Mediate my baby-naming debate :-)
June 9, 2016 5:36 PM   Subscribe

We are having a unique disagreement over a potential baby name. I'm looking for some tie-breaking feedback.

In advance of our upcoming anatomy scan, we are debating the baby names. Our girl name is already decided but we are having a dispute over boy names. The issue is that my husband had two grandfathers who both had the same name (let's say it's Michael). My stepson's name is Firstname Mike Lastname. So far, so good, right?

The issue is that as per Jewish naming tradition (which we both are on board with) it is extremely taboo to name a child after someone who is still alive. Therefore, the 'Mike' in stepson's name only counts for Michael A, as Michael B was still alive at the time. Michael B is meanwhile now deceased. And therefore husband feels that in the event of another boy, Michael/Mike is totally usable again.

My argument against is that, while stepson is a chill kiddo and likely won't much care, I am wary of irritating his mom, with whom we have finally, after much effort, reached a stable status quo. With that said, I have no objections to Michael/Mike as a name in and of itself, and husband has agreed to a middle name of my choosing to honour my grandmother.

Husband's argument for is a) it is stepson's middle name and nobody uses their middle name anyway b) his sister is done having kids, this will likely be our only and there are no other cousins so this will be Michael B's only chance to have a namesake and c) his ex, being Jewish as well, will surely understand how Michael B deserves his due at last.

So, what say you, fellow Mefites? Whose argument do you endorse in this situation?

(Girl is getting named after my grandmother, with an M middle name in deference to the late beloved Michael B so that's decided)
posted by JoannaC to Grab Bag (61 answers total)
Wait, so your husband will have one son named Michael Middlename C and another named Firstname Mike C? If I were either Mike, I'd be dreadfully annoyed. Is Stepson old enough to ask about this? I'd be very worried *he'd* feel slighted here.

My (Jewish) family named an entire generation after Grandpa Eugene, who passed before any of us were born, and we all have E names. I'd strongly suggest finding another M name that would suit.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:40 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm OK with this. Middle names are recycled regularly as all kind of names in my non-Jewish family. I don't think it's a big deal. However, if you are just ok with Mike, maybe you and husband can find a name you both really like. Other M names, Mark, Manny, etc.
posted by Kalmya at 5:44 PM on June 9, 2016

Not to threadsit, but stepson is almost six, was asked one time if he would like to have a brother named Mike and said sure, ok. I don't think he'll care. That isn't an issue in this case :-)
posted by JoannaC at 5:44 PM on June 9, 2016

I'm very confused -- who are your stepson's parents?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:47 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

[If the two boys are brothers, no, I wouldn't reuse the name.]
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:48 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Sounds like the parents are her husband and his ex-wife.

I think that you should wait for the anatomy scan, first -- if it's a girl, problem solved.

I also think that if it will make you uncomfortable, you get the veto. Names are the kind of thing where couples should allow each other several "irrational" vetoes (I don't think this veto is irrational, though.) They are just so personal.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:50 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

sounds to me like he wanted to name the first kid mike, it was vetoed by the ex-wife and he had to settle for mike as the middle name. if he still wants to name a son mike there's obviously a lot of meaning in it to him. i'd do it.
posted by noloveforned at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Is this your stepson as in your husband's full biological son?

Naming two sons in a row Michael* is weird. You can't do that. Beyond just "bad blood with the babymama" kind of stuff, this is like Pete and Pete territory. It's just weird.

Not to mention, they're both children, and both in the same family, so you'll be dealing with two Michaels which is like the drama of what to call a Junior but times a million because they'll be kids together in the same context. What are you going to call the second one if the first one is already Mike? Maybe if it was a name like Elizabeth where you could have an Ella and a Libby or something, but still?????????

(Not entirely clear on whether your stepson goes by Mike or if it's a never-used middle name emphasized for the purposes of this question. But still. No.)

There are other names, and other people to name babies after. Pick a new name before you find yourself in the dramatis personae of 100 Years Of Solitude.

*Even if it's Mike and Michael, or Mike and MJ or something. Still weird.
posted by Sara C. at 5:58 PM on June 9, 2016 [15 favorites]

One kid with the middle name Mike and one kid named Michael is weird. I think it would niggle at them. It would be MUCH less weird to have one kid with the middle name Mike and one kid with the middle name Michael. Or two kids with the middle name Mike!

