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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baby Naming Issue: Drama Over Cousins With Similar Names

Jodie writes:
I am 33 weeks pregnant with my fourth boy (and last child). My name is Jodie, my husband is Michael, our last name is Pack. Our older children are Conner Michael, Nolan Bryant, and Gavin Claude. I am supposed to have an early c-section at the beginning of February because I have placenta previa, so this is kind of last minute - sorry! Since this is our last boy and we are very picky with names, finding a name for this baby has been a struggle. We found one that we (especially I) absolutely love though. Bennett Fisher. I really want Fisher to be the middle name (it is my Grandma's maiden name and she just passed away last June, right before we found out we were pregnant. I think Bennett Fisher Pack sounds great. I like names that are 2 syllables, easy to spell, recognizable but not so unique that they sound made up. I am not a nick name person - we would not call him Ben.just Bennett. I wanted to have a name with an 'n' in it, because all the others do. I don't want a name that ENDS in 'n' because that offsets the symmetry in my family. See how OCD I am? I also seem to have names free of blends so far (no Cr, Bl, St,.names roll off the tongue easily). I LOVE Bennett - it's meaning, it's anglo-slant (I seem to gravitate towards Irish, Welsh, Scottish, English type names), and it just seems to fit.

HERE's the PROBLEM! My sister just had a baby last week. She told me a few months ago she wanted to name her baby Benjamin and call him Ben. At the time she told me I got a little worried because we had just landed on Bennett. I let her know that we had sort of landed on Bennett, thinking it would be OK - after all, it's not the SAME NAME and we wouldn't call our kid Ben. She said she was fine with it, but then my other sister (who loves drama) called me and said she was actually really upset about it and wanted me to change my name. I'm a pleaser. I tried to find another name for a few days, but nothing else fit like Bennett. I told her we would be going with Bennett no matter what, and she said she wasn't mad. But now my drama-loving other sister says I should not bring it up with her because it will stress her out (meaning I shouldn't tell her we are still going to call him Bennett). My husband and my parents think it's a non-issue and I/we should name our baby whatever we want. Last night my husband and I talked about it and decided that we are willing to look at other names to keep the peace, but if nothing else jumps out at us, we're staying with Bennett.

Sorry, that was long.

So, other names we have considered are:
Wyatt (I like it, not sure if I love it)
Jasper (I don't love the p's in Jasper Pack)
Lennox (seems to out there to me, but my husband likes it)
Elliott (I don't like it at all, but my husband does - seems too feminine to me and I don't like unisex names)
Derek (too 80's?)
Jared (too boring and common?)
Zander ( I like it but my husband isn't familiar with it - makes him think of Zoolander)

We are absolutely done having children. If this was a girl, her name would be Charlotte, so maybe that's why I like Bennett so much (the 'tt' ending).


Sometimes when I am reading a mystery novel and a solution begins to reveal itself, I will think, "Wait. But that can't be it, because Mr. Picklan wasn't there that night!"---and I continue to be fooled, not realizing that the ONLY reason I know Mr. Picklan wasn't there that night is that Mrs. Roberts SAID SO. If that little snippet of testimony turns out not to be true, the whole case collapses.

That is what I am reminded of here, where one sister is telling you (1) that the sister who says she's not upset IS in fact VERY upset, and (2) that you should not confirm this with the sister because it would upset her, and (3) that you are further supposed to keep your child's name a secret (for how long, I wonder?) because it would upset her.

What if we snipped off that little snippet of testimony? Then what we would have is a situation that almost couldn't be more ideal:

* Your sister had several months' warning that you were intending to use the name Bennett, so if that bothered her she had plenty of time to either (1) change her name choice or (2) tell you she wasn't okay with it;

* She then found out you were definitely going to use it, and again she had a chance to speak up or change her own name choice if she wasn't okay with that; 

* Then she went ahead and named her son Benjamin, with full knowledge that in a month you would be naming your son Bennett;

* And now you will name your son Bennett, already knowing the issue with your nephew's somewhat-similar name.

Didn't that work out well? In many situations, things get much more jumbled. Sometimes everyone keeps names a secret, so then your sister could have named her baby Benjamin with no idea you were planning to use Bennett, and right now you could be having a secret crisis over what you should do now. And then maybe when your sister found out you were planning to use Bennett, she could have FREAKED OUT HUGELY, threatening and weeping and acting so hysterical you felt there was no way you could use the name Bennett now, unfair as that might be.

