I’ve been trying to get this post written for, literally, weeks, ever since Grace’s consultation post in which she said,
“I suggested Simon for a boy but Simon said that ship has sailed since we didn’t name our first born Simon but I disagree“
And I said,
“though perhaps it’s more traditional to name a firstborn son after dad, if you’re going to do that kind of thing, it’s not UNtraditional nor unheard of to give Dad’s name to a subsequent son. I’ve got loads of personal examples: we named our firstborn after our two dads, and our second boy got my husband’s name as a middle, my brother’s second son is a Junior, my two brothers were named after my grandfathers, and if there was ever a third boy he would have gotten my dad’s name as a middle. There’s something really nice about naming a non-firstborn after Dad, actually — there are a lot of traditional firstborn ‘perks,’ so saving Dad’s name for a second/third/fourth son could help even the playing field a bit.”
(Just to clarify: By “Junior” I mean using Dad’s name either in its entirety as a first+middle combo, or using either his first or middle as the son’s first or middle. This isn’t the actual definition of course; this explains the rules for all of it.)
I was interested to hear about your thoughts and experiences too! One of you emailed me to say,
“my husband is the third born son and he is a junior. His father passed away when he was two so he absolutely loves being a junior.”
My aforementioned brother and sister-in-law Juniored their second son, and my SIL explained that her thought process is similar to mine,
“we did talk about not having a junior and using [a different] middle name but we figured if we were going to use the [the same first] name … we would make him a junior.
We also felt that being a first male born is a big deal and being a 1st male and a junior might be too much! So I always liked that our Jr is our 2nd born.”
And a friend of mine connected me with a friend of hers whose second son has the same first name as Dad. For them, it was more important to name their first son after a different man:
“A couple of years prior to my first son’s birth, one of my husband’s closest friends (named Michael) was killed in Iraq as a Marine. As soon as we knew I was pregnant with a boy, we knew we would named him Michael.
My second son is named after my husband. If not for Michael losing his life we may have named our first son after my husband. I’m not sure.”
The idea of honoring a different man than the dad with the first son’s name — and not naming a son after Dad until the third one! — is actually an old naming custom in Irish, English, Italian, and Scottish families, and other heritages as well.
But a couple of you felt strongly that Junioring a non-firstborn is to be advised against:
“I do know a set of brothers (grown men in their 60’s …) and the older brother somehow feels that the parents saved the junior name for the younger brother and feels hurt by it — to the point where the whole family cautions against using junior for a younger brother … So, if a family wants to use a junior name on a younger son, it might be a good idea to check with the older brothers and make sure that they wouldn’t feel jealous/hurt/unworthy, etc. Or at least they could kind of feel the situation out without tipping their hand too much if they think that they don’t want to burden a kid with making that kind of decision.”
“I never gave much thought to the importance of name order until I met my husband. He’s the oldest and he and his younger brother have the same middle name, but their parents called the younger brother by his (their) middle name. The name was their paternal grandfather’s name and their deceased uncle’s name. So, it’s a family name and was given to my husband first as his middle name, then repeated and “chosen” for his younger brother. It has been an issue between them and their parents for their whole life. We chose to never use a family name because of it. I think a family name can be an honor, but it has the potential to cause hurt feelings when not used traditionally.”
So a lot of good thoughts here! I feel so badly for anyone who feels hurt over the name their parents gave them (or didn’t give them), and I wouldn’t be surprised if the issue in those cases is often bigger than just the name. Like the name is a symptom of a bigger problem, you know? So while my personal feeling is still that Junioring a non-firstborn is not that big a deal and can in fact be a really great thing, I also think that particular personalities and family culture should be taken into account as much as possible, if possible. Also, these strategies might help in trying to make sure all your kids know how special each of their names are, no matter who they are/are not named after.
I also did a quick search for articles/posts on the topic, and came up with a couple good ones:
Naming Baby After Dad — Classic or Showy? by the Name Lady
Junior status: Sharing dad’s name a mixed bag, which quotes name expert Cleveland Kent Evans
And this craziness, which isn’t on point but is related: We’re Halfway to the Perfect Namesake Name! (The mom wonders about using “ISS” instead of “II” or “Jr.” — have you heard of this??)
What do you all think? Do you have any other examples for either the pro or con list?