Honestly though, they will presumably have the same last name (blah blah patriarchy etc), so also having one of their other names be the same is kind of.... overkill. I would go with a different name.
posted by kate blank at 6:05 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is there a reason why the stepson's mom can't be asked? You're giving her a psychic veto without knowing whether this would, in fact, bother her.

I think generally this is fine, unless Michael is in all fact a much more unique name like Methuselah, in which case I agree that repeating is a bad idea.
posted by Night_owl at 6:10 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with Sarah C., kate blank and others. I wouldn't do it, personally. It would be nice if you shared the actual name, for some more concrete suggestions, but, using your example of Michael, I would at least see if your husband would accept a variant name, along the lines of Micah instead of Michael. (Also, sidebar, grumble grumble grumble, if husband already has one son, I'm not clear why you don't get a bit more input in picking the name for this child, whether it is a boy or a girl? - why do you only get the first name of your choice if it is a girl?)
posted by gudrun at 6:11 PM on June 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

No on reusing Mike for two siblings, even half-siblings. Brings to mind George Foreman's many George Jr's.

What was Michael B's middle name? Use that.
posted by jamaro at 6:13 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

My husband's middle name is his older brother's first name and it is not an issue whatsoever. I admit to finding his parents slightly unoriginal in this regard but eh. I doubt either kid would care one iota about sharing Mike.
posted by lydhre at 6:16 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

If you need more ammo, imagine having to explain over and over why stepson and son are named after two *different* Mikes, ("No really, yes, it's the same name but they are named after Grandfather Mike A and Grandpa Mike B because A was dead first and...").

That's going to get tedious real fast.
posted by jamaro at 6:18 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

stepson is almost six, was asked one time if he would like to have a brother named Mike and said sure, ok. I don't think he'll care.

That may change, and your son may very much care about the perception of having been named after a step sibling. Sibling rivalry can be strong and it's not something that you can just reason away.

Have you considered Mike/Michael as a middle name for your son as well? That feels less weird, though still potentially troublesome.
posted by Candleman at 6:21 PM on June 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yeah, I'd only really be worried because Michael will feel like it's not really HIS name, since his older brother got it first. I think the best possible solution is to give the new baby the middle name Michael as well, and then they can share middle names, which is pretty cool.

I would also contact the stepson's mom and, like, directly ask her opinion without couching it in any weird way. If her being put out by the choice is a relevant factor, then why wouldn't you get her opinion? In fact, I suspect that just asking (as long as you don't then go against her wishes) will help to build a more stable relationship.
posted by 256 at 6:26 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

What? Who cares if a bunch of Internet strangers think it's weird? It's really not that weird. Ask the ex-wife and then you will have more data about this decision.
posted by sockermom at 6:26 PM on June 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

My family is partway Jewish and they gave my sister my (living) mom's name as a middle name. People do what they want and you can find a rabbi to support whatever. For what it's worth I very much don't like the weird "The kid was named for the dead grandparent and now we want to name the next kid for the now-dead grandparent" angle, at all. Think o fit another way. If Mike B had died and your husband was still with his ex, would they have had two kids named Mike? If the answer is seriously and literally "Yes, they would" then okay, tradition trumps conventionality. But I would not give two kids similar names and I wouldn't ask a six year old a question that he might have to live with his whole life when the answer (to many here) seems like one he might change his mind on. I'm all for other M names or even Mikey as a nickname but I think kids deserve names independent from the other kids in the family.
posted by jessamyn at 6:28 PM on June 9, 2016 [15 favorites]

I think it would be cool to have the same middle name as my brother, so Stepbrother Mike Lastname and Newbaby Mike Lastname works for me only if Newbaby has a completely different first name. It's a little unusual but if I were an older stepbrother, I'd think it was cool. Your kids may vary, of course.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:29 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Giving son 2 a first name that is a variant of son 1's middle name does seem like it might likely be annoying to one or both of them, even though they would be named after two different Mike/Michaels. But for some reason, the idea of having a brother with the same/similar middle name, but named after two different grandpas, actually seems kind of cool to me.

If you care what son 1's mom thinks, ask her!
posted by fussbudget at 6:30 PM on June 9, 2016

I am wary of irritating his mom

his ex, being Jewish as well, will surely understand how Michael B deserves his due at last

If his mom is so understanding about this, why can't he talk with her in advance about it to see if she would be irritated or not?
posted by yohko at 6:34 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jewish here, and there are definitely families that do this, but I still think it's weird. I think the potential for bio-mom drama isn't something to play with, either.

