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JLeslie's avatar

Any opinions, observations, or research regarding the son not named after his father when a sibling is?

Asked by JLeslie (48229 points ) September 21st, 2012

I have heard theories about how being named after a parent affects a child, but never heard anyone talk about the son not named for his father when the other son is. What do think? Is there any psychological affect? Usually it is the first born son named for his father, and already there are theories on birth order. Some cultures the first born has a very important position in the family, so the other siblings are sort of in the shadows.

My husband is the second born son, but named after his father. He actually looks and acts much more like his father than his brother. I don’t think it has to do with his name, but I wonder how it all affects his brother? I have a friend who is one of four children, 3 boys and 1 girl, and the third born son is named for his father. But, I would guess it is very rare a second or third born son is named after their Dad.

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29 Answers

tedd's avatar

My older brother was named after our father and I wasn’t…. didn’t really seem to have any major effect that I can think of.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I have twins, one that is named after his father, and one that isn’t. They both really like their names, and have never let on that having or not having their dad’s name is a negative thing to them. One thinks it’s cool that he is named after his dad, the other thinks it’s cool that his name is unique.

wundayatta's avatar

My father is an only child, named after his father. He really wishes he hadn’t been.

I have never heard of any patterns about the children who are not named after a parent. Generally, it seems to be birth order than makes more of a difference. I haven’t heard of a study on naming and whether that effects behavior.

There are some references at the end of this article that refer to names and behavior. You may want to look into them if you are really interested in the topic. None of them are very recent. This study also took a look at whether there were differences between the personalities of people with unique names vs common one. It’s not exactly what you’re looking for, but it might be of interest.

gailcalled's avatar

I would speculate that the son with his own name feels relief. In the Jewish tradition, sons are not named after their fathers, but I was married to a guy whose greater family did it.

I used to cringe when I heard little boys being called Bart, Jr., Sonny or Buddy. It seemed, and I have no evidence other than anecdotal, that these little guys did pay a price for being in their dad’s shadow.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled FYI it is an Ashkenazi tradition. It is seen among the Sephardic. Thought you might be interested. Among my MIL and I, she uses “my Isaac” and “your Isaac” (name is not really Isaac) and I always tell her, “they are both your Isaacs.”

Cupcake's avatar

Another variable to consider is whether they are known by the same name. I would think naming your son’s first name after you but calling him by his middle name would not have the same effect as both being known by the (same) first name.

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie:it is an Ashkenazi tradition. It is seen among the Sephardic.

That’s everybody, isn’t it?

Most of the Jews I have known have been Sephardic.

I just found this. Source

“It is true that there is a 8strong bias against naming a child after a living relative in Ashkenazic tradition*. This is largely a superstitious belief, related to avoiding the “evil eye.” It has little basis in Jewish law. In Sefardic tradition, naming children after living relatives (but not necessarily after a father) is common. Sefardic Jews do not use the appellation “Junior” in naming children after living relatives.”

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled Typo obviously, should be isn’t usually observed among the Sephardic. My husband is Sephardic, well actually Middle eastern, but they fall under Sephardic now.

SpatzieLover's avatar

With my husband & his bros, I think it set an expectation. His eldest bro has his dad/grandpa’s name. It was expected that he’d carry on this tradition. Personally I think it helped create his extreme ‘type A’ personality.

We did not do this with our son. I’d prefer he chooses his own path in life.

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie : I am really confused now. Your in-laws are Sephardic and named one of their sons after his father, but you then say this “isn’t usually observed among the Sephardic”?

JLeslie's avatar

FYI it is an Ashkenazi tradition. It is seen among the Sephardic

Should be:

FYI it is an Ashkenazi tradition. It isn’t seen among the Sephardic

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled Or, actually is seen is ok. You got me all confused. LOL.

You said, “In the Jewish tradition, sons are not named after their fathers, but I was married to a guy whose greater family did it.” To which I am replying, that is an ashkenazi tradition, giving a son the same name as his father is seen among sephardics.

SuperMouse's avatar

My father is a junior, my oldest brother is the third, and his oldest son is the fourth. The two brothers who came after my first brother have pretty much the same level of achievement and of dysfunction as my oldest brother. There really seems to be no difference. My husband gave his first born son his first name but a different middle name and I am fairly certain it has had very little negative impact on him or his younger brother.

phaedryx's avatar

From what I’ve seen, those who are named after a parent/relative compare themselves to their namesake. I don’t think those who aren’t named after their parent feel the same obligation to “live up to their name.”

My brother was named after an uncle who later killed himself. It was really hard on him, even though they weren’t that close. Suddenly my brother was wondering if the same thing could happen to him.

