Baby Name Repeat in Extended Family?

We are having our third girl in September, and I am driving my husband crazy with name choices.  I am strongly considering a name we have liked for awhile, and it fits well with our other family names, but my first cousin has a 2 year-old daugther with the same name.  We see each other probably 4 times a year.  Would it be inconsiderate to still use it?  Should I ask her thoughts first?  My husband says it shouldn't matter, but I don't want to cause hard feelings.  Thoughts?


July 21, 2015 3:30 PM

Talk to your cousin. My family has quite a few name repeats, but they were all discussed to avoid resentment.

July 21, 2015 3:48 PM

I would agree that talking to your cousin is the best way to go.  If you value the relationship with her you should get the Ok from her first.  I know that I would be upset if my 1st cousing used one of my kids names, but that is me.  There are plenty of people in the world that would not be upset by that and instead might feel flattered.  


July 21, 2015 4:20 PM

What the above two said. I would also like to add that if you don't see her that often I don't feel it's a big deal.  As long as you talk to her about it first, I'm sure it will work itself out..

July 21, 2015 11:15 PM

I want to tell you to use it.  It sounds like the girls probably don't have the same last name, so it's not going to cause a ton of confusion.  You also only see each other a few times a year, so any confusion will be occassional at best.  All that said, my family would freak if I used the name of a first cousin's child.  So, I guess a lot really depends on how you think your family would react. 

I don't normally suggest getting other people involved in picking a baby name, but in this case, it might be best.  I would be careful to not frame it as if you were asking permission.   Just throw it out there like "we love the name Susie so much, we're thinking about using it for this baby."  See what happens.

Another option would be to try & find a variant of the name that you like, and use that instead.  If your cousin's daugher uses a nickname, you could also pick a different nickname or no nickname at all.  If you want suggestions, let us know the name.  The regulars around here are usually pretty good at coming up with alternatives.

July 21, 2015 11:46 PM

As previous posters mentioned, definitely have that discussion. Just ask your cousin for her thoughts, don't ask for her permission. All families have different dynamics, so you never know.

FWIW, my cousin is STILL mad at me because my mom "stole" the middle name her mom had wanted to give her, and used it as my middle name. Nevermind that I was born before she was even conceived, but 32 years later it still bothers her. All that to say, the results will be entirely dependent on your family. 

July 22, 2015 1:57 PM

My dad has nephews who are brothers named Zachary and Alexander who go by Zach and Alex. He also has first cousins who are brothers with the same names and same nicknames. My cousin Alex and I have the same surname and are the same age. My name is Alexa and I go by Lex. It's never been a big deal for us. Then again, I have a cousin on my mom's side, though, whose middle name is Alexander, because my aunt felt like there were already too many people called Alexander or some other derivative of the name in the family to give it as a first name, which she's still pissed about.

July 22, 2015 5:19 PM

I have cousins who are brothers with those same names and nicknames! Any chance we're related?? (I'm just kidding--guessing it's actually more a case of similar styles among our naming relatives.)

By mk
July 22, 2015 2:43 PM

I have lots of multiple names in my family, including two cousins with the same name. Several are due to people being named for the same family member. It was never a big deal, though it can be a bit boring when looking at the family tree.

Personally I think it is silly to ask and I would never care if a cousin used the same name. But it depends on your family.

July 23, 2015 2:05 PM

I should append "family dynamics around naming" to my list of other factors to consider, for sure. In some families this is not an issue at all - I suspect because they're bigger and/or less prone to histrionics. In my family I think there would be some drama!

July 22, 2015 10:06 PM

I dunno....a first cousin you see four times a year with a child just two or three years older.....

To me it sounds, "Taken," but, sure, ask and see. 

Is there any chance you're stuck on it because it feels like the one you can't have? Sometimes that happens.

If you could give us hints as to what it is, we could try and suggest some alternatives.

By Fly
July 23, 2015 1:19 AM

If you ask them, and they say yes, are you okay with having the double up?

If you ask them, and they say no, do you have a back up plan? If they say no, are you going to feel uncomfortable forever after?  If they say no and you pick another name, are you going to regret it forever?

Sometimes its better to ask forgiveness than permission.  In this case, it seems better to ask, but if they say no, that might cause more trouble than if you didn't ask at all.

July 23, 2015 11:33 AM

I wouldn't ask *permission*, exactly, but I would probably feel your cousin out on the subject.

"Hey, i wanted to talk to you about something. We just love the name [Name], and it's a really strong contender for our new baby.  How do you feel about that?"

(If cousin reacts negatively)

"Well, we will certainly keep in mind that it bothers you -- I can't promise anything, because we just LOVE the name so much. Is it something you think you could get used to?"

(If no)

"Huh. Well, we will think about it, but again, I really can't promise we won't use it."

If your cousin is very upset by it, I do think you should take that into consideration, but I really would NOT make it about seeking permission, just about finding out how they would feel. 

