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Does My Baby Need a Whole Name?

I want to name my baby boy J.R. as his first name. My grandfather was nicknamed J.R. and I want to name my son in honor of him. Since my husband and I can't agree on what the J and R would stand for I'm thinking of just naming him with initials. Do you think it's okay to name a child with just initials? Or do you think we should pick a name and then call him J. R.? - Initial Decision

Well, that's a creative solution to a naming deadlock: not choosing a name at all!

I can understand the temptation. You'll call him J.R. regardless, so why go through the agony of hammering out a compromise? But you planned to give him a full name. And there was a reason for that, wasn't there? I don't think it's fair to your son to punt just because the choice is turning out to be tougher than you expected.

A full name on the birth certificate has lots of advantages. It saves the boy a lifetime of having to persuade people that "No, really, it doesn't stand for anything!" It gives him flexibility for formal occasions and affectionate nicknames, too. I'm sure you know a Mike whose wife fondly calls him Michael, for instance.

You should also remember that when it comes to modern paperwork and databases, there's no such name as J.R. Punctuation and capitalization get stripped out. So your son will either be named J, with the middle name R, or Jr. Not only is Jr an awkward name, but it looks like Junior. Time and again, people will read the name "Smith, Jr" on a roster and think the first name is missing.

So I don't think you've found a loophole that gets you out of your naming dilemma. (Nice try, though!) It's time to sit back down with your J and R name lists. The good news is that you actually have it easier than most name-wrestling couples. Knowing that you won't be saying the name a hundred times a day makes the stakes lower. If you need a tie breaker, the fact that you chose J.R. in honor of your grandfather might be reason to give your husband's full-name preferences a little extra say.


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December 6, 2014 11:16 PM
By D (not verified)

My name is D

I quite like it :)

July 10, 2015 11:46 AM
By Dan (not verified)

The singer Johnny Cash was actually named J R Cash originally, with the J and the R standing for nothing at all. Only as a young adult in the USAF did he decide to start calling himself Johnny, because the Air Force wouldn't accept that initials could constitute a name.

Being called J R doesn't seem to have done him any harm.

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