1 Baby Name That Could Get You in Big Trouble

newborn baby

There are quite literally thousands of baby name options in the world. For expecting parents, finding the perfect baby name is an entire process, complete with lists, rounds, and finalists. But even though you'll go through the trouble to pick the first name, how much thought do you actually give to the baby's last name? Well, it turns out that your options may be a little more limited when it comes to the surname. In Tennessee, for instance, the attorney general has come out to say that parents have three options for a baby's last name: mom's, dad's, or both.

So if you were thinking of creating a fun hybrid with the parents' names, no such luck. It turns out that your freedom with surnames is actually really restricted.

But why is the attorney general of a state making a big stink over this? Is this even a big deal?

Turns out ... it is!

"Our whole approach to names has become more creative," says Laura Wattenberg, baby name expert & founder of Baby Name Wizard. "And it's a great thing that we're thinking about surnames as a part of that process."

For centuries, most people followed the classic format and automatically gave the child the father's name. Then later on came the hyphenated name. Then lately some have even chosen the mother's name for the child. But not until recently has the idea of hybrid last names really taken hold.

More from The Stir: Choosing Baby's Last Name Isn't Easy Anymore: 20 Moms on Their Decision

"Whenever you're forming a family, there's a change," says Wattenberg. "But there is a lot of social pent-up anger behind surnames."

Think about it. How much clearer of a shift can you make than with a name change? If your identity as a family changes, your actual identity might change as well. But with the weight behind last names as heavy as it is, it's hard to just casually make the decision.

First off, you need to consider what the law says -- especially if you live in a state like Tennessee. But don't stop there. Even if your state gives you the OK to make a new last name for baby, think a little longer before combining Jones and Smith to name baby Bob JoSmith.

If the child has a completely different name than his or her parents, it will "maximize confusion in childhood and school," says Wattenberg. There'll be plenty of questions like "where did your name come from?" or "whose name is that?" if you go the hybrid route. That is, if you can even choose that option.

What's your stance on made-up last names? Should states be telling us we can't use them?

For more information on last name options for baby names, go to Baby Name Wizard.


Image © iStock.com/McIninch

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Belinda Anne Clem

Sorry I will stick with tradition.  All of my girls have their father's last name I was jumping for joy when I took his last name as well!  I hated my maiden name and I will never look back!!

nonmember avatar Ok?

Really? Confusion? Parents and kids have different names even under the three options. Family's today simply aren't what they used to be 100 years ago so kids from today won't feel confused as they may once have. And if anyone asks you well whose name is that, their probably being rude.

Jody Alton

So they're saying if you give a baby its paternal surname, then the parents divorce and the mother raising the child remarries (thus giving her a new surname), that's okay. But it's not okay for the baby to start out with a different name? Seems like something silly to legislate.

v.v.s v.v.s

No, Jody....they are saying that you cant just "make up" a hybrid surname. like jones+smith=JoSmith. Because that name carries no background, thus confusing people (like anyone would care ??) I do agree, still silly to legisate.

nonmember avatar Megan

My 3 kids all have my name. They came out of my vagina not Bobby 's so they get my name not his. But creating a whole new name might have been better and more fair.

Cryst... CrystalYaris

I live in Tennessee and had to give my son my exhusband's last name because it was my last name. It wasnt his kid. They said for insurance reasons he had to have my married name although my name is hyphenated. They failed to see that and they said I could give my child his bio fathers name after a paternity test. I told her in no way that he would ever get that name and I wanted him to have my name. I hope to get it changed soon. I will fight for my right. But making up names for a surname is insane. It is either yours or dad's or hyphenate it.

vikin... viking.mom

Heqell the country changed or last name when my dad immigrated. It shouldn't be an issue since this isn't even my real family name.

Panda... PandaPop83

I haven't even heard of this concept. It's stupid and complicated. I'll stick to tradition. Hybrid names are dumb.

nonmember avatar sammy jo

My son doesnt have my or his fathers last name. He has my great grandfatherss last name. And I wouldnt change it for anyone

SoJaided SoJaided

I've heard of hybrid last names before and I think it's utterly ridiculous. Why people are do against just getting married, taking your husband's last name and then giving it to your children. Or if you're not married, just hyphenate the names or give the baby mom's last name. People are just making shit too complicated...as usual.

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