Middle Names

My two sisters and I all have middle names. In fact, Landen has two of them (I have a secret hope she marries someone with a hyphenated last name and adds it to her own so that her legal name consists of six names. Is that mean?).

My mom and her sister both don’t have a middle name, but it was years before I found out that it was considered fairly standard not to give girls middle names (the horror!). My mom obviously made up for it with us, although I don’t know if my aunt’s three girls have middle names or not.

Bart’s sister does not have a middle name, which I remember her mentioning early on really bothered her (especially since both of her brothers did (and when Bart’s mom remarried, both of his stepdad’s daughters had middle names)). His sister now has three daughters and all of them have a middle name.

I know that sometimes the rationale for not giving a girl a middle name is that eventually she’ll get married and take her husband’s name and then she can use her maiden name as her middle name, but I do not buy this story. Also, many last names do not really make for awesome middle names (my mom’s maiden name is very long and hard to spell).

Both Merrick and I dropped our maiden names when we got married and kept our middle names (after all the effort my parents went to in picking names that go well with our first names, who are we to dump them so cavalierly?). Who knows what Landen will do when she marries Mr. Smirken-Tolens-Jones-Smith?

You may have guessed (correctly) that I am a firm believer in middle names and that I have not once, for one moment in my life, considered leaving my daughters with only a first and a last name. I am an equal opportunity namer – all my children will have a middle name.

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  • Reply craftyashley February 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Good for you! Middle names are just FUN! It gives your kid a backup, too. I wish I would have used my backup when there were a thousand Ashleys. But anyway- I have a middle name- and I love it. I don't get the idea that they can just use their maiden name as a middle name. Lame! What are we supposed to do for the twenty plus years we aren't married?!

  • Reply Jess February 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    I am the same way. Have a middle name, love having it, dropped my maiden name when I got married, DEFINITELY plan to give any future daughters middle names as well.

  • Reply Bean February 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I LOVE middle names and it seems silly not to give them to girls. I am perfectly ok having 4 names!

  • Reply smalldog February 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    My mum's last name is Kirk-Rodgers, which I think is fantastically English Country Gentry sounding. There was a big to-do about her name when she and my dad got married (change it or not?); my dad likes to tease that like any good compromise, "Nobody's happy."

    My middle name was Kirk, my mum's maiden name, so when I got married I hyphenated my middle and maiden name (now it's Kirk-Rodgers too!) and took my husband's last name. By doing so, I feel like I'm really holding onto ALL my family history. Besides, I like hyphenated names, but Rodgers-Woodland was just a mouthfull!

  • Reply Lindsay February 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Middle names are fun! Even though mine is the common Marie, it was the name of my great-great grandmother.

    So… is this post because it's a girl? 🙂

  • Reply Melanie February 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I've always thought it weird when girls don't have middle names. My (potential) problem is that both my middle and my last name hold a lot of significance for me, so I'm not going to want to drop either when I get married. I'm not really a fan of hyphenated names, so I'll probably just use both as a middle name and take my husband's name as my last name.

  • Reply Carly Jane February 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Amen. I LOVE LOVE LOVE middle names. And I use them (as in, I frequently call most of my siblings by their first and middle names). I always felt bad for my friends who didn't have one.

  • Reply Nikki February 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I was sort of surprised to read that you know so many people without middle names. I didn't have a middle name until I was 8 years old. My parents couldn't think of a good one, so they simply didn't give me one. I asked about it when I was 8, and my mom said there wasn't any real reason so I should feel free to make one up. And I did. And it was put on my birth certificate.

    I think it's kind of neat that I got to make up my own middle name. Of course, you'll run the risk of your daughter wanting to name herself something like "sparkle" or "diamond." Luckily I chose a normal family name.