Having said that, I don't see anything wrong or off-putting about giving your baby the middle name Michael -- you're naming after the other grandparent, the boys have a fun thing in common that no one has to know about, and there's no sense that you're superceding the older one with the newer.
posted by Mchelly at 6:36 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Or go full tilt.

Jason Michael Smith and Michael Jason Smith. That is at least funny and weird instead of just weird.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:37 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I can't believe so many people think its a big deal. I come from a family where there is at least 2-3 people in each generation with the same name. We just like to honor each other by naming kids after godparents, cousins, grandparents living and dead. It would be really weird to have only one Brian, Bill, or Alice running around.

I really do not think the kids will care. This is an adult problem of overthinking something.
posted by cairnoflore at 6:43 PM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

What if you also give this kid "Mike" as a middle name, like his brother (I believe it's vaguely Scandinavian for siblings to have matching middle names that echo those of parents/grandparents), but then actually *call* this one Mike? That is kind of the only way this would make sense to me.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:45 PM on June 9, 2016

My sister and I have the same middle names, which I've always thought was cool even though we only go by our first names.
posted by rakaidan at 6:46 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think it's not good to give two boys the same name, and particularly because they are only half siblings. I have a friend whose dad gave his second kid, by a new wife, the same name as my friend, and the unfortunate feeling my friend got was that the second naming was the real thing, the first not really counting. Ugh, why do it? Find another M name - even a related one like Micha. Or give your boy the middle name Michael - middle names have a lot less baggage on them. Having the same middle name can be nice especially if it's a family name. Having a duplicate first name is not.

I also feel like it's the privilege of whoever carries a baby in their womb for ten months to name it, but that's juuuust me.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:46 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

My brother and his wife have three girls and they all have the same middle name, which is also my sister-in-law's middle name. My brother and my dad have the same middle name (which also happens to be part of my mother's name as well). My husband and our son have the same middle name. There are several boys in my family named for my grandfather and/or for my uncle (they have the same name), either as first or middle, and they all go by different nicknames and it's no problem.

My point is that, in some families, this kind of thing is totally not weird. But if that's not your family, then maybe it is weird. No one can tell you if it's weird in your family except for you.

Given that you asked the question, I think you know the answer. So all you have to decide is if you want to do it anyway, even if it's weird.
posted by devinemissk at 6:49 PM on June 9, 2016

Sharing a middle name would be fine (I know, because I share mine with two of my siblings), but not so much as middle name for one kid and first name for the other.

Either give the new baby an entirely different M name or make Michael his middle name.
posted by easily confused at 6:55 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think it's ok and not weird! But now I'm questioning my sense of weirdness, so, maybe don't listen to me.
posted by smirkyfodder at 7:00 PM on June 9, 2016

I can see all sorts of potential for drama between step-siblings here (jealousy on the part of the older kid that the younger 'stole' part of his name, angst on the part of the younger one that his name isn't 'his own'.) Asking a six year old about this in the abstract isn't going to be much of a predictor of how things will go once sibling rivalry actually kicks in. I think it's just borrowing trouble.

I actually really like the idea of using 'Michael' as a middle name for both, which keeps things even, and gives them something in common - which they may appreciate even more as step-siblings than bio-siblings would.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 7:07 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

I say no. For the jewish reason, for the ex-wife reason and for the sibling reason (he says he doesn't care now - but how will he feel when his "replacement" has his name? Just don't go there.)

Sorry, can you come up with another "M" name?
posted by Toddles at 7:15 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's a roughly 50% chance you're not going to have to deal with this at all, so why not shelve the debate until you know whether or not there's a stem on that apple?
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 7:23 PM on June 9, 2016

So, I personally know a Michael Joseph Lastname and his brother Joseph Michael Lastname. Joseph had two sons - their names are Joseph Michael Lastname and Michael Joseph Lastname. This did not occur to me until JUST NOW. I never gave it a thought and I don't think it's weird at all - maybe a tad unoriginal but not weird.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:33 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

This naming website claims that Mitchell is a variant of Michael. Would that work?
posted by angiep at 7:36 PM on June 9, 2016

if it's a girl, problem solved.

Not exactly. Scans are not 100% - my favorite comedian Jimmy Pardo often tells how they thought they were having a girl. They had a boy. (I've also heard that boy-parts can hide pretty easily on scans.) So I think you should have a name prepared even if the scans say girl.

