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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Baby Boy Terry

Tiffanie writes:
I came across your blog this summer and love the input and insight you and your readers give to expecting parents! I'm 21 weeks along and am hoping you might have to time to help my husband and I agree on a name for our little boy that is due mid-June.

My name is Tiffanie and my husband's name is Ryan. Our last name is Terry.

Finding a girls name was a piece of cake. By the end of the first trimester, and after only discussing names off and on briefly, we had picked out Emmeline Rose. Agreeing on a boys name, however, has been a totally different story. I'm dead set on naming my son after my father whose name is Rex. I've always known I've wanted to honor my father this way, and I also want to pass along a name from my side of the family. My husband is on board, but isn't sure he likes it as the child's first name. His favorite dog growing up was named Rex and he fears having a son with the same name will just be odd.

I've suggested calling our son by his middle name instead of Rex. My husband thinks we should use Rex as a middle name, but now that my dad was diagnosed with cancer this year, I feel even more strongly about Rex being the first name. Maybe I'm just overly emotional because of the pregnancy hormones, but deep down in my heart, I really want Rex as the first name.

Now, getting to our naming issue, we can't find a middle name, which will be the name we'll most likely call our son by, that seems right with Rex. We both don't want a name that can also be mistaken for a last name. My husband gets called Terry Ryan all the time. He would love a name that is a fairly obvious first name. (Although, I never would have thought Ryan would be mistaken for a last name, but it does!)

Rex Harvey is the only contender we currently have and both like. I worry Rex and Harvey are both such "old" and uncommon names that it is just too much. But, I just love the way it sounds!

Other names we have considered, but vetoed:

I'm not too found of using a popular name. I didn't like having to be called Tiffanie D. all through school because there were four other Tiffany's in my class and wouldn't want any of my children to have to do that.

Any help or insight you and your readers could share would be oh-so wonderful! I'm just so overwhelmed with the name game! (also, i apologize for the length of this e-mail)

Because your husband is uncertain about the name Rex, I think it should be the middle name. That's a lovely and significant place for an honor name, and seems like the sensible place for a name you're not planning to use: better to put it in the middle name position, and then maybe find pleasingly that you do occasionally use it with the first name: "Hey, Grady Rex, time for dinner!"

Using Rex as the middle name also sets you up nicely for future children: if you have another child and want to use another honor name but as the middle name this time, it won't seem like a lesser honor. And if your husband thinks of a relative he'd like to honor as the next child's first name, but you don't like the name for a first name, you won't feel like you're stuck returning the favor.

You have your reasons for wanting to use the name as a first name, but a baby's name is a decision for both parents to make. If your husband were insisting on naming the baby after himself or after his own father, or if he were insisting on using another name he'd always wanted to use, I would be reminding you right now that you didn't have to go along with that: just because one parent feels strongly about using a name or naming tradition, that doesn't mean one parent gets to make the decision all on his or her own.

It can help to picture the tables turned: imagine if you were having a girl, and your husband were insisting on naming her after his mother (or grandmother or aunt or sister, if coincidentally you like your mother-in-law's name enough to ruin the example), even though you weren't sure about it. It wouldn't really matter how strongly he felt about it, I would still be saying it was not up to him, and that using the name as a middle name was the perfect way for two people to compromise. Then you can work together on choosing your child's first name, so that it will be special to both of you instead of to only one of you.

If the name Rex were out of the picture, what would your joint name list look like? Are there names that have been vetoed because they didn't work as middle names with Rex? I'd suggest bringing those back into consideration. This may mean starting from scratch, since the rhythm of ____ Rex Terry is quite different than the rhythm of Rex ____ Terry. You may find you suddenly have many more names to choose from.

