Why do you need a Mini-Me?

I’ve never understood the custom many people apparently still have, of automatically naming the first boy after the father. He doesn’t get his own special identity. He’s just Dad, Jr., a Mini-Me. It’s like letting your parents-in-law or parents name your child, or even your grandparents or further back, if the kid has a Roman numeral.

Unless you’re royalty or the Pope, it seems really silly to have a Roman numeral in your name, unless it’s skipped a generation. Like, say you really want to name a child after your dad or grandpap, who had his own name. Your son would then be James II. It would be pretty cool if there were a custom of skipping generations, so that no boy in the family would ever have the same name as his father, but the last generation before.

The Roman numeral II, by the way, is NOT the same thing as Junior. I’ve seen so many birth announcement for IIs, when clearly they’re really Juniors. You only use II when you’ve skipped a generation. Otherwise, it makes you look pretty pretentious and ignorant.

Junior is traditionally only used when the name is exactly the same. So, for example, if your name is Robert William and your son is Robert John, your son wouldn’t be a true Junior. I’ve heard that you’re “supposed to” move everyone’s suffixes up when the oldest bearer of the name dies, but I really don’t think too many people actually do that. A guy who’s gone by Junior his whole life usually doesn’t become Senior when his dad dies, and his son wouldn’t go from III to Junior.

It’s not very common anymore, but it used to be pretty standard for a firstborn daughter to be named for her mother. While I’ve seen references like Jane, Jr., I don’t think that was ever really done, practically or realistically. A girl would just have the same name as her mother, without any suffix calling attention to it.

When you and your son have the exact same name, it can lead to embarrassing and inconvenient incidents like opening one another’s mail and taking one another’s phonecalls by mistake. If there’s a III in the house too, it gets even more complicated and embarrassing. Isn’t it awkward enough when someone accidentally answers when his or her name is called, when the speaker wanted someone else in the vicinity with the same name?

If you want a carbon copy, someone in your exact image, have yourself cloned. Do you like hearing your name over and over again? Will you not feel secure and fulfilled as a man unless you pass your name on? The only time I’m fine with it is when it’s a posthumous child, named after a father he’ll never know. That’s a sweet, touching way to honour your late husband, not the man himself deciding he’s incomplete as a man without his own little Mini-Me.

Maury is one of my guilty pleasures, and I’m always gobsmacked at how many babymamas name their sons after denying deadbeats who’ve treated them, and their children, very poorly. Why would you want your son to have the same name as such a jerk? Some of these names aren’t even that great to be passing on for more than one generation. And when it’s shown a guy isn’t the father, why keep calling him Junior or III? He just happens to have the same name as a guy you slept with without protection, not the same name as his father.

It’s also pretty egotistical. Why can’t you leave it to the next generation or greater to determine if you’re worthy namesake material instead of naming a child after yourself?

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4 comments on “Why do you need a Mini-Me?

  1. I’m a junior. My mom wanted to honor my dad by naming me, their first son, after him; in hindsight, she says that my younger brother should have been named after my dad since they are more similar in personality, than I am to my dad. I have to say that I understand your points about individuality, and such. Really, it hasn’t been much of an issue throughout my life. I go by Andy with family, and My dad goes by his middle name. So, while I am a junior, and my dad is a senior, we may as well have different names in social situations, and I have never felt as though I was denied my own identity, although I can see why some might feel differently. In school and work (and other situations where I need to use my legal name), I go by my real name, Ellis, and since my dad is not around, there is no confusion; I’m the only Ellis there. One noteworthy situation of confusion is when I was unsure if a summon for jury notice was mine or his; It turned out to be his, but on the whole, my own personal experiences of being a junior have no major problems in the long run. Other than being careful, to use the Jr. to distinguish myself from my dad when filling out personal information on various types of forms, there is no real issue for me. Of course, one’s mileage my vary.

    Great post.

    • Carrie-Anne says:

      My dad is a junior too, though he goes by Paul while my late grandpap was always called Parry. He had a bit of a headache after we moved back to New York and the DMV made him produce lots of extra proof of ID when they found out he’s legally a junior in spite of not using that title for anything.

      Thanks for your intelligent comments!

      • You’re welcome.

        Interestingly, there are more juniors in my family, and a III. My paternal grandfather names his first son (my dad’s oldest brother) after him and he named his son after him as well. My cousin who is the III goes by Trey which is meant to be a corruption of three. My uncle goes by Junior.

        On my mom’s side, I have cousin who is called RJ; he was named after his father, Raymond.

        So, there’s a few ways at least to avoid the hassle of confusion for being a junior or a III.

  2. anxiousgeek says:

    I agree. I would hate to have been named after my father considering how bad he was/is. I think being named after someone is great, but generally family is a risky area because unless they’ve already lived a full (and good) life – like grandparents – you don’t know how much of knob they’re going to be.

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