They STOLE Our Son’s Name!

Dear Mamas,

Help! We have dear friends who live in Texas and just had their first child.  I was completely shocked to learn that they copied our firstborn’s 1st AND middle names.  Maybe I’m over-reacting, but I’m a little upset.

I don’t want to say anything to them since this is such an exciting time in their lives, but isn’t it a little weird?  I know we don’t live in the same state, and our kids are 2 years apart, but we’re still close and share mutual friends. Any words of advice?

Rose in Rhode Island

Dear Rose,

What a nice problem to have! I’ll bet your friend used to borrow your clothes when you were young.

I’m not sure whether you’re upset over possible  confusion about who’s who, or about sharing something as deeply personal as the name of your eldest child (I suspect the latter), but whichever it is let’s call it imitation as the greatest form of flattery.

I would guess that your admirer fell in love with the name after you thought of it two years ago.  She may have been waiting to ‘borrow’ it ever since, but just never told you.

When Ellen and I read your question we had two different responses, which just goes to show that even the Mamas don’t always think alike.

I think it’s probably important for you to address the ‘name caper’ with your friend so it doesn’t become the elephant in the room. If you say nothing you run the risk of hanging on to your resentment, and this could damage your friendship. If you raise it in a lighthearted way you’re more likely to defuse it and put it to rest. For example, you might say something like …

” I was really surprised and flattered that you named your little peanut after my Seymour Alvin … I didn’t realize he was such a role model!”


“Did you know Seymour Alvin was my mother’s great-grandfather’s name? He’d be so happy to have two namesakes instead of just one!” You get the idea.

Ellen, on the other hand, took the high road (as she does) and suggested the ‘accept the compliment and move on’ approach. Your friend obviously loves you and looks to you as an example. Whichever approach you choose, you need to feel comfortable so the friendship can flourish. In either case, it’s a win-win all around. Who doesn’t want to be the trendsetter?

And by the way, we’re dying to know … what’s that name? May I suggest it for my first grandchild?

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

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4 responses to “They STOLE Our Son’s Name!”

  1. Allison

    It’s very fun to hear both of your responses! Can we hear more she said/she said!?

  2. MPK

    Rhode Island – Texas. Not so close, so no one in their school/street/daily lives will know.

  3. Jfever

    This happened to my friends too, except they live Very close. The gal with the older boy was steamed for a while, then just (kinda) let it go. The older child’s mom talked to a neutral third party (me) but never the name-grabber.

    At least I know what NOT to name a son…

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