Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Different Last Names

My friend, Brent, is part of a movie club called Film Movement that delivers top-notch indie films to his doorstep each month.

He's quite a busy fellow, so he has a backlog of 40 or so films (egad!). When I'm in town for consulting, we usually watch one or two of them.

There's always a bonus short film on the disk, and the one above (Something Other than Other) is worth a looksie.

As a side note, the couple ends up giving their child a hyphenated last name (they each have their own last names). It made me give some more thought to how Matt and I are going to handle our different-last-name situation once we have kids.

I guess we have already faced this dilemma with our dog. His name is Hoss Cotner-Bradford. You can find him on Facebook. But hyphenated names are not ideal. I think they become cumbersome and the temptation becomes to drop one of them.

I just don't know.

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AmyJean {Relentless Bride®} said...

My FH and I have discussed this and unfortunately my last name of Chung and his of Fry doesn't make for a pretty hyphenated situation(ChungFry?). He says I can do as I please, but the kids are getting "Fry" which I am more than ok with, but my friends tease me with how weird "Chung Fry" sounds... and it does, but its starting to grow on me. lol

Kerry S. said...

My FH and I have also discussed this and he already has a hyphenated name and I'm not sure that I really want to take it as my own. We have talked about making our own new last name out of the letters of our current last names. It certainly makes for a very fun evening. Although, I'm not really certain he's going to go for it in the end...

EliandMe said...

My partner and I already have a child together (our wedding is next May). When our baby was born, he was my precious thing and there was no way in hell he was having any last name but my own. And then the time came to 'officially' register him as a real person. And I realised that he wasn't mine, he was ours. And my future husband had already been excluded from so much - he couldn't grow a baby, he had the wrong equipment to breastfeed, he missed out on those first few nights when we were stuck in hospital - that it didn't seem fair to exclude him from this. And I wanted him to know how much I trusted him and how I thought he would be a really good dad. So we gave our baby my partners last name. And I am no less his mother for having a different last name.

What I am basically trying to say is that if you decide not to go down the hyphenated route (no matter which name you choose)... well, you know those are your kids and they know that they are your kids.

Also, I think ChungFry rocks as a last name.

Katie said...

We are seriously thinking of combining are names. Mine is Van Schaick, his is Gaffaney... to create Van Gaffaney. Sounds elite, right?! We joke about it all the time, but I think it'd be awesome.

I had a teacher once who, instead of hyphenating, combined the names.. I can't remember what it was, but it flowed well.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of couples giving the boys the Dad's last name, and the girls the Mom's last name, which is kind of neat. You could also do some combo of your names, like Cotford or Bradner. They both sound like regular last names!

Unknown said...

I think hyphenated names are pretty cumbersome. Usually kids with hyphenated names pick one to go by most of the time anyways, (at least that's what the kids in my class do). I guess in general, unless a woman has a strong cultural tie to her last name, or its the last of that family's progeny, I figure following culture and giving the father's last name is the best choice. But it should be a decision made for each individual couple, because lots of elements affect that kind of decision.

Kat said...

My DH and I have 2 kids (we had the boys actually before we were married) but they have my husbands last name of Madison and my last name of Munson as their 2nd middle name. The kids are old enough now (16 and 17) where they appreciate their names. I thought it was a good compromise.

Anonymous said...

tough one...my fiance and i were planning to go with my last name (it's fun, and his is all consonants), until his dad got cancer... and then we realized his dad would be rather devastated if his son didnt carry his name on...i know its outdated and partriachal, but i decided it was worth it to take the boy's last name. i am keeping my fun last name as my 2nd middle name...and maybe, someday, we will use that ;)

Michele said...

I hyphenated and it is indeed cumbersome. But I felt a strong pull to have our daughters identify with my last name as well as their father's. The compromise we came up with is that they each have four names, first, middle and then my last name and his, not hyphenated, just an extra middle name basically. It is a very middle of the road compromise (if not a perfect one) because they have one functional last name but they will grow up knowing they are just as much luecking as sunman.

Stephanie said...

A good friend of mine did a biological coin toss, boys get the dad's name, girls the mothers.

Hanna said...

Yes, like Irishker, my partner already has a hyphenated name. His parents both kept their names, and he and his brother got the hyphenated last name. I love my last name, but I do want us to share a last name, but I feel a little sad about just sharing his last name, and he would feel sad about just sharing my last name, and we don't want to hyphenate three last names, and his parents are divorced so it would be especially hurtful to drop one of his last names... So he suggested that we keep our names and one kid gets his mom's last name, one kid gets his dad's last name, and one kid gets my last name (which is my dad's last name). But what if we don't have/want three kids? And should my mom get her own kid too? And isn't it sort of sad to split up the kids like that?

Maybe we should just all have first names. :D

Hadeel said...

Take it from a kid with a hyphenated name: Don't. Do. It.

It's so tedious to get ANYTHING done because if you leave out that hyphen, you can mess yourself up in so many ways that it's just as tedious to correct it.

