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Sharing a name with my son

(32 Posts)
gertrudestein Sun 01-Sep-13 19:08:10

My partner and I have been together for 11 yrs and have an 8 wk old ds. Dp and I are both feminists, and we're not married - for loads of reasons, including having some problems with the institution of marriage and its history of ownership/ property etc. At one point we considered it, and inasmuch as I ever thought about it, I knew I would never change my name even if we did get married - I use it professionally, I like it, and I don't want to become mrs someone else.

When I was pregnant I decided I wanted our son to have DP's surname, with my surname as a middle name. Again, lots of reasons including the fact that I think my dp is amazing a d wanted our child to share his name. Dp was surprised as he assumed our kids would take my name, but he was happy to go with it.

The only thing is ... Now I feel quite sad that I don't have the same surname as my son. It just feels odd. I'm considering changing my name by deed poll - but is this mad? Is it just hormones? I can't help feeling like our unity as a family is somehow undermined. I'm confused by these irrational thoughts - can anyone help me think it through?

ParisianTrialByFire Fri 06-Sep-13 12:52:08

When I get married at the end of the year I won't be changing my name, which means it will be different from DS. The way I see it, I've had my name for over 20 years, it's part of me, part of my identity. DS has a name that will be part of his identity. It doesn't change the fact that I'm his mother and I love him. A rose by any other name and all that.

murielspark Wed 04-Sep-13 17:54:20

Oh, I didn't mean that I like to pull rank with my title or anything like that, I hate that kind of thing. If there was a female equilavent of the marriage-and-age-neutral 'Mr' I'd happily use that, but there isn't: female titles are based around your age and marital status, and I find this problematic. 'Dr' isn't, so I use that.

It's not like my DH and I use our titles wantonly or anything, but they do get used on some envelopes addressed to us, and I found it odd that 'Dr and Dr' often became 'Dr and Mrs' when we got married (in letters from banks, my grandmother, our local cattery, my parents-in-law...). If my PhD got cancelled out when I got married, how come my husband's remained intact? hmm

BikeRunSki Wed 04-Sep-13 17:28:03

I prefer being called by the children, husband and I share, in domestic/family situations, as that is the name of my domestic persona. I don' t think a PhD in Civil Engineering is relevant at all ! Equally, in professional circumstances it is totally relevant, and that is when I prefer to use it. I am not am academic though, so I don't insist or pull rank on it. I always thought it was rather bad form to use academic titles in non- academic situation or business situations in the same, or an associated , field).

murielspark Wed 04-Sep-13 16:37:11

Bikerunski don't you mind being called Mrs Married by your DC's school? Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel insulted that since I've got married, my 'Dr Muriel' status has been downgraded in many people's minds to 'Mrs Husband'. I just don't like the implication that being someone's wife is now what defines me, and trumps both the name I have kept and the PhD I did.

murielspark Wed 04-Sep-13 16:33:57

This is why Iceland has an infinitely better naming system than we do!

Dh and I are married to each other and I kept my own surname, because we just thought it was weird for me to have to give up my name just because I'm the woman. It's not feminist or fair...

I always thought (and still mostly think) that my future children if I'm lucky enough to have some will get their dad's surname, for one simple reason: it has been his family name all his life, whereas I changed my name by deed poll in my teens to the name I have now, therefore I'm not connected to it by blood and therefore don't feel strongly about passing it on.

If I was connected to my surname though, I would feel differently, and wouldn't see why my child shouldn't have my name. I also am anti-double-barrelling - I think it sounds too fussy and (so-shoot-me!) too bourgeois. I guess it is the only really viable answer to this problem though.

We've discussed it and came up with wacky options including coping the Icelandic system or the Irish Gaeltacht (patro- or matronymic) system. Our families would think we were mad, but they already think that anyway.

It's such a tough one. The bottom line is that there's no reason why the family name be the guy's name just because he's a guy, yet there's no way around it without severely deforming our naming system and saddling your child with a lifetime of explaining his/her name to strangers. This is where the patriarchy gets you.

gertrudestein Wed 04-Sep-13 05:57:11

Thanks bike, sounds complicated but effective!

BikeRunSki Tue 03-Sep-13 13:11:13

* Gertrude* my official driving license and passport name is DH's. At work I use my own name, as I always have done. HR, HMRC and DVLA are all aware of this, and happy about it. I have bank accounts in both names. My professional bodies etc know mee as Dr Unmarried. Work call me Dr Unmarried, DC's school call me Mrs Married. Never been a problem, particularly as my job is nighly unlikely to ever send me abroad.

