This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Would it Be Fun to Do a Family Pattern of Initials?

Nancy writes:
I have a baby name dilemma that I would love for you and your commenters to tackle.  We are expecting our second daughter in May.  We have a two and a half year old named Lucy, I am Nancy, and my husband is Kevin.  Our last name sounds like Strickland.  About a year after Lucy was born I realized that we had accidentally set up the possibility of a fun naming pattern:  K, L, M, N.  We are trying to decide whether to name this next baby a name that begins with "M" and stick with the pattern or not.  I would love your thoughts.  And have any readers chosen to do a pattern like this, or not chosen to, and have any regrets?  I like that it is a subtle pattern that can tie us all together. 
Some of our top names do begin with M (Mary, Marie, Miranda, Maggie), but we also like names like Dorothy, Evelyn, Annie, Nora, Celeste (which does not work with the last name), Caroline, and Beatrice.  There is no clear front runner yet.  For what it is worth, we are thinking of having a third child, and using the letter J or O would be fine with us if we do commit to the pattern.  Middle name will be my mother's maiden name, which sounds like Taylor. 
We would love some outside opinions and words of experience on naming quirks like this, in hopes that it will help us make up our mind!
Thank you so much!

It sounds fun to me! My dad pointed out after our fifth child was born that our kids' initials and ours were ALMOST in a unified clump. If we'd had more children after that, I would have been quite tempted to find initials that filled in the gaps. But if I found a name I loved that didn't start with one of the letters I wanted, I don't think I'd be willing to give up the name to get the initial.

I think what I'd do is begin by looking at names that started with the desired initial, and just see if it worked out. If it did work out, it would be fun; if it didn't work out, it would be fine, no big deal. The biggest downfall from my point of view is that I think I'd feel increasingly stuck: if it DID work out to fill in a gap, and then I had another child, I think I would feel like I almost HAD to continue the pattern, because I'd done it on purpose the previous time and now I was invested in the plan.

Does anyone else have experience with doing (or choosing not to do) a fun little pattern of this sort?


j.thrift said...

what a timely question for my family. We're currently J, K, L and I'm 5 weeks pregnant with our future baby "M." I can't wait to sign our holiday cards with our part of the alphabet.

Beth said...

My siblings and I were: A- B - C - D, sort of.

I say 'sort of" because the third child's first name began with P and his middle name started with a C. I don't think it was an intentional pattern. Also, I'm the second and I've been called Beth all my life but my given name is Elizabeth. So, the pattern was kind of loose. Having this pattern was always a mildly positive thing - none of us had any regrets about it.

Our family initials (husband, me and 2 kids) are almost a pattern too but we'd have to have a third child with a name starting with M to make it work: we are P (husband) B (me) & J (child 1) A (child 2) = PB & JA(M). We likely won't be having a third and if we did, I don't know if I'd search for, or avoid, a name starting with "M." It would be a fun little acronym but perhaps overly cutesy.

I think in your situation, my vote would be to lean slightly toward an M name. A family pattern is a fun, unifying thing. Also a mid-alphabet pattern with parents and kids names not in alphabetical order is less obvious.

Beth said...

parents' and kids' names

Hannah said...

I come from a very large family and being the second eldest, I realized when the six child came along that we had a naming pattern that my parents had not even been aware of - FGHIJ. I called this to their attention and we began looking at E and K names. The realization of the naming pattern led us to the E and thus to the perfect name for the sixth sibling - my sister - Estella. I think that it is fun to have a pattern, but I wouldn't limit a name you love because of it. I love lots of M names - Matilda, Marie, Meredith, Margaret, Madeline, etc. So have fun with it!

Christina said...

If you're not *in love* with any M names, you could do an M nickname or an M middle name.

Allyson said...

My husband, son, and I all have names with 7 letters. We will only have one more child and plan to stick with a seven letter name. I am constantly on the look out for 7 letter names I like!

Anonymous said...

A funny one. My three siblings and I realized one day that our initials spelled J-E-R-K. When baby #5 came along, we got to help name it and made sure it was an "S" name to complete the word. Rarely comes up 20 years later now, but a fun little family inside joke.

Anonymous said...

My husbands parents did this with KLMNO. They did the first two and finished up the rest. Now, they could not find an O name they loved for my DH so they settled and he goes by his middle name. It worked out for them...thy think its fun! It was handy when I was newly married and learning who was who.

We did it with our kids, not on purpose. We started with V (girl) and picked out the next kid's name which happened to be a W. When we found out we were having twin boys, we used our W name and joked around with an X name. We had that lightning moment with the X name and it stuck.

Now I'm days away from having another boy and I'm breaking the pattern. There are no good Y names that I like! I feel a little guilty and a little apprehensive breaking the pattern only because my MIL broke the pattern at N ( she had 2 Ns) and the older N died as a small child. It's to to be the pregnancy hormones talking but we are naming this boy with another W (Wyatt) and passing it off as a y sound.