Naming two sons in a row Michael* is weird....this is like Pete and Pete territory. It's just weird.

Agreed. Could you flip it and have his middle name be Michael? At least I'd understand from a "family name" standpoint even though it might still cause some confusion.

I think having your sibling's middle name as your first name would be strange and confusing.

Here's an example, you know how your ears perk up when you hear your name in a crowded room? Well in my Spanish class in Highschool we got to pick our "Spanish name." Someone chose my (uncommon/Hungarian) middle name as their Spanish name - unknowing that it was my middle name. The ENTIRE semester I would accidently answer or almost answer when she was being called on because it's my middle name. I can't imagine having a sibling with my middle name as their first name. (Yes, I understand people with more common names may have more of a filter for this, but I vote for anything that clears up confusion.)
posted by Crystalinne at 7:45 PM on June 9, 2016

My first cousin and I are both named after our grandmother. I'm the older one, and her name is my middle name. My cousin is two years younger than me, and our grandmother's name is her first name. We grew up mostly in the same city and our families spent a lot of time together. (And also with our grandmother, who was alive when both of us were born.) The fact that my middle name is also my cousin's first name is totally cool with everyone; most people who aren't in our immediate family don't know my middle name, so most people have no idea. People in our immediate family know that my grandmother was an excellent woman, so while we realize there's a double namesake thing going on we think it makes perfect sense.

On the other hand, since my cousin and I are so close in age, her having my middle name as her first name is The Way It's Always Been. Things could vary with your stepson. And of course siblings and cousins are not the same. I've never spoken with my cousin about how she feels about our shared name. (On second thought, I think we've commiserated about how it gets mispronounced.) I assume it's not a problem; she uses her full name, and our families have always been close.
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:00 PM on June 9, 2016

I know two families where two siblings have the same name- in both cases, the older one has it as a middle name and the younger as a first name. It's totally fine, go for it. Heck, in French Canada, almost every girl has "Marie" in her name somewhere; it's a cultural/religious tradition.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:04 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can't name your son Michael X while his half-brother is named Y Michael and reasonably claim that you are following the tradition of not naming someone after a living person. You could probably get away with X Michael and Y Michael (where X can be from your grandmother, surely), otherwise do what most Jews I know do and use the initial with its own name. I was named after my maternal grandmother's parents, using one initial from each. (Had I been a boy, I would have had my great-grandfather's name, but I wasn't.)

If you were in a culture where it was traditional to share names among siblings, you would already know you are in this culture.
posted by jeather at 8:26 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have relatives whose three boys all have the same middle name. It is a non event. Do not hesitate to name them both Michael.
posted by AugustWest at 8:52 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

My youngest brother's first name is the same as my middle brother's middle name. It's 100% not an issue in our family.
posted by vunder at 9:17 PM on June 9, 2016

I don't mind this.. I think it's fine. This is my one thought though.

I think there's a possibility your stepson might think that you wanted a baby named Mike. And, even though he's got the name Mike, he's not your *real* son so you named your new baby Mike anyways, and it didn't matter that it was already one of his names, because he's not *your* son.

Blended families have a lot of tricky jealousies and disappointments. If this was your older son and you wanted to give your younger son his middle name as a given, I'd say whatever you want. But because he's your stepson, and he might already feel like you're having another baby because he doesn't count as his dad's "real family" anymore, I would avoid the possibility of something like this that might make him feel replaced, or something. Add this to possible family unit drama with the kid's biological mom, and I'd rather just avoid it.

If you really want the name I'd give him the same middle name because at least it's the same for both of them, and less like you're stealing his middle name.

At the same time, my brother's middle name is Cameron, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say it out loud unless it was a specific question about his middle name. So, if kid A never has his name said aloud, maybe it doesn't matter too much.
posted by euphoria066 at 9:38 PM on June 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

I'm Jewish, and I think this is weird. Was Michael B Jewish? Did he have a Hebrew name? Can you just pass on his Hebrew name, then?

If it's important to your husband to honor Michael B, then fine, find a way to pass something on--Hebrew name, middle name, something. But not a name already being used for the sibling. I wouldn't worry too much about how Michael B would feel about it, since he's dead.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:40 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Am I crazy, or is almost everyone answering a question that OP didn't ask? She doesn't want to know if having two half-brothers named X Michael Lastname and Michael Y Lastname is weird. She wants to know what we think about her reason against (which doesn't include feeling it's weird) and his reason for.