With a surname that can also be a first name, no name is going to completely prevent the names sometimes getting swapped---but you're right that some names will cause less of a problem than others. Grady and Everett and Dierks can look like surnames, for example, but Milo doesn't as much. The problem is compounded by your wish to find an unusual first name: if I saw "Henry Terry" I wouldn't think it was likely that the name was actually supposed to be Terry Henry, because Henry is a common first name right now and Terry is not. But if I saw "Harvey Terry," I would be less certain: Harvey is a very uncommon name right now, even less common than Terry (according to the Social Security Administration, in 2011 there were 472 new baby boys named Terry and 243 new baby boys named Harvey), so I'd be less certain.

This may mean making a choice between two preferences. Almost every name has a hassle of one sort or another; would you prefer the "Henry T." type of hassle or the "Terry Harvey" type of hassle? Luckily you have one person in your family with each of the two experiences: you can compare your Tiffanie D. experience with your husband's Terry Ryan experience. How often did each issue come up, and how difficult was it to handle? Would either issue be more or less of an issue than the hassle of spelling/pronouncing an unusual name?

If your husband is willing to let you make the decision on the first name, then I think Rex Harvey is a very nice name. Do you both like the sound of the name Harvey Terry, since that's what you would be mostly calling him? Some people don't like repeated endings, and some people like them. If you like it, I'd say you have your name.


Kimberly said...

My dad's name is my older son's middle name. And my usually stoic dad wept when we shared the baby's name (after the baby was born). Swistle's advice is spot on; find something both parents like. I think Rex is a great middle name that would work well with many different first names. Your dad will be pleased, no matter what, and your son will love having that connection to his grandpa.

Anonymous said...

You also might want to think about how hard it is nowadays to go by your middle name. Every class your son takes, every job application he fills out etc. . he will have to correct people, "Yes, I know it says my first name is Rex, but I go by Harvey."
You can always make sure to remind him of the connection to his grandfather in his middle name and avoid making so much paperwork hassle for him.

Michelle said...

I agree that the name you intend to use should be first. I also agree that the middle name is a great place to use an honor name. (Hubby's grandmother's name was on our short list and ultimately became baby's middle name. Grandma was so pleased that we 'named the baby after her'.) Swistle's right. The more ground he gives up this time, the more you lose next time. It's nice when all your kids have names that both of you really do like.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Swistle & with the previous poster that going by your middle name can be just as inconvenient (or more so) than being one of several in a class or having the names constantly flipped like your husband has experienced. Another thought is what will your father & family think if you announce the name as "Rex Harvey-but we're calling him Harvey" To me, it almost seems like a good news/bad news situation. Good news is we named him after you! Bad news is we don't like your name enough to actually use it everyday! Harvey Rex is all good news without having to follow anything up with a "but". Only you will know how your family might perceive Rex as a not used first vs. a middle.

I will also add that short snappy names like Rex tend to sound good & are very memorable when used a lot in the middle slot. Think Mary Kate, Peggy Sue, John Paul, etc...Harvey Rex is pretty awesome when said together and I would probably end up calling him both all the time.

So...I do like Harvey Rex a lot and I think a lot of other 2 syllable first names would work well with Rex. Rex Harvey is also nice, but I am not crazy about the sound of R. Harvey Terry, which is what he'll end up being if he never goes by his first name.

rachel said...

My husband's first name is his maternal grandfather's name but he goes by his middle name. It's a huge pain in the a$$. For example: his work email address is donald.lastname@blahblah and then he signs off "from Scott" and people are all "" He is in the employee directory as Donald but when he interacts with people he goes by Scott. So when people try to find him, he is invisible!

In my opinion, if you aren't planning on calling the child by the honor name then it should be the child's middle name. It's not more of an honor to have the honor name used as the first name if the child isn't going to use it anyway. Out of the two given names for the child, the honor name is still the one going unused, so just stick it in the middle and avoid the hassle!

Plus in this case Rex is a great middle name!

StephLove said...

I agree that the middle slot is probably best for Rex, as your husband is iffy on it. And I know these are all vetoed, but I've read this blog long enough to know vetoed names have a way of coming back so I'll say I like Grady Rex, Milo Rex and Everett Rex for you.