So, my advice it to explore your options but don't get TOO invested in the pattern. Is easier to break it early on than have the last child be different because you couldn't fit any more kids into it. Or to feel trapped or limited by what you've done.

My kids 7 and 4 do enjoy having their names alphabetically and are slightly put out with another W name. Oh well!

Claire Wessel said...

My best friend has 6 kids and accidentally did this pattern with the first 4, and decided to purposely continue it with the last 2. She's happy with it and feels it is unifying without being something people notice as matchy. In order of age, she has L, N, K, M, J, I.

Melinda said...

My brother and sister-in-law ended up with the fun pattern "DJ RPM" which made more sense back when DJs used vinyl records with an RPM speed. I've always loved their little funny shorthand. My brother used it often to sign cards and it always made me smile.

Diane said...

My family (parents, brother, and I) have anagram initials. They spell a positive word, but I hated it as a child and still do to this day.

My mom loved it though. She would sign everything from our family with our "special word" and it always embarrassed me. A lot.

I can't even put my finger on what it was that I hated about it. It might have been part of wanting to be my own person. It might have been that I hated it when people would joke about it. (Never in a bad way, but the same joke gets stale when it's told a million times.) It might have been that the word itself is not a "cool" word. I don't know. I just know I hated it and am so glad I don't have to see it anymore now as an adult with my own family.

I don't think a pattern or even a word is something to avoid, but the use of it to identify your family becomes old really fast. It's a neat little thing to keep in your back pocket and maybe pull out and laugh about every once in a while, but don't overdo it.

Bitts said...

My daughter has the same initials as my husband, and my son has the same initials as me. We did that on purpose. Does that count?

StephLove said...

I would say yes, but only because you already have a lot of M names on your list so you don't need to stretch to make it work. I like Miranda, especially.

I knew a family with parents whose initials were B and E and their kids were A, C and D. I often wondered if they did it on purpose.

Anonymous said...

My BIL and SIL have an accidental M middle name pattern with their kids and my best friend is doing the alphabet. I think it is fun when everyone feels like part of a secret. The M middle names are like that, but my friend trying to do the alphabet is pulling her hair out finding names! If it's there and you like the idea of a pattern, I say embrace it! But as others have said, don't feel trapped by it. My friend is determined to find an acceptable C name and to have enough kids to use her dream "E" name. That's when having a pattern goes overboard in my opinion!

call me nora said...

My parents, myself and my siblings all have the same middle initial D. Not the same, but I did really enjoy it.
If you find and love a name that fits the pattern, why not! It's cute, but not overly in your face.
But now I've come to this realization, reading all of the comments....I have not paid attention enough to this. Now I will be analyzing everyone's family set to see if there are anagrams or alphabet games.

Anonymous said...

I knew a family where the kids were D, E, and G. I was highly amused when they got a dog and gave it a name starting with F. When I pointed out the D E F G pattern to the mother she was totally oblivious!

Butterfly Chaser Photography said...

Our neighbors did this with their sons, Adam, Benjamin, Christopher... and then they disagreeded over what the D name should be (she wanted Duke, a family name, he wanted Daniel) and so they skipped it and had an Elliot Daniel Duke Lastname.

I was always a bit bummed as a child that they couldn't make the alphabetizing work, but the plus side is very few people notice patterns like this, so if you decide to change it later most people will not notice you started in the first place;)

Jenna said...

Our first two children had the initals of H and G, and when we were expecting our third, we strongly considered using a name that began with an F or an I. In the end, we didn't find one that we liked more than the original name we chose. Now we'd have to have another three children to fill in the gap! Not so practical for us.

But if you can do it, more power to you! Please keep us in the loop of what you pick!

Ira sass said...

My uncle's family's names spell out ACE, and my family writes that on presents to them. After I changed my name, it was pointed out that my family's initials now spell NERD. so we now have Christmas presents "to ACE, from NERD" and vice versa. I think it's funny.

Julie said...

I used to know someone who had six kids. J-K-L-M-N ... and C She always said it felt like C was the outlier and would point out the pattern regularly.

Not sure why she did it (no family names in the group) since she was already aware of the pattern by the time C, the 4th child, was born, and then she continued the pattern with the next two kids.

I probably would have either stopped the pattern for #s 5 & 6 or would have made a pattern with the C name, but not my kids; not my decision.

Megan said...

My husband and I are N and M, and our first child is P. We weren't tempted to make our second child O and instead he's A, with our third child a C. So we didn't take the alphabet route... but we do have P A C, and I'm now joking that we need 3 more kids with M A N for initials :)

Amelia said...

I knew a family growing up whose last name started with N, so they named all three boys so that their nickname was spelled by their initials: Ben had initials B.E.N., Don had initials D.O.N., and Ken had initials K.E.N. It was fun!