OP, since your only reason against is concern about irritating the stepson's mom, please have your husband gently broach the subject with her. Since you're both happy with the name, you should not give up on it without even asking. If the idea of using Michael ("Michael") does irritate her, you can reconsider. If it doesn't, you're fine. If you're worried that just asking will irritate her, then you should ask anyway because it's a pointless and silly thing to be walking on eggshells with your husband's ex.
posted by ejs at 9:55 PM on June 9, 2016

This is... not a big deal. I'd ignore everyone here, ask the mom, and make a choice based on your social circle.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:56 PM on June 9, 2016

I was named Leah, and my (second! But sort of like first) cousin was named Lisa, both after my father's/(almost) uncle's mother's grandmother, and there was still some talk about messing up the tradition of not naming after living folks. (Because I was older, I guess. Anyway, I've definitely heard a comment or two.)

I wouldn't name my son the same name as his brother in any way, not shared middle names, not first/middle shared, it's just weird. Agreed if there's some way to use Michael B's Hebrew name, or some other m-name, that would be much better.

And I wouldn't take the "sure whatever" answer of a six year old about something like this., they're just not reliable.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:02 PM on June 9, 2016

I wouldn't give your kid a name that you are not both 110% in favor of.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:26 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

The issue is that as per Jewish naming tradition (which we both are on board with) it is extremely taboo to name a child after someone who is still alive. Therefore, the 'Mike' in stepson's name only counts for Michael A, as Michael B was still alive at the time. Michael B is meanwhile now deceased. And therefore husband feels that in the event of another boy, Michael/Mike is totally usable again.

I really don't get this. If both grandparents had the same name, the stepson was named after both of them really, even if the intention was that he was only named after Michael A. I mean, Michael B was there, was still a grandfather and still had the name Michael. It probably wasn't appropriate naming the stepson Something Michael at that point in time with another grandfather alive with that name.

I think it would be fine to give your bub the same middle name as step son (so both Something Michael) but I wouldn't use stepson's middle name as your bub's first name. Go for another M name. I'd be annoyed if someone usurped my middle name for another kid's first name. How could I bitch about my middle name?

Blended families are messy. My step brother and my brother have the same name. Luckily one uses a nickname.
posted by kitten magic at 11:29 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've always heard this particular superstition being about not wanting the Angel of Death to get confused (superstitions! All kind of silly in the end) and I would have absolutely considered that if you name the kid Michael, and his living grandpa's name is Michael, you gave him Grandpa's name. Even if that isn't your *stated* reason - "we're naming him after a *different* Michael - they still share the name.

Now, "both your grandpas were named Michael, so both of you get it as a middle name" is fine and cute and family-connecting but the idea that he has to name another kid Michael now to honor the other grandpa does not really resonate with me as a Jew.
posted by Lady Li at 3:18 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

If the kids won't share the names they're called by, then why is this a big deal? If you're going to no to be calling Michael and Mike down to dinner every night, that's noteworthy and odd and may make Michael feel weird about his name. But if you're going to be calling Michael and Judah (whose middle name is Mike) down to dinner every night, then who cares?
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:55 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

My sisters have my first name as their middle names. None of them thought they were named after me. This sort of thing is very, very common in Catholic communities, and I've heard that it's common in southern culture as well. You might want to consider the fact that the "weirdness" of it is actually not universal at all, and that it probably would never come up at all. In this case, given that the boys will be half-brothers, I think it could be a really sweet gesture.

That being said, baby naming is a one-no, two-yes scenario. Both parents should have veto power. And in my family, we honor my kids' Jewish grandparents by reusing the first letter, and not the name itself. So there's room to negotiate, but I would really examine your assumptions a bit, and see if it's more about how you feel about your husband's ex than you realize. Which would be a completely normal feeling for you to have, given history and humanness, but being clear about your feelings may help you discuss this with your husband.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:56 AM on June 10, 2016

c) I am wary of irritating his mom, with whom we have finally, after much effort, reached a stable status quo.....his ex, being Jewish as well, will surely understand how Michael B deserves his due at last.

These anonymous mefites will weigh in on both sides, the only opinion that really matters is your own. As you're only at 18-20 weeks for the anatomy scan, you still have another 20 weeks to go before the baby comes out, plenty of time to feel out the ex's reaction to the POTENTIAL name.

