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Friday, August 10, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Is it Okay to Use the Same Middle Name for Two Children?

Bethany writes:
I currently have two children with names I love- Daniel Henry and Elsa Catherine. I am pregnant again and am considering these names: William Henry and Clara Catherine. The thing I like about the middle names is how well it flows with our last name, Hyde. We do call the kids by all three names quite often. My spouse thinks this idea is nuts, and I am just wishing that I named our son William instead Daniel and our daughter Catherine instead of Elsa.  He may be right, I may have to mourn the perfect names William Henry Hyde and Clara Catherine Hyde.

Unless the Swistle Baby Naming Cohort thinks its not too odd to share middle names.

My vote is that it's not too odd! I think of the middle name as a perfect place to...PLAY, I guess. It's where you can do things you wouldn't do with a first name: for example, use names that are not really your style but you love them anyway, or use names that have deal-breakers such as bad nicknames or bad initials or a problem with your surname, or use names that are too way-out-there or too overly-common for your preferences, or use names that would have clashed with sibling names---or use duplicate names.

The one downside is that I think once you do it, you have to do it for all the siblings of that sex (and maybe also for the siblings of the other sex), which can make first-name selection difficult. You don't actually, literally HAVE to, but the pressure would be intense, and NOT doing it would take it from a fun "This is a cool bonding thing we do in our family!" (with the fun possibility that the children might grow up to do a version of it with their own children) to an odd "Hey, how come they get their own names and I don't?"


The Cochran Fam said...

Just do it! We have friends whose three daughters all have the same middle name. It's actually the same middle name as their mother. Yes, that's a little different, but if you love the names you've chosen (and they are both lovely names,) go for it!

Anonymous said...

One side of my family has a long-standing tradition of boys having the same middle name. It's not weird, but it's definitely established and perhaps that's why it doesn't seem out of the ordinary. I think this will work better if it becomes tradition; that said, it's not a huge deal. Most people won't know/remember, and those who do aren't likely to give it much thought.

Jessica said...

I like it! I think it would be fun. You definitely would have to do it for all the (future) children, though.

Laura said...

I have a friend who has the same middle name as her sister and brother. It's not weird at all and hardly ever comes up in conversation.

Anonymous said...

I say do it. I don't think you HAVE to do it for all children: I think a third girl could have another different link, like same first initial, or nickame of that name, or name of same meaning ( eg if you name girl 2 Clara Catherine, girl 3 could be Marie Elsa, or Celia Cate or Agnes Phoebe)
I know two sets of three sisters with same middle name and one set of 5 cousins from same family. I think its a magical idea.

Slim said...

I know families that do this too, although in all cases they do not use all three names regularly, as you say you do. To me, that's the sticking point. But Swistle recently posted something by someone who wanted all her kids' names to end in -ly, which would not be my preference either, so I think it really depends on your comfort with matchiness.

StephLove said...

Go for it. I would keep using those middles for all the children of that sex, though, if you have more.

Christine said...

I wouldn't do it, but know someone who intends to give all her girls the same middle name. It also happens to be her mother's name. I do think you'd have to do it for all your kids though, so if that's a concern, I would nix it.

Anonymous said...

I vote no. I had the same middle name as my sister growing up, and I always thought it was highly unoriginal of my mother to repeat when she only had two daughters. When I changed my name as an adult I dropped the original middle name. I do have cousins where all of the boys got dad's name as a middle name, and that made sense to me, but recycling a middle just because made me feel like an afterthought.

Anonymous said...

I also vote no in a situation like this. I think it's very different if all of the children have the same middle name because it has some significance (e.g., mother's maiden name, parent or grandparent's name, religious meaning, cultural tradition, etc.) But if it's just a name you like, I would look for a second that you like as well that is unique for this new, unique child. I think the names feel "perfect" in part because you're thinking of them that way---when you find the new perfect name, it will fit the new child (or at least that's how it was for us--we were hung up on the name we couldn't use for various reasons for a long time until we stumbled on THE name, and then suddenly it was strange to think of the original name as having been perfect).

If you like William and Clara, why not try them out with some middles that are similar to the other two, but not the same? Or try mixing it up a bit---with your last name, I actually really love three-syllable names with Clara and William (e.g., Clara Eloise, William Harrison, etc.) which would give the new name a new sound, too. Good luck, and congrats!

Anonymous said...

I agree if you do it, you'll have to do it for all your future kids. I also know families who have done this, but it was never with names that they just liked, but always with family names they wanted to carry down. It does seem a little weird since the names aren't family names.
It also seems like part of why you want to do it is because of namer's remorse. If you wish you had used Catherine as her first name, I'm not sure using it as a middle name again is going to make that feeling go away.

Nicole Trager said...

I think its great! Especially on the girls. My 2 sisters and I have the same middle name.. and so does our mom and aunts... it connects all of us girls together since we are having different last names (as we get married). We even call my brother Koby Marie as a joke because the middle name is so strong in our family.. he is the only boy and got named Koby Wendell. Our family does use the first and middle a lot around the house and it was not weird at all to share, on the other hand I have one more middle name than my sisters so I guess I get special treatment. We are Nicole Neva Marie, Cassandra Marie and Kara Marie.. and sometimes Koby Marie when we want to be funny. I plan on my girls having the same middle name as the rest of the family.

Heidi J said...

My vote is also no. I've heard of people using a family name as a middle name for all their children, but to repeat a middle name just because you like it seems strange. If you really want to do it, I doubt it'll matter that much in the long run. However, I know I would've been annoyed as child if I had shared my middle name with my sisters. My thought on middle names is to use them as a potential back up name that the child can use if for some reason if the child doesn't want to use their first name, which wouldn't work as well if your kids shared their middle name.

Lovey said...

