We have one daughter named Madeline Jean. Madeline was our favorite name and Jean is the name of my late mother-in-law. Now we are expecting a boy next month and cannot agree on a name for the life of us.

I love James Francis. James is a great, classic name that (I think) goes with Madeline and Francis was my grandfather's name as well as my brother and father's middle names. My husband is dead set on Lincoln Adler. Lincoln for his favorite president (history nerd) and Adler for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago (a place with special memories for us).I just don't think Lincoln Adler goes with Madeline Jean. I have tried to convince my husband that with James Francis our son will have the initials JFK (seriously) and that is presidential enough. We need help!


Oh yes, the historical fan. I know the type all too well – obscure facts, dusty books forever on the nightstand, debates about the Civil War as though it was happening right now. They can be both obscure and traditional – but I have to say, though I feel you on needing relief from dead presidents now and again, I’m not as offended by Lincoln Adler as you are.  

That is, I think it sounds lovely with Madeline Jean – Lincoln and Madeline, those are siblings for sure. In fact, Madeline and James is still a nice set of siblings but the syllable beats are not that equal. James feels kind of solid opposite Madeline, which isn’t to say that she’s frilly, but in my mind, I have to admit, Lincoln feels a little closer to the style you started with. 

Still, I wouldn’t argue with either of the names (and those middles, both of which I adore), but since each of you has a favourite, and neither is budging, let’s see what we can do compromise-wise. My first instinct is to go all Solomon on you and suggest Francis Adler, Francis & Madeline. As a friend of mine points out, “Francis” can become “Frankie” if it turns out not to suit him. (Lainey: Frankie is the CUTEST!)

But it’s never our instinct to dive straight for the nickname here, so keeping with a slightly presidential theme – what about Jamison? Your James, his historical tenor…does it speak to you at all? Jamison Adler? Or maybe instead of Francis, you could compromise with Franklin? James Franklin? Or Franklin James, for that matter? Franklin J Lastname?     

I actually think almost any combination of these names will not just work, but be charming. Any of these boys is fit to be a presidential candidate whose older sister is named Madeline. But I also urge you not to lose Adler if you can help it – that’s a great, unusual, and awfully romantic name to put in there.   

If all of this is actually ideological, and you can’t come together, cross party lines, if you will, just to really murder a metaphor. Let me know and we’ll go back to the drawing board.