I’ve been a daily reader of your blog, even before pregnancy, and would be honored to receive some advice from you (and your readers)! Ever since I asked for a baby name book for my birthday in junior high, I’ve been in love with names—but naming my own child has been trickier than I thought!My name is Rachel and my husband is Steve and we’re expecting our first baby, a boy, August 1st. Our last name is Trude11e.When we found out we’re having a boy, I knew I’d get stuck on the middle name. My husband’s middle name is Joseph, and it has been a tradition for many generations to give Joseph as a middle name to the first-born son in the family. However, I lost my dad when I was 19 and have hoped to use one of his names, Eric or Stewart, in the middle name spot. My husband knows that this is important to me, and his family has even said that we can drop the Joseph tradition if we want to. I feel bad doing this though, and wonder if I should just wait to honor my dad in a future baby’s name somehow. Another option is giving this baby two middle names, but I am not sure how Joseph Eric, Eric Joseph, Joseph Stewart, or Stewart Joseph sound together. I’ve even considered trying part of my maiden name (Erland), which I feel would also honor my father and my grandfather. But again, I’m just not sure about the flow (Joseph Erland isn’t really the cutest). Or, I would feel better dropping Joseph if we used another family name from my husband’s side. For example, my dad’s name and my father in law’s would make the middle name combo Eric Paul. My husband has said he doesn’t really like two middle names, and I go back and forth on it.I wish I weren’t so consumed with the middle name/tradition/honor issue because it totally takes some of the fun away from picking a first name (your advice to first-time parents about trying not to choose a middle name first is so true!). When it comes to first names, we seem to have two different naming styles that we like: Timeless and Antique Charm. We had many girls names we liked, including Claire, Clara, Eliza, Lucy…but of course we’ll have to wait and see if we can ever use them! Here’s what we’ve come up with for our favorites, but are still looking out for others we love.Thomas: We like the nickname Tom, and even the alliteration of Tom Trude11eHenry: I went through a streak of loving Henry and the nickname Hank, but now we’re just ok with it.August: Both of us like this name and the nickname possibilities (Augie and Gus) but we’ve received negative feedback from family (everything from it sounds “feminine” to “what if he’s born in July?”). I’m also not sure if the blending of August with the T last name is a problem.Miles: Also a favorite for both of us. I actually like Milo as a nickname, even though I know it’s a stand-alone choice. We’re both runners and met on the cross-country team (so miles has that meaning for us too), but we’ve received some eye rolls for this. Is that an annoying connection?Felix: Probably our favorite choice at the moment. Felix is a family name (Felix Joseph was one of my husband’s ancestors) and my husband really loves it. I like it too, even though my family members aren’t fans (they all say “like the cat??”).Do any of these seem to flow nicely with our middle name or names? What do you think about dropping a family tradition in order to honor someone? I’d love any advice!Thanks so much,
It's so pleasing and refreshing to read how considerate both sides are being: your in-laws don't want to force you to use their naming tradition, and you feel bad about the idea of abandoning it. It sounds like everyone is being very understanding, and that there won't be hard feelings no matter what you decide. In some ways this makes things more difficult, because it makes me want to make everyone happy, instead of making me want to say, "Traditions are not requirements!! Everyone gets to name their own baby!!" Instead I find myself thinking, "Gosh, it would be a shame to lose that tradition..."
The solution that leaps out at me is to use your dad's name in the first-name slot. This lets you honor him and also meet the naming tradition of your husband's side of the family. Eric Joseph Trude11e is my top choice. It takes away some of the fun of choosing the name, since in a sense both names are chosen for you---but I think it trades a good level of satisfaction and honor and problem-solving for the fun it extracts. As a long-term investment, I think it's a good one---and for your NEXT baby you can choose both the names and that will be even more fun to have that new experience.
I'm not sure what my second choice would be. Two middle names doesn't quite please: it seems to diminish both honors too much. On the other hand, it does make sure you'll get to use both. Using a different name from your husband's side seems like the worst of both worlds: a double middle name AND not using their tradition. I'd rather use two middle names that didn't go beautifully together, but have one of them be Joseph.
Using your dad's name for a second boy works better than trying to bend the first-son naming tradition to use it for a second boy (the next generation would be a little stuck: would the secondborn boy use Joseph for his firstborn son, or would the not-named-Joseph firstborn pick up the tradition again for his son?), so that would argue for the Joseph-then-dad order of turn-taking---but the possibility of then not having a second boy makes me very nervous. It would help so much if we could just KNOW what selection of children we would need to find names for, so we could PLAN!
I guess that my second choice would be to gamble on having a second boy (or plan on using Erica for a daughter's middle name), especially if you're planning more than one additional child. It IS a gamble, but I think if you don't want to use your dad's name in the first-name slot for this child, it's my favorite second-best option. (Though I could also get behind the plan to use your dad's name as the middle name and abandon the Joseph tradition.) I might then increase the honor by giving a second son two middle names: your dad's first and last. If Eric is your dad's first name, then, I'd name a second son ______ Eric Erland Trude11e. (That does create a lot of possible initial-spellings, though: FEET, MEET, etc.)
If you instead choose to go with two middle names, I'd use Joseph and whichever name is your dad's first name, and choose the order based on the sound with the first and last names. I don't think the sound/flow matters overly much: two middle names is going to make things a bit bulky, so I'd just go for the best you can do. The middle names are likely to all but vanish after the birth announcements go out.
I think the Miles/miles connection is a nice meaning for the two of you, but something I'd keep private to avoid the pun-related eye-rolling and subsequent inevitable jokes ("What will you name your next child, 'Kilometers'? Har har har!").
Felix is one of my own current favorites, and I think the cartoon-cat association will fade as the name becomes more popular (and will fade for your family as soon as they see their own little Felix). Considering the cat has been out of production/style since the silent movie era, I'm a little surprised the association lingers as much as it has; it would be like having people say "Like CHAPLIN??" for every baby named Charlie. I have a stronger association with the 35-year-old TV show The Odd Couple, but neither association seems deal-breaking to me. The answer to "Oh, like the cat??" or "Oh, like Felix Unger??" is a smiling, puzzled "...No. It's a family name." But it seems like using a first name, middle name, AND surname from your husband's side is getting too uneven. Perhaps the first son could be Eric Joseph, and the second could be Felix Erland.
August doesn't seem feminine to me, though it's less boys-only than the other names on your list: 116 girls and 705 boys in 2011, according to the Social Security Administration.
And Thomas and Henry are both good solid choices too. I really think you have a good list to choose from.
What does everyone else think they should do about the two honor names?
Name update! Rachel writes:
We appreciated all of your advice and the comments from your readers! We finally decided on baby Trude11e's name the day after his birthday (August 6th). Although a big part of me really wanted to honor my dad by using his name (Eric) in the middle name slot, we decided to stick with tradition and use the middle name that my husband's side has been using for multiple generations (Joseph). We'll use my dad's name, or a variation of it, for a future child--it's a special honor that we'll save just for him or her. :)
Here is our little Miles Joseph Trude11e. We like to call him "Milo," and are in love with this little guy. Thank you again for your help!