Would you name your daughter after her dad?
Our Question of the Week:
Last week, Serena Williams introduced the world to her adorable two-week-old daughter in an Instagram post. The baby’s name, she revealed, was Alexis. A perfectly nice, normal name; popular, but not too popular, at Number 119. But here’s the unusual part: The newborn’s father is also named Alexis. And the new parents made the namesake connection explicit by giving the little girl the name Alexis Olympia Ohania Jr.
This isn’t completely unprecedented; our very own Name Sage wrote about a family that did the same thing two years ago. But it’s certainly unusual, and Serena Williams may be the highest-profile parent to name a baby girl after her father. She did tweak it by changing the middle name from dad’s Kerry to her very own Olympia, a name appropriate for the daughter of a winner of four Olympic gold medals. And, to avoid any confusion, Olympia is what she will be called.
But what’s your take on this idea for parents who don’t happen to be one of the greatest athletes of all time?
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on September 17th, 2017 at 11:20 pm
For some reason, (even though I don’t love the idea of naming a son after his father) I find naming a child after their parent of the opposite gender really charming!
on September 17th, 2017 at 11:21 pm
Especially a son named after his mother, since so often I find that honor names heavily favor the father’s side.
on September 17th, 2017 at 11:46 pm
No, rather they have their own names.
on September 18th, 2017 at 12:06 am
Absolutely, I would name a son after his mother as well. As long as I like the name, a feminine or masculine from would be used. Otherwise, choosing a name with a similar meaning would also work. I would never use the exact name, like in Serena Williams’s case nor Jr, which is something I really dislike
on September 18th, 2017 at 1:02 am
It bothers me a bit, honestly. In the past, people often named girls after their father because they didn’t get the much desired son. So it was an expression of misogyny. I don’t have a problem with this trend, as long as it goes both ways. Yet I’ve heard of many girls being called James for a male relative, yet no boys being called Elizabeth.
on September 18th, 2017 at 1:27 am
Nope. For a start, I think it’s best when kids have their own name.
Secondly, it bothers me because it seems very patriarchal. You very rarely get children (especially boys) so clearly named after their mothers. There aren’t a lot of female “Juniors”. The idea that a child is getting not just their father’s surname, but his first name as well…? No thank you. I think it says a lot, for example, that Donald Trump named his sons after himself (and they’re continuing the trend).
There’s more ego than honouring going on in this naming trend, I think.
on September 18th, 2017 at 2:38 am
On second thought, I agree, srudolph.
on September 18th, 2017 at 3:58 am
I think it’s in poor taste to name a child directly after its parent. Having the same first name, often the same middle name, and almost always the same last name is egotistical, in my opinion, particularly on dad’s part – since it’s usually dad who pushed for a ‘Jr’. It also seems lazy. Like… out of literally BILLIONS of names worldwide, you couldn’t find a single one that you liked more than dad’s? Seems a bit far-fetched to me, and implies more than anything else that the parents simply couldn’t be bothered to find a name specifically for their child, and that they simply ‘settled’ for dad’s name because… that’ll do.
In the case of Serena Williams, I think it was a really silly thing for her to do, in particular, due to the fact the fact that she herself is choosing to bypass the child’s first name to ‘avoid confusion’. The potential for there to be confusion in the first place is another reason why I dislike naming kids after parents, and at the end of it all, if she’s going to call the girl Olympia anyway, then WHY DID SHE NOT NAME HER THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE? Seems silly to me.
Also, I have to admit, it bothers me that ‘Jrs’ are, at least 9 times out of 10, after dad. It’s a perfectly acceptable practice to name a boy after his dad, and it’s becoming increasingly common now to name daughters Elliot, Ryan and James after their dads, but no one really cares for the idea of naming kids after their mothers. In France, boys have been traditionally named Jean, Marie and Clair after their mothers, and other female relatives, but I don’t see anyone in England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, America etc. wanting to name their sons Elizabeth or Charlotte. There is an undercurrent of sexism with regards to this trend, and I deeply dislike and ultimately disagree with it.
