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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Baby Girl Cunningham, Sister to Jackson ("Brooks") and Emery

Mackenzie writes:
Background on the family would include myself Mackenzie Ruth and my husband Jackson Elliot "Jack". Our last name sounds like Cunningham and this baby girl, our third child together, is due on April 23rd, 2012. We have two older children Jackson Brooks IV "Brooks" and Emery Taylor "Emery". Long story short, my son goes by his middle name as he is the fourth, his first name was not my first choice, but it is the "Cunningham" family tradition to name the first son Jackson, and Brooks is a more appealing, unique choice of a name. Everyone in our family calls him Brooks, he introduces himself as Brooks to new people and although he knows his name is Jackson, he prefers to be called Brooks and will correct people if they use the wrong name with him.

Then we have our sweet baby girl Emery Taylor. I wanted her to be named Emerson Taylor after my maiden name (Emerson) and a friend who passed away in high school (Taylor). But, there was another "Cunningham" tradition that was in the way. The middle name Marie is typically used for women on that side of the family, but I was very adamant on my name choice. We compromised and gave her the name Emery because it sounds like it incorporates Marie (although my husband did lobby for Emarie/Emerie but I just couldn't do it).

Now we get on the subject (finally!) of baby girl #2. My husband now insists on using the middle name Marie (as we did not use it with Emery), but it doesn't feel right to me. We named our son after the Cunningham side of the family and Emery is partially named for the Cunningham's, although her middle name represents a childhood friend of mine. I feel it is time to honor my part of the family. Possible name that could be used as either a first or middle name would be:
Lillian, Catherine, Ruth, Elizabeth, Caroline, Hadley, Shea, or Addison

Names that we have also looked at have been:
Kennedy, Reagan, Leighton, and Kinley

The pressure has also been put onto us by both sides of the family. My parents are arguing that they is no namesakes after them (William Hayes and Lillian Elizabeth), while my husband's family is arguing the debate of Marie as a middle name.

Please help us Swistle as it seems you can be the only person of reason in the situation. Please!

My first impulse is to go back in time and pressure the two of you to use Emerson instead of Emery: not only is "mother's maiden name as child's first name" one of my favorite family name ideas, but it's a beautiful balance for the "named for his father" naming tradition of your first child.

If altering the name Emerson to incorporate Marie WASN'T enough to satisfy the tradition, then the name Emerson should have been left alone (otherwise the sacrifice was too great to justify the change); because of this, I decree conclude that that Marie tradition HAS been satisfied. Perhaps this will make more sense to your husband's family if it is suggested to them that changing your family name from Emerson to Emery was like changing their family name from Jackson to Jacoby. You gave up a great deal for the sake of their tradition---and two must-use (as opposed to fun and optional) traditions from one family is unreasonable to begin with.

Meanwhile, it sounds as if both sides of the family are being pushy and disagreeable. No one may demand a namesake be used, or complain if it isn't. Namesakes are honors not be expected, but rather to be received with happy, teary-eyed surprise. Both sets of your parents made their own baby-naming decisions for their own babies, and now the decisions are up to you and your husband. You may even need to point this out in a polite and loving way. (It will help even more if your parents didn't use family names for you and your siblings, or if your husband's parents felt at all burdened by their own need to follow traditions.)

Now that we have dealt with the grandparents, we need to deal with your husband. The children in this family all carry his family surname, is that right? First and middle names are not also to be chosen based solely on his and his family's preferences; if anything, the fact that his family is honored in every child's name already should tip the use of other honor names toward your side of the family, so that each full name represents both sides. The names are to be decided by the two of you together; there is no room here for insisting, or for acting as if traditions are requirements that trump the other parent's naming rights. He was very fortunate to marry a woman who was willing to let her son be named by tradition; insisting also now on a "typically used" middle name tradition is pushing it.

(Not that these paragraphs of should-ing and shouldn't-ing will do you much good if the other people involved disagree. But sometimes it is heartening to have others on your side, even if it makes no difference to the reality of the situation.)

With the name Emery, my favorite names from your family list are Hadley, Shea, and Addison. And although I feel outraged on your behalf and it makes me feel stubborn and resistant to this idea, I reluctantly mention that Hadley Marie would be pretty cute, and would be a nice way to give each daughter a name that's a mix of mother's and father's sides.

But I prefer Hadley Elizabeth. Or Addison Hayes would be nice with Emery Taylor. I'm finding Shea harder to work with, and Shea Cunningham sounds a little like Chez Cunningham, so maybe I'd put Shea in the middle name slot instead: Hadley Shea, Addison Shea.

