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When Is a Junior Not a Junior?

My husband has his heart set on having a Jr. He believes it's a lost tradition. I don't LOVE his name, but I like it enough to pass on. But here's my dilemma: I don't want to have two Ryans in the house, nor do I want to call him "James" which would be his middle name. My husband's family calls him "Jamie," so that's out as well. I also have trouble with the fact that we'd like to give our children two middle names, yet a Junior would only have one. Could a child still be a Jr. if we kept his father's first and middle names, and gave him a unique second middle?
- Looking for a Compromise

For the middle names question, allow me to refer you to the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States. That would be George Herbert Walker Bush and his son George Walker Bush -- not George Bush Jr.

Traditional namesake rules say that a Junior is an exact namesake, no adding and subtracting parts. That makes sense if you think of the purpose of the Jr. suffix as distinguishing between identically named family members.

This rule is simply a matter of custom, not law. If you wanted to stick Jr. at the end of a not-quite-alike name, nobody would stop you. But it could cause confusion, and it runs counter to your husband's fundamental goal of honoring tradition. A traditional Junior is a Junior, period. Sorry.

Now for the good news. There's no tradition that says that you have to call your Junior by his given names. Namesakes have always been given extra nickname leeway. You'll meet Juniors known by their initials, by mashups of name parts, by nicknames indicating "juniorhood" (Deuce), by nicknames for their last names and more. So your husband can have his Junior, and you can let your naming imagination run wild. 

Comments

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December 26, 2011 1:04 PM
By Devin (not verified)

On the president angle, or, in my Canadian case, Prime Minister, our 14th Prime Minister was Lester B. Pearson - The man who brought Canada health care and student loans and won the Nobel Peace Prize, was always called "Mike". You could name your son Ryan James Jr. and call him Wesley if that is something you like. The sky's the limit :)

December 27, 2011 10:10 AM
By mk (not verified)

I think if he is up for having a Junior with an extra middle name, just do that. Start a new tradition.

However, I think it would be annoying and confusing to be called by a second middle name, which seems like a possibility here. If Ryan and James/Jamie are out, how about RJ, or Jim?

December 27, 2011 10:57 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

If you like Ryan, James, or some version of those then go with the junior. But if you're going to call him something else anyway, then just give him that name.

I think it's ridiculous to give someone a name you have no intention of calling them. What's the point? It only causes confusion. And who is it honoring? How can it be an honor if it's never used? At best it's a technicality.

It sounds like you call your husband Ryan, while the rest of his family calls him Jamie. If he doesn't like his own name enough to go by it all the time, why does he want to saddle his kid with it?

December 27, 2011 12:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

We ran into that issue with my husband and son. I refused to have a "Big Will" and "Little Will", which is how his family distinguished between other junior/senior sets. We eventually settled on having a junior, who we call Liam, as it is still a part of his first name, William. It makes things so much easier!

December 27, 2011 12:55 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

For legal purposes, a Jr. is a disaster. Yes, it has been a tradition, but that does not make it good. Anyone who works with title to land, cars, credit, etc., knows of plenty of problems the whole Jr. thing causes. This is a tradition that should die. Use another name.

December 27, 2011 1:01 PM
By Allison Margaret (not verified)

I had a high school friend who was a "the fifth." He went by his middle name, but for some reason his father (the fourth) went by the completely unrelated nickname Mike. (Evidently Mike is the every-nickname!) Anyway, Mike seemed to work just fine for my friend's dad.

Ty and Jay could work as nicknames for Ryan James as well.

December 27, 2011 1:08 PM
By Vince (not verified)

I am a Jr with two middle names that match my fathers. My Swedish/Finn grandmother use to use a mashup of my middle names for me. The names were Carl and Edmund which she mashed into Cledmund.

December 27, 2011 1:21 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My own husband is a Jr and wanted a third. I have to say that it has been a pain in the rear. My husband's credit report is peppered with history going back to before he was born. He once tried to get a cell phone and was told that he was dead (his father is deceased.)
Not to mention that he and his father also shared a nickname which led to tons of confusion among the family.
Our son is a "the Third". But we gave him a nickname for "three" to help him be separated from his daddy.

December 27, 2011 2:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You didn't ask, but if it was my child I'd use a variant instead.

Ryland James
Ryan Jameson
Riley James
Riordan James
Rian James
Ryan Jacob
Ryan Jackson

If you do name him Ryan James, what about using the nicknames Jack or Jake? They are also related to James.

December 27, 2011 2:08 PM
By Rayne of Terror (not verified)

My brother is a III and his nickname may work perfectly for you. He is always called Ry.

December 27, 2011 2:37 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

It's always annoyed me when people have been raised going by a different name than their given name...and I don't mean a nickname. Like when they go by their middle name instead of their first, and they're not even a junior (using it, then, to avoid confusion with the father), I always think, why didn't the parents just give them that as their first name, if that's what they wanted to call them!? I don't like juniors in general. Give him his own unique name...he's not a copy of your husband! And give him as his name the name you intend to call him (not including nicknames, of course)!

December 27, 2011 2:58 PM
By Amanda (not verified)

My husband is a Jr. and it is a huge pain. That didn't stop him from wanting our son to be a III. We compromised. My husband is John Peter and we named our son Janson Peter (Janson/Jansen is Dutch for John's son and both our families have strong Dutch heritage).