So… yeah. I really don’t like when people names kids after themselves. It’s sort of a tasteless decision overall, in my view. If dad really wanted his name to be passed on, then I could be persuaded to use it as a middle name out of general courtesy, but that’s as far as I would go. Kids are their own people. They’re unique. They are not carbon-copies of their parents, and as such they deserve to have their own names.
on September 18th, 2017 at 6:47 am
No I wouldn’t. Wouldn’t name a son after the dad either, or a child after me, as I too believe a child deserves their own name.
on September 18th, 2017 at 7:28 am
I’m not a big fan of naming kids after their parents (with first names) whichever way it goes. It seems quite unoriginal and dull, as well as can set up traditions that might be uncomfortable to break later down the line. But of course there’s loads of meaning and signficance to it. And if I happened to have kids with someone called one of my favourite names I would still want to use it.
But I don’t think naming a son after a mother or a daughter after a father is any different than passing down names from fathers to sons, and mothers to daughters. It’s just using a family name.
On a side note, I’m glad she’ll be mostly called Olympia. I like Alexis, but Olympia is amazing, and definitely overlooked. But I hope it doesn’t attract too much attention.
on September 18th, 2017 at 7:38 am
It bothers me that the Jr. is being used when it is not applicable since Serena’s daughter does not share the exact same name as her father. Different middle names negate the junior — at least from a technical sense. I also am not sure why they didn’t just name her Olympia Alexis if they are going to call her Olympia. It still honors her father. On the positive side, I am glad they didn’t think they had to wait for a son to have a junior.
I am not a big fan of juniors but I am sure I was heavily influenced by my father who had friends that were juniors and always thought the household distinctions of big Mike, little Mike, Mike senior, Mike junior were extremely annoying. However, my brother was named after both our grandfathers which worked out just fine because they weren’t living in the same household.
I honestly prefer when a variation of parents name is used (if you are going to involve the parents name) and I particularly like it when it crosses gender. Although I do find it more interesting when a son has a variation of his mothers name. So while a Danielle whose father is Daniel or a Paulina whose father is Paul is nice; I find it refreshing to hear of a Patrick whose mother is Patricia, a Victor named after mom Victoria, or a Julian named for mom Julia.
on September 18th, 2017 at 8:43 am
My first name is the feminized version of my father’s, while my middle name is the same as my mother’s. My brother’s first name is the middle name of both our father and our maternal uncle as well as the first name of our maternal grandfather. His middle name is the first name of that same maternal uncle, so his name actually favors our mother’s side of the family. I like that I’m named after both of my parents, even though I don’t have much of a relationship with my father now. Neither of us feel that we are living in anyone’s shadow or don’t have our own identity, because we were always treated as our own people. I think the issues that most people see with “juniors” stems more from the way they were parented (by a father who wanted to give his child his exact name) than from the name itself.
I’m really relaxed about names crossing gender lines. I understand why people feel squicky about giving masculine names to girls, since it rarely goes the other way, but Alexis is a unisex name, and I don’t mind calling a child by her middle name when the first name is a family name. What I do object to is the inappropriate use of the “Jr.” suffix, especially since dad also has a unisex middle name. If they’d wanted the baby to be a junior, she easily could have been (and I think that would be a cool breakdown of gender barriers in that they aren’t “saving” it for a potential future son), but that’s not how they named her.
on September 18th, 2017 at 9:18 am
I skimmed through the comments and saw a couple people irked that the “Jr” suffix isn’t technically applicable because she has a different middle name than her father – my husband is a “William IV” (great-grandfather was William, grandpa is William Jr, dad is William III) and they ALL have different middle names. They all go by William/Bill/Willy though, we live in the same area (grandpa and dad are both still alive) and use the same bank and it is EXTREMELY confusing. Hubs wants to continue the tradition with a boy, or a Wilhelmina/Willa if we have all girls, and I’m NOT into it. :-/
In my family at least, girls are generally named after their mother/grandmother in the MIDDLE name, or given a first name with a similar meaning (for example, grandma’s name was Violet, and my mother considered Yolanda/Jolanda/Jolantha – which means Violet – for my youngest sister). I like this tradition much better – like other commenters mentioned, each child gets their own unique name, plus a lot of confusion is avoided.
on September 18th, 2017 at 9:21 am
I think it’s really special to name a child after someone admirable, respected, and loved. With the assumption that spouses feel those sentiments towards each other, why on earth would would it be objectionable to honor them with your child’s name, and to give that child a really meaningful link to his or her family and heritage?
