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Giving DCs different surnames?

(36 Posts)
somuchforanindiansummer Wed 19-Sep-12 14:09:31

I am posting this in FWR as I am looking for thoughts and input from like minded folk. I understand that this topic is frequented by MNers from right across the feminist spectrum (IYSWIM!) and threads can often turn into a bunfight about whether or not we are talking a load of shite. However, I really am looking for constructive input, so while contributions from anyone are welcome, I don't want to simply be told I am being ridiculous or any such thing without any helpful comments.

So, DP & I have a DS. If we do ever get married I would not change my surname. When I was pregnant with DS I was adamant that we come up with a fair way of deciding whose surname he got, as there was no way he was going to automatically get DP's. So we went with boy gets his/girl gets mine, which was fine with both of us except I lost grin . Now I am pregnant with DC2 and am thinking about surnames again. Again, I see no logical reason why s/he should automatically get DP's, but somehow it doesn't seem so easy to be adamant about it this time, as for him/her to have my surname would mean 2 kids with 2 different surnames. I am a great believer in what kids grow up with is normal for them, but equally, I don't of course want to single them out for a hard life.

Feedback so far from the topic coming up in conversation - and my response to it - includes:

"But how will they know they're siblings if they have different surnames?" - Err, we'll tell them...
"But it'd be confusing for them" - Really? Kids seem to cope with having different first names without too much confusion (and as I said, I do think kids can be far more accepting of the unusual than adults sometimes)
"But people will think they've got different fathers" - So the fuck what?

So while I have no problem digging my heels in and challenging norms when I feel it is needed, part of me wonders if it would be putting my feminist stubbornness above the interest of my kids. I can't decide if this is edging over into too-contrary-even-for-me territory... confused So I would be interested in others' thoughts, opinions & inputs on this - I'm not very good at 'picking my battles' - so help me decide whether this one is worth the trouble!

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 19-Sep-12 16:00:39

I think that's a really nice thought, they way you're doing it. I've heard of people doing that. I suppose one feminist argument against it would be that it differentiates along gender lines, but I think it's a good compromise.

Lots of siblings have different names - because they're step or half siblings, because mum and dad got married after one of them was born, whatever. I think you'd probably find lots of teachers assumed they were step-siblings, but it wouldn't be hard to correct.

You do have time to think - to be honest, if you register the new baby as 'Baby SoMuch' and by the time she's a year or so you've found out it never caught on and she is always referred to as 'Baby DHsName', and you've made your peace with that, you can change it. She won't know anything about it!

Uppercut Wed 19-Sep-12 16:26:05

It's surprising how much angst could be solved on the toss of a coin.

MrsZuko Wed 19-Sep-12 16:58:05

We've done this. I'm married but kept my own surname. On being pregnant with DC1 we agreed if it was a boy it would have DHs surname, a girl would have mine. DC1 was a boy. When it came to DC2 I wanted it to take my name. DC2 was a boy. DH wanted him to take his name again but I dug my heels in and so DC2 has my surname but it wasn't an easy decision. It's the only time I've ever started an AIBU thread! Search on my name and you should be able to bring it up. There's more back story and you'll see the responses. Hope that helps

MrsZuko Wed 19-Sep-12 17:00:38

Oh and 10 months down the line I'm bloody glad I stuck to my guns but the agreement was that if the boys hate having different surnames when they're older they can always change them. It'll be up to them.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Wed 19-Sep-12 17:03:18

We have all got different surnames and its fine. We didnt do it idealogically - well I did with not changing my name but the childrens just worked out that way. One has exps surname and I wasnt making that mistake again so dd has mine with dh's as a middle name.

Its really no biggie.

You could also call both of them your mums maiden name iyswim to get round it - you can do whatever you like.

LulaBear Thu 20-Sep-12 05:08:32

Well, I grew up with my mum who had one surname, my half-brother and -sister who had the same. Me and my dad had his surname.
I hated it! Made me feel disconnected. I begged my parents to get married. When I was 10, my mum and dad married and had one surname and my brother and sister had another (their dad's).
Can you not double-barrel? It sound stupid suggesting it as an adult but I did hate, as a child, multiple surnames.

VirtuallyHere Thu 20-Sep-12 05:19:01

As long as you don't mind the automatic assumption of people assuming they have different fathers which will occur. I kept my own name for everything but school as I like the fact we can easily be referred to as a unit - 'the virtuallyheres'. If the kids have different surnames less of the teaching staff will automatically know they are siblings. All depends really what matters to you.

gingerchick Thu 20-Sep-12 05:22:09

My children have a different surname to me (their dads) they hate it and beg me to let them have my surname but I can't because my ex won't allow it. Please don't do this I really do think it is not fair on the children and unnecessarily confusing for them, why not use your surname as a middle name?
Having two children with different surnames is confusing for the children and for everybody else. I think it would be you projecting your feminist views onto your children and not thinking about how it would affect them to have different surnames.

seeker Thu 20-Sep-12 05:44:45

Why not hyphenate?

skrumle Thu 20-Sep-12 06:55:36

i wanted to do this but gave in to the hysteria everyone had (my mother was particularly focused on the "people will think they have different fathers" line - particularly ludicrous in reality since they look incredibly alike and are 2 of about 20 kids in the town that are mixed-race...).

IMO, do what you want. my older DC wanted to have my surname for a while when she was about 6-8 but it never comes up now as a topic. people live complicated lives these days - step, half, foster, adopted siblings all cope with the concept that their names don't match.

