We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!
My oldest childhood friend and I had our first babies around the same time, during all the craziness of 2020. We talked about names, and, at the time, realized that we both had the same favorite name for a boy: Henry.
But we both had daughters, and luckily, we didn’t have the same favorite girl names. My husband and I have Sophia Rose, and they have Claire Elizabeth.
Since then, my friend and her husband have moved across the country. And while we still text and catch up frequently, it’s not the same, especially with kids and work and a time zone difference.
Now we’re both expecting again, and this time we’re due within two weeks of each other! Even though we had a delivery surprise with our first, we found out in advance that we’re having a boy.
We plan to name him Henry Matthew, but I keep thinking back to those conversations my friend and I had on my deck that long, weird summer while we waited for our babies.
What’s the best practice here?
- Should I ask her if they’ve chosen a name? I’m not sure if they’re finding out gender in advance or not, but we’re both beyond our 20-week ultrasounds.
- Do I just tell her we’re going to name our son Henry? Even though we’ve decided, we haven’t told anyone, not even the grandparents/close friends.
- What if she has her baby first and names him Henry – do we have to choose another name?
I feel kind of bad about this, but if she had her baby second, and it was a boy, too, I think I’d feel like it was weird if she named him Henry, too. But I know that doesn’t make any sense. We know other little boys named Henry – just not as close to us.
For the record, I know I can’t ask her to not use the name.
And yes, I probably sound crazy, but this is keeping me up at night.
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
Congratulations on your second!
And oh, this sounds like it could be awkward.
Let’s walk through this, because there are multiple possible outcomes, many of which would turn out absolutely fine for everyone involved.
- Your friend may have another daughter. In fact, your friend may already know she’s having a second daughter.
- Your friend may now have a different favorite name for a son. After all, it’s been three years. And, as you say, Henry is pretty popular. Maybe her cousin/boss/husband’s college roommate named their son Henry and she feels like it’s off limits. Or possibly they’ve just moved on.
- Your friend may have a list of three or four possible names and might not mind dropping Henry. Sometimes a reason to rule a name out feels welcome if you’re having a hard time deciding.
I’m also wondering about a hard fact of adult life: this friend has moved pretty far away. Unless they know it’s short term, and they’re definitely coming back – like a PhD program or a temporary work assignment – there’s a good chance your children won’t know each other well.
In three out of four scenarios, you never have to have a difficult conversation:
- Your friend has a daughter. No conflict.
- Your friend has her baby first; it’s a boy and she names him something other than Henry. No conflict.
- You have your baby first and name him Henry; she also has a boy, and names him something else. Maybe a little bit of potential discomfort, but probably no real conflict.
- You have your baby first, and your friend also has a boy, and also names him Henry. Okay, so maybe that’s where there’s potential conflict.
But here’s the thing: you can’t control what your friend does, but you CAN control how you react to it.
I’m not sure if Emily Post has anything to say about it, but here’s my take on your questions.
First, you absolutely can ask if your friend has chosen a name.
It really depends on what your relationship is like now. And remember, someone can answer that question with a “yes” or a “we have two or three favorites” and still decline to share the names.
Second, yes – there’s no harm in revealing that you’ve chosen a name.
But only if you’re sharing freely, with no expectation that it will alter her behavior. Could it? Of course! But she might also laugh and say, “Oh that’s our name, too! It will be so fun if we both have a Henry.” You can decide to share your happy news, but it doesn’t give you any more control over her actions. And there’s always a slight chance that she’ll be hurt. (After all, you’ve conceded that you’d rather she not choose the name, right?)
And lastly, you don’t have to choose another name for your son … but neither does she.
That’s the good news/bad news. There’s a chance – maybe one out of four? – that you both end up with a Henry. And when you do see each other, you result to things like “your Henry” and “my Henry” to distinguish your sons.
While that might not be your preference, I think it will be okay. After all, families often have two people with the same name. (My brother-in-law and nephew share the same short, traditional-but-uncommon first name. Think Curt. And while I sometimes have to say “little Curt” or “your husband Curt” to clarify, it’s not a hardship.)
And, as you say, the world is filled with Henrys. My son also has a popular a name, and spent a season on the same sports team with a kid with the same name. While there was a little bit of “Alex the goalie” versus “Alex on defense” it was never an issue. We know plenty of families with an Alex, sometimes both Alexes are in the same place together, and it’s never an issue.
So, yes – your son is named. And Sophia and Henry are great together!
The only question is whether you want to talk to your friend in advance, knowing that she can’t change your mind … but you can’t change hers, either. And it’s possible you’ll have some hurt feelings, either way.
Given your long history and close relationship, I’d be inclined to reach out and tell her that you’re planning to use Henry for your son’s name. I’d acknowledge that you know it’s possibly a sensitive subject. But hopefully it doesn’t need to be a friendship-ending one.
I’ve never been in quite this situation, though, so let’s open it up to the readers for input.