My husband is a great man, and I wanted our first born, no matter the gender, to share part of his name. She talks about her middle name being “Papa’s name” quite a bit and with a lot of pride, which is awesome. I had no desire to pass either of my names down, for some reason. Honestly, I feel like my husband and I are so linked together that an honor for him feels like an honor for me too. Maybe that’s not a popular view, but we’re happy.
Regarding Serena, other than the fact that Alexis as a name isn’t one of my favorites, I think it’s kind of cool that she gave Dad’s name to her girl. The Jr., however, is totally unnecessary and confusing. I think Olympia Alexis would have been a better, more interesting option.
on September 18th, 2017 at 11:07 am
I would name girls for guy relatives and guys for girl relatives, but within reason. The Will Smith family did it well — Willow and Jaden for Will and Jade. Perfect! The links to the original names are obvious, yet everyone still gets their own name, stylish for their generation. In Serena’s case, denoting the “Jr.” is just plain silly because the daughter doesn’t have the same name as her father, so she’s not actually a “Jr.” at all.
It seems that a lot of people get caught up in the idea of gender-bending a name, or else the name honor itself, or the “fairness” going both ways — but I never see anyone stop to consider whether the name in question is fashionable and nice in the first place. Alexis is currently stylish. THAT is what makes it work. A name like Floyd? It’s a fusty old Grandpa name, and that won’t change whether you stick it on your son OR daughter. Nobody wants to carry around a previous generation’s baggage.
on September 18th, 2017 at 11:56 am
A further comment regarding the use of generational suffixes (Sr., Jr., III): to further confuse things, the technically correct usage of these suffixes aren’t fixed – they are only to be applied to the living generations. Thus, when John Doe, Sr. dies, his son becomes John Doe, Sr. and his grandson, born John Doe III, becomes John Doe, Jr.
on September 18th, 2017 at 12:28 pm
I think it’s sweet, actually! If you like the name, then I don’t see a problem with it.
on September 18th, 2017 at 12:30 pm
I recently found out that my great aunt went by her middle name (apparently a common practice by that entire generation of my family although I only knew one relative did while they were still alive) Her actual first name is Jessie after her father. If my mom had had another kid she wanted to name a girl Gillian (Jillian) after her grandpa Gilbert & I considered “g” names for my grandpa (George) when I was pregnant with my last girl
on September 18th, 2017 at 12:43 pm
On top of my great aunt & her dad both being Jessie, it’s also a possible nickname for both myself and my husband’s names (Jessica & Jesus) so it’s cool to have it in common but I wouldn’t use it. A form of my last name is on our list though. I have one in-law whos middle name is the same as his sons, his 2 siblings (all male), his dad, & his niece. Another in-law all the boys in his family get mom’s maiden name as their middle name
on September 18th, 2017 at 2:46 pm
I was almost named after my dad but he didn’t like the name my mom chose so they scrapped it.
I’m not with girl being called Jr. that’s just weird to me. If the dad was Samuel and the daughter was Samantha that would be one thing. But if the dad was Richard and the girl was Richard Jr. that’s just unacceptable to me. Besides it would confuse me to have two people in my family with the same name anyway. My male cousin is a junior but he’s called “Little” instead of Jr. and his dad is called “Big” instead of Sr.
on September 18th, 2017 at 3:33 pm
I did. My husband is Justin Ryan and our daughter is Lorelei-Ryan and my son is Liam and my name is Brittany Leigh.
on September 18th, 2017 at 3:51 pm
Our youngest son’s middle name is Andrew, a twist on my first name, Andrea. My middle name is Michelle, after my unlce, Michael. I think naming a child after a relative of the opposite sex is a great idea.
on September 18th, 2017 at 4:33 pm
I’m the fourth in a line of women with Car- names, and I have names on both my boy and girl lists that would carry on that tradition—for example, Carson, which seems especially appropriate for a boy.