I especially like the idea of using your middle name Ruth, to give each daughter a tie to your name as your son's name ties to his father's. Hadley Ruth, Addison Ruth.

The names on your joint list (Kennedy, Reagan, Leighton, Kinley) are all great with Emery, but they don't seem as good with Cunningham. Maybe Landry would work. Landry Cunningham; Emery and Landry. Because it's a unisex name, I'd go definite-feminine for the middle name: Landry Ruth, Landry Elizabeth, Landry Catherine.

Or to get rid of the unisex aspect, Laney would work well. Laney Cunningham; Emery and Laney. Laney Shea is fun to say, or Laney Ruth, or Laney Elizabeth.

Or Shelby. Shelby Ruth Cunningham, Shelby Elizabeth Cunningham.

Lila isn't exactly Lillian, but might please your mother anyway. Lila Cunningham; Emery and Lila.

Or hey, would you want to do another combined name like Emery? Lilabeth would reflect both of your mom's names, and then if you did Marie in the middle maybe everyone would be happy. Lilabeth Marie Cunningham; Emery and Lilabeth.


April said...

Swistle, I love this comment - "No one may demand a namesake be used, or complain if it isn't. Namesakes are honors not be expected, but rather to be received with happy, teary-eyed surprise."

Made me want to hug you through the computer.

These people sound pushy! This much opinionated-ness would make me want to do something irrational like kick them in the neck. Or name my baby something they hate and yell "Neener neener! Not up to you!" every time I saw them.

Ali said...

Oh, I am so glad that you mentioned the father's surname in this context. I feel like my in-laws do not at all acknowledge that my children getting their surname (which I do not share) is
A) a choice and
B) an honor.
I like Hadley Elizabeth best here--I think it's a great match with Emery and Brooks and seems like the best representative of the asker's style (as demonstrated by the names-we've-looked-at list) from the honor name list.

Laura said...

To the original writer, I am so sorry that you are being pressured in this way! It's not fair in any way. You've satisfied the "Marie" tradition and now it's time to move on. I have always secretly loved the name Laney/Lainey, so that name gets my vote - Lainey Elizabeth.

liz said...

What they all said. Sheesh, Emery totally satisfies the Marie thing, and enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

By now Im pretty sure this is why women used to just go off and give birth in a forest or a field...b/c of the people who think they get a say in the name.

I say you have satisfied all of their naming requirements..which if you cant tell I think are ridiculous...and you should name this baby after your family or a name that is special to you.

My own MIL would have NOTHING to do with my oldest child when said child did not receive the name she had chosen and you know what? I wouldn't change his name for anything almost 7 years later. Good luck with your decision!!!

StephLove said...

I agree there's been enough family names from his side. A IV is big commitment. It's the whole name after all. I'd go with something with no family connections or from your side. You do have some very nice names that mix and match well on that list.

I like:

Caroline Ruth <-- my favorite
Catherine Ruth
Ruth Caroline
Ruth Catherine
Shea Elizabeth <-- I think this one goes best with the sibling names.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder if your parents being pushy is simply a reaction to the insane "requirements" set by your husband's family. Either way--you actually changed your maiden name in order to satisfy the Marie "rule" and that wasn't good enough? Sheesh. I'm tempted to tell you to use Emerson as a middle for this baby just to make a statement :) Hadley Emerson & Emery Taylor. Girls get name after mom, boys after dad and just tell everyone that it is your tradition.

Holly said...

Bah! Parents and in-laws! This is why my daughter's name was a secret until she was born - my husband and I had a hard enough time figuring it out, and I certainly didn't want someone (AHEM, MIL) to bash it - as I expected she would. A lot harder to criticize a name when it belongs to a sweet little newborn.

I knew a girl called Lisabeth, and she went by Lisa. Her name was actually an error on her dad's part because they were naming her after a cousin/friend something or other, Elizabeth, but he always thought her name was Lisabeth, so that's what went on the BC. Sigh. Something to think about with Lilabeth.

Nicole Trager said...

Love this comment "No one may demand a namesake be used, or complain if it isn't. Namesakes are honors not be expected, but rather to be received with happy, teary-eyed surprise." I really feel like more people should take this to heart. You are carrying the child and caring for it for 18 years, you should have way more input for the name than anyone else.. and it should be a surprise and a wonderful honor if you chose to include family names. I cant believe how pushy some people are.. we are not pregnant, but my husband is a III and I have already had thousands of questions if we will have a IV.. the answer is no. But that does not mean I will not honor his family in some other way. So I can really really feel for your case!

