honor my father and give him the middle name michael. well i am pregant again and i am due anyday and we have been having a hard time agreeing on names so we were thinking about calling him Michael Raymond but we are not sure if we can do this since my other son middle name is already michael. I dont want their to be issue down the line. i do have some family that did it years ago but i just dont know what to do. My father was a wonderful man and that is why i wanted to honor him with the name michael and it such a beautiful name and there are many people on my father side that is name michael it goes back 5 generations . i have had mixed reaction on this. Some people say that it is cool that the boys would both share their grandfather name and some people say that the boys will not like it when they get older so i just want to make the right decision. And some people say it fine because nobody really goes by their middle names. And then some people think that its a horrible idea. I dont want to do the wrong thing as i only want the best for my boys. Also my other question would be if i have more kids down the line would i have to do something to keep them all connected. We might only have one more after this. So in your opinion is this something that should be done or not??
Thank you for your time and help with this matter

I was remembering that we'd answered a similar question awhile back, but when I looked it up I found it was quite different: last time, we were answering a question where the parents had already used both their two favorite names on a child, and wanted to reuse one of those names for a second child; but your question contains a second element about whether you should honor the same person with more than one child's name. Still, the first post and comments section may be useful for general reactions to the concept: Baby Naming Issue: We Already Used the Best Names.

In your situation, my vote is no, don't do it. This is a difficult vote for me to place, because I think John/Jack and Michael/Mike make such excellent brother names. And if you DO use Michael, I don't think it will be disastrous, and it's true that most people's middle names aren't even known. (However, if you want to tell the story of your first son's name, that cancels out the "no one knows middle names" advantage.) Was there any fall-out when the other family members did something similar, or did it go fine?

You have already honored your father with your first son's name, and it was wonderful sentimental timing. Doing it again now (especially putting the name this time in a place of higher honor) is a little puzzling, and does seem like it would be an issue if you had a third boy. Are there any other men in your family you'd like to honor? Would your father-in-law feel it was a bit pointed that you'd honor one grandfather twice?

Let's have a poll over to the right to see what everyone else thinks. [Poll closed; see results below.]


Anonymous said...

Ok, I actually think honouring your dad twice is great, and a fine link to your wonderful dad and between your boys. But, what about using your dads middle name, or his surname as an honour name instead? I personally did the same thing with two of my boys: one has my dads first name as a middle name and the other boy has my dad's surname as a first name. And if anybody thinks it is weird, they are not saying so! The boys are very proud, and they already have their dad's (And therefore my father in law's) last name as their last name, do it is a nice tribute to the other side if their heritage. By the way, my girls also got grandmothers names!

kristin said...

I would go ahead and use it and if you had a third boy use Michael again as a middle name. "We wanted you all to share your grandfather's name." Since you are all using middle names, how it really any different than all having the same last name?

hillary said...

I feel like there are two issues at play here. One is honoring your father and the other is reusing a name you've already used. The reason I think they are separate issues is that you have already honored your father. Your first son bears his name. That is a lot of honor! It's clear you loved and admired him greatly by doing so.

So really it's about whether you like the name Michael so much, to the exclusion of all other names, to use it twice. If so, then great! Use it! But personally I wouldn't love having my sister's middle name as my feels a little bit derivative. If you really want both kids to have a family honor name, then you can always look for other people you admire and love for further inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I'd spend some time thinking about other people it might be nice to honor and if there are any other names that you could get excited about using that way (and don't forget mother-in-law's name is Bobbie Jo and if we have all boys there may be a Robert or Joseph named after her). But if you end up feeling like there isn't anyone else that you will wish you'd included somehow, or you feel like it's more important to include your father who didn't get to meet his grandchildren, then Michael Raymond is a great name and I don't see anything wrong with using it.

Lonna said...

I say use it! My aunt as 4 boys two of whom share a middle/first name. Same as you it was her fathers name. There has been no issue with it what so ever. I don't even think your third would have to use it. I can see how it might catch someone off guard for a moment, but they'll soon forget. You could also switch it up a little, Michaelson or Mitchell (a form of Michael). Whatever you choose will be great!

Anonymous said...

Some years ago I read about parents with several children who decided to link their family together by giving each new baby the middle name of the previous baby of the same gender. Thus it went something like this: John Edward, Edward Anthony, Catherine Jane, Anthony Mark, Jane Elizabeth, etc.

Your situation is more involved because the name in question is an honor name, but I think it would be all right to name your second son Michael. I'm wondering though how your husband's family would feel about honoring you dad with the names of your first two children. Saying that both have their father and paternal grandfather's surname might not balance things out for them. For that reason I voted for "better not".

Cayt said...

This may or may not have any bearing on anything, but John and Michael are the brothers of the Darling family from Peter Pan, and that would make me reluctant to use them for brothers. My research specialty is the late nineteenth century, though, so that might not be an issue for anyone else and most people might not notice.