But I wouldn’t want to use my first name exactly, because that’s just confusing.
on September 18th, 2017 at 5:52 pm
I knew a family who bestowed the father’s name in the middle for both their daughters – Jeffrey. That always struck me as odd.
A funny story too – my name is Emily. Everyone thought I was named after my great-grandfather Emile, but my mother didn’t even know that was his name! If I was named after him, I would have minded, but only as much as I’d mind being named after anybody. A person’s name should be their own, I feel, especially the first.
on September 19th, 2017 at 9:46 am
My almost 5 year old daughter has the same middle name as her father. It fits her beautifully and flows well with her frist name. Her name is Elodie Roy, wouldn’t change it for the world.
I actually made this choice on my own because he wanted a daddy’s girl (and got it!) and thought it sounded perfect. After she was born I found out his sister in law has her dad’s name in the middle (Micheal) and his grandmother’s middle name is Theo after her father Theodore. It’s an awesome family traditon I was glad to accidentally carry on. Now pregnant with our 3rd we are planning on using Theo or Theodora to honor his grandmother.
The Jr. did confuse me with Serena’s daughter BUT it’s her kid and as long as it fits the criteria (same exact name as dad first, middle and last) then I see no problem. Traditionally it’s for boys named after their dad’s but clearly names are using their hard gender lines more and more every day, junior is just a way for people (and government) to distinguish between dad and child. I say if they love it, go for it. I’ve heard of worst names used for kids!
on September 19th, 2017 at 3:10 pm
I’m most bothered by the use of “Jr.” when baby isn’t actually a junior. The middle name is different, therefore baby isn’t a junior. I think naming a baby after the opposite-sex parent is awesome; my husband and I have names picked out that do just that. I also get annoyed when people give their kid a first name that they’ll never use; I think Olympia Alexis would have been just as meaningful and much less confusing.
on September 19th, 2017 at 11:12 pm
She’s not technically a junior but I love the name.
I think it’s really sad that so many commenters are trigger by ~~the patriarchy~~ of names; with all of the problems in the world–that’s what we’re choosing to politicize and douse in fire? Plenty of boys get their mother’s maiden name as a middle or even a first. I know several girls who take their mother’s maiden name as a middle. Simply, it’s not “just boys” who get family names. How many little girls are named Jane after their grandmothers? A LOT. The reason it’s weird to name a boy Sofia Grace Smith, Jr. is because the -a endings are 99% designated for females were consonant ending names can be neutral and therefore it’s just less confusing–not misogyny.
Strictly male names (James) have only just been popularized for girls, from the same feeling of radical feminism that hates the ancestral male names (and not to mention the deep misogyny in radical feminism for anything un-ironically pink and feminine). Bummer!
on September 20th, 2017 at 12:20 am
Yes! My daughter’s name is Sadie Drew after my husband Andrew( Drew).
on September 21st, 2017 at 7:54 am
Both of my kids have “honor” names. My son after his father’s family and my daughter is a mix of my middle name (which is an honor name of my greatgrandmothers) and her father’s mother and grandmother. If we have another son, he’ll be named after my mother and my husband’s father (Patrick from Patrice and Robert from Bob) and if we have another daughter we’d love to name her after my husband in some way. I think honor names are an important way to give children a foundation in their family history.
Are you named after anyone? – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Said
on October 9th, 2017 at 10:45 pm
[…] asked you, a few weeks ago, what you thought of cross-gender namesakes for kids born today. But a super-hot thread on the Nameberry forums made us curious about you, our […]
on October 30th, 2017 at 1:32 pm
I might consider it but it wouldn’t he my first choice, I would love a child to have their own name.
on January 10th, 2018 at 1:28 pm
I wouldn’t name my child after my spouse but I would use my spouse’s father’s name as the first name. And than my father’s first name for the middle name for my child’s name. Not that I’m ever going have kids of my own anytime soon since I’m about to be 29 next month and still single, plus I’m unable to have kids do to my medical condition I was born with which is Spina Bifida.
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.