December 8, 2007

DTQ: Is Four The New Three For Baby Names? How About Five?

Not only are we still undecided on the other kid's name, our short list is twice as long as it was at this stage the first time around. It's got some great names on it [1], but I wonder if the sum is greater than the parts. How many names can you reasonably give a kid?

I have a middle name, my wife does not [and since she changed her name when we got married, but continues to use her maiden name professionally, it's like she has two last names, which requires four times the paperwork to do anything.]

Since I know I will never win a Nobel Prize for Physics, I feel pretty strongly that our kids' only chance is if they get my wife's name, too. Throw in a first name-style middle name, and you're already up to four.

We have friends in New York--bold, British friends--who've given their sons like seven names apiece. Do you have to be bold and/or British to go beyond....what? Isn't four the new three? I which case, five's really not that big of a deal, right?

[1] Unfortunately, my brilliant idea to honor my family's illustrious backwoods North Carolina heritage by naming the other kid after her great^5 grandmother, Mary Argent Mozingo, has been shelved. I was like, "It's got zing built right in!" but no dice.


When we were making a list of names for our first I would come up with all sorts of clever offbeat ones and my wife would (often witheringly) take them out. The prime example was the inventive (I thought) moniker, "Pilot". When I proposed it one morning over breakfast, my wife, without looking up from her bagel, responded dryly, "Why don't we just jump to the chase and name him "Punching Bag".
I had been duly chastised.

[There's some story about Benjamin Bratt naming adding Bravery to his kid's middle name after a friend said that, with a name like Mateo, the kid'd get his ass kicked in jr high. -ed.]

We had enough trouble coming up with one name we could agree on... and since my wife is Japanese but I no longer have any legal status there, our daughter's legal last name in Japan is my wife's, and in Canada it's mine. (We got married in Japan so my wife couldn't take my last name -- some crazy law they have there where you MUST take your spouse's name, except when your spouse is non-Japanese, in which case you can't even if you want to. Yeah... great, huh?)

We did give the kid my wife's last name as a legal "middle name" though, just so there was some overlap... I'm sure she'll have fun explaining that someday but it seemed like the best way to make sure that her Canadian birth certificate had some similarity to her Japanese passport.

We did the same with both our kids - First Name, Middle Name, Wife's last name as a second middle name, then my last name as a last name.

My wife and I did the same thing - she technically took my last name on the marriage certifcate (because at the backwater little town just over the NY border, the old lady there told us we should because it would make life easier) but she still uses her maiden name on everything. Hasn't made filling out any forms more difficult... is there something you know that we don't? Is ever form we've ever signed invalid?

Our daughter has four names; her two middle names are the first names of my wife's grandmothers. It's a fairly common thing to do in France, but they had a hard time with the concept on her birth certificate here. There's no room for more than three, and we had to go to the registrar's office after the fact to have it changed.

Since we didn't know if we'd ever have another daughter, we used both the grandmother's names as middle names for our first. Then when we did have a second daughter, we were like, ooops, so much for that option.

Our little guy has two middle names, one for our adopted 96 year old neighbor, and the second my wife's grandmothers maiden name to honor her Native American heritage. Our friends and family are better with that than the hyphenation of our last names...traditionalism abounds there.

in our family, the children's middle name is the fathers first name. 3 names per person, going back as far as we can manage to see (300 years or so). Was really useful when making the family tree.

I hyphenated my kids names and didn't change my name and then got divorced. Now I'm remarried and i thought I legally changed my name I didn't actually change it on any legal document—like my passport. Now when we so something like travel, my husband and I don't have the last names of either of our kids. There's a lot of explaining to do at immigration. And making plane reservations takes like an hour. But that's not as bad as my brother. His daughter has his wife's last name and his son has his last name. When we all went to Mexico together they wouldn't let them on the plane with the kids even though they all had passports, because he couldn't prove that his wife was his son's mother—even though his son was still nursing! They had to miss the flight and get a notarized letter! And of course there's the small matter of what my kids are going to do when they fall in love with girls who have hyphenated last names. Oops!

Our daughter has a first name beginning with the same letter as my maternal grandmother (who always hated her name, but still longed to have a great-granddaughter named after her) and my wife's paternal grandmother's name as a middle name.

When we were thinking of names before we knew the sex, I proposed the name of the street we lived on at the time as a boy's name: Beaufain. Being that we lived in Charleston, SC the name wouldn't have been entirely out of place. I told my wife we'd call him Beau. She never took me seriously, and then we found out we were having a girl. I wonder what would have transpired if we had a boy and I tried to stick to my guns.