  • Reply Gretchen February 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I remember well the funny moment when M and I finally sorted out the source of a miscommunication about middles names. I forget the actual confusion, but he had assumed I would drop my middle name and take my maiden name as my middle name when we married. I had never even once considered this as an option. We came to find out that all the women on both sides of HIS family have done it that way and all the women on both sides of MY family have kept their middle names and dropped their maiden names. We keep the peace by saying it's an east coast/west coast thing, but I don't really believe it. I agree with all of your sentiments. My girls absolutely have middle names so they can choose whether to follow the right — er, I mean my way or the weird way M's family does it. You better believe I'll be trying to bias them 😉

  • Reply emandtrev February 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I love middle names too. My maiden name is fairly long and I do not have a middle name (nor do either of my sisters). I always wished that I did. I actually gave myself one when I was in about seventh grade. A lot of friends thought that it was legit–and one my parents had given me. Not so. I now use my maiden name as my middle name/initial.

    Both of my own girls have middle names. I am definitely a believer, regardless of if the girl plans to use her maiden name as her middle name once married. I think it just adds that much more to a person's identity!

  • Reply Sherry February 22, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I am rather attached to my middle name and the fact that I have one. I really struggle with what we will do with our own kids since our last name works so perfectly as a girl's middle name. I think our girls will have middle names, and then they can choose what to do when they get hitched. Besides, what if they don't ever get married and I've deprived them of a middle name. What kind of mother would I be?

  • Reply Michelle February 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I completely agree; not giving girls middle names is a snub.

    I once dated a guy who insisted that his children would only have a middle initial. ("D" or "L" for example, but NOT "D." or "L.") Totally lame. Things did not go well from there.

  • Reply Emily February 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I completely agree. Middle names are important! I, too, dropped my long and tricky maiden name and kept my middle name when I was married. I don't regret it for a minute. And I've really always adored my middle name. We have a middle name picked out for baby girl that I'm really excited for!

  • Reply Marie February 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I'm with you. Growing up with my enormous last name (which I have no regrets about dropping the second it was legal to) my middle name was the part of my name I was proud of – and people could pronounce.

  • Reply Shelly February 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I have never heard of not giving girls a middle name! I would have been PISSED if I hadn't had a middle name. I did drop my middle name when I got married and now my name is First Name, Maiden Name, Last Name. But never having a middle name? What if the girl never gets married?

  • Reply Laurie February 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I agree with you. I love middle names but prefer using just one. I grew up with a hypenated name. My mom (who had the same last name) also had a hypenated middle name too. Talk about long names that don't fit on legal documents! 😉

    Good luck choosing names for your baby. It's a lot of fun. We picked middle names that sounded really good and flowed well with our kids' first names.

    When you're calling your kids it helps to have an extra name to throw out there too lol.

  • Reply Kathleen February 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I TOTALLY agree. I have a middle name (it's Elaine) and so do all of my other 5 sisters. When I got married, I dropped my maiden name (but I just recently added it to my Facebook profile because I wanted to make it a little easier for old friends to find me lol) and have never looked back. I occasionally tease my husband sometimes about how maybe I want to add my maiden name back in and he gets all upset about it – very funny to watch. 😀 My neighbor has 3 girls and the first has a middle name but the other two don't and she has said that she regrets giving the first a middle name. I think that's so weird.

    I gave all four of my girls a middle name….and it's Kathleen (yep, all my girls have my first name as their middle name). I know it's probably a little weird, but who cares? My mil gave all of her sons their dad's name as a middle name. When I had my first, I wanted to give her my name as a middle name. Then when we had the second, we named her Elena (Elaine in Spanish) and thought Kathleen sounded good with it too, so why not? Then when the third came along, we were afraid her feelings might be hurt if the other two had my name and she didn't, so we gave it to her too. And the same with the fourth. Then when I just had my boy, everyone teased us that we were going to make his middle name Kathleen as well. But we didn't – we gave him his dad's name. 🙂 (Whew, that turned into a long story!)

    Oh, and we have a friend who gave his daughter 34 middle names. Literally 34. So she has a total of 36 names, including her first and last. He and his wife don't even remember all the names they wrote down, but they're all there on the birth certificate. Crazy!!

  • Reply Chrissie February 22, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    I love middle names! Like your sister, I have two middle names (which are hyphenated), and as a kid I always felt like that made me special. I too would never consider NOT giving my child one!

