Congrats on Getting Married But Don't Change Your Kids' Last Name

Kids' namesThere are so many exciting components to getting married: the thrill of starting a new life with the man you love (or at least one you can tolerate more than most), the schmaltziness of sharing dreams for the future, and naturally, the joy of building a family together — and that includes the little ones you tote if you come with a ready-made brood of babies. It’s even more special if you do because that means that the man you love has also fallen in love with your children (hopefully). Let’s all interject a long “awwww” right here.

But in the middle of all the fluffy clouds and pretty rainbows of planning a wedding and organizing your new family life, you’ve got to think about how you’re going to rock your new identity. To hyphenate or not to hyphenate or take his name at all? While you’re pondering, you’ve also got to mull over whether you should change your kids’ last names once you and your groom say ‘I do.’


Back during one of the three times when I thought I was getting hitched — yep: I am bitter party of one — I grappled with the same question. For one, the dude I planned to jump the broom with was a Taylor, which would’ve made my daughter’s name Skylar Taylor.

Barring the fact that she was going to sound like a character out of a Shel Silverstein poem or a big kid reader, the older she got, the more opposed I was to changing her name. The reasoning is kind of the same that I have for not wanting to completely change mine. When you live X (or, in my case, XX) amount of years identifying with one name, I think it would be hard to completely cleave from it and assume a whole new one. Honestly, I’m in almost mid-March before I can get the date right at the turn of a new year. Lord only knows how long it would take me to get adjusted to a whole new name.

When you’ve gone through six, seven, eight grades with one surname and then suddenly get saddled with another, it seems to me that it would just rip the one piece of certainty away from the kid. There are already a whole heap of changes going on: new household, new stepparent, new living arrangements, maybe new siblings. If nothing else, you can always be sure of who you are by identifying with your name. But with even that on the table to be lopped, chopped, and changed, it’s a lot to put a kid through in one fell swoop.

For girls, it’s even weirder because if they end up getting married when they get older — not like that nutty 16-year-old gal who married the five-decade-old actor, which makes me throw up a little in my mouth every time I see them — that means they will have had three different names in one lil’ ol’ life. For anybody who’s lived on the straight and narrow, free from the necessity to take on aliases like an America’s Most Wanted fugitive, that’s at least one time too many.  

Much as I’m a fan of hyphenated last names for women who’ve established themselves in life and career and don’t want to completely change their business personas, I can’t get with the two-part surnames for kids.

When I’ve debated about the idea of keeping my last name and attaching my husband’s, in the improbable chance that I do get hitched, I’ve always been hit with the argument: what about the kids? Whose last name will they take or ... (pause of dread) will they have both parents’ surnames? There are a few kids in Girl Child’s class who have both mother's and father’s last names. In fact, that was part of my original plan at one time, but I neatly tucked her dad’s last name in as a second middle name and kept it moving.

It just seems cumbersome for a kid to have a hyphenated name. Who expects this little person to be walking around with a name like Tiffany Washington-Levinstein? Phew. That’s a mouthful. Poor baby would need to take a drink of water just to get through saying their name at the attendance roll call. And then when she gets married, which name does she drop to add on her husband’s? What if she wants to hyphenate with his? Does it then become Tiffany Washington-Levinstein-Smith? She’ll never fit her name on one of those itty bitty signature lines they give you on checks and credit card applications.

Would you change your kids’ name if you were getting married?

Image via magnetbox/Flickr 

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