Laura said...

I think it's a wonderful idea. If you and your husband are ok with it, then that's all that matters.

Emmuh said...

It doesn't seem to me that Michael is your favorite name, only that you want to re-honor your father. If that's the case, please know that 1st name or middle name is an honor in its own right, and that is enough. That said, what other names have you thought of? Ben goes great with Jack.

I once knew a family that had 3 boys, the oldest named Matthew Wade. 15 years after the youngest was born, a 4th boy came along. They named the baby Wade Matthew. The 4th son was actually named for Wade, a family name, and Matthew, to honor his older brother. Everyone raised their eyebrows at first, but then quickly moved on to what a cute baby he was.
I think that tends to be the case with this situation. If its important to you, be patient with the raised eyebrows and muddle through.

The New Girl said...

I wouldn't name my second son Michael in your situation, BUT I do think it would be okay to use it as a middle name for this son and any other sons you have. So that all the boys have the middle name Michael after your father. OR if your dad had a middle name you could use that? Or if your dad's last name is okay as a first boy's name and hasn't been used as part of a hyphenated last name?

I don't mind honoring the same person twice, but I wouldn't put it in the first name slot.

Lots of luck!

Janelle said...

Since you've named Jack after his father and his maternal grandfather, I don't see any reason for either side of the family to feel slighted. I think Michael would be a great name for your second boy! Is Raymond a family name also, or is it one you just really love?

For me, I'd spin it as "We named Jack after Daddy, and also Grandpa since he passed away so soon before Jack was born. But we really wanted to honor Grandpa by using a first name that we could hear all the time. So now, we think of Daddy and Grandpa and also Jack and Michael when we say their names."

The Mrs. said...

I know a family that gives all the boys the same middle name (in fact, that's how there family has worked for three generations now). Each one has the middle name of Lee. Believe me, they think it is VERY cool.

What about it? You could always say, "We wanted to give each of you Grandpa's name... he was such a wonderful man. He'd be so proud of you both!"

Best wishes to you and your growing family!

Anonymous said...

It is YOUR family and YOU make the naming rules! If you want to say "we respected and loved my dad so much that we gave each of our boys/both of our boys/all of our children/our first two children one of his names as one of their names" then any version of that story is YOUR family story. Our family has one name which every boy has a version of (think John/Sean/Ivan/Jack type of name) and the boys all know that they are linked, and think it is a VERY cool dedication to a very special ancestor. I actually think that your love for your dad would rub off onto your sons, who sadly didn't get a chance to know him, and I think they would be honoured to carry your dads name. Why can't he live on in each of your first two sons? Whether you do it for future sons doesn't matter. If that's what you want to do, go for it!

Anonymous said...

I know a family that has done this for their boys. I don't know the reason behind it, but they boys are: Dominic Michael, Michael Joseph, Joseph Gabriel, and Gabriel ?. There may be another boy, but this is who they had 10 years ago when I knew them. The first time I thought it was odd, but then found the tradition cool with each subsequent one.

Tara said...

I don't think it would be disastrous, but I think your father has already been honored.

Anonymous said...

I voted no, because I fear I will be in a similar situation if we have another boy! I wrote to swistle about it a while back, I forget the post title though. My first son has the same middle name as his father and paternal grandfather. My husband pitched his father's first name when we had our second (who turned out to be a girl, relieving me of the issue). In my case, I actually don't like the name, although it fits completely in our style. I feel like my father might feel slighted, although my brother carried on a tradition with his name, so it wouldn't be awful. It just feels wrong to me to honor someone twice. I also happen to have a family name from my side that I dearly dearly want to use should we have another boy. Clearly, we will have a girl! Sigh :)

Anonymous said...

I vote no. I think you already honored your dad and doing it a second time looks odd and upsetting, instead of loving. Are there any other names you can agree on, any at all?

I do think that using his name a second time as a middle name would be okay, and that's something you could keep up with for as many children as you had. But it does give the idea that your dad is the most important of all the family members, I don't know if you want to do that.

Katie said...

Some families actually do this exact thing as a naming tradition. My mom's family came here from Italy and her entire family uses this naming tradition. Her three brothers are named this way. In your example it would work like this:

Baby 1: John Michael
Baby 2: Michael Raymond
Baby 3: Raymond [next middle name]

How else do you make sure you use all your favorite names?

I say go for it! Especially when using names that go back many generations, I think it's fine for it to appear multiple times in one family.

Grace said...

Usually I am a whatever works for you kind of person. In this case, I think no especially as you are planning to have a third child! How will you honor your father again in that case? Or, if it is a boy, will he be the only son without a grandfather honor name?

I really hope we get an update for this one. What did you think of someone's suggestion to have all boys with the middle name Michael?