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No, He's NOT Named For His Uncle!

I want to name my son Christopher. My boyfriend's brother's name is also Christopher. I don't want people to think he is named after my future brother-in-law. What do I tell people who assume that, and what do I tell my child? - Cuppy-cake

Cuppy-cake, close your eyes for a moment and…well no, you're reading, so keep your eyes open but imagine this scene as vividly as you can:

Your friend "Stephanie" has just become a grandmother. Her son and daughter-in-law have a brand new baby girl. You attend the christening, and learn that the little girl, too, has been named Stephanie. "Oh, how sweet," you remark to the new mom. "You named her after her grandma!"

"Nuh-huh, we most certainly did not!" the daughter-in-law replies. "We just liked the name Stephanie. It has nothing to do with her grandmother!"

Does this sound like a woman who has warm feelings toward her mother-in-law? Or does it set off warning bells that the daughter-in-law thinks your friend Stephanie is a raving witch (or rhyming term of your choice)? And if so, why the heck did she name the baby Stephanie at all?

OK, let's-pretend time is over. Let me be blunt: everyone who knows your future brother-in-law will assume you named your Christopher after him. The connection is obvious; we're talking about the boy's uncle. Family namesakes are a powerful (and traditional) way to signify connection and love across generations, and people will take it as a touching gesture of appreciation for Uncle Chris.

Rejecting that assumption every time someone brings it up will send a strong message, too, and not one that's going to make you a favorite with your future in-laws. Quite frankly, you'll sound like you can't stand the older Christopher. Based on your letter, I'm wondering if indeed that's true. Either way, though, it's not a good association for your child's name.

If you can't stomach the thought of anyone taking your son for a family namesake, then don't name him Christopher. If you love the name too much to let it go, start practicing your "smile and nod." You'll be breaking out that move in answer to every "Aw, after his uncle?" you hear, and it may try your nerves at first. But it's better than burning your brother-in-law bridges before they're even built.

Comments

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January 10, 2011 1:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Tell your son that Christopher was the name you chose for him as the best after consideration of thousands of names. And you love him. Done!

But I really don't think there is anything you can say to people who assume he is named after your brother in law other than maye "we considered family traditions, societal and religious aspects and our own tastes and Christopher was just the right fit for us and our precious boy." don't emphatically say he is NOT named after the brother-in-law, but do make it clear there were other aspects of the decision.

January 10, 2011 1:07 PM
By Julie (not verified)

So true! It can really hurt/devastate other family members if you say "NO its NOT after grampa"--its like a slap in the face. Just know that you love the sound/classic image, and smile and nod. And be prepared to tell smile and nod to your son until he is 20 (he will assume he is named after him and want to
BE JUST LIKE HIM)in which case if he is someone you dont want your son to idolize/imitate you might want to rethink the choice anyway...
This has happened in my extended family in both ways. The no-its-not and the smile-and-nod. Be careful!

January 10, 2011 1:10 PM
By Dawn Star (not verified)

I agree with the response but want to point out that there are some other possible scenarios - my oldest's middle name is Guy. My brother-in-law is Guy and so is my own uncle, but he's not named after either. He's named after my husband's grandfather (whom my brother-in-law is also named for). Nobody's ever been offended when I've explained that. The men concerned just laugh and say "nice name!"

January 10, 2011 1:48 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

We picked my son's middle name after my husband's step-father. My son just happened to be born on my uncle's birthday (who's also my godfather) and has the same name. So people on my side of the family think we picked it for my uncle. I don't have a problem with that. I like my uncle. It's a nice coincidence that they share a birthday.

If anyone asks, you could say "We alwalys liked the name, but it's nice that little Christopher shares a name with his uncle."

