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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baby Boy Holland, Brother to Carter Nicholas

Jen writes:
We are having a baby boy (due 3/23). Most of the boy names were on our list the first time around and so it feels as though all of the names have been discussed before and it is...less fun. Our first is Carter Nicholas Holland. Nicholas is my husband's name and it is a tradition from his side of the family we chose to follow. If this baby had been a girl, the short list we had included Stella, Penelope, Josephine, and Scarlett.

Right now our list is:


As you can surmise from the list, we generally like shorter, surnamey names. Both my husband and I would probably be fine with any of these. His favorite right now is Brooks, while mine is Grant. Are we missing a good first name option since the list is just a repeat of what was there but ultimately not selected before? The only new name is Dexter and I'm not sure I like repeating the -ter. Names that were on the list but have been dismissed are Pierce and Lincoln. We like Lincoln but for me Carter and Lincoln is a little too much matching with President surnames (I do realize Grant is as well, but it isn't as obvious, right?).

For the middle, we have thought of using my father's name, Gary, or a great-grandfather's name, Merrill or Roger, both of whom have passed away. None of these names are really our style but we like using a family name since Carter has a family tradition for his middle. Another idea we had for the middle was to use initials only for the middle names, as it is quite common on my father's side of the family. My papa's (Merrill) middle name was D, my uncle's name is J, and my great-uncle was J W. This would allow us to honor both the great-grandfathers. So it would be Brooks R M Holland or Grant R M Holland, etc. I thought of using the initial only but my husband thought of having both initials in there. I think since we like shorter names, it feels like too much to him to have a full double middle, as in Brooks Roger Merrill Holland. Is the double initial-only middle names strange? Should we just pick one of the names?

Of course I realize there is plenty of time but I already feel like we've exhausted the topic.

Thanks so much for your help!

I've found that every name can stand to have something unusual about it, but that it works best to limit the number of unusual things. In this situation, you've got three unusual ideas to consider:

1. Initial-only name

2. Two middle names

3. Changing concepts between first child's name and second child's name

I think I would choose no more than two of those. If, for example, you had given your first child two initial-only middle names, it would be no big deal to do the same for your second child. Or if you wanted to give your first child a middle name and your second child a middle initial, I think that would be okay. Or if you wanted to give your first child one middle name and your second child two middle names, I think that would be okay. But I don't think I would give a first child a single regular middle name, and then give a second child two initial-only middle names.

On the other hand, I've found that having a good explanation can topple a tower of unusual things. For example, if in this case you explained to people that you'd named your first son using a naming tradition from his dad's side, and your second son using a naming tradition from your own side, that makes pretty quick work of combining three unusual things into one.

If you'd prefer, however, to follow the same pattern as your first son's name, I don't think there's any need to try to cram in more than one honor name. When you named your first son, you gave him just one honor name as a middle name, without trying to honor the other side of your husband's family as well. I think the same choice would be perfectly appropriate for the second child: give him one name from one side of your family. My own preference would be to honor your father, especially since he's alive to enjoy the honor, or to choose whichever grandfather you were closer to. I think honor names are most satisfying when they are given based on relationship rather than on naming style.

But there's something to be said for naming style, too, and on that basis I think if I were you I might solve the dilemma by first choosing a favorite first name, and then using whichever honor name sounds best with it in the middle. Carter Nicholas and Grant Merrill, perhaps, or Carter Nicholas and Sebastian Gary, or Carter Nicholas and Brooks Roger.

I agree with you that Carter and Lincoln is a very presidential combination, and that Carter and Grant is less so. Graham seems even better: very similar to Grant, with no presidential issue at all.

Here are a few more possibilities to consider:



Rayne of Terror said...

I feel like Finn and Glenn fit onto your list quite well.

Jessica said...

I'm usually against any unusual things, but I LOVE the double initial middle name. I think with a sibling who has a full middle name two initials work better than one. It's more substantial. "R M" seems less like you forgot to add the rest of the name, as opposed to Carter Nicholas and Grant R____. Also, I would prefer two initials over two full middle names.

StephLove said...

I think all the names on your first name list work, and I'm particularly drawn to Dexter and Graham. The repeated -ter ending doesn't particularly bother me if you think you're only going to have two kids. After that it might get tricky deciding whether to keep or break the pattern.