I share a middle name with my dad, grandpa, great-grandpa, and great-great-grandpa. I feel connected to them, but I don’t feel like I have an obligation to “live up to their name.”

ucme's avatar

I’m the second of three brothers, all born within four years of each other (did my parents not own a tv or what!?!)
I was named after my dad & there was never any animosity from either of my brothers.
Although my father wasn’t too happy with the arrangement, that’s okay though, my parents divorced when I was six, so…..

JLeslie's avatar

@ucme Do you mind explaining why the second born was named after your Dad? Now that is three people I know where the first born didn’t get the father’s name.

ucme's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t know, I don’t think my dad was ever keen on the idea right from his first born.
My mum actually changed her mind overnight from an agreed alternative, maybe just to get her own way.

JLeslie's avatar

@ucme For my husband his father was against it, but with the second born supposedly his mom just did it, gave the hospital the name for the baby, and it was done.

My other friend says their parents got tired of coming up with names, I believe the third sonwas the fourth child, so they just used the father’s name.

SuperMouse's avatar

@JLeslie my third son was almost named after his dad solely because we were running out of boy names that we liked. I am thankful every single day that boy is not his father’s namesake, I would probably lose my mind if I had that reminder every day.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

No one in my family has been named after anybody! Not for many generations now. Strange, now that I think about it. At least no one feels privileged to have their parents or grandparents name. Personally, I am really glad that my name isn’t Ethel, Verdie, or Serepta.

Jeruba's avatar

In my family the naming-after tradition has been played out with middle names. As the eldest daughter, I was given my mother’s first name as my middle name. The same with my firstborn brother and my father’s name. It was the same for my father, who was the eldest son in his own family of origin, and my mother had her father’s name as her middle name.

In our household we used middle names similarly, but it was the second son who got his father’s name.

Doing it this way still honors people but takes a lot of the loading off. Everyone is perceived to have his or her “own” name. Even if several people end up with the same middle name, it’s just an interesting connection and not a burden to bear or a standard to live up to. For instance, I’m one of four in my extended family who were (middle-)named after my mother, and we just treat that fact as an extra bond, worth a smile when we gather, but no special distinction otherwise.

JLeslie's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt That’s why the Ashkenazi Jews decided using the first letter is enough to honor the person. So that for you would be Elizabeth, Vivian, and Stephanie.

zenvelo's avatar

My brother adopted his wife’s son from a previous marriage. But his first son is named after him. Odd thing though is in my family we have a bad habit of often calling the boys by their middle name.

My brother’s second son was then named after me, but is called by his middle name of Nicholas.

I don’t think it has any real affect.

My son has a name unique in the family.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@JLeslie Cool – I could live with that. I would have loved to have the name “Virginia”, but with my luck my parents would have named me Vermaline, or something.

JLeslie's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt LOL. My grandma insists I was named after her mother. My Aunt’s best friend says I was named after her. It’s my middle name actually that all these people are laying claim too. My mom says I wasn’t named after anyone. And, for that matter my mom wanted my middle name to be my first name, but she didn’t get her way.

augustlan's avatar

My husband and his first wife named their first son after my husband. They named the second one after my husband’s father, so he is a “the second” and not a “junior”. The first wife already had a daughter when they married, and she was named after the first wife. Now, those kids are all grown with children of their own. Each male had a son first, and each named their sons after themselves and their namesakes (making each of those boys a “the third”.) There are now 3 Marks and 3 Bernies in our little family. The daughter named her first child (a daughter) after herself and her mother, but at least she switched the order of the names. Her little one has her mother’s middle name as her first, and her mother’s first name as her middle. It’s freaking complicated! All that said, none of the children (in any of the generations) seems negatively or positively affected by it all. They are all obviously quite proud of their names, since they continue to pass them on down the line.

My ex-husband is Jewish, and we used our girls’ middle names to honor our deceased grandmothers. Two of them have the actual names, but one of the grandmothers was named “Yetta”. We changed that one to “Yorke”. The daughter who got that middle name is awfully glad we opted to use just the initial. ;)

Kayak8's avatar

As for naming conventions, it got all turned around in my family when my Dad died young. It was shared, gently, with us kids that we are responsible for carrying on his name (meaning our family LAST name). The various appellations placed in front of that name are quite variable, but there is shared pride and responsibility for the last name (may be a small town thing).

downtide's avatar

In my family, sons are more often named after grandfathers rather than fathers. There are certain names, Edward and William in particular, that appear every other generation.

Shippy's avatar

Lovely question. I was named after my grandmother. I look so much like her, it is uncanny. I am not sure if my parents had any expectation from that at all. I always do wonder though if they did!

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