What do you think of this Surname Debate? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to post this in parenting and parents as partners, hoping to get some feedback. We are in quite a pickle. I'll try to just lay out the facts.

Before DH and I married, I made it clear that should I be married, I would keep my last name and my children (who would emerge from my body) would bear my last name. DH was estranged from his biological father and agreed to this. I proposed to him years later, we married, kept our separate last names, 2 years later we had DD, she was given my last name (DH's last name as one of her two middle names).

Fast forward 3 years, DD is 3 years old, and DH's parents inform him that the man he believed to be his biological father for 31 years is not his father. His believed to be step-father who has raised him since he was 8, who he adores, and whom we are both very close to, is indeed his biological father. Yes, there is shock and awe, many hurt feelings, and lots and lots of explaining to do. Needless to say, DH's world was turned up-side down. DD's second middle name was changed to reflect her now real grandfather's last name. Her last name still remains to be mine.

Fast forward 3 more years, I am pregnant (with triplets, but that is beside the point, sort of) and the surname discussion has surfaced. Both DH and I feel trapped. He is in the process of changing his last name to reflect his now true real family of origin. He would like his children (some or all) to bear the name of this family that he now identifies with; I understand this, he didn't know this information when he originally made the agreement; however, I still want my children to bear my name. All my reasons for wanting this in the first place still remain -- we want to show our children that the world can be different, that not everything is partriarchal. I like that my daughter has my name;

So, here are some facts to keep in mind as you weigh in:

1. DH did not know who his real family of origin was when he made this agreement. I feel for him on this point. Please don't argue that his family of origin does deserve this; (I say this enough in my head); for all the wrong and right reasons, it does come down to: for 31 years, he had no father and a great step-dad; now he just has a great dad.

2. DD is 6 years old and has my last name. I'm not thrilled with the idea of some of my children having some last name, and some of my children having another; unless I divide it by gender???

3. The truth of me keeping and bestowing my last name onto my children has NOTHING to do with my family of origin. I am adopted and am not close at all to my adopted family. It is very feminist-based.

4. Sort of beside the point, but not really. These triplets are the result of 4 years of fertility treatments, which I wanted to give up on, but DH really wanted to keep trying. That said, I'm not sure who wins: him for believing more, me for jumping through the hoops.

5. On a stylistic point, truth be told, DH's new last name is common, easy to pronouce, looks nicer, goes with all names (I'm serious on this); my last name is long, horrible to pronouce, and doesn't go with anything (really, and I still gave it to my DD); I admit this last fact; I've had the name for 32 years -- I know it is true. This argument actually works for me as it gets away from who wins and sort of lets vanity choose. However, I recognize it as a scapegoat to my feminist ideals.

Please know this isn't a fight or anything between DH and me; we both see this as a situation we got stuck into by no fault of either; we just don't know our way out that is fair to both of us.

Thoughts?
TIA
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#2 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:10 PM
 
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It would be very important to me that my children all have the same last name, whatever it may be an wherever it may originate. Having the same last name symbolizes unity (imo at least) and I would want that very much for my children.

Can you do with the triplets what you have done with your daughter: firstname/firstmiddle/dh'slastname/yourlastname? I think that would be the simplest solution and would continue to honor dh's family as well as you.

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#3 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:12 PM
 
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I don't know that I have much to offer in the way of ideas, but I think that what you have done so far is awesome. I think it's lovely that you're both open to dialogue, and that you are willing to see new developments in his desires. Do you know the genders of your triplets yet? I would be inclined to do the split by gender thing, or maybe go 1/2 and 1/2. Are your names to awful to try hyphenating or just doing 2 last names?

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#4 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:18 PM
 
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Not sure it would work given your last name is long, etc. but would you be open to a hyphenated double last name?

Other than that I think I would probably do what mamalemon suggested.

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#5 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hyphenating isn't really an option; our children's last names would be about 13 letters long and nightmarish; and I do like the "style" of one last name.

