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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!

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.

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.

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 19:29:25

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

The patriarchy lives and breathes!

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 08:37:10

That's why I asked.

It's just that I have noticed as I go through life that it's amazing how often the nicer surname, or the one that goes better with the kid's names or the one that's easier to spell seems to be the man's name.

And that the person in a relationship who compromises is usually the woman. And I know lots of families where both adults keep their own names and the kids have their dad's I only know two where the kids have the mother's name.

So I guess I was curious.

Thurlow Thu 15-Aug-13 08:28:22

Maybe it was a nicer surname or went better with the kids names? I guess my assumption would be that a woman who was confident enough to neither change her surname nor become Mrs is probably unlikely to just blindly follow what is seen as a patriarchal tradition

curlew Thu 15-Aug-13 07:33:21

Absolutely. I was just wondering why the assumption is that it's the dad's nam used, and if anyone in the family has a different name to everyone else it's going to be the mother.

Thurlow Thu 15-Aug-13 07:27:49

Curlew, why shouldn't they have his name? confused We have the same set up. No problems either. DC have just as much right to their dad's name as their mum's name.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Aug-13 07:09:33

I hate double barrelled names.
I just changed to DHs and the children had his- since he died shortly afterwards I was so thankful they at least had his name. I married again and changed again.
I like being in a family unit with all the same name - I would rather be in one with my DH and my DCs than making a unit with my brothers and their DCs.

curlew Thu 15-Aug-13 06:43:36

"I've kept my own name, DCs have DH's name, it has never been a problem at all. I use an email address with both surnames so that when I deal with cub leaders etc they all know whose parent I am. I scribble the DCs surname on the back of cheques to pay for their activities in case it gets separated from the slip. That is the extent of the hassle, ie virtually none. Never had a problem with two different surnames on hotel signing cards, or paying with a credit card in my own name for something DH has booked, in fact no one has ever really said anything at all. "

Why have they got his last name?

cookymonster Thu 15-Aug-13 03:03:39

''I will NEVER use the title Mrs.''

Glad I'm not alone on that one!

CaptChaos Wed 14-Aug-13 20:58:55

I have been married twice. My maiden name was annoying, in that no one could either pronounce or spell it, plus I didn't see it as an issue, so I changed it to ExH's name. After we were divorced, given how traumatic it had all been, I was just glad to be rid of the violent twunt, but it never occurred to me to use my maiden name again blush when I married DH2, it would have been ridiculous to have kept my older married name so now I have another unpronoucable and unspellable bloody surname. However, I do the American thing of calling myself Capt Chaos DH'sname (with the Chaos bit as my maiden name)

It might be because my family are a bit hmm about me at the best of times. My DS1's name on his birth cert is Chaos Hisdad'sname, but my 'D'M thinks that's ridiculous, and only uses his DD's name. Drives me mad. She thinks I'm just 'doing' feminism to be difficult anyway!

I've kept my own name, DCs have DH's name, it has never been a problem at all. I use an email address with both surnames so that when I deal with cub leaders etc they all know whose parent I am. I scribble the DCs surname on the back of cheques to pay for their activities in case it gets separated from the slip. That is the extent of the hassle, ie virtually none. Never had a problem with two different surnames on hotel signing cards, or paying with a credit card in my own name for something DH has booked, in fact no one has ever really said anything at all.

I will NEVER use the title Mrs.

curlew Wed 14-Aug-13 18:31:18

I am Myname. Dp is Hisname. The Dcs are Myname-Hisname. Been like that for 17 years. It has never been the slightest problem. People sometimes get it wrong- they call us the Myname-Hisnames, or call me Hisname. If it's important and e can be bothered, we correct them, but usually we don't. The Dcs love having an completely unique name, and google every now and then to make sure nobody else has that particular combination. Go for it. It's much easier than you think- I hate th expression "over thinking" (over thinking is usually much better than under thinking!) but in these circumstances..........

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