July 23, 2015 2:03 PM

I agree with the consensus that you want to talk about the issue with the cousin rather than surprising them with it on the birth announcement. Not an "ask permission" but in a "we'd been considering your daughter's name, how weird would that be for you on a scale of 1 to 10?"

A couple of other issues also relate, to my mind.

1. Is it a family name in previous generations as well? If so, then it's fine for Great Aunt Beryl to have more than one namesake. If you're both naming after the same awesome lady, convergently, then it's not a case of imitation or encroaching or anything like that... plus you know Little Beryl's parents were clearly not super invested in their daughter's name being unique in the family in the first place.

2. Are there nicknames, in use currently or potentially? If so, you might be able to carve out different niches for the name, if they call their Genevive Genny and you want to call your Genevive Vivi or Viva or Evie or whatnot (or at least find it a good nickname for use by shared family members), which could remove confusion. The situations where the same few names get used over and over again in family trees (very common generations ago) there were usually also many nicknames.

3. Is the name unusual or is it more common? I'd be more surprised (or potentially put out) if my cousin named their children the same names as I did, because my children's names are really obscure. It's still not "name stealing" unless the parents invented a name de-novo, since names are historical and do not belong to any one individual, but it just becomes more of a strange coincidence that people would remark on. But, if I'd named my daughter Sophie, I'd be less taken aback, since my having chosen the name Sophie would have come with me consenting to occasionally not have my child be the only bearer of her name in any particular circle... so extending that attitude towards the family circle isn't a big step.

4. Do you have many family members in common who see both of you more frequently? Like, if the shared grandparents still around, and would you be dooming them to having two great-grandkids with the same call name? Does your parent live near the cousin and hang out with her very regularly? It could get a little more confusing in this situation, and I think it might be important to be armed with a plan for distinguishing, like...

5. Is it a short name that you could make a double-name, like your Emma Louise Surname might be Emma-Lou, at least to the family members you share, even if she's just-Emma at school?

6. How big is your family? It would be less weird, mathematically, to have one of bazillions of second cousins sharing a name, but it's more striking if there aren't many children involved to dilute the repeat.

7. How dramatic is your family? Because this would be the opportunity to spark some BIG DRAMA in some families but others are much more subdued.

8. Is this a name that alternatives exist for? Like, if it's Ava then I might say, maybe you could consider Eva or Eve or Ada or Avis or Aviva or Mavis or Mabel or whatever and there are actually a lot of quite-similar choices on the menu that you might love just as much... but if it's Abigail, then there's not a lot of alternative out there, because there aren't many names that share those particular sounds and feel.

July 23, 2015 4:25 PM

My sister and my cousin used the same name for their daughters. They were both named after the same grandmother, who was obviously a very special lady. She passed away when we were all pretty young. My cousin named her daughter first, and during the name discussion stage, my sis mentioned that she'd always wanted to use that name, as well. The first baby was born and named about a year before baby #2. When sis was pregnant, she approached my cousin at family get-together and just told her that she'd always imagined naming her baby the same name, and asked if she would mind. Cousin had no problem at all, and the whole thing was a non-issue. We all see each other probably 6-8 times per year. The kiddos have different middle and last names, and it really isn't confusing at all. We've all gotten used to it, and can't imagine either girl being called by any other name. 

October 16, 2015 4:57 PM

My family is fractured because of this issue. we named our son Landon S. (Very unusual last name) when he was born in 1997. Cousin T asked if we would mind if he named his son Landon's name. Landon (17 years old) said please not as a first name as there is no other member of our family with the name Landon S. we were surprised Cousin T even contemplated the identical names as he is a junior and growing up, Cousin T hated it and complained about it. Imagine our surprise to find Cousin T didn't even tell us his son was born (we found out on Facebook a week later) and he game his son our son's name: Landon S. Landon is gutted, so much so that Landon asked Cousin T if he would please change his son's middle name to Landon so our Landon would be able to retain his unique name and identity in the family (plus the family is in Lancaster county where we are related to everyone to names are important). Even offered Cousin T $3000 and to pay for the legal fees to change Cousin T's son's name. Cousin T has 100% ignored all attempts at communication by Landon. Recently Landon received diaper coupons in the mail. 

Landon feels taken advantage of, violated (his words) and refuses all contact with the family who deemed him "petty" or told him to "grow up, "move on" and "get over it". 

Yes, nobody owns names but there should be deep thought for the children involved. Assuming the kids will learn to accept it, or like it, is not a fair gamble for the kids. Expectant parents might like how the name sounds but, jmo, I'd rather have respect for respecting other family member's children's names than use the name because it flows. Then the possible mix ups of identity is real. We named our you gest son after the family patriarch (he gave us permissio) after he died. For almost 5 years we received dead grandpa's mail, even from the Social Security office, phone calls even though we lived in Alabama and grandpa lived in Pennsylvania. i am sure it doesn't happen often but its another possible problem to contemplate because the kids will eventually be the ones to have to be the ones dealing with name confusion in the family, irregardless how often they see each other throughout the year.