I feel like you have done the honor of his family twice.. now its time to focus on yours. Out of your name selections and swistle's suggestions my favorite is actually Lilabeth .. I think Lilabeth Hayes would be lovely and would honor both your mother and father in one fell swoop. I do love Hadley Ruth as an option.. I also suggest Willa as an honor option for your falther.. maybe Willa Elizabeth or Willa Hadley. Good luck!!!

Jessica said...

Swistle, for a bit there it looks like you switched from using Emery to Ellery. Is that a mistake or is Ellery actually used somewhere?

Nichole said...

I'm with Swistle: stand your ground! You've carried three babies - one of them should have a name you adore without undue external pressure!!

That said, I LOVE Addison Hayes. I think it's adorable!

Swistle said...

Jessica- Whoops! Fixing it...

Jessica said...

Didn't Swistle have a post sometime about how middle names used to be generally used just for flow and almost everyone had similar ones (Marie, Rose, Ann), then at some point the middle name slot became more important to parents?

It seems to me this Marie naming tradition might not have been a huge burden to previous generations, but it certainly is now. I definitely think it's unreasonable to have both a required male naming tradition AND a female one.

Also, I like the Jacoby example. I would hope it would help his family to realize how much you've already compromised.

Emily S. said...

What about Willow Elizabeth? (Willow after your dad)
Use a name you LOVE for the first name and an honor name for the middle name. And I think you could honor your mother since you did honor your dad with Emery (Emerson is his last name right??)
You seem like you like surnames as first names. What do you think of:
Piper, Sailor, Jensen, Lennox, or Quincy?
I like Hadley and Leighton too. I like Kinley, Kinsey, Kennedy, but I'm not sure about the double /k/ sound with cunningham. Best of luck ... and don't tell the families the name until she is born!!!!

mary said...

ugh! that sounds like real drag. I agree, it's your turn, and if necessary, your mom's turn. What about:

Linden Elizabeth
Linley Elizabeth
Lylie Caroline

Anonymous said...

While I agree you shouldn't have had to change your family name to Emery to fit with their requirements, if you hadn't changed it you would have had a Jackson and an Emerson. Too much 'son' maybe? However having said that, since neither of them are called by their 'son' name, maybe you should call the third one Addison. Jackson, Emerson and Addison - Brooks, Emery and Addison.

On the other hand, if you feel you have to use Marie, how about Lily-Marie Hayes Cunningham. Then you've got all bases covered!

JC said...

This is why we didn't choose any family names (on purpose) or tell our names before hand. I do not think I could have handled it- I'm batty enough when pregnant. I hope you can choose a name in peace.

My favorite is Hadley Elizabeth or Hadley Ruth.

Anonymous said...

LOVE Addison Hayes! I would want this name for myself!

Anonymous said...

How about...

Brooks, Emery & Adair?
Brooks, Emery & Ainsley?
Brooks, Emery & Aubrey?
Brooks, Emery & Blythe?
Brooks, Emery & Darcy?
Brooks, Emery & Harper?
Brooks, Emery & Iris?
Brooks, Emery & Ivy?
Brooks, Emery & Maisie?
Brooks, Emery & Miller?
Brooks, Emery & Rowan?
Brooks, Emery & Sydney?
Brooks, Emery & Winslet?

You like unisex names - I didn't know at first whether Brooks and Emery were your sons or daughters - so pick a middle name that is clearly feminine, just to avoid confusion.

Anonymous said...


Brooks, Emery, and Lillybeth.

√Člise said...

What about Elise Shea Cunningham? I'm partial since my name is √Člise, but it covers both Elizabeth and Shea. I know that you already have an Emery, but I still think it works nicely together.

Veronica Marcetti Dimick said...

All I have to say is, they hand the birth certificate from to the MOTHER after delivery, so ... think about that, demanding husband.

I like Hadley Elizabeth, too.

Anonymous said...

Hayley Cunningham? Hay from your dads Hayes and the ley sound at the end could cover the Lily and the Marie. Hayley works well with loads of middle names fr the suggestions. Hayley Emma is a nice nod to your side of the family (Emma from Emerson) and Hayley Ruth is also great. I will forever regret letting my husband make the naming decisions for our children and wish I had stood up stronger and said this is MY child too. Have a voice. The in laws will get over it when they grow into the relationship with the child.

Anonymous said...

Or Haylie? That spelling brings in the "Marie" element a bit more, with your dads Hayes.

Anonymous said...

Emery, Haylie and Brooks. Nice.