January 10, 2011 2:01 PM
By Jenn (not verified)

I am in a similar situation, as the child named the same as (but not after) my aunt. When it came up, my parents told me I was named Jenny because they liked the name, not after my aunt. They, in fact, had decided not to name my older sister Jenny because they didn't want people to think she was named after Aunt Jenny. It wasn't that they disliked my aunt, just that they didn't like the idea of naming a baby after a family member; they also decided against naming my sister Christina so people wouldn't think she was named after our dad, Chris. If anyone ever asks if I'm named after Aunt Jenny, I'll just say "no, my parents just liked the name," and my parents respond the same way. Aunt Jenny takes no offense, because no one treats it like it would be a horrible thing to be named after her, it just isn't the case.

January 10, 2011 6:37 PM
By Tiana (not verified)

If anyone asks, you could say "We alwalys[sic] liked the name, but it's nice that little Christopher shares a name with his uncle."

^^This.

If it's not nice that he shares a name with his uncle, then it's time to pick a new name. I doubt Uncle Chris plans on ceding the name to you, so it's up to you choose a different name, if it's that big of a deal to you.

January 10, 2011 11:37 PM
By Emmy Jo (not verified)

I was going to say almost exactly what Tiana said. The best response is probably something along the lines of, "Well, we chose Christopher because we really like the name, but we think it's especially neat that he shares it with his uncle."

The ideal thing about that response is:
1) It will show you respect and care for Uncle Christopher.
2) It will keep other relatives from feeling like you were "playing favorites" when you chose to name your child Christopher instead of choosing one of their names.
3) It will keep others from expecting you to name subsequent children after relatives, too.

January 11, 2011 12:54 PM
By sharalyn (not verified)

Not wanting others to think we named our daughter after my aunt is what led us to a new name. Although we love the name, we had to give it up because it is not a good association and too close for comfort for us.

It's hard giving up a name you love though.

January 11, 2011 1:05 PM
By Alli (not verified)

One suggestion for keeping that question somewhat at bay is to use a different nickname. There are four Williams in my family and they all have different nicknames. There's Bill, Billy, and Will, and one is called by his middle name. If the uncle goes by Chris, you could call your son Topher.

January 11, 2011 2:22 PM
By Deb (not verified)

Pick another name, there are lots out there. My husband's family has 3 Dons. His great uncle, his nephew, and the nephew's sister's husband. We are always having to ask "Which Don?" It isn't as though Christopher is a unique family name that you want to preserve. Rather you are saying that it is not a unique family name. Choose another name.

January 11, 2011 8:09 PM
By The Foxymoron (not verified)

"If anyone asks, you could say "We alwalys liked the name, but it's nice that little Christopher shares a name with his uncle."
I think that's a great suggestion! I have a friend whose brother named his son the same name as my friend, but insists on saying that the son is NOT named after my friend (the boy's uncle). It has been really hurtful to my friend. Why make such a big deal about pointing that out and hurting feelings? Not to mention, coming across as though naming your child after their uncle is a bad thing.

January 11, 2011 11:11 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I gave my younger son a first name that is a paternal family name, and his father's second middle name...but not because of the latter. Both his father and I would never have named our son "after" him...that just wasn't our style. In fact, we considered the name for our first son, but ultimately decided against it in part because we didn't want it to seem like we were naming him after his father in any way. But we did like the name and loved the idea of preserving a special, recurring family name, so we finally used it for the second son. The only problem is, for me it has developed a bit of a negative connotation...his father and I divorced, and he turned into something quite nasty...so now it bothers me somewhat that my son has one of his father's middle names (even if never intended to honor him). However, I just focus on the idea that it's still a great name, suits him well, goes very well with his brother's name...AND preserves that distinct, generations-old family name, which is ultimately a very nice idea indeed.

January 12, 2011 2:39 AM
By Michelle (not verified)

Both I and my sister have middle names that are also first names of other female relatives, and whenever it comes up, we typically laugh and say, "Actually, my parents weren't even thinking about Aunt Leona - they just liked the name." I think the fact that it's always treated lightly helps - there's never a "NO, she was NOT named after Aunt Leona."

It's made for lots of joking and fun, but my family is also prone to warm-teasing type relations.