As we have seen in DD, a second middle name, while still present, gets no recognition; who ever doesn't get the last name, does get the second middle name slot; but that is really token.

Triplet gender is know: in the end, we will have 2 boys and 2 girls. Again, leaning on the gender split; but then I worry about the kids not all having the same last name. If we give the triplets his last name, DD would have to switch her second middle name and her last name; I really don't think she would mind, except she does like that she is the "same as mama."
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#6 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:26 PM
 
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Have you considered a new last name that combines both of your names? No hyphinated, but a mix that would just be both of your names smooched together.

I do know someone, him and his sister both have different last names but the same parents. Neither of them really had much of an issue with it beyond explaining to others why.

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#7 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:34 PM
 
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dp and i have different last names and i would keep my last name if we married. we agreed to give dd whichever last name sounds best with her first and middle name. she got her dad's last name.

i have no qualms about our kids having different last names - lots of siblings have different last names for different reasons. i don't feel it is a big deal - or any deal at all. it's just their last name - and each name is connected to their parent, it's not like a random last name...

someone suggested that dp and i combine our last names...which are klann and brown to create either a: klown or b: brann. which i think is hilarious, but we shall not do because it is absurd.

the only thing that i did NOT want to do was split the gender - the girls gets my name and the boy gets dp's name, because to me, that seemed like an exceptionally patriarchal move. you know, the boy is more important to carry on the man's name, blah blah. thats probably just my own personal perception, but i am still kind of adamant about it. if we have two boys, then one of them can have my name and the other can have dp's.

good luck. tricky situation! good for you two for being so respectful, mature and considerate about it.

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#8 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:35 PM
 
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I had a friend who kept her last name, husband had a different last name and when baby was born they chose another different name for her. Baby's last name was an old old family name that wasn't anyone's surname that they just really liked. I would have all children have the same last name for ease (for them) but other then that I don't think the kids need to have either last name unless it's really important to either of you and it doesn't really seem like it is...might be cool to do something totally different! Have fun figuring it out. Keep us posted.
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#9 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:36 PM
 
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I know you are in the thick of it and agonizing but as dilemmas go on this board, this is kind of a fun one. When we got married, I made it very clear that all of our children would have my name as one of their middle names. My DH made it clear that all of our children would have middle names that reflected his ethnic heritage and would be chosen by his father. So, all of our kids have Given Name, ethnic name, my surname, husband's surname. Kind of long with hyphens but it works for us.

I agree with one and all who say your life will just make much more sense if all the kids, particularly the triplets, share a surname. So, what is a creative way to solve for this? What about creating a new surname that combines elements of both yours and his? Would that work? What about giving one of the triplets your husband's surname as his or her first name? Or name a child after his father in honor of him and keep your surname?

If those don't work then I would suggest sitting down and figuring out at what point your immediate family unity trumps feminist ideology and his newfound familiar loyalty.

Good luck!

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#10 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by katiesk View Post
someone suggested that dp and i combine our last names...which are klann and brown to create either a: klown or b: brann. which i think is hilarious, but we shall not do because it is absurd.
Brann-Klown


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#11 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:39 PM
 
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I hope not to confuse with this, but I know a family with kids with different last names, and it worked out to be a gender split, and was never a problem. Mom had 2 boys with DH1, who got DH1's last name, as did she. Then, she had a girl with DP2, DD got DP2's last name, but the woman never married him, so she kept DH1's last name. She then had a son with DP2, but DP2 was not present at the birth, so DS3 got mom's last name, which is the same as her other sons and her DH1. Then, she had two more girls with DP2, and these kids got DP2's last name, as DD1 did. So, all boys had one last name (mom's), and all girls had a different last name (dad's). Kind of crazy, but it was never an issue, unless you wanted to mail something to whole family, like a Christmas card!

