Can I Give My Daughters the "Same" Name?

Filed under: Baby Names

My 2-year-old daughter's name is
Elizabeth. Since Isabella is the Spanish version of the name Elizabeth, should I not name my new baby Isabella? The two names sound and look completely different to me, but will this create a lifelong problem for my two daughters?

- Isabella Lover

Don't we all create lifelong problems for our children? Luckily, choosing the names Elizabeth and Isabella ranks low on the scale of Ways To Give Your Kids Complexes. I'd say it comes in just above making them wait until high school to get their ears pierced.

That's not to say I'd recommend it. I've weighed in against other close sibling pairings, like naming John's little brother Jack. Sibling rivalry can be a powerful thing, and discovering that you and your sister have variations of the same name could strike some uncomfortable chords. With so many names in the world, why risk it?

On the other hand, as you point out, Elizabeth and Isabella look and sound very different. And unlike John and Jack, neither is a nickname of the other. You can also give the girls some extra personal space with distinctive nicknames like Liza and Bella, rather than Lizzie and Izzie. So while the pair wouldn't be my first (or second) choice, I doubt that your daughters will suffer identity crises.

Part of parenting is giving your children positive emotional tools to negotiate the world. I think it's a good sign that you're already considering the potential implications of your name choice. Tackle this head on. Make it clear that you chose each name because it was beautiful and you loved it on its own, but don't try to hide the connection. Call it a secret bond for your daughters to share.

That positive attitude will be important in facing down another challenge, too: Name-knowledgeable busybodies pointing out to you that your daughters "have the same name." Don't rise to the bait and get defensive. Respond with your warmest smile, and explain that the names are simply lovely relations. "They started with the same roots but grew into two complete individuals -- just as siblings do!"

How did you choose sibling names? Share your experiences here. 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.