Boosterseat Tue 03-Sep-13 11:22:11

DS has my name, his father and I weren't in a relationship when he was born so I didn't even consider it. It raised an eyebrow when we registered the birth but he didn't say anything - I think he just "assumed".

Now married to a different much nicer man and have double barreled my surname but only because he has a lovely last name and it made my very plain name sound a bit naicer grin

DH and I have agreed if we have any more children they will have the double barreled name.

gertrudestein Tue 03-Sep-13 05:55:45

Meant to say ... Interesting to know this is not just hotlines, so I do need to come to terms with it ...

gertrudestein Tue 03-Sep-13 05:54:00

bikerunski how does it work if you change your name for home things? What is your official name?

gertrudestein Tue 03-Sep-13 05:52:02

Thanks everyone - it's really good to hear different people's perspectives. nicetabard I agree that we have a limited amount of options. I'm definitely not going to change my name for work purposes, I don't want to double barrell and I think Dh's parents would be devastated if their only child changed his name. I'm also pretty sure I don't want any more kids, and although I can see the fairness of using each parents' name once, for me that wouldn't solve the problem of the family unit being undermined (whi h is far too strong a word, but I can't think of a better one)

Otoh, I just can't bring myself to change my name. Tbh I don't know how much this is principle and how much I simply can't face all the 'I told you you should have got married'/ 'you mean he still won't marry you?' comments from the marriage brigade. (I used to try to explain the situation but people still always assume it's the man's decision not to marry. Drives me bonkers)

So I guess I should just accept it as the best choice for me out of a limited range if choices. V interesting to know its bit just hormones though, so I really do need to come to res with this and not just sit it out.

TheBuskersDog Mon 02-Sep-13 23:17:59

My boys are now 20 and 16, they have their dad's surname- I have never minded that they don't have my surname. I think maybe because I was obviously their mum I didn't feel a need to 'claim' them, giving them their dad's name acknowledged him as their father.
They have never questioned why I have 'my' name, it's just not an issue. I am also very relaxed if someone casually calls me Mrs their name if it's in relation to them, I don't make a big deal of it but obviously I always use my name if I need to give my name about anything.
I have never had any problems with schools, doctors, holidays or anything.
Those saying it's not really your name, it's your dad's, well surely that's exactly the same for men - they got their name from their dads too.

tribpot Mon 02-Sep-13 23:16:23

[Nearly] everyone's name is their dad's but you rarely hear this argument made for why a man gets to keep it on marriage, or why it's somehow 'not really his' and thus interchangeable with any other.

I have never had a problem with school and the fact my surname is different from ds' - it's never even been mentioned.

For me personally it has never been an emotional issue that I have a different surname from ds. In my enormous blended family it is entirely usual to have different surnames (and indeed first names in one case, one relative is known by one name by her father's family and another by her mother's family and her own family). I haven't had the same name as my mum since I was 7. It's just not relevant.

Ds has never asked why we don't have the same surname, btw. I don't think it's ever occurred to him that we could.

I think whatever choice you make will be the right one for you. But at 8 weeks post pregnancy I would hold off on making any big decisions, give yourself some time to think it over.

NiceTabard Mon 02-Sep-13 23:01:32

I think I should probably have done that bikerunski.

So you're not starting from scratch with clients and contacts and so on. Definitely worth thinking about for anyone who has built up time in a specific industry etc. I should have thought about that one a bit better.

BikeRunSki Mon 02-Sep-13 22:38:57

I felt exactly the same when I was expecting my son. I changed my name for home things, and carried on using my own surname at work. Five years later, system seems to be working fine.

NiceTabard Mon 02-Sep-13 22:34:33

Oh or you could double barrell obv - would mean changing your son's name but depending on age that's not the end of the world.

I come from the position of having a fucking cumbersome surname and none of it's mine hmm grin

rosy71 Mon 02-Sep-13 22:33:46

Your ds has your surname as a middle name, so you could always use both of them, not hyphenated.

Your ds has your surname as a middle name, so he could always use both of them, not hyphenated.

NiceTabard Mon 02-Sep-13 22:33:13

YY what scallops and meditrina say.

