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What's in a Last Name?

What are their last names?

When I got married, I didn’t change my last name.  Before I was pregnant, I turned to my husband and said, “Maybe when we have kids I’ll change my last name.”  David looked at me and said, seriously, “To what?”

This is pretty much how things have stood through our first six years of parenthood. There’s been no last name confusion. It’s been fine. Then, the other day, my son said to me, “You’re name is Robin Stone.” And my daughter piped up, “No it’s not, it’s Robin Aronson. It sounds better.”  Was my daughter tapping into some sense of my independent identity or was her stated preference really just a matter of aesthetics? 

While I want an identity that was separate from my husband, there’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind having the same last name as my kids.  The answer to that would be to give both kids my last name. Right?

Well, I floated that idea by my husband once, very early in our relationship.  He said, “Well when we start baby naming the kids have to have one of our names.” So I said, “Why can’t it be mine.”  He looked so crestfallen, I didn’t even bother to press the point.  I didn’t feel strongly about it at the time and I suppose I still don’t feel all that strongly about it. Putting aside questions of passports and school forms, there are myriad of ways that who we are and how we’re related to each other aren’t public.  We’re used to the public marker of family names, but that may just be about nostalgia. As Sandy Maple points out, blended families come in so many shapes and sizes these days, and one name doesn’t have to contain them all.

My son saying he wants me to have the same last name as he does told me how he feels about me right now.  Maybe when he’s a teenager, he’ll be glad to have a little public distance from me in the name department.  Either way, our surnames are a little beside the point.  Do you have share a last name with your kids?

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