    Good luck with choosing your baby's name – I imagine that's tricky, but I'm sure you'll do a great job coming up with some unique first/middle name combinations. 🙂

  • Reply Packrat February 22, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Since your mom and sister do have an "unique" maiden name, it isn't so difficult to imagine them without middle names. Probably came in handy when filling out a form with only so much room in which to write. 🙂

    Some of us who grew up with common first and last names needed the middle name to set us apart from the "pack". (I only use my maiden name as my middle name on Facebook – only so family and friends can find me.)

    Actually, though, it would never have occurred to me not to give my daughter a middle name.

  • Reply Alison Stewart February 22, 2010 at 7:52 pm


  • Reply Melissa February 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    LOVE IT! I didn't have a middle name growing up and my mom and I always felt bad about it (my sister did because it was such a hard labor/pregnancy that my dad would have given my mom anything she asked for).

    I use my maiden name as a middle name (which is Marsden and which is not very feminine but I love it) but would have probably done so even if I had a middle name.

    My daughter has a middle name and all her sisters will as well!

  • Reply Miriam February 22, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Nope, none of my girls have middle names either – kind of thought of it at the time, but couldn't come up with anything I liked. First names were hard enough! (I figured it was a family tradition, but no one but me kept with it, so much for that tradition!!)

  • Reply Mary February 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    No offense to anyone who doesn't have one, but I think not having a middle name is just weird! Until reading this post I didn't even know it was common to not give girls middle names.

  • Reply Kristi February 22, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I love my middle name too and I have no idea what my name is now. Something like Kristi Dawn Genessy Bassett. I have no idea. I had a friend all growing up who felt so cheated because she didn't have a middle name, and from her agonizing childhood alone I will forever and always give all my children lovely middle names. Well, Gwen's middle name is actually my maiden name, but it's just works perfectly for her. Good luck, name choosing is so fun and so stressful!

  • Reply hollyhs February 22, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    my parents didn't give me a middle name when i was born and when i turned 8 i freaked out about it and told them i wanted a middle name for my birthday. i picked elizabeth and they went and legally changed my name for me. then, i got married and i felt way more attached to my last name than i did my middle name so i dropped the elizabeth and i am now officially holly hoffman spears. i just could not give up my maiden name, but that middle name didn't mean much to me. so, we didn't give sonnet a middle name, assuming she'll do the same thing i did. the only time i've regretted it was when i wanted to have her monogram printed on something, but i couldn't because she only has two initials, not three. haha. 🙂 but i'm weird and i was way more attached to my maiden name than most… and sometimes i do think it's unfair that boys get middle names and girls don't. what is your middle name?

  • Reply Nathan Pralle February 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    I'm a firm believer that hyphenated last names are an abomination and should be henceforth banned. Want to keep your last name? Do so. Or take your hubby's last name. Or move it into a 2nd middle name, but for the love of all that's holy, don't hyphenate. It makes you look indecisive. 🙂

    For my son, we actually gave him double middle names and will do that for any future children. The first one is unusual, like his first name, and the second is a family name, in this case, my brother-in-law. It works well, it flows well, and it makes him just a bit unique without causing anyone big problems (since middle names aren't used much in normal transactions, and he can revert to a single middle initial if that's all they give him to enter).

    I say go for it.

  • Reply Jennifer Lee February 22, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    I am completely with you on this one–you might have noticed our love for the middle name when we gave Oliver TWO middle names. I also gave up my maiden last name and kept my middle name when I got married. Once again I would just like to say how excited I am for you!

    How will you come up with Baby's blog name?

  • Reply Chelsea February 22, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I personally like middle names. Like Mom said, non of us girls have middle names, but Blake does (what's up with that?). I think my sisters kept our maiden name as their middle name, I didn't (I kept a middle initial "H"). I've had a middle name picked out for my daughter for a while….yet no kids. Wouldn't you know.

  • Reply Kimberly February 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I agree. Also, while there are always examples to back up every naming philosophy, I knew a girl with no middle name (for that very reason) who married someone with a name very similar to her maiden name. Ashley Johns Johnson anyone?

