New Baby Surname Trends
Just when you had the whole first name and middle name thing worked out for your baby, here comes a new name challenge. What will your child’s surname be?
One Australian couple blended elements from each of their last names to create a brand-new surname for their child. Courtney Cassar and Laura Sheldon gave their new daughter Lyla the last name of Casseldon, reports the New Zealand Herald.
That story and what it says about the parents as a couple, about their families, and about their values for their children is at the root of the surname choice.
Australian statistics reveal the number of children who share their parents’ surnames has dropped by 50 percent since 1980. In the same period, the proportion of kids with different surnames from both their parents has more than doubled.
Today’s Surname Options
What are the options beyond the idea of a blended surname, which may not produce as melodic a name as Casseldon for all couples?
One idea is to create a completely new surname that the entire family can share. This can be a name from the family tree, of a hero, or any name or word they like.
Some parents who’ve each kept their original surnames give their children both last names. The trend toward hyphenating two last names is fading, according to the New Zealand Herald. Some parents give their children both last names without a hyphen.
Other parents alternate giving their children each of their last names, or split surnames by gender.
One dad I know changed his last name to his wife’s, so the entire family including their three children carry her name.
The most common option, though, is still the original, with 85% of children in Australia getting their father’s last name.
I could find no equivalent statistic for the United States or the UK, but many couples take it for granted that the children will get their dad’s surname. That’s it worked with my kids, and I was okay with them having his last name, because that gave me more control of the first!
What about you? Did you or do you plan to give your children a parent’s surname, a blended name, or a completely different option? Share your thoughts on the surname challenge here.
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on November 17th, 2019 at 11:33 pm
My children have a hyphenated surname, Owen-Shore. This was simple when we lived in Canada. However, it was a nightmare in Florida, where computer systems are so behind the times. My sister’s kids are Owen-Smith. My dad had four daughters, and he was an only child. Because the Owen family was an important one in Maine state history, we chose to continue the name. When my son joined the Army, they started calling him Owen, and that’s what he goes by now, Thomas Owen.
on November 18th, 2019 at 6:20 am
Thais is so interesting. I don’t necessarily plan on getting married, but even if I do, I’m keeping my name and my kids will also have my last name.
on November 18th, 2019 at 10:29 am
Among our recently married (in the last two years) friends we have: a couple who both took a “smoosh” name, a couple who both took a new name they invented wholecloth, a couple where the man took his wife’s name, a couple who both kept their original names, as well as several couples where the wife took her husband’s name.
Neither my wife nor I wanted to give up our surnames when we got married, but we also really wanted to have a “family” name that we would share with each other and with our future children. Since our kids will have two moms, there is no “dad’s name” to pass along by default, and I strongly did not want to prioritize either of us as the “real” or “primary” mother – especially because our plan is that I will be both the biological and gestational mother to any children we give birth to. Thus, we have (and our kids will have) a double-barrelled name with no hyphen. So far, this hasn’t been a problem anywhere, as long as we’re patient and clear about the spelling and structure of our names. I don’t know what our future kids will do when they marry, but I know I’ll support whatever name they choose for themselves and their family.
Pamela Redmond Said
on November 18th, 2019 at 5:06 pm
@beynotce So interesting. I was wondering as I was writing this about same-sex parents and how that changes the question, when neither partner’s surname gets more weight because of tradition. My youngest child has my surname as a middle and his dad’s as a last name and he really likes having both, which makes him feel more connected to both sides of the family.
on November 18th, 2019 at 8:17 pm
I’m in my mid-twenties and have always adored my lengthy hyphenated surname (length similar to Bountiful-Cottongrass), despite it rarely fitting on forms and everyone’s complete inability to pronounce it (it’s Portuguese and French, both halves fairly simple on their own but people get overwhelmed seeing them together). My parents changed their names to the hyphenated one as well, although now that their kids are grown they’ve both reverted to using their original surnames in their daily lives.
As far as passing it on, my sister one hundred percent wants to give her children her hyphenated surname no matter which (if any) partner she ends up with. She’s so attached to it as part of her identity and wants its whole history to continue forward with her future children.
I’m of a similar mind but will only pass on the first half – my mom’s surname. It was important to my great-grandmother that the name be passed on and she was disappointed when my grandfather only had daughters, but my mom made a point to give it to her children and I want to do the same. (Additionally, my father’s family has a lot of dark history and troubling people and I’d like to symbolically break the cycle with that name.) I don’t know if I’d hyphenate my half surname with my partner’s surname; depends on my partner’s interest, I guess. I love the idea of a blended surname as well but currently (childless, not likely to change for awhile) I’m a little too attached to my own surname to imagine my future kids without it.
on November 19th, 2019 at 2:07 pm
My husband’s family has a deeply rooted legacy name (he’s legally The 9th :)), and so he wasn’t particularly interested in hyphenating as he wanted to pass the name on unaltered; his proposed alternative was to have our first child be A.M. the 10th and our second child be someone-else-Mom’s-surname, which is what we ended up doing. It makes me feel doubly subversive as elder is a girl (we changed legacy name slightly to female form) and younger a boy 🙂 Younger is only a few months old so we’ll see how they feel about having different surnames as they grow older, but right now DD just sees it as one of the ways our family aligns: “You and me are girls, and me and Daddy are M’s!” 😀
on November 19th, 2019 at 4:06 pm
My girlfriend and I intend to take her last name when we get married. She’s an only child, and I have a two siblings who can carry on my family name. Plus, my surname has an apostrophe in it which is super annoying for most computer systems or registries.
on November 20th, 2019 at 1:29 pm
I kept my surname, but kids have DH’s. We considered changing to a new name, but it was too much paperwork. I once had a boy propose to me (out of the blue) by saying we could blend our surnames. I liked the idea, although I didn’t like him enough to marry him.
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