When Mel and I were married, I told her that she didn’t have to take my last name if she didn’t want to. I think it would be hard for a woman to abandon her last name, and I wanted Mel to know that she was free to keep her last name if she would prefer. To be certain, if she had chosen not to take my name, I would have supported her decision 100%, but the truth is I was glad she did. It satisfied some inner desire to perpetuate traditions.
None of the available name-changing options women face seem very attractive. All of the options (hyphenating, just adding my name to the end of hers resulting in multiple middle names, dropping the existing middle name, etc.) have distinct drawbacks.
As I mentally prepare for the idea of Mel and I having chldren and raising a family, I am beginning to consider naming conventions that might spare my daughters from having to decide whether to drop our family name.
I am somewhat attracted to the option of simply not giving my daughters a middle name so that they don’t have to “drop” any names behind when they choose to take their husbands names. But this option has several drawbacks as well.
First, it assumes that my daughters will get married. While I hope any daughters I may have will be able to experience the same joy I have found being married, I don’t want to put unwanted pressure on my daughters should they choose not to marry.
Second, it assumes that they will want to take their husbands name, which raises a lot of questions about womens rights and expectations. What if my daughters don’t share my same desires to perpetuate longstanding traditions of assuming the husbands family name? What if she and her husband would rather have him assume her name?
Third, it potentially robs my daughters of having a meaningful middle name throughout their youth. I like to think that when the time comes to name my children, I will choose names with meaning and purpose. By not assigning a middle name, I miss an opportunity to link a daughter to a past relative or other meaningful individual from whom she might gain inspiration.