I know a teenage Tyler Rex, if you like that. I thought it was kind of snappy in an appealing way. And a little boy might love being able to sign himself T. Rex on occasion.

Anonymous said...

I read your post and immediately thought of Jonathan.

Jonathan Rex Terry is awesome!

Also, Harvey is a nice name, but it can be mistaken for a last name.

phancymama said...

I like the previous comment that remarked that using Rex as a middle name is even more of an honor than using Rex as a first name but not using it as the kid's name.

I also can't get over how amazingly cool it would be to have the nickname T. Rex. Are there any T-names that you like? Thomas, Theodore, Travis, etc?

It also seems like ALL male-oriented names could be last names, at least all the ones I am finding. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you need a NINTH opinion on this...but another vote for Rex as Middle! I agree with the commenter who painted the awkward situation of "we named our boy after you...but don't like the name enough to call him that".

Anonymous said...

I have family that was hemming and hawing over using an honor name as a first name up until the very end. The mistake they made was that they told Grandpa they would name the baby after Grandma and then decided to move it to the middle at the last minute. If you haven't told your Dad "We're naming him Rex" I think it would be great to use it as a middle name off the bat. People feel so honored by namesakes no matter where they fall. And I know everyone has said this but naming someone after your father with no intention of using his name sort of kills the honor. Just my opinion though. I think anything Rex sounds instantly awesome! And I wouldn't worry about names sounding older, those names are pretty in right now. A little Harvey is perfectly acceptable on today's playground alongside the little Ruths and Jaspers.

Anonymous said...

Once again, agree with putting as the middle name. My mom goes by her middle name and causes nothing but problems when flying/having to use her passport because her legal name is on her passport, but all the rest of her identification (drivers license, etc) just has her middle and last name... as well, there were issues when putting together things like her health insurance and will.

Butterflyfish said...


Rita said...

I disagree with Swistle on this. If naming your son after your dad is that important to you and your husband doesn't have a particularly strong objection to the name, then go ahead and use it.

I would advise against calling the kid by the middle name - is can get confusing as he ages.

As I see it you are left with three options:

1) Use Rex as the first name, and call him Rex;
2) Use Rex as the middle anme, and call him by the first name;
3) Use Rex as the first name, and call him by the first and middle or by a nickname /:
* Rex-Harvey Middlename Terry
* Rex-Everett Middlename Terry
* Rex-Milo Middlename Terry
* Rex-Thomas Middlename Terry
* Rex-Noel Middlename Terry
* Rex-Michael Middlename Terry

* Rex Middlename Terry, called "RJ", "RT", "Peanut", "King", "Remy", "Scout"...

Rita said...

ETA: If you like "double names", Rex could also be the second name, of course:


Kim said...

I love the name Rex and think, in this case, it would make a great middle name especially with a three syllable first name.

I also think, because Terry is a first name too, that a name that is usually considered ALL first name would be better to avoid confusion.

My favorites are:

Elijah Rex Terry
Nathaniel Rex Terry
Sebastian Rex Terry
Alexander Rex Terry

Eva.G said...

I'm someone who has gone by either my first and middle name most of my life. It does get confusing.....For example, those who knew me by my first name would ask for Eva, and those who knew me by my middle would ask for Kate, and if they were asking for Eva they had NO idea who Kate was! I also agonized about what to leave on my voicemail! Eva, Kate, or Eva Kate?

It's definitely very livable though, and that's the great thing about having a first and middle name: you have the option to use either name! It was something that just evolved naturally for me because I loved my middle name so much. However, I wouldn't name a child intending to do that. I would name their first name what I intended to call them!

In this case, Rex seems best in the middle. I agree that it's more of an honor than naming him Rex as a first name but saying, And.......we won't actually CALL him Rex!

I love Harvey Rex!!