Our firstborn daughter has two middle names-one for each of her living grandmothers. Her first name is realtively unusual and together with each middle name reflects our combined ethnic background (greek/chinese/anglosaxon). At the time we were unsure that we would be blessed with any more children...and then along came twin girls. Again we gave them first names that were not "popular" and two middle names each , an aunt's name (we each have one sister), and the name of a surviving great grandmother. This also works for us because they each have a name suitable for use in the Greek Orthodox church. We are the eldest of our siblings and perhaps we are more inclined to want names for our children that have some significance.
So in short- we tested the limits in our family when it came to naming our kids-both with the choices and the number, but given that we also honoured family members at the same time-we konw we made some people very happy. Their cousins of course are Zach, Maddie, Emily, Joshua etc

Interesting story about the kids with different last names; we are planning to give our second kid, should we be so lucky, my last name, and our son has my husband's last name. We never travel without his birth certificate, full stop, so this would be a non-issue, but that's because we've heard plenty of stories about parents getting "prove those are your kids" even if everyone has the same last name. But it's probably more common with different last names.

My female colleagues went about 50-50 with the kids having his vs. her last name, but I get the sense that's not typical, although it's a lot more egalitarian than the default to the man-name.

weve taken the two first names route - ie first and middle name are really the first name, and we call both (esp our daughter) by both names most of the time - not only when we are mad, which is the only time my parents ever used my middle name. and we just gave them my last name, b/c my wife wanted to take my name anyway when we got married anyway but i wouldn't let her cuz im a feminist.

I'm all for a grand total of three names. My oldest daughter got my middle name (but a different spelling) and my youngest daughter got my mother-in-law's maiden name (Kennedy). My husband chose our son's first name and I chose his middle (at the time of his birth I fully intended to call him by his middle name, Keene, but this never seem to materialize). My brother and his wife gave their children her maiden name as a second middle name. Their names are pretty, but certainly a mouthful. And think of all those little bubbles they'll have to fill out on their SATs.

I'm a child with 4 names.
My first and second names are given. My third name is my mother's maiden name. My last name is my father's last name.
It's great. Plus my initials spell MELT. What fun.

My kids both have two given names. Plus my husband's last name as a second middle name and my last name as the last name.

We'll make family trees a nightmare, but we're both happy with the arrangement. If the kids want their Dad's last name when they're older, I'll help them change it.

[check it out, four IS the new three! -ed.]

The kids ended up with middle names at my husband's wish, although I feel that a first and a middle is both ungainly and pretentious; had I my druthers, it would have been just a first name.

Have you seen the "Baby's named a bad, bad thing" blog? It's very amusing:

[not since the last time we went through this process. it's a classic, though. and every couple of months I get an email from some paleface kid with an Indian name who gets all in my grille after Googling across it. good stuff.

as for the middle name thing, your pov on 3 names is exactly what I'd suspected about 4, but never before about 3. name inflation must be kicking in just like the sizes of mcmansions! -ed.]

FOUR names is where its at. Proper first name and then one middle name to honor each side's heritage. Then a last name.

My son is Zacharie. First born sons on my side get GEORGES as a middle name. Done.

Next is my wife's last name, since her dad's name is Ernie Marvin and she wasnt going to drop either of those on our little guy.

Wrap it up with our last name and you have a great way to represent all aspects of family history.

I find any name at all ungainly and pretentious....

Great Dad Blog! I would love to see it on the list of The Best Dad Blogs Ever! Go add it and so that others can enjoy your great blog.

I'll be back, this is great!


[thanks, it's your list; you can add it if you like. and good luck with your search engine manipulation! -ed.]

My children have two page birth certificates. The first page has one of my first names and one of my middle names, the second page has all five names listed. I am one of the people with two first names and three middle names (all very long). My youngest has two middle names, but they managed to fit those all on the first page. I have unusual first names, so I went with saint's names for the boys.

Both my brother and I have 4 names. Actually, he may have 5. First name, middle name(s), mothers maiden and father's last name. I think it's pretty standard in some cultures to carry both parents names plus one or two middle names, yes -- to honour both sides.

I can't remember, is your second a girl or a boy? I just came across a sticky on my desktop with all the could've beens for Jasper. Pretty funny.

[girl. I found a list in a suit coat pocket that I'd done when I was bored in church, all the different combos for the kid's name. The rest of our shortlist then has become really too popular for us, or else it's been used by family/friends, so we were back to square one. -ed.]

Our daughter has 4 names: 1-her great grandmother's first name, 2-a female version of my father's middle name and 3-my maiden name as her "middle" name (necessary on the US birth cert. application) and 4- my husband's last name.
Since my father was the only son in his family and he had no sons, I'm trying to keep that name going.

I technically have 3 names, but the middle name was hypenated because it was my Chinese name, and Chinese given names generally consist of 2 separate characters, each one syllable. In our family we would hyphenate those two instead of the alternatives of combining into one name or having two separate names.

When I got married, I hyphenated my last name, as did my husband. Our daughter has the hyphenated last name, and in keeping with our Chinese tradition, a hyphenated middle name.

So she also has technically 3 names, but two hyphenated ones.

My mother is the youngest of 10 kids. When she was born (1944), all of the siblings were invited to pick a name. She ended up as Kathleen Agnes Virginia Sandra +lastname. To keep things fun, she has always been called Sandra - and didn't know her first name was Kathleen until she was 14. Through the years Mom has enjoyed 3 different last names. Every bit of paperwork lists her name as a different combination of the 4 names and 3 last names. Oy!

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