But neither of those things happened. She had warning; you had warning; everyone was okay with everything. The only suggestion that everything is not as it seems comes from the testimony of your other sister who, as you tell us, loves drama. I have had contact with people who love drama, and you have many years of experience with your sister, so I think if the two of us sat down and discussed the possibilities, we would come up with quite a few likely scenarios that didn't involve there being an actual problem. For example, I can picture something along the lines of your drama-oriented sister working hard to elicit a very mild statement from your mother-to-Benjamin sister about how, sure, she kind of wishes the two names weren't so similar but it doesn't really matter---and turning that into "She's REALLY UPSET. She wants you to CHANGE THE NAME. No, don't even talk to her, she's TOO UPSET."

"Piffle" is what I say to the idea of you changing the perfect name based on that. You have two options, as I see it:

1. Go to your sister (the one with the new baby Benjamin) and say something like, "Listen. I know the times we talked about this before, we left it that we were both okay with the similarity of Benjamin/Bennett. But you know Sister and how she loves drama, and she's been going around freaking everyone out saying YOU'RE freaking out, and I don't want to take her too seriously because you know how she is, but on the other hand I wanted to make sure we got one last chance to have a frank talk before I go filling out birth certificates." You'd need to be aware, though, that what you'd be doing here is saying something like "If you have ANY slight dislike of this situation AT ALL, just mention it and I won't use the name." And I doubt you'd like to say that. This discussion could only have taken place effectively when EITHER of you could have changed your name choice.

2. Use the name, without getting sucked into the drama. If the drama is snipped out, we have a non-situation here: everyone knows you're using the name, and no one objected even when they had ample chances to do so. Probably neither you nor your sister thinks it's ideal that the two names are similar, but neither one of you thinks the other one should have to give up a name over it---and that's the appropriate reaction. It doesn't seem like a good idea to try to get your sister to manufacture/express an inappropriate reaction instead, especially since that would leave you with two choices: (1) choosing another name instead of the one you want, or (2) going with the name on purpose anyway, against her now-explicitly-stated wishes. No good!

I would also like to point out that this is not just a situation about your sister being okay with the name you're using: it's about BOTH of you being okay with the other sister's name choice. If it is important that she be okay with your baby's name, it is no more important than it was for you to be okay with her baby's name. Did she repeatedly solicit your assurances that it was okay for her to still use Benjamin for her baby? No? Then probably she does not expect you to repeatedly solicit her assurances that it's still okay for you to use Bennett. She had her baby a few weeks before you will be having yours, but since both of you knew the situation well ahead of time, the order of birth is irrelevant to this particular situation: you both said you were okay with the other's name choice, and now you will both go ahead and use your own name choices. With time, the issue is likely to fade completely, and the two cousins will most likely grow up thinking it's neat.

(And if she really IS upset about it, she had/has two options: (1) Discuss it with you, rather than with the sister who has nothing to do with choosing the names, and/or (2) Find a different name for her child, back when you said you were definitely using Bennett.)


StephLove said...

What Swistle said.

sarah said...

I agree with Swistle that you should ignore the drama and name your son Bennett.
BUT if you really want to change it, how about Beckett or Barrett? Everett? I'm sure there are other names with a TT ending that others will think of, but these are the first three that come to mind. I think they all sound great with Fisher and with their brothers' names. There is also Garrett but you said you don't want to repeat a first initial...

Beckett Fisher Pack
Barrett Fisher Pack
Everett Fisher Pack

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

So, the sister who has a son named Benjamin says it's OK with her if you use Bennett. & the sister who has zero stake in the whole matter is the one causing the drama and saying it's actually not OK? Wow.

I also have drama loving people in my family and at some point you have to just way "whatever" and get on with your life. Don't ask for anyone's OK again, the OKs you needed you've already gotten. Stop talking about baby names with your drama sister and name your baby what you want to name him. If your family is anything like mine, there will be more drama after Bennett is born. But it will blow over, especially if you don't acknowledge it.
Good luck! And let us know how it goes once your little Bennett is here.