WofflingOn Thu 20-Sep-12 07:08:47

Considering the number of ridiculous MIL threads there are on this site, you'd be better off giving boys the mother's surname and the girls their father's surname.

Himalaya Thu 20-Sep-12 07:57:20

There is no perfect solution to this one - every version is a compromise.

Personally I do think giving to kids with the same parentage different surnames is giving them some reason to think you/your DH/ different sets of GPs love one or other of them more.

I know that is ridiculous, but kids do worry about that stuff, and like to know that everything down to number of biscuits in the pack are being shared equally.

One of your kids will be better looking than the other, one will be smarter, one will be sportier. They will know this. One may get the idea that they are not your/dh's favourite, and the surname thing could compound this.

Could you not double barrel?

NellyBluth Thu 20-Sep-12 08:17:26

This is really interesting to read. I happily let DD (DC1) have DP's name, though we are not married and not planning on it ever. But since then I have been mulling over the idea of DC2 having my surname. I've had the same reactions whenever I have mentioned it, especially the 'confusion' idea - though no one batted an eyelid about 'confusion' about DD having a different surname to me! And we don't have surnames that double-barrel well at all.

But Himalaya makes a good point about the DCs potentially having worries when they are old enough to realise the difference in names. I hadn't thought of that.

But its your choice, and I do think that along with double-barreling, it is a good compromise when the parents have different surnames.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Thu 20-Sep-12 08:30:55

All this blather about confusion and children being upset - we havent experienced any of that though we are a blended family so maybe that makes a difference.

Noone has Dhs surname thank god as its rubbish and doesnt go with anything.

If you've got multi-syllable names you cant double barrel them or you will look like a complete arse imo. Fine if one of your surnames is a smith or a jones.

seeker Thu 20-Sep-12 08:31:59

Any names hyphenate. Some take more getting used to than others.

Oh, and remember it's everyone hyphenated or only the children. I have a friend who has hyphenated her own name and the children's but her dp hasn't. That is seriously weird!

somuchforanindiansummer Thu 20-Sep-12 09:13:14

Thanks all for the thoughts - quite a mix and good to have different view points. I didn't want to go with hypenation for double-barrelling with DS1 because our names are both a bit of a mouthful and putting them together sounded weird. But I do think seeker has a point that it would have just taken a while to get used to it.

I think one of my concerns is what some posters have mentioned about perceived favouritism, or taking sides on one surname vs other surname, etc. I do remember that as a kid really daft things could really matter, and that is one of the main reasons I am hesitating about this - I don't want to dig my heels in about it if is going to cause upset for the kids later on. But equally it seems not to be a problem for lots of families. I guess there's no way of knowing till it comes up (or doesn't)...


BertieBotts Thu 20-Sep-12 09:18:41

I know a few families where the girls have mum's surname and the boys have dad's.

My sister and I found it more upsetting as children when we had the same surname but nobody else did - at family gatherings on my mum's side everyone had her surname, and at family gatherings on my dad's side everyone had my stepmum's surname, and we were always different. But having said that, it wasn't a massive deal (and after dad and stepmum had children together we all had the same name anyway).

I'd go with the one gender one name policy but let them know they can change it with no hard feelings if they'd like to, once they're old enough not to want to change it to Spiderman or something grin

margerykemp Thu 20-Sep-12 10:17:38

I think DCs should always have the mother's surname as 99% of the time it it the Mum who keeps the DCs after a split (which ther is a 45% chance of by the time DCs are 16.) It's a simple numbers game.

sashh Thu 20-Sep-12 12:09:42

You are proposing to do something very similar to te wy names are passed on in Iceland - they are not all completly confused about their names.

Many children have siblings with different surnames. It can be an advantage for the younger one as when they get to school (if it is the same as their siblings) no one automatically compares them.

If the kids hate it when they ae old enough to decide then they can change it, or they might decide they want a different surname to both parents.

WidowWadman Thu 20-Sep-12 19:45:01

"I think DCs should always have the mother's surname as 99% of the time it it the Mum who keeps the DCs after a split (which ther is a 45% chance of by the time DCs are 16.) It's a simple numbers game. "

I think it should not be the default situation that children stay with the mothers after a separation. If you want to keep that as status quo, you might as well give up on the idea of wanting to achieve equality. And therefore I think defaulting the name to the mother's is stupid too.

If you're adult enough to decide to have a child together you should be adult enough to make a decision about the names together, may it be mother's, father's or a double-barreled one.

margerykemp Thu 20-Sep-12 20:34:42

I domt want 'equality'. I've never asked for it.

Dont call me stupid.

Moat people dont 'have a child together', they have sex and either through contraceptive failure or not, become pregannt. Planned pregnancies are in the minority.

WidowWadman Thu 20-Sep-12 20:41:29

If you don't want equality what are you doing in the feminist section?

Also, I reserve the right to call those who oppose equality stupid.

The thread is not about naming children which are the result of an unplanned pregnancy after a one night stand and where the father has no involvement, so your objection doesn't quite fit either here.

Outofnappies Thu 20-Sep-12 20:48:18

Hyphenate both your surnames? Or use yours as middle name..? I think it is really important that your children, sons especially, have the same surname. It is a bond and it will last forever.

Outofnappies Thu 20-Sep-12 20:51:18

Re-read my post... Sons, daughters, I do think full siblings should have the same surname, my DC (4 and2) love repeating their names to each other.

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