January 12, 2011 10:06 AM
By Mary (not verified)

My sister shares a name with an aunt on my dad's side. She always loved having a great-niece named after her. My mother just always liked the name since before she was married so named her daughter that. We were always told that she wasn't named after her but were sworn to secrecy to not let it slip. She was a cranky cow. As a result of being her 'namesake' my sister got better presents.

January 12, 2011 11:25 PM
By Cecily's Mom (not verified)

We named our second son after my grandpa. While I was pregnant we told my in-laws the name we were thinking of and my father-in-law said, "that was my grandpa's name and my great grandpa's name." He still brings it up to me all the time. He even says it to my not yet 2 year old son.
When my son was born he kept saying that my son was named for his grandpa. I pointed out, again, as we had done before, that we had named him for my grandfather (my husband didn't even know or care about the name on his side of the family). It seemed to make no difference.
I finally came to the conclusion that if he wants to be flattered it's just more points for me in the long run, besides there aren't any other good names on that side of the family.
If you can stand to "smile and nod" it just might work out for you in the long run.

January 13, 2011 10:25 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My sister's name is C@rit@.
Very unusual in Australia.
My grandmother's sister has the same name, as does one of her granddaughters.
My sister was not named for my great aunt, and fortunately the relationship is distant enough that people don't assume.
My parents just liked the name and it fit the style of their first two daughters - 3-syllables, unusual but easily pronounced, ending with "a".
However, an uncle on the father's side would presumably mean the same first and last names? Too close for my liking. Perhaps a name of similar style, or that derives from the same root?

January 13, 2011 10:26 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My sister's name is C@rit@.
Very unusual in Australia.
My grandmother's sister has the same name, as does one of her granddaughters.
My sister was not named for my great aunt, and fortunately the relationship is distant enough that people don't assume.
My parents just liked the name and it fit the style of their first two daughters - 3-syllables, unusual but easily pronounced, ending with "a".
However, an uncle on the father's side would presumably mean the same first and last names? Too close for my liking. Perhaps a name of similar style, or that derives from the same root?

January 13, 2011 10:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Sorry for the double post :(

January 16, 2011 4:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Easy fix.

Don't name him Christopher.

January 19, 2011 6:05 PM
By Renee (not verified)

I have an infant that we considered naming William, but we had a feeling that my husband's family would assume he was named him after people in their family. We ended up using it as a middle name and they still decided to TELL US who he was named after. If it were true, would I need someone to tell me? Wouldn't I just know?

His first name happens to be the same name as a couple of men in my family, but we don't see them often and my family knows we just liked it.

If it were a more distant relative, I'd say go ahead and use it, but you're most certainly going to be annoyed because people WILL assume the name has something to do with his uncle. I don't think I'd ever give my baby the same name as one of my siblings.

February 14, 2011 12:07 PM
By Chanel (not verified)

My brother's first name is my father's middle name. It also happens to be my uncle's name. My uncle thought we were naming him after him and was so proud and honored. Until my mom said "it's NOT after you, it's his father's middle name" and my uncle was very hurt. Now my brother's middle name is my grandfather's name, but also happens to be another uncle. When he mentioned how happy he was that they chose to honor him, my mother said nothing, and let both men (grandfather and uncle) go on believing that they were loved enough to be honored...

February 21, 2011 2:09 PM
By Kristin (not verified)

Our daughter has the same name as my husband's aunt and my great-aunt. We tell people, "We just liked the name, but it's nice that she has these two lovely women in the family with the same name, too."

February 23, 2011 1:48 PM
By Stephanie (not verified)

I named my oldest daughter Aviana and my second Ilyra, and for the first time ever, a few months ago, had it pointed out to me that we incorporated "Ann" (my middle name) into Aviana and "Lee" (my husbands middle namesake) into Ilyra. I would have never made the connection otherwise. Not that it is a bad thing at all, but I reacted much like some of the comments above. I said, "Wow, I never noticed before, but it sure is a happy coincidence." You couldn't do that for "Christopher," but maybe you could incorporate "Chris" or "Topher" into another name that you like equally well. There are several options available- "Christian" and "Chriswell" come to my mind. Or go for straight up Topher. Not as many people will see the connection.

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