Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Our son Thomas was born about 6 months ago. Now, we're feeling like he doesn't really look right for his name, and we're thinking of getting it officially changed to Charles instead. We're also not sure we like that Thomas means "twin", as he isn't a twin.

So what do you think? Should we change his name, or is it too late for that? And please, let us know why you answer the way you do.

share|improve this question
Maybe your vision of a "Thomas" will change after time. Maybe you'll identify "Thomas" with your son and not some Platonic ideal "Thomas". Oh... and his appearance will change a lot. – Dan Andrews Mar 21 '12 at 14:44
Sorry Joe, but this just isn't the kind of question StackExchange sites are intended for... this isn't a question that you can say has a definitive answer. – cabbey Mar 22 '12 at 5:59
Sorry cabbey :-) reopened by moderator vote in the chat. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 22 '12 at 12:11
Who says Thomas means 'twin'? Can you provide a citation? As far as I recall, it's a biblical name. – JBRWilkinson Mar 23 '12 at 9:36
Just wondering what Joe did at the end of the day with Thomas/Charles? – Kenny LJ May 23 '15 at 19:01
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'm sure that lots of people are called Thomas without being a twin, and they're fine with that. No Thomas I know is a twin1). On the other hand, I am a twin, and neither I nor my brother are named Thomas. Is this meaning the primary reason for your naming concern? To answer your question, what do I think you should do:

Either change his name early, or stick with it. Let your gut feeling decide.

He has already heard you say his name a lot by now. The longer you wait, the more you'll confuse him if you do change his name. I think that his name will grow on you though, unless the name is already giving you goosebumps and making you uncomfortable - that's what I mean by "gut feeling".

Consider that if you change his name, you might have second thoughts about the new name, too. Make sure you're quite certain before you change it.

1) By the way: what would the other twin be named? They wouldn't have the same name.

share|improve this answer
+1 for "He has already heard you say his name a lot by now." I think that's the most important thing to consider. – deworde Mar 21 '12 at 9:37

I would suggest that you leave the name as is. Its just a temporary feeling that name doesn't suit him. Let the feeling pass.

share|improve this answer

Because my grandpa and my dad have the same first name as me, I was raised going by my middle name. I was around eight or nine years old before I learned that the name I was going by wasn't my given first name.

I went all of the way through school using my middle name as my first name and only started going by my first name in a professional setting five or so years ago.

I still go by my middle name with my close friends and even my spouse.

This hasn't had a negative impact on me, as I know both names are mine. If you do change his name from Thomas to Charles, I suggest you make Thomas his middle name so that he can keep ownership of the name you've been calling him. If he already has a middle name there's nothing wrong with adding Thomas as a second middle name. J. R. R. Tolkien (John Ronald Reuel Tolkien), George H. W. Bush (George Herbert Walker Bush) and many other famous and important people have had multiple middle names.

share|improve this answer
And JRR Tolkien was known to his friends as Ronald. For that matter, Charles Stapleton Lewis was generally known as Jack. – TRiG Feb 5 '14 at 19:46

I highly suggest you have a plan to explain your decision to him as he grows older. It's surprising how issues like this can affect people later in life. I grew up being called by my middle name except inside school. The only benefit was that when my friends called me I could tell if they were in school friends or out of school friends.

Other than that it has been pretty painless except for my first day of kindergarten when our teacher asked us to find the seat with our name on it and I was left standing wondering "who the hell is Robert". I remember it like it was yesterday, but can't seem to recall so many other significant moments in my life as well. All in the name of a name I suppose.

My point is have a plan to explain it to the person or maybe don't say anything at all. The part that strikes me as funny is that when I think of a Thomas and/or Charles I kinda envision the same looking person so I wonder what a Thomas or Charles looks like? Guess is you probably already know.

share|improve this answer

I wouldn't call Tom or Chuck names that fall out of the ordinary. In fact, they are rather common names. You are the parent and need to listen to your heart/gut, but I'd suggest from a legal standpoint, leave it Tom, and then over time you'll give him whichever nickname works.

For instance, I work with a Jim that everyone calls Chris.

The only real problem is corporate email. It will always use his legal name. ;)

share|improve this answer
Corporate email naming is not dictated by law. It would be whatever you can argue, and that depends on the size and style of the company. Or, start your own! :-) – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 21 '12 at 15:36
You're being silly. You can't argue with corporate IT policies. ;) – DA01 Mar 21 '12 at 15:59
Corporate email requires legal name? That's funny! I've known fortune 500 corporations to use nicknames, and US government email accounts too. It often uses the name you use, unless their policies are different. And policies are always different. – thursdaysgeek Mar 31 '12 at 21:53
It's a joke. Just a joke. – DA01 Mar 31 '12 at 23:08

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.