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Can I Give My Baby the Same Name as My Friend's Baby?

Last year, a lifelong friend of mind used a name I really wanted to use. I was just getting married at the time, but now I am pregnant, and I still love the name. I don't want to upset her by copying, but I have always loved the name and didn't know she liked it too. What do I do? Find a new name? Ask permission? I don't want to make it awkward, but my husband and I really have a hard time agreeing on any names, and this is the only one we absolutely love. Help!

–Potential Copycat

You had it in two: Ask for permission. If you do it carefully, it won't be awkward. Most people appreciate being asked and are happy to give their blessing. And it's certainly worth trying before you skip right to finding a new name.

Your case sounds more like coincidence than co-opting, since you've always loved the name. Whether you're really "copying" depends on a lot of factors. First, how unusual is the name? If it's a chart-topper, then you're no more copying this friend than you are any of the many other parents who have used it. If it's quite unusual, then it can be more challenging to re-use. Again, an honest conversation with your friend will likely head off any hard feelings.

Another factor is proximity. How often do you see this lifelong friend, and her baby? If you're hanging out together all the time, then it might be harder for the children to share a name. If you visit each other only rarely, then the shared name should be much less of an issue. In that case, you're letting your friend know as a courtesy, but there's little reason not to use the name. You can frame it as a fun connection between your two children—a second generation of friendship.

The third factor is timing. Your friend did get there first, so etiquette dictates you give her a little consideration. But that's why you're asking her, instead of telling her, about the potential for "copying." With any luck, she'll extend the same grace to you, and cheerfully endorse the name. The more the merrier!


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November 1, 2016 5:22 PM
By Hear Ya (not verified)

These are all good points name lady!

Here's another thing to consider: how easy is it for you to find perfect names? My boy has what I see as the one perfect name we could agree on, and my top girl name went to the dustbin after a lot of work. I've never had name regret for him but it took a lot of work to get there. If it was hard, you may need to go for the name regardless of how she reacts.

She may seem horrified and hurt but be afraid to say no and then avoid you--so I guess that's also a polite form of no. On the bright side, it's rare for a friend to stick around forever in your life: it's far worse to copy a family member. What sacrifices are you willing to make?

November 1, 2016 5:23 PM
By Hear Ya (not verified)

Opps, I didn't notice you said that it was hard--I looked dumb

November 1, 2016 9:55 PM
By Sabby (not verified)

How would you feel if she or her husband says no? If you think you'll use the name no matter what, don't ask. Instead give her a heads up and explain how you feel about the name, history of you looking it, and your hubby agreeing to it. Otherwise if she says no she'll be even madder if you use it. If the name is unique there's a good chance they will say no. I wonder if there are any similar names you could use?

November 5, 2016 5:45 PM
By Malla (not verified)

Two friends of mine who are friends with each other gave their children the same name about 6 months apart. Now 18 years later we still travel in the same circles and we have to remember which Luke (not the actual name) is which because our friends are still sensitive about people confusing their boys. And it is still a topic of behind the hand conversations (and some outright mocking of the couple who named their baby second) when the couples are not around. Based on this experience I would suggest you and your husband either choose another name, or drop these friends and any friends you have in common before repeating the name.

November 7, 2016 10:49 AM
By Kim (not verified)

OTOH, my BFF had friends who used the same name months after her daughter was born. It is more common in their shared birth country, but very rare here. My friend shrugged it off, and it was never really an issue. Friends drift, and they did.
Personally, it would bother me a lot, especially if this was a close friendship and my kids would be like cousins. It's something I would never dream of doing, but then I'm a firm believer in everyone gets their own names. I'd like to believe I'd get over it in time, and I would to the extent that I would be fair and tell myself it's not that big a deal, but I would have twinges now and again.
The point is, your mileage will vary. I think you need to weigh the decision carefully, listing all the factors. You know you, and you know your friend. Ask. Ask more than once, maybe once in writing, so she doesn't have to answer in person. Figure out how important a no response is to you. Remember that your baby will be perfect, no matter what his name is, just as a second son who would not have that name would be. And then name your kid what feels right to you.

November 14, 2016 1:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Kids can handle sharing the same name and being friends with someone with the same name. If that's the one you like, then use it.

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