I’ve never met a woman named after her mother. Isn’t that kind of strange? What’s the deal, anyway?
It has always been perfectly common for baby boys to be given their father’s first names. In some cases, it’s a beautiful tradition. It works out. It’s a point of pride. But listen, it’s not always a great thing.
I’m named after my dad, and even though I dig my first name just fine, there are quite a few reasons why I think it might have been even better if I’d been given my own name. This has led me to steer clear of the custom with my own kids.
1. I don’t want my son to feel he has to follow in my footsteps.
Even though I’ve reconnected with him, and he’s back in my life after decades of being MIA … truth be told: my dad pretty much turned out to suck at being my dad. He kind of turned out to be a man who didn’t shine at all as a father … as my father. And guess what? My name is just the same as his. No one could have known at the time, of course; my mom had no idea life would turn out the way it did, but still. The name always feels loaded in a negative way for me.
I’m not following in my dad’s footsteps. I’m a good dad. But there will be ways my kids will be better human beings than me. In fact, I’m hoping they will. Rather than carrying my first and last name around with them, I’d rather they made their own name for themselves.
2. My successes or failures should remain my own.
Okay, maybe you’re some kind of superstar success story.
Maybe you’re a baseball legend or the dude who started a major corporation or something.
But just because you’re a zillionaire or own 15 used car lots or built a muffler empire from the ground up or whatever doesn’t automatically mean that you owe it to yourself and your family to name a brand new baby after you, does it?
Let new souls have their own identity, I say.
Or name him Muffler or Chevy or even Dollar Bill if you absolutely need to stamp him with your own success somehow.
3. I don’t want my kids’ first names to carry my baggage.
See, new humans are born free and clear of the past, of all history really. And that’s such a wonderful thing. And the essence of having a child is that the sky is the limit when it comes to their futures. So why tag them from the get-go with a name that conjures up a whole lot of past to anyone who knows his dad?
4. It’s confusing.
Naming boys after dad is confusing as hell. It just is. From the moment a baby boy is given his father’s first name everyone who ever has anything to do with the two of them will constantly have to navigate the whole two-fellas-with-the-same-name thing.
“Here comes Tom! Well, I mean Tom, Jr.”
It gets to be so clunky having to always add on the “junior” bit. Or whatever else you might come up with. How about “Little Tom?” Ugh. Give me a break. What kid wants to grow up being known as the “Little” version of another man?
5. New names are fun!
C’mon now, people, admit it: deciding on a baby’s name is one of the coolest things that a mom and dad ever get to share! I have three kids and each time we found out that their mom was pregnant was such a magical time in our lives together. And a huge part of that magic had to do with the many hours we got to spend kicking names around with each other. They were such exciting and promising times that I cannot even imagine what it might have been like were we to have just already known that we were sticking one of our two sons with my first name.
It would have robbed us of something really special, I think. And I’m so glad we never went down that road.