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Naming Baby After Dad - Classic or Showy?

My wife and I are considering naming our son after me and calling him EJ for Eric Junior.

What is the history of passing down the father's name to his son and is it considered pretentious today?

- Dad-to-be

Fifty years ago, no one would have even asked me this question. Boys named for their Dads were as common as meatloaf and green beans. A dad-to-be in 1959 knew that no one would second-guess his motives for giving his son his own name. How could anyone have a problem with tradition, family history, and an unbreakable bond spanning generations?

My, how times have changed! The culprit is our American emphasis on things new, daring, and individual. Parents today want to endow their offspring with an original, distinctive moniker that will inspire gasps of admiration and envy. So they have abandoned little Junior in favor of Brayden, Kayden, and Zayden. (How pretentious would they have sounded in a '50s schoolyard?)

Meanwhile expectant fathers, usually twenty- and thirty-somethings, have names like Jason, Kevin, and -- yes -- Eric. Not trendy and new, not so-out-they're-in; just familiar, solid, and maybe a little plain. So Juniors are becoming an endangered species, just a fraction as common as in past generations.

How's this for irony: In a sea of cookie-cutter "original, distinctive" names, your Junior is likely to be the only one in his kindergarten class. But more than symbolizing your freethinking inventiveness, your Junior's name will proclaim to the world his family connections. Little EJ's name says, "This is my dad. This is me. We're family." I can hardly think of a less pretentious statement than that.

One word of warning, though: A Junior has a unique naming status, and kids are absolute geniuses at sensing when parents are favoring their siblings. If you plan to have more kids, make sure they carry special family names too, boys and girls alike. (Because you're choosing Eric Jr. to to build family bonds, not to create a regal dynasty and one day look forward to Eric the VIII. Right?) And of course, prepare yourself for cases of mistaken identity -- in both directions.

But as long as you're cool with all that, naming a son after his father is a tradition with centuries of history behind it. Please, Junior away without fear.

Comments

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March 24, 2009 11:12 AM
By Kayt (not verified)

I don't like juniors, personally. I think it seems a bit egotistical to name your child after yourself, or your spouse. Plus, I've known people who have credit issues because their dad used their social security number to obtain credit cards. Other guys I know have had warrants and jury duty issued in their names instead of their dads. It doesn't seem like a good idea when there are so many other ways to honor your family!

I like linking names through the generations. My son has the same middle name as my husband, which is his father and grandfather's first name, and his great-grandfather's middle name. It's not as confusing as being a junior, but my son is connected to four other generations of Kenneths. I've known people who give their kids the same initials, or reverse their name (ex: Eric Michael has Michael Eric). I think those are all more clever ways to honor your family then giving your child the exact same name as you.

April 1, 2009 3:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Also, the United States is becoming more multi-cultural and in some cultures, it is considered inappropriate to name a child after someone.

May 7, 2009 8:33 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

That's silly - if it's not inappropriate in my family's culture, why should I care? That's like saying Latinos should be forbidden from naming their children Jesus because some white Midwesterner wouldn't do that.

June 5, 2009 4:45 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I am not into Junior's, but I do think it is nice to name the first born son after his father. We are pregnant and if it is a boy, his middle name will be his fathers first name...not a Junior, but still named after daddy!

June 22, 2009 10:52 AM
By anonymous (not verified)

I think there is a tradition that should be respected. I am naming my son after his father and grandfather. William, but we're calling him liam, instead of will or bill, which are his father's and grandfather's name respectively. He is part of the tradition but still has his own name

October 25, 2009 2:22 PM
By Anonymouse (not verified)

Kids need their own identities and naming the kid fully after a parent is just creepy. Half the DNA wasn't enough? Have to take all of the signifier of identity?

December 31, 2009 9:18 PM
By stephanie (not verified)

I am pregnant now with my first son. We are going to name him after his dad. IF we change his middle name, will he still be the third, because the babys father and his dad both have the same first and middle name?

January 3, 2010 8:03 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

to Stephanie if you give the baby a different middle name from the father he will not be the third. It has to be the exact full name.

January 21, 2010 9:25 AM
By kk (not verified)

if the Sr-grandfather-has passed away would the newborn still be the III? Wouldn't the new father now be senior and the newborn junior in light of the fact that the senior technically isn't present?

April 1, 2010 1:26 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

As a male with the same first name as both his father and grandfather, I think giving children the same first names as their parents is the ultimate act of parental egotism. The kid already has the parent's last name, and he or she is their own person - why shouldn't they get their own name? A 'junior' or number tacked on at the end only makes it worse - it goes from being egotistical to downright insulting (sort of like saying the kid is somehow less than the parent). I say come up with a new name for the new person. If I have male children, they will certainly have their own names.

May 6, 2010 8:00 PM
By Danny (not verified)

I have a son due in September and my wife wants to name our son after me. I am honored but don't want the young man to feel that he has been molded to follow in my shoes or is born with expectations other than being himself. That being said, I have a very good friend who is a third. I spoke to him the other day to see what his view on the situation was and his reply was awesome. He told me that his grandfather and father were/are two of the hardest working, respected and respectful American patriots he has ever had the pleasure of meeting. He finished with saying that it has been an honor to carry the exact name of these men and it kept him in touch with the traditions that had been taught to him as he grew up around these fine men. He only wishes that he can continue the tradition of pride and respect associated with his family name by passing it on to a son. Just my two cents.