I know what you mean about a second middle name not getting much attention. My dad has two middle names, but on all official paperwork, they only list his first middle name.

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#12 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 10:57 PM
 
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I wanted my children to have my last name too. When my daughter was born we hyphenated with dh's name first and mine last. Would that work? Even though yours is long it might be a good solution to hyphenate. That way dd won't have to have her name changed much just the addition of a hyphen.

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#13 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:08 PM
 
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Congrats on the triplets! :::

We used a hyphenated last name for our kid, despite TWO difficult last names. He is OK so far. In the long terms, I don't think last name matters that much. You still have some time to figure out, right?
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#14 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamalemon View Post
It would be very important to me that my children all have the same last name
This.

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#15 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:10 PM
 
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I don't see anything wrong with having different last names. I mean it's sort of the point right? patriarchal rules need not be followed.. seems like it should go both ways no? I would give one boy your name and a boy and a girl his name

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#16 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by katiesk View Post

someone suggested that dp and i combine our last names...which are klann and brown to create either a: klown or b: brann. which i think is hilarious, but we shall not do because it is absurd.
Or you could be known as the Brown Clan er Klann.

As for the original question, I personally think a name unifies us as a family. We are the F***s (no, its not what you think). The other reason I changed my name was just because I liked his name better.

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#17 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:13 PM
 
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i don't see anything wrong with them having different last names. you and dh have different last names so what does it really matter if they have doifferent last names from each other or from you guys or from anyone. or giving them all two last names. i think it is only fair that Dh gets to give some of the children his last name.

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#18 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:18 PM
 
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I don't understand. If your future children have his - new, real - last name as one of their middle names, like your dd does, won't that count? Just the way it does for his first child, your dd?

I am totally in favor of the person who bears and gives birth to the children having the ultimate naming power.

You and your dh made an agreement. The issues raised by the revelation of his paternity are real and need to be worked through - by him, for himself. Going back on the agreement you made in order to give his children his newfound name seems like a backwards way of resolving things.

ETA: I don't see the slightest problem with kids having different names. (Heck, my boys have different last names, one has dh's; one has mine - same parents.) If you are both ok with a gender split, that might be the way to go.
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#19 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:27 PM
 
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I do not agree with same last name = unity. Just about everybody in my family has a different last name.. we are quite united.

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#20 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:27 PM
 
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I think you should all take the same last name and it should be both dh's and your last name.

Not giving up your name is awesome and allowing him to claim his name seems like it would have some significance for him. For a sense of family unity and simplicity I'd have everyone have the same last name.
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#21 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:30 PM
 
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One thing I have learned in 15 years of marriage -- agreements are never absolute. We change as individuals and as a family during the course of time, and what is important to us at one point changes. It's a question of who needs something more at some point. If this is very important for him as a way of processing his ideas of family and identity I would probably sacrifice some of the other issues to help him do this, or find different ways to acknowledge some of those other issues.
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#22 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:40 PM
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You made a deal on this already. I'd keep the deal.

It seems to me that:

your dh wants to symbolically make up for all the years of not knowing the reality of his biological father. As if a last name could be the same as therapy, or whatever else it will take him to process this. It seems to me he wants to skip a few steps by naming the kids his true father's last name.

I'm sure the step-father (actually bio father) is wonderful, but because of the deceit (and it was a deceit) perpetuated on your dh, the step-father/bio-father really doesn't deserve the passing of his name. I hope I'm explaining this well and not coming across harshly.

But I'm afraid your dh will think "ok we all have this name! All is well!" and not do the really hard emotional work this is going to take.


You could give the triplets dh's father's name as their (only) middle name, not as a second middle name. Then it wouldn't get as "lost" as if they had two middle names.

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#23 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:46 PM
 
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I do not agree with same last name = unity. Just about everybody in my family has a different last name.. we are quite united.
Of course you are united, you're family and the familial bond surpasses something as superficial as a name. I always sort of thought of us as a team, though. I like my kids being "the XX kids," you know? DH and I have the same last name for the same reason, so that we can be "the XX family" (I understand why you and your dh do not share last names though, OP).

