Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

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!

Taylor writes:

I have a naming question, and could use an outside opinion.

My boyfriend is determined to use a family name for our son, due in a few weeks. He wants to name him Jason, after his older brother, who stepped up and filled in the gaps after their father died while my boyfriend was still in high school.

Jason is an amazing guy, and I understand why my boyfriend feels strongly about this.

But my brother was named after our grandfather – our dad’s dad – and it was a mistake. It’s not my story to tell, but there was a divorce and things got ugly. Pretty much, my brother ended up going by his middle name with everybody except a few people on my dad’s side and it is still weird.

My boyfriend knows how I feel, but he insists that this is different.

It doesn’t really matter, but Jason wouldn’t be the kind of name I’d pick for my baby anyway. My favorites are Micah, River, Rowan. Maybe Jonah, Elliott, Graham. My boyfriend is okay with all of those, except he still wants Jason.

Also, not that it matters: Jason has two daughters and for lots of reasons isn’t likely to have any sons of his own.

Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new son!

I completely understand your boyfriend’s position. Jason is a great guy! It would be amazing to honor him with your son’s name.

But your position is equally valid.

We cannot predict the future. Odds are that your Jason II would grow up to love and admire his uncle. But there’s always a chance that things might not turn out that well. You’ve seen it firsthand.

Even if you hadn’t, lots of people prefer to start fresh when naming their children.

Family and personal experience aside, this conversation comes down to this:

  • One partner insists that you use family names, specifically THIS family name as a FIRST Name
  • One partner feels equally strongly that family names be avoided

I also hear – maybe – a hint of sadness at not choosing your son’s name. It’s clear you’ve given some thought to names that you love, and Jason isn’t on that list.

The logical compromise?

Why not give your son the middle name Jason? Or find another way to honor the role Jason has played in your boyfriend’s life? Creative honor names might appeal, or maybe your son can share Jason’s initials.

But no matter what, the overall name has to reflect your style and priorities, too.

Based on your list, and not knowing your child’s surname, I’m thinking about:

  • Using Jason as a middle name: Micah Jason, Elliott Jason, River Jason
  • Using Jason’s initials, possibly with Jonah as your J name
  • Using Jay as a middle name: Rowan Jay, Elliott Jay, River Jay … almost anything can potentially work with Jay

But this is the conversation: yes, honoring Jason is a valid want for this child’s name. But insisting that Jason be your son’s first name? That’s a step too far.

Ultimately, neither parent can insist on any specific name for a child. Not really. And no parent should try to do so. There are lots of ways for both parents to get some of what they want, and it’s time to think through solutions – because this child’s name is not going to be Jason.

Readers, any advice for Taylor? Any other compromises to consider?

Get new posts sent to your inbox!
Don’t miss out! Subscribe and get all the new posts first.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Middle name and it should be Jason rather than a variant. Varying it isn’t really the same as naming him after the uncle.

  2. Abby already said everything I was going to say as well. Naming a baby is a 2 yes 1 no sort of deal so it sounds like Jason is off the table… at least as a first name. I think Jason, Jay, or Jace in the middle is a great compromise. Or maybe even a sound alike name like Mason or Grayson. Or if you want to use the same initials as uncle Jason then Jonah from your list would be a great pick.

  3. This is middle name territory for sure. And an initial even at that. Jason is a sibling not a parent and he is alive. No burning buildings, no spiritual revelation, no organs donated. He is a good sibling who was influential. Plus it works with so many names as a middle….

    Call your son by his own name . Jason is (and will presumably be for the foreseeable future) taken by another meaningful character in botfriend’s life. He doesn’t need the name to remember him, just a phone.

  4. I think Abby has aptly covered all the bases here. If I were in this situation, I would be willing to use Jason as a middle name, but I would not agree to use it for the first name. I would hope the boyfriend’s brother would be appropriately honored by his nephew sharing his name in the middle spot, and not feel slighted that it wasn’t given as a first.

  5. For whatever it is worth, if you rearrange the letters in the name Jason, you get Jonas.