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Surnames: His, Hers or Both?

baby surnames

Whose last name does your child have?

Parents give lots of thought to what to name their children. And with good reason!  Pick the wrong one and your kid could end up with loose morals, leading a life of crime.  Pick a good one and your child will fit right in with the upper crust.  Or so they say.

But surnames are a different story.  For many families, children are born with built-in last names:  the same one mom and dad share.  But these days, it is increasingly common for mom and dad to not share a last name.  They get married, she keeps her name, he keeps his, and it’s all good.

Until babies come along, that is.  At that point, a decision must be made about what surname to put on the birth certificates.

For one mom, the solution to that problem was to spread the names around.  One child got mom’s last name, the other got dad’s.  At the time, Amy Graff says she and her husband felt good about the arrangement and embraced the notion that they were “breaking tradition.”

But as her children got older, she says the confusion began. When traveling alone with one of her kids, she says she was required to show a birth certificate to an airline employee to prove her relationship. At school and camp, she says many people are unaware that her kids are even siblings.

After growing tired of explaining to people that both kids really did come from her tummy, she eventually began avoiding using their last names when referring to them.  As a result, she says her 6-year-old wasn’t even aware he had a last name until he started school and was asked to write it (he couldn’t.)

Needless to say, she regrets giving her kids different last names and is considering a legal name change.  I see no reason not to go ahead and fix what she sees as a problem, but am really surprised that it is a problem. These days, there are so many blended families that I can’t imagine anyone being confused when a parent and child, or siblings, have different last names.

But perhaps that’s the problem? Graff’s is not a blended family and maybe she dislikes the fact that her kids having different last names gives that impression.

When I divorced my first husband, I went back to the surname I was given at birth.  My daughter kept his name.  It was never a problem and nobody seemed confused about our relationship.  But then, I only had the one child – not two with different last names.

Do your kids all share the same last name?  If not, is it a problem?

Image: kaatjevervoort/Flickr

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