If you’re struggling to choose a first name you might be wondering if you really need to choose a middle name as well. While middle names aren’t legally required, as someone who doesn’t have one, I would encourage you to go the trouble of choosing one.
Benefits to your child of having a Middle Name
There are a number of benefits to your child that come from having a middle name.
They Can use it if they don’t like their First Name
If your child decides at some point that they really hate their first name (highly likely in the teenage years) then having a middle name gives them an alternative that doesn’t mean them completely rejecting the name choices you made for them.
If they decide they want to make the change they can do so in a more casual way than if they wanted to use a completely new name that they would have to register legally.
A Middle Name can Distinguish them from Others with the Same First and Last Name
If you have a fairly common surname then adding a middle name can ensure that your child will have a way to distinguish themselves from people who have the name first and last name combination as them. While you can do this to some degree by choosing an unusual first name, there is no way to know it won’t become popular in the future and if you have a girl, your unusual surname might get changed to something more common, so a middle name is a safer bet.
It Might Help their Job Prospects
Strange as it may seem, having a middle name could help your child’s job prospects. Research carried out at the University of Southampton (described in Harpers Bizarre) found that adding a middle initial to the name on a CV made participants judge candidates more positively.
Drawbacks of Not Having a Middle Name for Your Child
When I found out middle names where “a thing” I immediately trotted off to ask my parents what mine was. I was horrified to discover I didn’t in fact have one. Here are some of the drawbacks I’ve found in not having one.
Everyone Else Has One!
As a child, you usually want to be just like your friends. You certainly don’t want to be missing out on something everyone else has. Younger children particularly love to find friends with the same name as them and, having an unusual first name as well as no middle name meant I never found a “Name Twin”.
They’ll Think You Couldn’t be Bothered
I totally blamed my parents for my lack of middle name. They explained that they had so much trouble agreeing on a first name for me that they couldn’t face trying to come up with a middle name as well. Frankly that explanation didn’t cut the mustard for me and I took my lack of middle name very personally. If you’re struggling to find a middle name, have a look at these ideas for finding a name that flows well.
They Will Choose their Own Middle Name (Badly)
Did you know there isn’t anything to stop you choosing a middle name for yourself and using it? When I was about 15, I decided that if my parents hadn’t given me a middle name, I’d just give myself one. Teenagers aren’t renowned for making the best decisions and decisions about names are no exception. I wanted something that was traditionally used as a middle name and I chose Elizabeth. That my mother hates that name is no coincidence. The trouble is, like most 15 year old decisions, I didn’t think it through so didn’t realise that it gave me the unfortunate initials of J.E.W.
If you want to make a better decision than I did at 15, check out this guide to choosing a middle name.
They Will Only Have Two Initials
Once I started work, my lack of a middle initial became an inconvenience. You’d be surprised how many computer systems use three initials to record who has done something. You’d also be surprised how many people have the same two first and last name initials. I had the choice of using the unfortunate middle initials of my made up middle name or using X.
Benefits to You as Parents of Giving a Middle Name
While there are lots of benefits for your child in a having a middle name, there are benefits for you as a parent too.
You Can Honour a Family Member
You can choose a middle name that belongs to someone special. We chose my beloved grandmother’s name for our daughter’s middle name and my father in law’s name for our son’s middle name.
In some families there is pressure to follow a naming tradition, for example honouring a particular ancestor or naming all first born boys the same thing. A middle name can give you some flexibility with this, either by giving the special name as a middle name or by giving it as the first name but calling the child by the middle name.
You could also choose to honour a special friend with the middle name.
It Allows for Compromise
If there is a name one of you really loves and the other one doesn’t like, having a middle name can allow space for compromise. For example, you might accept the name you don’t like as a middle name or you might accept it a first name if you can to choose the middle name.
You Can get More Creative with a Middle Name
Lots of people have names they love but are reluctant to choose as a first name, perhaps because they are very unusual or might lend themselves to teasing in the school years. These names can make perfect middle names because your child will be able to decide for themselves how prominent they are, perhaps even using them as their first name if they really like them.
You Can Pay Tribute to Something You Love
You can make a middle name special by choosing something that is meaningful to you and/or your partner. Some ideas are:
- A place that is special to you, some place names are already quite common as names, for example Adelaide and Harlow
- A name that relates to a hobby or passion you have, for example Cadence if you are musical, a flower name if you love gardening, Estelle if you’re a fan of astronomy.
- A book character that you love, like Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird or Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
- A famous person you admire, maybe a sportsman or someone who has changed the world
- A biblical name, like Noah, if Christianity is important to you.
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