  • Reply Jenae February 22, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Hello. My name is Jenae RIPPLINGER Jeppesen and I was not given a middle name. Hi Jenae…

    Ripplinger is not a middle name. I mean "Ripplinger Jeppesen"? How hyphenated do I sound? I kept it because it makes proving my maiden identity easier. I hated not having a middle name growing up and my daughters absolutely will be given them. My girls can drop their middle names when they marry if they want. They'll be grown ups and can name themselves what ever they want.

    Plus when you're kindergarten teacher invites the class to snack time and tells you to get in alphabetical order by middle name.. It's just undue stress.


  • Reply nancypearlwannabe February 23, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Oooh, I can't wait to hear what names you have picked out!

  • Reply Miri February 23, 2010 at 1:54 am

    I think it's incredibly lame to not give girls middle names. It's the kind of thing that isn't usually a big deal to the parents, but bothers the child their whole life; and since you never know what your daughter is going to prefer, why make the decision for her? Let her do it.

  • Reply Angella February 23, 2010 at 3:07 am

    There are people who DON'T do middle names? This is news to me.

    Everyone on both sides of our family has middle names…it's part of the whole baby-naming package.

    Looking forward to hearing BOTH names you choose.

  • Reply Carole February 23, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Since I am the mother who DID give all my girls at least one middle name, might I also weigh in how lousy I think it is to give any child a middle name that is embarrassing?? I don't care what beloved relative might have had this name in the past. Or how clever the parents might feel to have thought of something really unique or funny. Badly done.

    It would be the rare child who could pull this kind of thing off well.

  • Reply Rhiannon February 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I also love middle names. Mine is Lorraine, which was my Grandmother's middle name. BUT, now that I'm getting married I'm so torn over what to do with my maiden name. My father doesn't have any other children, so I'm the last West. I'm pretty sure I'll just end up having the longest name ever.

  • Reply ellen February 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    My three brothers have middle names but I don't have one. When I was about 7 I gave myself one. Not officially or anything. 🙂

  • Reply Meridith February 23, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I actually have really loved not having a middle name. That way, when I did get married, I was just adding a name and not having to decide which name to drop or to keep all four.

    I say make the first name good (pertinent, important, lovely) enough that they won't need to have a "backup" name.

  • Reply Sara February 24, 2010 at 1:39 am

    All of the girls in my family (cousins, aunts, etc) have middle names except one. Her middle name is R. That's it. An initial. Doesn't stand for anything, so it's kind of a rip-off, I think. It's great you're going to give your kids middle names. Picking the ones to use- well, that's the hard part!

  • Reply Landen February 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    haha. Who knew that you had such strong feelings about my middle names:) I will do what I can…

  • Reply Isabel February 25, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I don't have a middle name and neither does my mom or my younger sister. I was recently told (by a non member friend) that she'd never heard of someone NOT having a middle name and that it must be a Mormon thing. I wonder if that's true?

  • Reply McCulloch Moments February 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    "I am an equal opportunity namer – all my children will have a middle name." …Amen/**High-Five**

  • Reply kristen February 26, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    42 comments! oh my! so funny because i LOVED not having a middle name growing up. bubble sheet fill-ins were much quicker for me.
    then it came time for me to name my two girls and i also felt like i would be robbing them of some life privilege by not having a middle name. maybe i'm just living vicariously through them. 😉

  • Reply Anonymous March 4, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    You also need to take in account that some parents choose awful middle names. This happened to my mother, La Verne…seriously what were they thinking? She dropped her middle name when she got married and kept her maiden name. I have my Mom's maiden name as a middle name and I love it. But then again I hated my last name-my biological father's last name-so getting married and ridding of it was a happy day. Not having a middle name isn't a Mormon thing as someone mentioned earlier that someone had told them. All the girls I knew without them weren't LDS. I could see some feminist eating that right up. With all things said I will definitely be giving my girls middle names. It just gives them one more option. They can keep it or leave it.

  • Reply Jen - devourer of books March 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Really? Not giving girls middle names? I've never heard of that before, how strange!

  • Reply Ashley and Dave March 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    haha! my mom told me about this post after we didnt give addison a middle name. 🙂 will you still love her? 😉 sorry this is all lower caps- i am holding the sweetest little baby in my arm…your time is soon!

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