Surnames

(140 Posts)
Rollermum Sun 28-Jul-13 13:41:05

Hey all

The post below about joint accounts, and a batch of particularly annoying post got me thinking about surnames and my baby (due 6th Sep).

I am married and haven't changed my name. My title is Dr and before that was Ms. I registered our move w various utilities and got post to us both w DH name first (as in the joint accounts thread). Same post brought some lovely cards from family members but all calling me variously wrong names: Mrs DHSurname, Miss MySurname etc.

I had been planning that the baby will have our joint surnames (diuble barrelled) whilst we both just keep our own names. But lately I've been thinking this will complicate the name situation in our house even more. I can envisage years of bday cards from well meaning relatives with just my husband's surname.

Any thoughts on how to deal with this? I have never wanted to change my name but lately I've just been fed up of it. I'd like us to feel like a family unit. My sister didn't change her name and is constantly correcting people that they are married. Also I just can't imagine my child not having my name (at least in part).

Finally I'd happily double barrel but DH isn't prepared to do the same - so I won't either!

I guess my name feeling vague is ok but want the baby to have a clearer one!

Many reasons Curlew. There is never going to be any doubt that I am their mother to be honest, whereas if they did not have DH's surname it is more likely people would assume he is not their father, especially if it came to a split. My surname does not work at all with DD's first name, DH's surname is much nearer the start of the alphabet. To be honest as well, I was rocking the boat enough by not taking DH's surname, I've made my point. I don't mind having a different surname at all, if people assume we're not married then that's not a problem (unless it's for legal purposes). Double -barrelled wouldn't have worked either, too much of a mouthful and I don't like them.

As for the baggage of marriage, my view is that yes, there is historical baggage, but modern marriage is an equal partnership, you don't have to be given away by anyone, or change your name if you don't want to. It confers a lot of benefits legally and while I can see that civil partnership for heterosexuals is one way of ditching the baggage, I don't see why you can't modernise marriage rather than set up a separate system.

curlew Thu 15-Aug-13 09:00:09

The patriarchy lives and breathes!

Every little helps Curlew. I will be the first to admit that I don't make the feminist choice every time in my life, but as I came on here to tell the OP what works for us that is what I have done.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Thu 15-Aug-13 14:26:11

I didn't take H's surname but I did give DS H's surname. It wasn't an automatic thing, I did think about it a lot and now tbh I regret the choice I made.

I chose to give him H's suname genuinely because it is so much easier to spell and pronounce than mine and I had been bullied for my surname (forrin).

When I was as school I couldn't wait to change my surname upon on marriage, it was the bane of my life, but by the time I got married I was a feminist and I also felt I'd suffered for my name as a kid so I was damn well gonna keep it (plus the effort and expense to change it did not appeal.

However, I wish I had given him my name now because we are so much more multicultural now so people tend to be more accepting and careful with surnames so he wouldn't have suffered how I did.

Sorry, personal rant there, but it's worth thinking about, as you are, because, as said upthread, it's not easy to change it later..

My best friend married her DP after 15 years and 3 kids together. She changed her name and said it was because it would be easier if they all had the same surname. Her eldest had been at school 5 years at this point.

I suspect that a lot of women like to 'show off' the fact they are married. It's a way of bragging that you got a man. Connects up with the 'Not putting a man at the centre of your life' thread.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 16:35:24

I would give them DH's name for the same reason as whoknows- there is no doubt I am the mother, there might be doubt about the father.
As it turned out DH died before he was 30yrs and at least he left his name- there wasn't a lot else to leave.
I think people should do what suits them and not worry about others.
My DC's much prefer their surname anyway- they don't like mine.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 16:36:35

I can't see why it should matter to others.

Thurlow Thu 15-Aug-13 17:39:11

I do agree that other people are more likely to make the assumption that men with a different surname to their DC are more likely to be considered not their Dad than a mum with a different surname would be

DontActuallyLikePrunes Thu 15-Aug-13 17:42:25

Curlew, at the time we were naming dc, I hadn't thought it through. I regret not having my name in there.
If I had another baby, I would give the child both names. I think that's fair enough.

Woodhead Thu 15-Aug-13 18:04:22

exoticfruits it matters to others because it is incredibly hard to deviate from social norms held by close to a majority. Even being in a substantial minority can be a difficult position.

I'm incredibly grateful, that due to my education, career and generation I am able to keep my own surname despite being married, with a reasonable amount of understanding and support from wider society. As it is a generally accepted minority act, the social consequences of deviation are not too severe. There are niggles and annoyances still though, and these would diminish as more people choose to move to a more equal convention.

Many of my friends have children with ex's surnames and now regret that they didn't make a different choice. It would be fantastic to live in such an equal society that anyones individual choice was simply that, and didn't help to support a tradition of inequality, but we don't. So whilst of course on an individual level it's good to support people's well thought out individual choices, on a more aggregate level of course people will care about other people's choices as these influence the social norms which we exist amongst.

I'd personally also love people to boycott pink, even if they like the colour, simply because it's become a cultural norm applied to one gender and not the other, and it would be good to see a cultural shift away from this.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 19:07:26

I was a substantial minority- I have a different name to my DC and it never caused any problems.
My choice is simply my choice- the rest is up to everyone else.
Pink is just a colour. DH has pink shirts and a pink jumper- I have a pink skirt. I am not boycotting a colour.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 19:08:59

I like being a minority and different- there is no need to follow the herd.

Woodhead Thu 15-Aug-13 19:29:25

Choices don't exist in a vaccuum though. My choices may impact on others and there's on me. Individual choices matter far more to the individual, and have a small impact on wider society; but if enough individual choices are the same and have a particular bias then that will have an impact on what is seen as normal or typical.

If for every child who was named patrilineally the same number were named matrilineally, then that would be equal and individuals wouldn't feel a social norm pushing them towards a particular choice.

Individualism is great, but many many people are influenced by social norms, so it's worth considering how individual choices might impact on others.

I feel that unlike in marriage, the choices for DCs surname don't have one totally equal option (unless you double barrel).

So a married couples name
- one changes name = unequal
- both change name = equal
- both keep own name = equal

Whereas for children's names
- father name = unequal
- mothers name = unequal
- both names - whichever one is last will be used as a surname = unequal

So, out of all the unequal options for the children, we had to pick one. Admittedly I hadn't thought it through in quite this level of detail back then, but I did feel that (as I said earlier) I didn't want to put DH in the position of people assuming he was not their real father. Even if we did split he is a great father and as entitled to have them bear his name as I am.

Woodhead Thu 15-Aug-13 19:43:34

OK, if parents have both changed to completely new joint name, this is equal and can be given equally to children.

Mother's name to daughters and father's name to sons (equal-on population aggregate).

Double barrelling with order flipped for male/female children (equal-on aggregate), and each keeps the one from their same gender parent when they marry.

I'm sure there are more options as well.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 20:09:24

I am quite happy with the social norm. As family history is my hobby it makes life much simpler all round.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now