Michael Jackson named all three of his children (including his daughter) after himself. In this phenomenon, he comes in second to George Foreman, who named each of his five sons "George." Why do parents do this? What impact does it have on a child?

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The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, July 2, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

Readers Quiz: What do you think about naming your child after you?

Michael Jackson named all three of his children "Michael" (including his daughter).  He comes in second in this area: former heavyweight champion and current huckster George Foremen named all of his five sons "George Edward," after himself.  Why do men give their sons their own names?  What impact does it have on a child?

Michael Jackson combined grandiosity with self reference in naming his two sons Michael Joseph Jr. (but referring to him as Prince Michael, now age 12) and Prince Michael II (age 7). His daughter is Paris Michael Katherine (age 11). George Foreman's first George is George Junior, followed by Georges III through VI. Nicknames are obligatory in such situations.  (Thank goodness, he only named two of his five girls "Freeda George" and "Georgetta.")

Traditionally, men name their sons after themselves by adding "Junior" (e.g., John Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Martin Luther King Jr.), and the sons then add the appellation "II" to their namesake sons.  Lately, however, fathers have been jumping directly to "II" in naming their own sons, since "junior" seems so diminutive (many juniors, like the second Frank Sinatra, eschew that tag).

Here, dear readers, are eight questions about these practices:

  1. What is the psychological purpose for fathers giving their sons their own first name?
  2. Is the function of namesaking different for famous and ordinary men?
  3. Has the appropriateness of naming children after parents changed in recent decades?
  4. Can we all agree that naming more than one child (particularly including one of the opposite gender) after yourself is screwy?
  5. Why do mothers accept this (and some of them - but fewer than men - also name their daughters after themselves)?
  6. What is the impact for a child of having the same name as his father?
  7. Does this impact change when children become adolescents and adults?
  8. Should mental health bodies offer a recommendation about this practice?