This week’s consultation is a bit different, in that the mama who wrote to me had specific questions about two names she and her husband are considering for their son. She writes,
“My husband and I are down to two names for our second boy but see potential issues with both. The first is Benedict Joseph for Pope Benedict. The second is Robert Edward for my paternal grandfather and my father in law. We worry that because we live in the Washington DC area, both names could cause issues because of Benedict Arnold and Robert E. Lee. Obviously Robert Edward wouldn’t be a big deal if it wasn’t for our last name that sounds similar to Lee.
Are we just being crazy? I should probably mention that my husband, my father in law, and I all obtained degrees in Political Science with varying emphases on American history and law.”
Interesting questions, right?
Objectively, I love both names — saintly, handsome, really great. Regarding the Benedict Arnold conundrum — I don’t know! I know some might make the connection and have a problem with it, but in my world Benedict Cumberbatch and Pope Benedict are the two overriding associations.
Regarding Robert E. Lee, I would never think of Robert E. Lee if I were to hear of Robert LastNameThatSoundsSimilarToLee (no mention of middle initial). But maybe I would if I heard Robert E. LastName? Even so, that association wouldn’t bother me one bit, since Robert E. Lee is so far away from any potential baby name inspiration on my part. But in this mama’s world of American history and law and her geographic location? It’s a great question! I really wanted to post this dilemma in order to get feedback from all of you!
Another thought I’m having is Bennett instead of Benedict — Bennett is a medieval form of Benedict, so they would be able to honor the man in a less politically charged way and still use the nickname Ben. Or Robert Benedict, which is so handsome, and I think solves all their problems above and below.
I do have some other thoughts though, that the mama didn’t ask for but I feel is my duty as a name consultant to point out! So sorry in advance! I loooove Pope Benedict so much and I love to see babies named after him! But I find that middle names for Benedict are kind of hard, as the initials can be problematic and I do feel like I have to point them out to parents, just so they know what they’re getting into. BJ and BF have sexual connotations; BM has toilet associations; and BO has body odor associations (though I had a friend BJ in high school and I don’t remember anyone teasing him about his name, so if they don’t mind it and just own it, it could be just fine. I definitely want to hear all your thoughts on this issue as well!). BR however is a great combo — maybe Benedict Robert could work instead? Or Benedict Edward?
So, to recap, my two heartiest suggestions are Benedict Robert/Edward and Robert Benedict. 🙂 Robert B. LastName is especially great to me — they get our Pope Emeritus in there without any Benedict Arnold associations, they retain a family connection with Robert (and I’ve seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, and it’s also a traditional nickname for Edward, so maaayyyybeee they could spin it that Benedict is for Ratzinger AND Grandpa Edward? I know that’s a big stretch), and there would be no Robert E. Lee issues.
Or use Joseph to honor Benedict instead, in either the first or middle spots? Robert Joseph? Joseph Robert?
What advice do you all have for this family?