Is It My Name – Or My Dad’s?
--Not Daddy’s Girl
Your maiden name is just that—your name. Sure, your father wears it too, and always will. But you have an equal claim to it and, as you noted, so do many other loved ones. While giving your son Dad's first name would be a personal tribute, his last name belongs to the whole family.
You expressed some concern about whether others will understand the motivation behind your choice. Most people you and your son will meet over the years to come won’t even know your dad. As for those who do, you can explain that you’re following a maternal naming tradition that’s been around for generations. Men from President Millard Fillmore to country singer Dierks Bentley have borne their mothers' maiden names as first names.
When you announce your son’s birth, or when someone asks you about his name, you can reinforce its significance as your family surname. So you can feel good about your choice and how it should be perceived.
But there’s one more person whose opinion you might consider: dear old Dad himself. Does he feel particularly possessive or proud of his last name? Will he jump to the conclusion that you meant to honor him and him alone with your name choice? And if he does, how do you feel about that? If you can brush it off, great. (The tone of your question shows you have a healthy attitude toward Dad’s unpleasant character.) If you’d find it hard to live with your dad’s claim-jumping, you might need to search farther afield for the right name for your baby.