There is no "right" answer - as children cannot have an unlimited amount of names in their surname!

You need to do what feels right for you and your situation. Having a different surname is very common and while schools seem to be stuck in patriarchyville with this, it's not going to cause any probs.

OTOH changing your name won't render your feminism void.

There are a limited amount of options here are we have what we have, to work with. So have a good long think and do what you want to do.

rosy71 Mon 02-Sep-13 22:32:22

I have 2 boys who both have their father's surname. I have gone through various stages of not liking this and not being bothered. When I was pg with ds1, I always thought dp and I would get married at some stage. Although I'm not a fan of name changing, I thought I'd double barrel and have both so it didn't matter that ds1 would have dp's name. Ds1 is 8.5 now and we are still not married! When ds2 was born, I suggested giving him my surname as a middle name but dp said it'd be strange because ds1 didn't have it too so I gave him my grandad's name as a middle name instead. I do still wish they'd got my name in there somewhere, but it doesn't particularly bother me now. If I could go back, I think I'd insist on it though.

Your ds has your surname as a middle name, so you could always use both of them, not hyphenated. You could also choose to double barrel or, like a previous poster said, all 3 of you could be double barrelled. You could also give a future child your surname and dp's as a middle name to even things out.

Btw Ihave only been called Mrs N twice at school. They are very good at using my correct name.

meditrina Mon 02-Sep-13 22:24:57

I didn't change my name on marriage. The DCs have their father's surname. I don't feel a lesser part of the family because my name doesn't match.

OP: how old is DS? I note you say you're wondering if it's hormones - so is he still very small? If so I suggest you wait a bit to see if your views remain or become more firmly entrenched or, as you move from the chaos of the early days, your earlier reasoning reasserts itself.

I don't think which choice you make matters as much as the basic underpinning point that you are able to make it.

scallopsrgreat Mon 02-Sep-13 22:11:48

I didn't change my name on marriage and my children have their father's surname. I wish I'd put my foot down a bit more about my 2nd son and he had my name, from a feminist perspective. But I don't want to change my surname to match theirs, more I want their surnames to change to match mine grin

NiceTabard Mon 02-Sep-13 22:04:48

Ah well this is the tricky thing isn't it.

I have been a feminist since my teens. I never really thought about marriage grin and what would happen but when I met DH I knew we would have children and I had a think.

He already had a double-barrelled name.
I didn't want to have a different surname to my children.
He is a bog-standard sort of bloke, lovely and kind and supportive but not any kind of radical thinker or one who bucks the system.

So asking him to change to my name was out. The society we live in, that would be a massive statement for him, his family might take it as rejection, I didn't even mention it.

I couldn't combine my name as well as that would be silly and TBH I have always disliked double-barrelled names anyway (don't kill me!) and putting a third in would be ludicrous. Dropping one of his would obviously cause huge upset on his side.

My original name was my dad's anyway.

So, heh, feminist since young just changed names on marriage. I didn't care that much - it was maybe a point of principle rather than something I felt inside as a problem - so I did it.

Personally I don't understand how it is a feminist act to have children with a different name to you. There are people in my family who have done that, and friends, and they get called up by the school and called "Mrs Child Surname" when that is not their name they are "Ms Original Name" and it really gets on their nerves.

I don't know. I am happy with my decision. I think it depends how important the name is to you, how important it is to share a name with your children, whether your DH would be prepared to change and that sort of thing. If you do change your name I don't think you are "letting the side down" but then I would say that grin

alarkthatcouldpray Mon 02-Sep-13 21:51:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yama Mon 02-Sep-13 21:45:33

Our dd has my name and our ds has dh's name. Pretty fair.

I do feel a wee bit sad though that ds doesn't have my name. He's 3 and I suppose I just think of him as his first name most of the time.

Dd is beyond proud that she has my family name. Feels nice.

Dd and ds are very close by the way (mnr's have suggested that they wouldn't be close due to having different names)

I'm rambling. My point is - give your next child (if you have one) your name.

Liara Mon 02-Sep-13 21:43:57

Dh and I had separate names for 15 years before dc came along. When I was pg, we decided to blend our names, change both our names by deed poll to the new name and give that to the dc.

Dealt with all our objections to the sillyness of perpetuating only the father's line (with the caveat that both our names were obviously our fathers') and has the added bonus that the new name is ours and no-one else's - which silly though it might be, feels really special.

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