Do it! I know a family whose mother kept her maiden name when she got married. When they had kids, they all got her maiden name as middle names. They love it and it never even comes up unless someone asks.

ksmaybe said...

I might think it was a bit odd, but if you like it, go with it. I do think you'd be locked in for anymore if you plan to go higher than 3 :) My son and dh share a middle name, as do my daughter and I. I'm expecting another daughter and don't plan to give her the same middle name, but obviously, it doesn't bother me to have multiple people in the house with the same mn. I also knew twins once whose first names were Aaron and Darren (spelled more similarly, but I forget the details on the weird spellings). Their middle names were Ray and Wray. A little much twinness for me, but hey, it made the mom and dad happy! They later had a daughter and she got a different name, although her first name was Lauren, which is about as similar as you could do!

phancymama said...

I plan to give all my children the same middle name; my mother's maiden name, which is the same one my brother and I share as a middle name. So I am a fan of same middle names when there is a deliberate reason and decision.
But if it is a case of not thinking you will be able to find anything else as good, then I suggest you keep looking for new middle names. What is it that Swistle says--not that you need a name as good or better than X name, but that X name is not on the list, so which is the best out of what is available? (Sorry Swistle, I think I butchered that thought.)

To my ear, Clara and Elsa are similar names, so much so that Clara Catherine and Elsa Catherine might not be distinctive. For instance, Elsa Catherine and Clara Elizabeth. Oh, E.C. and C.E. I adore it. But I'm off track.

I do agree with prior posters who say if you do repeat the middle names, that you continue that with any further children.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think the most important consideration is that your spouse thinks the idea is nuts = P. It seems like if you're going to go against the grain, it has to be something you're both enthusiastic about.

Anonymous said...

I think its a shame to waste an opportunity to use a different name, but that's based on my own desire to use ALL my favorites which probably wont happen! :) I think there are so many nice names out there and I would be inclined to shop around a bit more before you decide to go for it. I think the only reason I would repeat names is if I loved the idea of "linking" the kids, not just because. Think about names that sound like Catherine at least, what about Caitlin or Caroline?

Nedra said...

Is there any kind of story to Henry and Catherine? Besides the fact that they flow well with the last name? I think it's an easier sell if Catherine is the name of a beloved relative or you want your daughters to have the same character as a famous Catherine in history that you admire. (same for Henry, of course.) I think that makes it much easier to tell the kids (and others) why it was important to you to give this name to all your kids.

I DO agree with Swistle that once you've started it, you'll be hard-pressed to continue it with future children, if you have them.

Ellie said...

I think it's odd. Sorry.

Katie said...

I know a family with 6 children and they all have the mother's maiden name...(boys and girls) which is also coincidently the dad's first name! It works and I love it!

Anonymous said...

My mother is one of 6 children and all 4 girls have the same middle name. It links the names but is not too obvious unless you really know the family. I say go for it!

Anonymous said...

I share a middle name with my sister, and we've always hated it. It's hard enough to develop and maintain your own identity when you're younger, and the shared middle just made it feel like we had to push away from each other even harder. I've also never loved my first name, but never felt like the middle belonged to me enough to go by it. So I vote that you give your children names that they can own as wholly theirs. You obviously have lovely taste in names, so use it to come up with something different!

Eva.G said...

I vote no. I know a few families where some - not all - of the siblings have the same middle name, and I always thought it was really weird. It's just an opinion, and one you may encounter, but it's only an opinion and you don't have to acknowledge others' opinions! :-)

It would make more sense if all of the girls, or all of the boys, have the same middle. I still wouldn't have liked it as a child, as I like having my own unique names.

However, the only situation I'd consider doing that is if the mother gives her maiden name as middle names to all the kids. Or a family surname. I think this is totally a cool thing to do! That's different than just a name you'd like to use again.

Are there other names you can use that are similar, yet different? What about Cate or Kate instead of Catherine? Clara Cate is super cute.

Patricia said...

I agree with those who are in favor of each child having his or her own middle name. The only exception would be giving each of the daughters the mother's middle name and/or each of the sons the father's middle name. I find this pattern makes sense, but far less so to choose a 'random' middle name and use it more than once.

There are so many lovely girls' names. You could choose another name beginning with C like Catherine:

Clara Christina
Clara Camille

Or give your second daughter a middle name beginning with E so they'll have reverse initials -- EC & CE:

Clara Elizabeth
Clara Eleanor
Clara Emily

I've always liked Catherine and Elizabeth as sister names, so my favorite would be Elsa Catherine and Clara Elizabeth.

For William, instead of Henry, would you like Hugo or a middle name ending in 'y' like Henry, such as Geoffrey, Anthony, Timothy, Zachary:

Daniel Henry & William Hugo

Daniel Henry & William Zachary (= biblical name/royal name & royal name/biblical name)

AirLand said...

I could see it being nice if you're using something like the mother's maiden name more than once, or honoring a really special family member.

But to use a middle name again because you like it better with a different first name than your existing child's name??? I can't go for that.

Jen said...

My sister and I have the same middle name and I know other sib sets that do as well. Ours is a family thing, as my mother and my grandmother both have the same middle name. Even my half sister (same father, different mother) has said she feels left out that she doesn't share our middle name since our cousin on our dad's side also has the same middle name. I think if you like it, go for it.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend whose two daughters have the same middle name (Joy) just as she and her sister had the same middle name (Dawn) just as her mother and aunt had the same middle name (Anne). I think it's a lovely family tradition, even if only in one generation. It's a way of symbolically connecting siblings. However, I do see how it could be a bit tricky if you were to have more than two girls...though, perhaps that would make it even more special!

Anonymous said...

I like
William Quincy Hyde
William Barrett Hyde
William Andrew Hyde
Clara Francis Hyde
Clara margerat hyde