Icelandic kids get their mother's maiden name. Food for thought.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I wish people could just get over themselves. Since when did the last name get so tied to everyone's ego? After all, since the beginning of time "rules" have been followed concerning the last names of children according to the culture of that country. Trust me. As a teacher, those hyphenated names are COMPLETELY dropped when the child goes to school, friends drop them for nicknames, they're too long to fill out on bubble-forms, AND someone in the family is still going to get their feelings hurt over the whole thing. We live in America for crying out loud. Just do the cultural thing and use the man's last name!!

Jessica said...

One bit of practical advice, if you use both last names, use a hyphen (or two). I work in an academic library, and the number of citations a professor has in major database is super imporant. Currently we are trying to fix a problem for a professor with two last names that just have a space betwen them. Some citations treat it like a middle name, some have a hyphen some have no space, none are correct. If you think your kids is going to be a smarty pants academic, keep it simple.

Hadeel said...

Anon, since when is it American culture to give a child the man's last name? America isn't even a culture in and of itself. There are plenty of kids I went to school with that had both, had their mothers, had their fathers.

There's no one way to do it and who cares if we live in America?

Anonymous said...

Come on Asia! You can't define "American Culture?" Try talking to someone from another country and they'll fill you in....American culture typically is seen by those outside of America as those who think their ideas are the right ones, their opinions are the only ones, and that everyone should try to emulate us. We could even be called obnoxious! My point was that hypehnated names are not embraced by most people outside the family who has given that name. I don't think it matters so much WHICH name the child has, mom's or dad's, but one is definitely easier for him to deal with. Check out some of the comments from those with "hyphenated experience" who agree.

Brady Amoon said...

I lived most of my life with a hyphenated last name, until 18 when I took the first part of the last name as my first name (Brady) for mostly professional reasons.

Until 18, I and my family fiercely defended the hyphen: our family had one name. And it was both our parents. And it was nice.

With my partner, who has a very simple name (more popular than Smith, probably). We decided to combine our last names, with no hyphen (because hyphens and spaces screw up databases. they shouldn't, but they do.)

So our new name will be

which is sort of pretty.

Our hypothetical children can choose what they want their adulthood names to be. But their family name is unified. Which is nice.

Hadeel said...

Anon, did you just skip the entire part of the comment where I said I had a hyphenated name?

Parents should do what's best for THEIR family, not what will make American "Culture" easier.

Anonymous said...

No, I didn't skip the part about your hyphenated name....that's why I'm surprised that you seem inclined to argue with me over the subject (or maybe you're just bristling at my "American culture" comment, which was intended as a response to your Icelanic cultural thing). Did you miss the part in my last comment where I suggested simply choosing ONE last name (again, I'm pretty sure you and I are in agreement here!) and I think Brady's comment is the perfect solution; combine both names into a new one. Sorry if I touched a nerve somewhere....that wasn't the intention!

Anonymous said...

I went to school with a set of twins with hyphenated last names (both their mother and father kept their original last names, I think for professional reasons). Both of the twins and their younger sister have kept their name hyphenated to this day (they're all in their twenties), and it was never a big deal to anyone.

Although I will add that both names were short (one syllable), which probably made hyphenation easier.

Charlotte said...

I had a hyphenated name and hated it. It was my step-dad's name anyway. I dropped it as soon as I could.

I've taken DH's name and kept all of my previous names. I have four names like George H.W. Bush. Sometimes it's tough but so what?

A friend married a man with a super-ordinary name - let's call him Matt Smith. He ended up dropping Matt, making Smith his first name, and taking her last unusual name as his. I thought that was extremely sweet and honored his family while keeping things simple.

Do what works.

Ms K said...

My last name is very important to me, and I am not going to change it. Hyphenating my name with FH's would be a terrible combination.

We've discussed, for future kiddos, giving boys his name, girls my name. I'm actually more partial to giving boys my name and girls his name. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Reluctant Cougar said...

Wow, people have very passionate feelings about this. I never thought the hyphen mattered either way, but with a hyphen it's one name and alphabetized by that name. I ended up with mom's name, brother with dad's, but that was less a conscious decision than the fact that they weren't married and when I was born, mom says unwed mothers were given a different form to fill out. (The judgement that implies is staggering).

A friend's family started out with dad's last name, then ended up hyphenated during the divorce. He rocks the hyphen and seems to enjoy it. Both are short, mom's is pretty common and dad's was just an unusual spelling. He has the rap down. "I'm Joe Mom-Dadd, that's MomHYPHEN-D-a-d-d." Doesn't seem to phase him.

His siblings ended up dropping one name or another --to become Jill Mom and Bill Dad -- for different reasons. Their younger sibs are FirstName Mom Stepdad (no hyphen). I never met a family that loved each other more, so names aren't everything.

Mom's/my last name is ridiculously common, bro with likely carry on dad's, so I have no pressure to carry it on. I never thought I'd get married and I didn't believe in women changing their names. I plan to keep my name, if only for professional reasons. I might consider adding his on due to the confusion with annoying day to day stuff.

Rich people have been using maternal last names as first and middle names for centuries, why can't we?

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