You could use Ryan Jamison or Ryson James or call him R.J. ?

December 27, 2011 6:59 PM
By Taylor (not verified)

I'm *pretty* sure there's a difference between a Jr. and a II (2nd). From what I know, the Jr. shares the parent's same first and last name, while a II, III, etc. shares the whole name. So you can have Ryan Maxwell Lastname and he'd be Ryan Lastname Jr., but if you used the whole name, he'd be Ryan James Lastname II. This doesn't apply if you used a 2nd middle name in the latter option, just like the presidents. Then again, George W. Bush never went by George Bush Jr. as far as we know... ***Someone correct me if I'm wrong.***

In any case, Ryan James is a lovely name, and if you want to pass it on I say go for it. I think it'd be cool to call your son R.J., or you can even go with Ryley or another Ry- name as a nickname. Even Junior (or J.R.! ha?) as a nickname works. Do whatever you like. :)

December 27, 2011 7:06 PM
By Angela (not verified)

I'm pretty sure that this topic has been beaten to death on this blog. My son is going to be the IV.

December 28, 2011 10:46 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I know a Senior/Junior pair named William. The father goes by Bill and the son goes by J.B. for "Junior Bill."

Personally, I'm not a fan of Juniors, but there are definitely some creative naming possibilities.

January 2, 2012 10:10 PM
By Stephanie (not Steffy) (not verified)

I have a friend who has a Jr. for a husband and a III for a son. She says she gave in at a moment of weakness. :) Anyway, that is neither here, nor there. Their son is called by a diminutive right now, because he is only 4 and when he gets old enough to care they want to call him G3- to designate him as the 3rd G in his family. The family name passed down starts with a G, by the way. So you could do something similar- R3, RJ3 or you could just call him Trey.

You could get totally creative or you could just pick a name you both like. Sky is the limit, really. When my husband and I named our children, we chose names that honored ourselves and people in our lives without making a direct correlation.

January 4, 2012 10:56 AM
By HiLary (not verified)

I agree with some of the other comments. If your husband's family doesn't even call him Ryan, then why on earth would he want to have a namesake who isn't even called the same thing as him? If you really want to honor him, then maybe go with something like Jamie (insert a middle name here) and then call him by those initials.

Or, give him his own fist name followed by Ryan James as middle names. That way, you get your two middle names and a unique identity for your son.

I also know a few people who literally use the name "Junior" as their name or J.R. - You could name him Jamie Ryan and just call him J.R. (I think that would be kind of cute!)

January 9, 2012 12:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that you could name him Jr. and call him by a special nickname. I know several men who are the III and go by Trey and also a 7 year old who is a III and whose parents have called him Trip since the day he was born. There are so many ways to honor a family tradition with a Jr, but to give him his own identity as well. Good luck to you!

January 27, 2012 5:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I personally like the tradition of passing a man's name on to his son. However, my husband was directly opposed to it so our son has a different first name, but the same middle name.

In my son-in-law's family, his older brother is the IV. But all three living men are called by their first name - Hollis - no nicknames. I guess everyone knows who their talking about at any given time, but it's confusing to me.

My cousin's husband is named Andrew, but they named their first son Drew. My brother, Andrew Wesley, just named his son Wesley.

I would go with the Jr. but use a unique nickname for him.

February 18, 2012 10:58 PM
By Lielo (not verified)

RJ is a very cute name for him to go by...

March 15, 2012 6:35 PM
By proud mama (not verified)

When I was pregnant with my son, my Mother-in-law wanted me to make him a Junior. Now, I don't have anything against my husband's name (it's Ryan, coincidentally) but I just think the whole Jr. thing is silly. I wanted my son to have his own identity and know that a lot of confusion can come out of being a "Jr.". Luckily, my husband wasn't one of those guys who felt like he had to brand his child with his name, so we went with a first name we both liked and gave him my husband's middle name as his middle name.

May 6, 2013 1:20 AM
By Information Directory Online (not verified)

Great article – very relevant points and, from my perspective, very accurate and reflective of the real world. Networking and referral business is by far the biggest source of business for us

September 18, 2014 10:13 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My son we consider a Jr. because he has my husbands first and last name but the middle names are different because my husbands name has a certain meaning for the year he was born so it would be wrong to give our son a middle name like that. It also gives my son his own identity and he never gets mixed up with social security cards etc. he also goes by Jr. and his first name, different people call him different names which has never been an issue for any of us. Tradition is tradition but tradition also isn't a law you can mix it up!

March 8, 2015 9:57 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My son is a junior but we want to fix that so he is not. He likes his middle name how else can I do that without changing his whole name. Can I change the spellimg or just add a name

April 21, 2015 4:22 PM
By Christi with an i (not verified)

Just add a second middle name and tada- no more junior.

January 15, 2018 8:38 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Someone mentioned that this was tradition and not an legal issue. But, if the person started putting this on paper work. Wouldn't that cause identity fraud ? Example : Fathers name spelled out of the ordinary with no middle name. Then son has traditionally spelled first name with a middle name and uses Jr. at the end. Seems to me to be a alias to skip out on something. Yes/no ?

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