Amazing Tales of the Ethically Challenged!

Today’s saga: this jaw-dropping query from Emily Yoffe’s “Dear Prudence” advice column in Slate:

“My husband and his first wife named their son Adam. Their Adam is 25 and lives across the country from us. Now we are having a son, and Adam is my late father’s name and grandfather’s name. I always wanted to name my son after my dad. My husband says I can’t do that because of his firstborn son, and he can’t have two sons named Adam. But mostly, because it would upset his ex-wife. I don’t think I should have to forgo naming my son after my dad because of this. We rarely see his older son, so I don’t see what the problem is. My husband got to pick the name for our daughter and it meant a lot to him. This means a lot to me. His son said it would be all right with him, but his ex is livid at the idea.”

Emily, in her response, states the obvious, which can be loosely translated as “What the hell is the matter with you?”, though I would be happier if she stated it in more ethical terms. The heck with the ex-wife, what about the older son? What about her son? Who wants to have the same name as a sibling, half- or not? Have the words “Golden Rule” never entered this silly, self-absorbed woman’s consciousness?

Come to think of it, “What the hell is the matter with you?” says it all.


Facts: Slate

Graphic: Amazon

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

10 thoughts on “Amazing Tales of the Ethically Challenged!

  1. Hey now. George Forman has 5 little Georges, but maybe we can chalk that up to being beat in the head repeatedly. It’s at least consistent with the decision making that led him to be beaten in the head repeatedly.

  2. If the middle names are different, and since the elder Adam gave his blessing, I’m cool with it. It’s not like she’s doing it to spite the ex-wife, she’s doing it because for 2 generations, the men in her family gave the name a good meaning. Perhaps the new Adam should have her maiden name as the surname. Then they can just call him Jr. or 3rd or whatever.

  3. It’s about the child being named and the child currently named. If they are both OK with it then it’s their decision. The second child can’t be asked, so out of decency name him a different name.

    • I think that’s right. I had the same name as my Dad, and THAT was trouble enough. I got his mail, and he got mine, we got each other’s tax assessments and prescriptions, magazine subscriptions, parking tickets. I just cleaned up a lien from 2004 that had to be his, not mine. I was and am proud to have the name, but if it was mu brothers’? No way its worth the confusion and hassle. If Mom is so determined to honor her Dad, let her change her own name to Adam.

  4. My mother and my older sister have the same name . My older brother and my grandfather have the same name. My father and me and great grandfather have the same name. my I have a sister who is named after one my maternal Aunts and I have a a cousin named after the same Aunt. I also have a sister and a cousin named after my paternal grandmother. And tend list goes on and on and on. Maybe to you a family name isn’t important but to some people it is. Especially to my Family. So if the first son named Adam has no problem with it, I say do it.

    • I still don’t see any siblings with the same name. There is a reason why that’s not very common. For the youger of the two, I put it is the category of a boy named Sue or Hitler. It’s just an unnecessary annoyance: why inflict it?

      • I see your point but if the older child doesn’t a problem with it I didn’t see why anyone else shoukd have one. Although I do think if she was smart she would give it to the child as a middle name.

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