My husband and I are Katie and Kevin and our last name sounds like Wrightmen. We are due with our second boy this March.
We love our son’s name and it fits him perfectly. Bennett Patrick (after my mom, Patricia, who passed away). Bennett we both came to love due to us each having a student with the name. (We are both teachers which can make naming a child hard!) we feel like it is classic and classy and fits well for a baby as well as a grown man.
Of course, we had our perfect girls’ name all set- Annabelle Joy. After the Ann in my/my mom’s middle name. And we loved Bennett and Belle or Bella. Or even Elle or Ella, or Annabelle or Anna.
The boys name we are deciding between are these options:
William Joseph (after both of our fathers)
Joseph William (“Joey” when a baby Joe or Joseph as he grows up)
Charles William (Charles is my dad’s middle name, and was a contender last time but we couldn’t agree on a nickname. I wanted Charles or Chase, my husband wanted Charlie.
Our number one is William Joseph. I like William Charles better, but it seems like a slight to choose not choose my dad’s first name, especially if it’s only the middle name spot and if we are choosing my father in law’s first name as our son’s first name as well. The reason we don’t mind this is because my father in law only goes by Bill, and I don’t think of him as a William. I have always loved the name because Prince William and I were born on the same day. My husband shot it down the first round, but is open this time.
So, the problems are here:
My husband does not want William to have any nickname, not Will or Liam or anything. He only wants William. He does not want his dad’s family to refer to our baby as “little willy” as they called his dad when he was younger. He especially does not want him to be “little bill”. He does not think his dad deserves that honor, but likes the name William.
We both used to not be close with our fathers due to poor choices they made during their marriages. In time and forgiveness, we have grown very close with each of our fathers and they have grown to be wonderful, involved grandpas who love their grandsons and support us. When I brought up the idea of the name, I said even though they didn’t make good choices years ago, we are teaching our sons forgiveness, the importance of valuing family and honoring the people they are now. And it’s easy to say “you are named after both of your grandfathers” which is cool. I love the names and I think it’s perfect.
So- is there a nice way to say, “we are calling him William, no nicknames please?”
The other thing- my husbands mom and sister still has a hard time with resentment towards his dad, even to the point where they resent how close we are now. We know they may be turned off by the name or think it’s weird we chose to name our son after our fathers. Should I even care about that? Suggestions on how to tell them (it will be after the baby is born) Or do we just say the name and they can get over it?
I feel like William and Joseph are both common enough names that it wouldn’t be a big deal? It’s not like this is the only William they will ever encounter.
Aside from the nickname, and my husband worrying about his family’s opinion, we love the names (individually and their meaning). Although at times he thinks his dad doesn’t “deserve” to have a son named after him.
I feel like Bennett and William couldn’t be cuter together, and we have found ourselves hooked on the double letters and feel like that might be our childrens’ “name connection”. We hope to have Bennett, William (?) and Annabelle one day.
Other choices included:
Reed (which I liked because our last name starts with R as well, but didn’t know if it would be strong or weird, my husband thought he may be called “weed whiteman” instead of reed Wrightmen)
Matthew- love! I just have a cousin named Matthew, will likely use for 3rd boy
Noah (the only non-double letter name we both loved, was just used by a cousin for her boy)
Lillianna or Reese for a girl
1. Suggestions on spreading the no nickname rule
2. Suggestions on sharing the name with people who may not be happy about it
3. Is William Joseph the right name?
Thanks, swistle! I look forward to hearing your views and the comments from your wise readers! You always have smart, clear kind advice. Thank you in advance!
It sounds to me from your letter as if the name William has too much baggage and too many issues to be a good first-name candidate. I think you might be able to avoid nicknames (though he may very well choose one himself later on)—especially Billy and Bill and Willy, which are hardly used at all by this generation of babies. But it depends almost completely on your particular families and the extent to which they go with what you ask them to do, and there’s no nice way to say, “We named him William, but please don’t use nicknames because it might accidentally honor his grandfather who doesn’t deserve that honor.”
People will very likely assume it’s an honor name, and quite a high honor at that, and so family members who would have a problem with that are likely to have a problem with that. You could go to those family members and say, “It’s just because we liked the name—it’s not after Dad,” but I’m imagining how I’d feel if a baby I loved was given the name of my ex-husband who had behaved very badly and left some very bad memories, and it’s not going over well in my imagination. It’s possible it would redeem the name, but that might be a hard road.
If you were crazy about the name William, if your own father and beloved brother were also named William, if it was the only name you both loved and agreed on—in those sorts of situations, you would hear me saying it probably wouldn’t be too bad. The relatives could probably be soothed. Your father-in-law couldn’t be told the name didn’t honor him (especially since it does, and you’d be actively telling your son it does), but perhaps everyone would understand the explanation about forgiveness/redemption. But it sounds to me that although you really like the name William, it’s just one of a number of good options, and your husband has only recently come around to it. It also sounds like you like the symbolism of using it, but your husband’s actual feelings don’t line up with that symbolism: the relationship may have significantly improved, but your husband is still saying his father doesn’t deserve the honor of a namesake. Overall, it looks to me as if the arguments for NOT using it far outweigh the reasons for using it.
If you would like to use both grandfather’s names, I think William is perfect as the middle name. It reduces the impact of the namesake (and doesn’t force your husband’s mother and sister to use it regularly), and eliminates nickname issues. If you are still not in agreement on a nickname for the name Charles, you could either each use your own nickname and see which one pans out as his own favorite (this works if you are both fine with all the possible outcomes of this), or you could use Joseph. I think it’s fine that it isn’t your dad’s first name, and I even like the balance of it: your dad’s MIDDLE name as the FIRST name, and your husband’s dad’s FIRST name as the MIDDLE name. (If you use your father-in-law’s first name as the first name, though, I agree it would be better to use your father’s first name as the middle name.)
If you do use William as the first name, or if you think your husband’s family will object to it even as a middle name, I would tell them very gently and understandingly (and ideally on their own, without your father-in-law present), and I would emphasize your non-father-in-law reasons for liking the name, including the Prince William connection. I would say to them what you said to us about your father-in-law seeming like “Bill”—totally unconnected to William. I’d tell them that your husband had very mixed feelings about honoring his dad, but that the two of you agreed it symbolized your son’s relationship with his grandfather more than your husband’s relationship with his dad.
It would be a little easier, I think, if your husband’s mother and sister had already been honored: as I’m writing all this out it feels a little wrong to be honoring/forgiving the former bad guy before honoring the ones who were good all along (if they indeed were), and increases my feelings that this name has too much baggage to be worth using.
A fun idea just occurred to me. What if you were to name your son George, making a two-generation connection between you and Prince William?
Name update! Katie writes:
I wrote you about whether or not to name our son after both grandfathers (sounds like Wrightmen). We ultimately decided that William was out as a first name option due to the overwhelming response, and now we can see, he is very much not a William. We decided to go with the name Matthew with William as the middle name (and can share the middle name with my husband) for the longest time. Matthew is a name we both love and it would be a male M name to honor my mother in law, Martha. At the last minute we decided to add my dad’s name as a second middle name, so we could honor all three living grandparents and not leave anyone out. Thank you for your wonderful input and help making the right decision.
Matthew William Joseph
March 16, 2014