Michelle said...

Don't even entertain any other name. You love Bennett. It doesn't bother you that he'll have a cousin named Benjamin. Why exactly is it Other Sister's concern? (Can you tell I have no patience with pot-stirers?) I might cross a less favorite name off my list because it bothers someone, but not the one I planned to use.

Jen said...

Swistle has the best advice.

You have your name and I wouldn't worry about the drama. While it's *possible* the sister with Benjamin made some off-hand comment about the similarities of the names chosen to drama sister, I would argue that even if she had said it was truly something which would bother her, it's up to her to say something to you about it. If she told you it's okay, then it's okay. If she's not really okay with it but just telling you she is, then that's her issue, not yours.

Anonymous said...

Beckett would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Thansk Swistle - yes, that's what I have been planning to do - ignore the invented drama. I guess I am just hormonal and emotional and worried about making people mad. I really actually do think Benjamin's mommy is pretty ticked off about the similar names and she thinks I'm going to change my baby's name (based on my last baby's name changing at the last minute). I'm not ticked off - I think it's fine. But for the exact reasons you specified, I don't even want to bring it up with her. Ugh - now I just feel silly for even worrying about it! - Jodie

Karen said...

I agree with everyone else.

When i was growing up, my best friend and i had the same name and thought that it was the coolest thing ever. And looking back to previous generations, both of my parents have cousins with either the same name or very similar ones. It's totally fine.

Laura said...

I think you are on the right track sticking with Bennett though I really love Becket so that would be a good alternative if it appeals to you.

T said...

I agree that you should just use Bennett.

Although something else to consider is the fact that somewhere along the way at school he may become just 'Ben'. Would that bother you?

On your list I love Wyatt, and think that it goes great with your son's names.

Some other suggestions:

Christina Fonseca said...

Keep Bennett. I agree with Swistle's response.

vanessa said...

Use Bennett if taht's what you love. Benjamin's mom had AMPLE time to tell you if she had an issue with it--and even if she did, tough shit. and i bet cousins would like having similar names, and you can always do cool nicknames, like Benj for Benjamin, or something.
the only thing I'd add is that he really might decide to go by Ben someday himself...

Anonymous said...

I say go with Bennett if you really love it but, if you're not so sure, here are some more suggestions:


Good Luck!

Lashley said...

I grew up with a relatively close extended family where there are quite a few repeated names both within and between generations. It would have been swell to have a distinction other than "Big David" and "Little David," so Ben(jamin) and Bennet seems just fine to me. I could see it potentially being confusing for grandparents as they age, but you didn't make any mention of that, so perhaps it's not relevant.

If you're still looking for other options, I like
Emmett Fisher
Barrett Fisher (I think Pres Obama has made the nickname Barry totally viable again)
Cannon Fisher (even though you don't want another that ends in 'N')
Channing Fisher
Corbett Fisher

Gail said...

But won't these boys have different last names? So in a worst case scenario (where both end up being called Ben by their peers) one would be Ben Pack and the other would be Ben ---- and most likely not even in the same schools?

Actually, names like Christopher and Benjamin and Gabriel are rarely ever heard in their beautiful fullness once the boys are known as Chris, Ben, and Gabe, so during family gatherings your sister could even have the pleasure of hearing Benjamin occasionally.

This is a problem that will fade with time. Everyone will adjust. Go with the name you love.

Anonymous said...

I would go with Bennett without having any further discussion with anyone regarding the names.

Bonnie said...

Just another tt name to suggest...Garrett.

Allyson said...

Our son is Barrett (nn Bear when we feel like shortening it) and we love it. Just a suggestion, as it's pretty close to Bennett. I like Beckett as well.

Anonymous said...

A family in my acquaintance has 3, almost 4 sons, named Everett,Wyatt, Barrett and are about to have a Truett (his girl name would have been Charlotte). Apparently this mom would have used Bennett, but she didn't want the nickname Ben so she used Barrett instead. Maybe something along those lines would work?

Kalendi said...

Drama Queen's always think they are right and have a right to upset everyone else. Bennett is a great name and so is Barrett. I have nieces and nephews that have similar names--Christopher, Christy (2 of them, one by marriage), Laura, Lorie, and no one has ever complained. In fact they love it actually!