Naming Baby After Dad - Classic or Showy?

Filed under: Baby Names

Ask The Name Lady Baby Name Advice Column

My wife and I are considering naming our son after me and calling him EJ for Eric Junior.

What is the history of passing down the father's name to his son and is it considered pretentious today?

- Dad-to-be

Fifty years ago, no one would have even asked me this question. Boys named for their Dads were as common as meatloaf and green beans. A dad-to-be in 1959 knew that no one would second-guess his motives for giving his son his own name. How could anyone have a problem with tradition, family history, and an unbreakable bond spanning generations?

My, how times have changed! The culprit is our American emphasis on things new, daring, and individual. Parents today want to endow their offspring with an original, distinctive moniker that will inspire gasps of admiration and envy. So they have abandoned little Junior in favor of Brayden, Kayden, and Zayden. (How pretentious would they have sounded in a '50s schoolyard?)
Meanwhile expectant fathers, usually twenty- and thirty-somethings, have names like Jason, Kevin, and -- yes -- Eric. Not trendy and new, not so-out-they're-in; just familiar, solid, and maybe a little plain. So Juniors are becoming an endangered species, just a fraction as common as in past generations.

How's this for irony: In a sea of cookie-cutter "original, distinctive" names, your Junior is likely to be the only one in his kindergarten class. But more than symbolizing your freethinking inventiveness, your Junior's name will proclaim to the world his family connections. Little EJ's name says, "This is my dad. This is me. We're family." I can hardly think of a less pretentious statement than that.

One word of warning, though: A Junior has a unique naming status, and kids are absolute geniuses at sensing when parents are favoring their siblings. If you plan to have more kids, make sure they carry special family names too, boys and girls alike. (Because you're choosing Eric Jr. to to build family bonds, not to create a regal dynasty and one day look forward to Eric the VIII. Right?) And of course, prepare yourself for cases of mistaken identity -- in both directions.

But as long as you're cool with all that, naming a son after his father is a tradition with centuries of history behind it. Please, Junior away without fear.

Do you have Juniors in your family? Share your experiences! And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.