Giving Baby Dad's Last Name: Tradition or Sexist?

Annie Krasnow

hospital tag on baby's foot

There is so much said about having equal relationships in marriages today. Of course in this modern age, men take a large role in caring for their children. For most families, it's expected men change diapers, give the kids a bath, cook, do dishes, and more. Also, many women need to work or want to work after having children. Sometimes they're the breadwinners and the men take care of the children. The field seems to be evening out smoothly, except when it comes to baby's last name.

It seems even the people who are the most outspoken champions for women's equality think their children should have their father's last name. It's seen as tradition, but it can also be argued as archaic.

My husband and I both have our original names we were given at birth. Our daughter has our last name hyphenated as her last name. We plan to do the same when our son is born. I always felt strongly that I'm just as much my children's parents as my husband is, so giving his name more weight made no sense to me.

I will acknowledge, however, that my husband and I both have our father's names. So really, we should have somehow combined our parents' names and then combined ours together. I met someone once whose mother's last name was Goodman and father's last name was Farmer. His parents married their names together and came up with Goodfarm for their whole family. I thought it was so romantic, but doesn't really work with Russian and Czech last names. Also, what happens when my kids get married? What if they end up with four last names? And their kids? Will they have eight? It's a tough one, but to automatically give the father's last name feels so extremely dated.

People's reaction to my daughter's last name is fascinating. Most people are very outspoken that they disagree with this choice. They say, how can you have a different last name than your children? Well, I grew up with a different last name from my mother and that was the least of my problems. Also, they usually ask how my husband feels about it. They are implying that this emasculates him. I've never understood why a man being secure enough to have a strong woman makes him seem weaker to some. To me, it makes him stronger. I also always felt it was important to send my daughter out into the world knowing that at least her parents feel that women are just as important as men.

I'm curious as to what other moms have decided on for their families. Some say it's becoming more common, but the only other person I know of who does this is Angelina Jolie. Unfortunately, I'm not getting any personal moral support from her.

What will you do for your child? Are you happy with your choice?


Image via kaatjevervoort/Flickr

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