Yesterday’s post about the Campos-Duffy family prompted me to look more into what people think about repeating names among siblings. If you remember, they used Pilar (one of my fave Marian names!) as a middle name for three of their girls, and Margarita as a middle for one girl and a first name for another. I’m just noticing too that they used Jack as a middle and John-Paul as a first (it’s the John connection that I’m finding interesting between them).
I think the majority opinion is that names shouldn’t be repeated? Grace (Camp Patton) once said, “Simon came up with Xavier as the middle name and I wish we’d saved that for a first name because I love that name as well.” In the Name Lady’s Can I Recycle a Middle Name post she describes it as “not an ideal situation,” though she also acknowledges that it’s not “totally out of bounds,” and “In fact, quite a few parents give in and reuse older kids’ middle names. You never know it, because they carefully avoid mentioning their children’s middle names at all.” (I would find that so hard! I love each firstname-middlename combo my hubs and I came up with for our boys — I’d hate to feel like I had to “carefully avoid mentioning their … middle names at all”!)
I know a few people who gave multiple children the same middle name — one family gave all the girls the middle name Marie, and two other families I know gave two daughters the middle name Catherine (but not all the daughters). There does seem to be a difference between giving all your children, or all your children of the same gender, the same middle name vs. only giving some children the same name and not the others.
The mumsnet thread Would you reuse a middle name as a subsequent childs first name? brought up several potential issues with reusing names — both using one child’s first name as another’s middle, and even repeating first names:
- “many people have said to me that in the future DD1 may resent the fact that DD2 “took” part of her name. Or DD2 may resent being “named after” DD1″
- “I personally wouldn’t do it, although the middle name we’re about to use is gorgeous and I would love to use it as first name, but I don’t want to hold it in reserve in case I don’t end up having another child to use it on!”
- “I know a guy who is named (first name, middle name, surname) after his older brother who died from SIDS! That’s V weird!” and “I do know a boy who has the same name as his brother, who was stillborn and I know somebody who is pg who already have a DD but they are expecting a DS, and they are going to give him the same middle name as their DD’s middle name!”
I was particularly intrigued by the second bulletpoint — I think a lot of people might load up all their fave names at the front end of their family because of not knowing how many they’ll have of one gender — or how many kids they’ll be blessed with overall — and not wanting to miss out on using a beloved name.
Regarding the third bulletpoint, in the old days reuse of names from older deceased child to younger sibling seems to have been somewhat common. Genealogy.com says that,
“Up until this century, parents could usually count on one third of their children not surviving. If a child died, the name was often used again. If a baby died, the next child of the same sex would often be given the same name. When checking birth records, you should never stop when you find the name you are looking for. You should continue for a few more years, because the first child could have died and your ancestor could have been the second child in the family with that name. If an older child died, a younger one would often be named for him or her. If you see George in the 1850 census as a six year old and then in the 1860 census as an eight year old, it may mean the first one died shortly after the 1850 census was taken.”
And we’ve seen how at least one Catholic royal family reused names with abandon, and not necessarily because of infant/child death.
I’m not sure what I think about the first bulletpoint. Probably that kids (big and little, adult and not) get in a huff about a million things that parents don’t think they will, and don’t get upset about things parents were sure they would … if I’d chosen to do this with names, my approach would probably just be to be sure to always positively talk about the choice we’d made — make a big deal about how wonderfully meaningful it was meant to be and a choice given in love — so at least if the kids hated it later, they would know it wasn’t done to upset them. And then pray for the best!
I’m also thinking that sometimes, as with one of the families I know that used Catherine as a middle name for two of their daughters, the reasons for using it were different each time — which then sort of makes it like two different names being used: one daughter was named after St. Catherine of Siena, and the other was named after Grandma Catherine. I myself would have used the name once and been pleased with the double honor, but that’s just my personal preference — I can definitely see it seeming like two different names in this scenario, even though it looks and sounds the same. It kind of ties into what Abby wrote in one of my favorite of her posts, The Secret Meaning of Names:
“Some of the best names have backstories that are unique to the family in question. Mallory doesn’t mean sorrowful if your parents met in Mallory, Indiana. Then it means “small town where my parents met.” And if your parents happened to meet there because it was a dark and stormy night, and your mom had a flat tire and the repair shop was closed and your dad just happened to be in town for a meeting and suddenly, there they were nursing coffee at the Mallory Diner just one seat apart … well, then your name means “serendipity, twist of fate.””
And it ties into what I wrote in my Nameberry post Good-Intention Baby Naming: “The intention behind the bestowing of the name can be as important—or more so—than the name’s actual origin or meaning or other specifics.”
In the case of the Campos-Duffys, their repeating of names is so exuberant — one of you used the word “confident,” which was so great — that it really strikes me as not that strange at all. And the gorgeousness and saintliness of the names they chose makes me think of that royal names post — each one is sort of decadent and fabulous, really beautiful choices.
What do you all think? Would you (have you?) use one child’s middle name for another’s first name? What about other types of repeating — using the same middle name for all the children, or all one gender, or the names of lost babies (miscarried/stillborn/died when they were older) being given to younger siblings?