In the grand scheme of things, it isn't that important. It isn't like the family will fall apart and never attach without a common name. Having a name that identifies you as part of a clan/team/family is a symbol of unity, however.

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#24 of 111 Old 07-06-2009, 11:54 PM
 
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All of the hyphenated last names I've ever seen run at least 10+ letters, most last names are at least 5, so if you combine two...there you go.

I would really move to compromise on this, to be honest. Of course, as an adoptee, I think that validating one's heritage can be extremely important, and names can be even more important. You kind of were able to luck out on this, because when you were married, your DH had no attachement to a name.

Now he does. While it may mess up the absolute visual appeal of the name for you, for awhile...I think it would reflect your compassion and honoring to include him if you were to at least discuss this some more and offer compromises until you come closer to a consensus.

I guess you could stick to your guns about "well, you made an agreement before this came out, so I win". But in many, many relationships things change over time, and people end up compromising on "important things". If it wasn't difficult, it wouldn't be a true compromise and inclusion.

How much time do you have left to make a decision? It's true, if all this recently came out, he's likely to still be in the shock stage.

But as for WWID, to be honest I would hyphenate the last names of all the children. Of course, I don't go by the "woman rules no matter what since she gives birth" deal either. Presumably a loving, committed partner cares for the woman during her pregnancy and supported her in conception or contributed to it, and cares for everyone in the family during and afterwards.

I think you need to do some more talking about this. But I think it would be both compassionate and wise to at least attempt to reach some sort of compromise.
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#25 of 111 Old 07-07-2009, 12:12 AM
 
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I do not agree with same last name = unity. Just about everybody in my family has a different last name.. we are quite united.
I don't know.

My DD and I have different last names because I'm not yet married to her daddy and I have to admit I feel a bit left out.

We're not the "Smith" Family. We're the this is Daddy Smith and Baby Smith and Mama Jones.

I don't like it. Of course, that's me.

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#26 of 111 Old 07-07-2009, 12:22 AM
 
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#27 of 111 Old 07-07-2009, 12:30 AM
 
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What about just having all the kids' middle name be DH's last name, and their last name be your last name?

I'm not talking about a second middle name (since, as you said, they generally get lost in the shuffle), but just Firstname Hislastname Yourlastname, for all the kids.

Like Mary Smith Kowalski, John Smith Kowalski, etc.

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#28 of 111 Old 07-07-2009, 12:58 AM
 
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I would go with your husband's last name. I think it honors your first daughter to carry yours, and it honors your husband to have these children to bear his name. Dd1 was born quite some time ago, when you were both in a different stage of life. I don't think it necessarily discounts your feminist ideals; it shows that you can appreciate honoring both sides of the family. Or have it split along gender lines, if dd1 might feel left out.
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#29 of 111 Old 07-07-2009, 12:59 AM
 
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Originally Posted by katiesk View Post

the only thing that i did NOT want to do was split the gender - the girls gets my name and the boy gets dp's name, because to me, that seemed like an exceptionally patriarchal move. you know, the boy is more important to carry on the man's name, blah blah. thats probably just my own personal perception, but i am still kind of adamant about it. if we have two boys, then one of them can have my name and the other can have dp's.
:

I know that you do not like the idea of a double last name but it does seem to be the most logical solution to this situation. I am biased of course because my me DH and my new baby son all share the same doubled last name, but I also really like the whole family having the same name.
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#30 of 111 Old 07-07-2009, 01:07 AM
 
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My kids have different last names and it doesn't faze them a bit. You could do a gender split...

eta - as to the 'boys are more important to carry on the man's last name' bit, that only works if you value his last name more, or assume your daughters will marry men and take their last names. i don't think it holds any weight.
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