As a first-time parent, one of the most exciting aspects of having a child is choosing their name — unless, like this pregnant mother of twin boys, an outdated family naming tradition is causing waves.
Taking to Reddit to explain her situation, a new mom-to-be shared that her husband’s family strictly follows a naming tradition in which “all the first men in the family have the same name and surname,” but she’s refusing to continue the pattern with her twin boys — for several valid reasons.
She laid out the specifics of the tradition for context, writing, “My husband’s grandfather was called John Will Smith, my father-in-law John W. Smith II and my husband John W. Smith III and it’s something taken only for the firstborn’s families (so brothers, cousins don’t have that name). This ‘I,’ ‘II’ and ‘III’ is what would correspond in English, but in my language it is much more tacky,” she explains.
The woman continues, “My husband was almost convincing me if one of the twins was a boy to follow that line, but when we found out they are 2 boys…” She then laid out the major points of contention:
“1. I want my last name in the name, so it was already a problem before we found out the sex of the babies, because they only have the great-grandfather’s last name.” It’s becoming very common for children to carry hyphenated surnames for both parents — another move to drop outdated patriarchal traditions that this woman’s husband and in-laws seem to unfortunately disagree with.
The woman continues with perhaps the most valid point of all: “2. I don’t want our other baby to feel bad about being born later and not being able to participate.” The exclusivity of the “name club” would definitely feel isolating for non-firstborn sons, and this would be especially true for twins.
She lists her third reason as her distaste for “The bizarre resemblance to the monarchical system,” which is, again, an outdated patriarchal custom that clearly doesn’t sit well with her.
The woman continues with her fourth reason: “I gave examples of [the] Names [as John Will Smith I, II, etc.], but the real ones are very long and the last name is very difficult to even write (29 letters total), so I think it’s difficult for a child to learn it.” This is definitely a doozy — not only is a 29-letter-long name hard for kids to learn, but it’s also a hindrance in terms of filling out paperwork and being misidentified and misspelled by others throughout life.
She concludes with her fifth and final point, writing, “My second child ‘couldn’t’ have the same name,” which again shows an unfair element of nepotistic favoritism. One brother living in the shadow of another is not only unfair to the “other,” but is also likely to cause problems within the twins’ relationship, so it’s totally valid that this mom wants to avoid that.
The woman writes, “I said I didn’t want to follow the tradition, because we won’t have any other children besides the twins and I think it’s ok to create new traditions or just let people go free.” Again, this is totally valid and true.
She continues to explain that she’s even told her husband he can choose any other name of his liking in an attempt to compromise with him, but he’s not having it. “My husband is angry with me, saying that he is also a father and should be able to choose a name and that it was his desire/dream to follow tradition.” So, she wants Reddit to answer the inevitable question: AITA?
Redditors overwhelmingly responded in favor of the woman’s take on the issue, with one user replying, “OP whatever you do, do not follow this tradition. You are setting your children up for potential favoritism from paternal family — and it will be obvious and will hurt the twin. Avoid at all costs.”
Another person agreed, but sympathized with the namesake twin, commenting, “The real conflict is going to be when the older twin realizes he’s harnessed to this dumb tradition and his brother got a whole fresh name that isn’t wrapped up in this weird patriarchy.”
Others pointed out complicated logistical problems with being named the same name in a string of people sharing a moniker for tradition’s sake, with one Redditor writing, “Not to mention the legal ramifications. I work in government. The number of times I’ve had people call in asking about a bill in their name and it was their father/grandfather/son instead is a huge headache. I learned I would never saddle a child with the same name as a family member for that reason.”
Another user piggybacked on that comment, sharing, “I’m the 4th in line in my family and I always hated it. It’s been a nightmare for credit score reporting and I always swore the buck would stop with me, and it did. I would not recommend that anyone carry on these traditions, it’s awful.”
Hopefully this dad-to-be can agree to compromise with his partner — if not, it’ll seemingly be a point of contention for the entire family for years to come, which will rest on the shoulders of the two little boys who have yet to even enter the world.
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