26 weeks here with a boy myself, husbunny was really rooting for Geronimo as a name, for an old family friend (really long story to explain this guy's significance). I was hesitant because of other famous associations with that name. We told people we were considering this name for a boy and people's reactions were "haha good joke. No really, you're totally kidding right?" or "oh... really... (O.o)... " Now hubby is rooting for it as the middle name instead (still debating but I will likely give in), and I don't feel guilty about our reconsidering the name, I like the new first name we picked a lot more.
posted by lizbunny at 6:48 AM on June 10, 2016

I'm on team Ask Mom of Stepkid. You can't assume she'll understand, she's a person with her own thoughts.

Option 2 is a name related to Michael. Like, Miklos, Miguel, Mikka, Mikaela or Mikaelo, Michale, Michel (with a soft ch), Maxwell.

I'm anti-Mike, personally, because I have at least 6 Mikes in my -daily- life and more on the periphery, it's just ridiiiiiculous.
posted by Dashy at 8:04 AM on June 10, 2016

My grandfather and his brother are/were "Jason Michael Smith and Michael Jason Smith" (not those names). It's funny and weird but I don't think it ever annoyed them.
posted by Pax at 8:22 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

But I'd say go with X Michael and Y Michael.
posted by Pax at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't think there is anything inherently weird/wrong about this name choice in a vacuum. All sorts of cultures do all sorts of things with names, and there is no one right/wrong way to do it.

That said, it sounds like there is enough drama around this particular situation that I would try to come up with a name that everyone feel 100% awesome about. There are so many names in the world. I'm not sure it makes sense to push hard for a name that feels a little off/weird. If nothing else, some of the ways you describe your husband's comments on this make it seem like he wants to pick this name to "get back at" his ex for some reason or to make her seem unreasonable for objecting. This is too much baggage to put on a little baby. I love the idea of picking another "M" name to honor the grandparent.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:31 AM on June 10, 2016

Give the new baby Michael as a middle name, not a first name.

The potential reason not to ask your husband's ex is that if she goes "No way I don't want you to do that!" you have the hard choice of whether to go against her express wishes.
posted by sallybrown at 8:41 AM on June 10, 2016

My grandma had 8 kids and recycled several middle names as first names. I don't think it's a big deal, but if you want to not make mom of stepson mad, I think you have to ask her, and be prepared to live with her decision, if that's important to you.
posted by freezer cake at 9:42 AM on June 10, 2016

I doubt I can do more than to tell you my family's experience; what worked and didn't work for us could be totally different for yours.

Great Grandpa was married three times, and named the oldest son from each marriage after himself, but with a different middle name. So, using hypothetical names:

Great Grandpa: Robert John Monster, known as Robert
Firstborn of 1st Wife: Robert James Monster, known as Bob
Firstborn of 2nd Wife: Robert William Monster, known as George
Firstborn of 3rd Wife: Robert Charles Monster, known as Charlie

There was enough age and distance between then that it never caused any difficulty that I've heard of.

However, my sister and I have names so close to matching that our teachers, friends, and even our own grandmother never quite got them straight all the time. We couldn't use the same solution Great-Grandpa did, because her middle name is even closer to my first name. People still sometimes call me by my sister's middle name. However, it matters less and less the older we get.

At the age of six, I'm not sure how much a kid knows about what he will or won't mind a year from now. However, I also don't know how often his middle name gets brought up.

It just occurred tome to wonder how it could work if the younger son's middle name was also Michael. If he was [FIRSTNAME] Michael, then you could *call* him Michael, but if it *did* get weird he could switch to [FIRSTNAME] when he was older.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:00 PM on June 10, 2016

Plenty of siblings have the same middle name. It's not usual per se, but it's definitely done. Can you talk it over with your step-son's mother? I don't know much about Judaism- is there anything wrong with Michael B not ever having a namesake? He's dead, so he won't care. It'd be different, in my mind, if you weren't Jewish, and he were alive and actively wishing for a namesake. While alive, did he express a desire for someone to be named after him after he was gone?
posted by serenity_now at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2016

Update: scan was today and baby IS a boy :-)

Stepson is over the moon excited, and my husband asked the mom about the name. She is totally fine with it and thinks it will give the boys something in common.

So, problem solved :-)
posted by JoannaC at 2:38 PM on June 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

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