February 4, 2011 2:42 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My son has BOTH of our names (first and middle). Wow - looking back on that decision - it might of been egotistical but I think it was more of the proud parent kicking in ... look at what we made thing. I guess we should of included Jesus in his name as God surely had a hand in making our son, too! :)

April 19, 2011 3:55 PM
By Pats (not verified)

@Stephanie... If you name your baby after the father with the father's first and last name then yes he will still be considered a Jr. :) It's not a completely black and white situation as some people make it out to be. The baby does not have to have the same middle name to be a Jr. People are just rigid if they tell you otherwise. If our baby is a boy we will name him after his daddy but with a different middle name and we will still consider him a Junior.

August 30, 2011 12:18 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My family has a naming tradition on my father's side of using the same first name and middle initial, but different middle names.

My brother is, for example, John Michael, my father is John Mitchell, my grandfather is John Michael, my great grandfather was John Mitchell, and so on. My brother plans to name his first son John Marshall after our mother's brother, who is now deceased.

It is a little confusing using just their first names conversationally, but there have been very few legal issues.

September 20, 2011 2:53 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My girlfriend is pregnant carrying my son. I want him to be named after me more then anything in the world and she's against it saying she don't want to regret it. Is there anybody out there that can help me?

November 29, 2011 5:52 PM
By Scott (not verified)

Well, it's even worse if your first name is the same as your dad's and his dad, and so on, only to use a different middle name. To make matters worse, using a middle name (or preferred name) brings on a whole world of issues, none of them good. As a son, who's been branded with the first name of both his father and his grandfather, and uses a unique middle name, don't do it...

January 6, 2012 4:34 PM
By Amanda (not verified)

I cannot believe most of the comments on this. It is not egotistical in anyway to name your son after his father, but rather tender and endearing. It seems our culture has gotten away from family values and has turned towards a new age movement that is in complete opposition to the American family, or at least what it used to be. I searched this because I was interested in feedback. If anything this post/comments have encouraged my decision to name my son after his father...thanks. :)

January 6, 2012 4:48 PM
By Amanda (not verified)

A son will have his own personality/identity whether he is junior or not. A name does not determine what manner of mind he will have. We are not our own, we were made by God. To love Him and to be loved by Him, and to those that believe in Him and love Him will be given a new name by Him when we stand before Him. I praise God that I am not my own.

February 1, 2012 2:51 AM
By yasirra (not verified)

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February 10, 2012 3:34 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

i have named my son III and i regret it very much. Me and hubby are still talking about changing it. Obviously i want to change it more then he does ...i don't know what to be disrespectful ...but do not want to keep this name. should've stuck to what we were doing in the first place and just used his middle name. i felt very pressured by my mil..who was there for the labor. i most likely will be changing the name.Hes my son after all.. just hoping for no drama.

February 15, 2012 5:45 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

tht is so lame. What culture and why would a parent care who is offended by their child's name?

March 14, 2012 7:06 AM
By pittsburgh answering service (not verified)

That looked so awesome. Would love to spend a weekend at the hotel with my 21 yr old daughter and a day just like yours at the Spa. It did look like heaven!

April 9, 2012 1:35 AM
By 500GB external hard drive (not verified)

During the Twilight fame, parents call their babies Bella (for girls) and Edward or Jacob (for boys).

:-)

April 18, 2012 7:50 PM
By krystal (not verified)

My fiance and I are going to be first time parents, our baby is due in September. We haven't found out if our baby is a boy or girl but have already picked out names. I am very curious about the Jr situation. My fiances name is Forest, but he is known and goes by his middle name, Ryan. If we name our baby Ryan, would he still be considered a Jr?

August 5, 2012 7:25 AM
By Hermes Kelly (not verified)

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August 6, 2012 12:52 PM
By Antoine (not verified)

I have a son, an eight-month old, with my exact same names. And contrary to the majority of opinions here, who suggest it's in some way 'showy' or 'egotistical', I think it's the noblest act possible. It's my way of saying: "I mean to share my being, my very life with you, boy. Including my own names." I'd wager that most of those advocating 'uniqueness' here would force their own attitudes, cultures, and religions on their kids. I dislike the moniker 'Junior', by the way--except when used as a suffix. I guess, in the end, it depends on how you choose to look at it.

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August 31, 2012 8:25 AM
By susan (not verified)

This article is really helpful and wonderful and would be better if more introductions

November 8, 2012 2:33 AM
By Blake (not verified)

Wow, I didn't realise people still do this. If you really must name your child after yourself, please don't add in the jnr tag. I (and most people) would hate to be known as Jnr.

Also If 'you haven't even put a ring on it' A guy must have some nerve to push/expect to have the child named after him.

January 19, 2013 7:15 AM
By Joseph Gerard (not verified)

I'm at least the fifth Joseph. (I heard the name goes back farther than that in France, but I'm not sure. My great-great-grandfather moved here from France in the 1890's.) Middle names have varied, although I share mine with my grandfather, Carl. I have no kids, but if I end up with a son, Joseph is skipping a generation. I get mixed up with my dad all the time. When I get married, that will be the ONLY rule on names with my wife. Otherwise, I'll be open to suggestions from her. I think naming a kid after yourself is just lazy.

March 31, 2013 5:09 AM
By Lang Bakos (not verified)

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