As for middles, I like the R.M. idea. It would be nice to honor traditions from both sides and two initials seems about equivalent to one whole name. But I also see Swistle's point about honor names being better for closer relationships so I want to like Gary better than I do as a middle. I keep thinking Garret or Garrison would go better with the first names but then thinking it wouldn't really be an honor name then. So, I can't decide.

Michelle said...

I'm just gonna say that if I heard brothers named Carter and Grant, I would automatically think 'Presidents'. Not that it's a bad association, but I would presume the parents to be history buffs.

Anonymous said...

I also think "presidents" when I hear Grant & Carter together. Because of this, I like Graham better as a possible first name.

A previous poster suggested Garret or Garrison instead of Gary. I'm not a fan of Garrison (reminds me of both a military garrison & Mr. Garrison from South Park).

However, I do really like Garret for you, even without the possible namesake connection to Gary.
I suggest using it as a first name in honor of Gary. In the first slot, I think it's close enough to feel like an honor name, but without the confusion of having 2 Garys. You could then use one of your grandfather's names in the middle, or just choose a middle name that you like since the honor would be in the first position.

Some other names I think fit your style: Spencer, Vance, Harris, Gavin & Davis.

Anonymous said...

I get the president connection but it's no more unusual to me than parents who picked the names McKinley and Kennedy for girls. They probably picked them based on style, the fact that two presidents shared those names is just secondary in my mind. Carter and Grant are a good match stylistically. And the boys won't get the president association individually, only when they are introduced together. As for the middle name, I think the initial-name is a logical and easily explained choice since you first son followed your husbands naming tradition.

Gail said...

One quick vote for Vaughn Gary Holland.

Giselle said...

My son had a classmate in preschool named Carter, and his little brother was Grant. Everyone immediately went to the president thing, but it was a positive conversation starter thing. The mom would laugh and say, "If we had a girl it would have been Reagan or Kennedy...ha ha ha". Anyhoo...I think the names sound great together and the president association should be a non issue. Unless you have a 3rd son someday and name him Lincoln. Then it might get weird ;)

Manday said...

I am not a big fan of the initial-only middle name. As a child I can imagine feeling like I was missing something.

I agree with PP that I would consider Garret as a take off on Gary.

As for "just leftovers", you should definitely explore new names! I discover new names all the time, so I bet if you start looking again you will find new things you love.

Some ideas -

Another Erin from the 80s said...

Someone beat me to Hudson. I like the idea of Garrett. Another possibility would be Hayes. I vote honor your family by using Gary (if Garrett isn't selected as a first) instead of using the single initial as a middle. To me, unless you were very close to your great grandfathers, using your fathwr's name as a middle would be more meaningful. And since we share many of the same names on our list, I'm going to just throw a few suggestions out there:

Bonnie said...

When I hear Carter and Grant I also think presidents; however, I don't find it to be a deal breaker.
Some more suggestions would be:

I really like Preston with Carter.

Lucy Bea said...

I like Carter as a name but coupled with Grant, the pair unfortunately spring to mind a list I just read about the top 10 worst US presidents, not really a pleasant association in my opinion. I really like the double initial idea and actually know someone whose first name is two letters in this tradition. It is really neat on a real person and not weird at all. Brooks and Graham/Graeme are my favorites from your list with either Gary or R M in the middle name slot.

Peace said...

First thing I thought of with Holland was, I hope she doesn't say Dexter. Dexter or Brian Holland is the lead singer the band The Offspring. Before the tv show Dexter came out, it was the only Dexter I'd ever heard of. I'd avoid the run of presidential names because it does seem like a theme you might feel obligated to stick with if you had a third child. I have to say I love Brooks, I feel like that is really under-used. Graham is nice too, Graham Holland kind of makes me want to swoon, he sounds handsome.

Anonymous said...

I like Clark for you. Carter Nicholas & Clark Roger or Clark Merril or Clark Gary. Carter & Clark.

Anna said...

I am going to have to second the name Graham. I am partial because we named out son Graham (with the help of Swistle!) We always get so many compliments on his name. Classic and strong. Good luck choosing!

Anonymous said...

Other trade names to go with Carter.


Good luck!