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Do My Twins Sound Like a Married Couple?

My husband and I are expecting twins. For a boy, we really like the name James (my father's name), and for a girl, we're thinking about Lily (my favorite flower) or Lillian. We like the names individually, and we like how the names sound together, but I have two reservations.

First, does giving one child a family name and the other child a name we just happen to like feel unbalanced? Second, I grew up on the Harry Potter books. His parents are named James and Lily, and I think of that when I hear the pairing. I don't mind it, but how likely are other people to make that connection?

–Twins on the Way

Two babies, two questions! Let's take them one at a time. If you give one twin a family name, must the other twin have one too? With siblings, and especially twins, it's good to keep parity in mind. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice your taste to it. You could give your baby girl a family middle name, and make James's middle a name you "just happen to like." Then each child has one honor name and one style pick, which could give you the feeling of balance you're seeking.

As for the Harry Potter question: Many people will indeed make the connection to Harry’s parents. Should that matter? It really depends. It is a positive association; James and Lily were heroic, greatly admired characters. It isn't as if you'd be aligning your babies with villains or creeps. Then again, James and Lily were a married couple. Is that odd for siblings? Possibly. If you’re a diehard enough fan to know that instantly, though, then you might also know that the names do turn up again, late in the series, on two characters who are not married.

And of course, these names turn up in all sorts of other places, as well; they're well used and classic. That dilutes their association with the Potterverse. I'd advise against calling your twins Harry and Hermione. But I might not make the same argument if you chose George and Ginny. James and Lily? They fall somewhere in the middle.


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October 23, 2017 9:45 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with the Name Lady. Yes, I'd make the Harry Potter connection, but it is all positive and neither name is so unusual that my connection would last for long. (Cain and Abel would be a no-go in my book, for example).

October 23, 2017 10:47 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have no idea who Harry Potter's parents are. James and Lily are fairly common names with tons of associations.

Even if people do make the connection, so what? I would hope people can see the difference between real-life twins and a fictional married couple.

October 23, 2017 10:54 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I do make the connection, but don't find it problematic in anyway.

I also wouldn't assume that a James & Lily were named for the characters, since both names are currenlty reasonably popular and classic. A pairing of Ron & Hermione (or Harry & Hermione) would make me assume the association was intentional, mainly because those names are far less common individually.

I agree that it isn't a problem to use one honor first & one first you just like. I think that is easily balanced with middle name choices.

October 23, 2017 11:04 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My husband and I worked through a similar conundrum. I'm pregnant and we both like the names James and Lily/Lilith. We decided that we can't use both for a sibling set (though sibling number 2 would be down the road a bit). My mom, for instance, would never see any connection at all, but we and nearly all of our friends are avid Harry Potter fans. We would never hear the end of it from them, and we would never be able to un-hear the (unintended) reference ourselves. I think your decision depends a lot on your connection to the series. If you and the people surrounding you love Harry Potter, you can't unhook those names from one another - even the names recurring later in the series are clearly tied to their pairing at the beginning of the series. On the other hand, if it's really a passing association to you, I wouldn't worry too much about it, just be prepared to laugh off others' connections.

October 23, 2017 5:07 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Lily and James aren't a problem. They're not the main characters and they were sympathetic characters. Romeo and Juliet or Sid and Nancy would be.

Why is it that people can always find a male family member to honor, but not female? Naming a baby after your father is great, but maybe the same recognition (at least as a middle name, as was suggested) to your mother, mother-in-law, grandmothers, or an aunt? Somehow, the people who usually do the higher percentage of the hard work of raising children get the least recognition.

Think of it this way: how would you feel if each of your twins grows up to have a child whose first name is after your husband... but you don't even merit one middle name?

October 24, 2017 11:01 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

They don't seem unbalanced. I like the idea of naming a child after your favorite flower better than a direct family name anyway.

I know twin boys: one is named after a grandfather and the other is a name they both happen to have always loved. Both names seem meaningful to me.

October 24, 2017 11:26 AM
By Christi with an i (not verified)

I think the reason people find it easy to find an honor name for a boy is that boy names have historically been from a short list of classical. There are exceptions but names like James, David, John, Michael, etc.... have been around for centuries. Women's names I think have changed a lot over the years and so that the generation or two previous seem somewhat dated.

October 24, 2017 4:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You’re giving this due diligence of thought but I think you’ll get a green light from most anyone. :) There’s always an inherent risk, but it would be more fair for the reasoning behind naming. There’s a name tradition for females in my family and it’s lent itself well to a sense of identity for sure. You could check your family tree and/or when giving the reason for Lily don’t state it apologetically by any means just own it. It’s just as important to you. Children and other adults pick up on that just as much! :) Yay twins! (You’re much more likely to get comments about that to be honest so plan a sense of humor and confidence accordingly.) Enjoy!!

October 25, 2017 7:27 PM
By Juli (not verified)

I know siblings named James and Lily. I have never, ever, in nearly five years of acquaintance, made the connection to the Potters.

(Granted, they have another sibling Jacob, and the "same name twice" aspect has always rather distracted me from any other characteristics of the sibset.)

October 27, 2017 12:04 PM
By JenJen (not verified)

Juli, if that James-Jacob-Lily sibset's parents have twins, they could name them: Susanna and Seamus :)

November 1, 2017 11:23 AM
By Christina (not verified)

Uhhhh... Harry Potter totally named two of his 3 kids after his parents. So if he can do it, I think anyone can.

November 1, 2017 11:23 AM
By Christina (not verified)

Uhhhh... Harry Potter totally named two of his 3 kids after his parents. So if he can do it, I think anyone can.

November 4, 2017 12:05 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Also, it's worth to remember that Harry named his kids James and Lily!

November 6, 2017 6:45 PM
By I like Cambria (not verified)

You said you might use Lillian instead of Lily, why not go with that just to be safe?

November 11, 2017 2:59 PM
By GirlFromMissouri (not verified)

I know a brother and sister named Joseph and Mary and I think that stands out a lot more as a known couple than James and Lily does. I was actually lost looking for the "married couple" connection. (Not a Harry Potter fan).

My brother is named after our father and hates his name with a burning passion. I used to wish I was named after my mom (I just have her middle name). But now I'm proud to wear a namesake in any position, so I second giving Lily a family name as her middle.

(My brother, on the other hand, still first name and wants to change to his middle.)

December 4, 2017 12:42 PM
By Sabby (not verified)

I think you have to accept that people will recognize the Potter connection while they are kids. I'm 40 yrs old and most of the fans are younger. I'm reading it to my kids. I don't see it going away anytime in the next decade or so. However, the twins won't be together their whole life. The names are both classics. I doubt kids will make fun of them over it. More likely they will notice and move on.

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