To do or not to do: Non-firstborn Junior

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?



18 thoughts on “To do or not to do: Non-firstborn Junior

  1. I personally don’t think I’d want to do a junior as a later brother. But our oldest son’s first name is already the same as his dad’s middle name, so I already feel like we have junior covered. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable using my husband’s first name for a later child.

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  2. I don’t think it really matters if it’s a first son or a younger brother. If one kid has a significant name, though, the other kids should as well. I would have been Andrew Jr. if I had been a boy. Instead, I’m Andrea after my dad. My mom apparently still wanted to use Andrew Jr. For my younger brother, but my dad vetoed it as a few too many in the family. So don’t use a name for a daughter if you really want it for a son. My brother used his first name as a middle name for his first son, which I think is less pressure.

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  3. Okay I am one of those silly people who noticed and was annoyed for a while that I was the oldest but my sister got my mom’s middle name and I wasn’t named after anyone in particular (though I do share a middle name with my mom’s cousin). I’m totally over it now, and I like my name better than my sister’s (hehe), but that experience caused me to tell my husband that if we were going to name children after ourselves in any way, it had to be the first(s). Neither of us wanted to do same first name, but little girl has Spanish version of my first name for her middle, and little boy shares middle name with dad.
    Another relevant anecdote: my grandma’s father was named Earl, and they really wanted an Earl Jr. They had four girls in a row, so on the 4th they gave up on boys and named the baby Earline (er-Lean). Next baby was a boy, and they named him Earl!

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  4. My second child is a “junior”, but he is our first born son.

    First child was named after the two greatest people I could think of – Christ and Mary (Kristy Marie), putting honor to God first in our first born (the K was used for a friend of mine that passed away while I was pregnant). Then we can think about naming for mortal family members or influential people (her aunts are Kristen Joy – goes by Krissy – and Karin Marie – named after her aunt). She has my middle name.

    Grandpa is Martin Craig (goes by his middle); dad is Martin Kane (different middle name, goes by Marty – telemarketers: do you want Martin C or Martin K?) and he is the second born son/4th child (3rd child brother is Andrew Craig); our son is named Martin Kane II (goes by Kane, like grandpa and to tell them part). He obviously has his dad’s middle name. Which we thought was cool for our first two kids, boy and girl. Bonus: their initial are (unintentionally, we realized it later) KM and MK.

    We did ‘the second’/II for him because 1) I didn’t like Jr, II was cooler to me, and 2) it is my tribute to St John Paul II (we couldn’t find a version on his name we liked). Besides, he is literally the second [child]. We do find that we get a lot of mail advertisements for hearing aids and funeral/retirement planning because they think Marty is his dad. Marty’s mom has a similar situation to what Elizabeth describe above: dad was Karl, first born son was supposed to be Karl, but they only got 3 girls. Kathleen (Marty’s mom), Karen and Karla (by that time they gave up and honored the Karl on the last one).

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  5. There are two juniors in my family who weren’t the firstborn son. One was actually born on his father’s birthday and the second was born a few days after his father’s birthday. I don’t see a reason why the junior has to be the first boy, even without the birthday connection.

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  6. My FIL is a Jr and has disliked it his whole life as he doesn’t really love the name and also felt like there was a lot of expectation bestowed upon him. He vowed not to do that to his own sons, and I’m thankful for that as a I really love my husband’s name – Andrew John – and that I am one of the only ones who calls him Andy – I even painted it on my wedding shoe like in Toy Story..while we don’t plan on using Andrew as a first name, we have both agreed it can be on the middle name list..

    On a similar note, I would love to hear your thoughts on Jr Girls – the only time I’ve really heard it is on Gilmore Girls, but it’s kind of a fun idea to think about too..

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  7. My grandma’s firstborn son was a junior and she said she always regretted it. I might have inherited my (vague) distaste for junioring (exact same name + junior) from her!

    That being said, for people who are into it, I don’t think doing it for a second or subsequent son is a big deal at all.

    I am more of a fan of using the same first with a different middle (or vice verse) with any son. Having to tack that “junior” on seems like a hassle to me.

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  8. I know so many juniors that are placed so randomly within large families.

    One family, their oldest son is named after paternal grandpa then the 4th child, second son, is name after dad. He does have Jr. at the end.

    One family, their oldest is, but he does go by FN+MN and not solely the first.

    Another family their youngest (of 14) is named after Dad, no Jr.

    My brother named his second son after himself, with differing middle name. The baby goes by FN+MN. What’s funny about that is my brother went by FN+MN until he was about 12 and decided he only wanted to be FN.

    And, the last two families I can think of have 9 and 14 kids, both predominantly boy families, and have sons half way through who are names after their dad’s. Both go by Marky and Tommy vs Mark and Tom.

    I don’t think it’s a big deal at all and have never heard any problems about it amongst the siblings in these families. The only complaint was from the first fam I mentioned. The Jr hates the “Jr” because when he joined military, his name was “LN, Jr” and it drove him crazy lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We named our first son after his grandfather since he was the first grandson. Also, as we found after, his grandfather also shared the same first and last name. All three have different middle names. Our second son has my husband’s middle name. My husband’s first name is Shane, which he wasn’t a big fan of, so our son is Owen. Both Shane and Owen are derived from John.

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  10. My sons are now in there 40s but I sure wish I would have known this rule about second son’s being Junior because my husband who has passed now in 1990 wanted to name our second-born junior or after him I sure wished I would have done that cuz the first boy is nothing like my husband the second is a spittin image of him in kindness and loving and caring ways oh well as they say Que Sera Sera but thank you for your research in Junior’s names very interesting

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it funny how that works out — your first not being like your husband and your second being just so? I hope you are peaceful about your boys’ names! I’m sure you did a great job!


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