After the birth announcement, middle names don’t get a lot of airtime. While they play second fiddle, they still present a great opportunity. After all, a middle initial can add gravitas to that novel your kid might one day write, add an element of surprise to wedding vows and provide a viable option if your kid goes through an I-hate-my-name phase.
If you play it safe with the first name, you can be more adventurous with the middle spot—where you took your honeymoon, the name of a beloved author, your favourite colour. There’s a trend of choosing strong words like “justice” for the second name, but just don’t take it to an Austin Powers-esque extreme, as some parents have done, and pick “danger”—as in, Danger is my middle name. Jokes do get tired.
Go for the contrast
If you chose an ultra feminine or masculine first name, you might try for a more androgynous middle name (or vice versa). Having an alternative gives your kid more flexibility if they grow up to be somebody different than you were expecting. (For instance, instead of Nelle and Christopher, Harper Lee and Ashton Kutcher opted to go by their middle names.)
You might love your grandmother’s maiden name—but not as a first name. And there’s no law saying you can only choose one middle name. If you need to keep everyone happy, choose names from both sides of the family.
Show your roots
Even if you’re an eighth generation Canadian, you could pick up on your ancestors’ heritage. And you can be creative with it: In addition to classic and popular names, you could look at place or family names.
Sometimes choosing a name involves a lot of compromise, other times there’s straight-out capitulation. If you won the first round, let your partner choose the second.
A version of this article appeared in our June 2016 issue with the headline, “Stuck in the middle,” p. 70.