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize so many others were in this same situation. My wife and I incidentally ended up with A and B. We didn't know the gender for either and we didn't have Both A names or both B names picked out. We were aware that the names were A and B, but we didn't pick the names because they are A and B. When we were pregnant with Baby B, we often referred to him as baby B. Now, we aren't sure what to do. I feel like if we want to stick with the pattern then, we better pick out boy/girl C, D, and E names to have ready. I'd just hate to break the pattern with our last baby b/c the alphabet pattern is pretty obvious. But there are C names that I like, and I'd hate to rule them out b/c they make a pattern. Do ya'll think the start of the alphabet pattern is too corny or cutesy?

I think some letters in the middle of the alphabet are a fun pattern and I would do it if you like the names. But I wouldn't force it if I didn't like the names. A pattern in the middle of theh alphabet is less obvious.

Rbelle said...

I think I would think about whether you would regret NOT doing it a few years down the road. Like, are you OCD enough to have it bother you to have K L N and B? My husband and I both have names that start with R. There aren't a lot of R names I like (and fewer my husband and I would agree on), so I didn't even consider them for our future children. But now that we're looking at naming our second child, I do get a little twitch thinking about having an R, R, L, and T (or G, or M, or whatever). There's nothing WRONG with it, but the only way to make things "even" now would be to for sure stop at two kids and give the second an L name as well. It's silly, because I don't even like matchy names, but I guess I do like patterns, because it does feel odd to me that my husband and I "match" and our kids won't. Also, it absolutely rules out any R names for our next kid, should I happen to hit upon one I love. At least I have a nickname that starts with a different letter than my name, which is very important when drawing up our Yahtzee scorecard :P.

Susan said...

My personal opinion is that all the patterns mentioned are fun. However, for some reason the patten of having children with initials A, B, C, etc. seems particularly delightful to me, and I know I would go for it if, like anonymous, I happened to have children with initials A and B. I've thought several times how totally cool it would have been for the Dugger family to use A, B, C initials instead of all Js. I remember seeing a movie as a teen-ager -- almost 50 years ago -- where the brothers had A, B, C initials -- and I was so impressed I believe I still remember all the names: Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephriam, Frank, Gabriel. Too, too cool.

vanessa said...

i think it would be really fun. and its like you are stuck with a total bummer letter. M is a great letter. Miranda is a lovely name. and there are lots and lots of great other M names--Mariah! Margaret! Megan! well, i may as well get into specifics:
Lucy and Megan
Lucy and Margaret/Maggie
Lucy and Madelyn/Lucy and Maddie (this is my favorite)
Lucy and Molly (ooo this also really good but maybe too close if yu are planning to have more kids)
Lucy and Maisie

anyway! yes, i think it would be really fun, and its subtle, so it's not like the Duggars where its very in your face and obvious and, um, unsubtle.
and then O and J are also great letters:


um, just to give you some ideas ;)

Anonymous said...

Susan, do you mean seven brides for seven brothers? The last one was Gideon :)

Tori L said...

My three sisters and my name have initials that spell TACK. Though mine (the T) is my nickname not my whole name. My mother would often use it for new people to help them keep us straight -- four little girls under 5 years old could get confusing!

Several years later when we found out my little brother was on the way we joked about trying to find a Y name, to no avail. We ended up with a G instead, but by that time we were easier to tell apart.

Anonymous said...

My siblings and I have the initials ATR, BTR, and CTR. The first two letters in each of our names also spells BRANCH, which I remember my mother always thinking was so cool.

Anonymous said...

i think i might totally be alone on this one, but i am not a fan of "cutesy" name patterns to tie a family together. I guess because i feel like it puts you in a situation to pick a name you might not otherwise choose for your child. It reminds me a bit of the Duggars who have that TV show. They keep naming kids with the letter "J" and by the time they get to kid number 19, you just imagine that the poor child ended up with their 19th favorite J name, not their favorite name for their child. If the name you love fits the pattern, it could be a fun thing to do, but otherwise, i think you might be setting yourself up for a situation where you are having to name your child something just to fit the pattern, not because you love the name. All of your name choices are really cute, so you probably can't go wrong either way!

mjb said...

My dad's 6-sibling set is in order, except the last. It helps me remember their birth order, that's for sure!

liz said...

My feeling is that, because you're mixing parents names in, and because you like M names, and because the kids names are not in alphabetical order by age, you should go for it if you want to, because it won't be obvious that you left the pattern if you decide not to go for a J or an O name on the one after this, if there is one.

Laura Tyson said...

I can't believe I never noticed this pattern. I have 5 kids and if my daughter Clare had been given an "O" name we'd have been J (James), K (Katharine), L (Laura), M (Mark), N (Nathan), and P (Paul). I don't think we'll be having enough kids to cover from D-J!

liz said...

One thing I noticed after we'd named our son was that my niece's name is Ella, one of my cousin's is Emma, another is Owen. I wished for a brief moment that I had named my son Jay. And I had a fantasy about having a girl and naming her Enya.