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Should I have the same last name as my baby?

I

didn’t change my name when I got married.

This was actually very slightly controversial at the time: a handful of people have insisted on referring to me as ‘Mrs Miaoulis’ ever since (Even although I’ve politely explained that, er, that’s not actually my name…), while others wanted to know why on earth I was insisting on keeping my maiden name, and was it because I was one of those scary feminists?

As it happen, I DO consider myself to be a feminist (I don’t think I’m scary, but, then again, you do NOT want to annoy me when I’m hungry…), but that’s not actually why I chose to keep my maiden name: the truth is, it was part laziness, and part identity crisis. Yes, another one.

The fact is, by the time I got married, I’d had my name a long a time. I was used to it. I felt like it suited me: mostly because it was me – the only me I’d ever known, and the only one I could ever imagine being. I knew, of course, that people are much more than their names, and that changing mine wouldn’t actually make a significant difference to my life – or ANY difference at all really – but it still just felt odd and uncomfortable to me, and every time I thought about no longer being Amber McNaught, I got a strange, panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if someone was trying to steal my very soul. Or, you know, something a bit less dramatic.

should I change my surname to match my baby'sOh, yeah, and I was also really lazy: seriously, do you know how many organisations and agencies you have to contact if you want to change your name? Clue: it’s a LOT. I’d have to pay the passport agency £80 (Eighty! Pounds!) and have new passport photos taken, which, as we all know, is a trial in itself. I’d also have to pay to change my driving licence, and jump through God knows how many other hoops with the various agencies that need to know about name changes, and with a wedding and honeymoon sucking up every last penny at the time, who wants to start throwing around MORE cash, and getting embroiled in even MORE admin? No, it was just easier and cheaper to continue exactly as I was, and while Terry was a little bit disappointed that we wouldn’t have the same last name (Which I totally get, by the way: it wasn’t important to me, but I can see why it would be important to other people – or even just a nice thing to do…), he ultimately didn’t care what I wanted to call myself, so that was that.

“I mean, if we ever had children, I’d probably change it then,” I said, safe in the knowledge that that would never, ever happen, and I’d just go on being the same ol’ me, with the same ol’ name, forever and ever, amen.

Which just goes to show what I know, huh?

I said that – and have continued to say it ever since – because, while I really didn’t think we ever WOULD have children, I just somehow felt that IF we did, I’d probably want to have the same name as them. (The same surname, I mean: I’m not planning on naming my baby boy ‘Amber’, FYI…) There isn’t really a logical reason that I can think of for this. I mean, yes, I’ve read stories about women being stopped at airports and accused of abducting their own children because they have a different last name from them, but I also know plenty of people who have different names from their offspring (I mean, it’s hardly unusual, is it?), and they don’t seem to have any issues because of it, which makes me suspect it’s not actually THAT big a deal.

should you change your name when you get married or have a baby?Even so, now that I’m over halfway through this pregnancy, I once again have this niggling feeling that, once the baby is here, I’d quite like the three of us to all have the same name (Not because of any societal pressure, or because I think families SHOULD share a name, but just because I think it might be nice, basically) .. and I simultaneously have a niggling doubt that, nah, it would just be too weird to change my name now, WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO STEAL MY IDENTITY?

That last comment isn’t aimed at anyone in particular, by the way: Terry is still of the opinion that, yes, it would be nice, but really, it’s up to me (He has offered to help with the admin, though, if I do decide to make the change), so there’s no pressure of any kind there. The current thinking is that I change my name officially, but still continue to use my maiden name professionally, which I guess would neatly solve that particular problem. This is the solution I’ll probably end up going for, but I’m curious to know what everyone else thinks of this subject: if you’re married with children, did you change your name? Would you? Talk to me, people!

(P.S. No, we wouldn’t want to double-barrel our names, or give the baby my name, and have Terry be the one to change: not because either of us believes that it HAS to be the man’s name the baby inherits or anything like that, but simply because Terry’s name is unusual (especially here in the UK, where only a handful of people have that name: all of whom I think are related to us!), and it’s more important to him than mine is to me. Oh, and I should probably add that I will obviously make my own decision on this: I’m not asking the internet to decide for me, I’m just curious about what other people have done/ would do in the same situation!)

How important is it to have the same last name as your baby? If you didn't change your name when you got married, will you do it if you have children?

What do you think?

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97 Comments
  • Emma Farley
    September 6, 2017

    This is a personal and difficult decision. I am in a long-term, committed relationship but unmarried and when we decided to have a baby I didn’t think twice about giving our child his dad’s last name. I felt quite traditional about it and figured that one day we’d get married and we would all be matching. But over the last two years it’s bothered me a bit because, as stupid as it sounds, he feels less mine. Fortunately doctors and nurseries and such don’t assume that mothers have the same last name as their children and always ask for both when form filling etc but it does niggle a bit. Although my partner’s grandad loves that he’ll carry on the family name – my partner’s dad is an only son, as is my partner and our son, so it’s kinda cute.

    • Amber
      September 6, 2017

      That’s good to know about people not assuming! So far I’ve not had any problems with the hospital etc, although I noticed that the midwife wrote the father’s name in my file as ‘Terry McNaught’, so she presumably thinks we both have the same name – mine! I was wondering if it would be confusing when it’s time to think about nursery, school etc, but as I said, I know loads of people who don’t share names so it’s obviously something they’ll be used to dealing with!

      • Louise
        September 6, 2017

        One thing that annoyed me (before my husband and I were married) was that when I gave birth, all the paperwork (including cot labels and the baby’s ankle/wrist bands in the hospital) stated my maiden name – so in your case it would be ‘Baby McNaught’. I found this so weird, as our kids would be taking my partner’s surname, and we both assumed I would after we got married (we’ve been married two years and I sill haven’t changed it on everything – and now I think I might keep my maiden name for work/professionally as like you, I don’t recognise myself with a different surname). So we never had any intention of the baby being Baby ‘mother’s surname’ and I found it so presumptuous of them, as they never asked. I understand it’s for security reasons, as whilst in hospital it’s easier to identify the baby as belonging to the mother/patient when they share the same surname – but I was surprised by how much it bothered me!

        When our kids were growing up, sometimes teachers at school would presume we were married and refer to me as Mrs ‘husbands name’, and I didn’t mind. Early on it would bother me a bit that the children had a different surname to me, but then I think I just got used to it. It’s taken my by surprise that now I don’t feel comfortable with a different surname – but I’ve had that surname for 34 years. It’s who I am.

        • Mya
          September 7, 2017

          Louise, babies are always labelled ‘Baby Mother’s-Name’ in hospitals immediately after birth, as you are the registered patient who is linked to the baby, No point labelling it ‘Baby Father’s-Name’ when you are the most likely to be in hospital while the baby is.

          They are not suggesting the baby should take your name.

          • Louise
            September 8, 2017

            Mya – I didn’t state that the hospital were trying to suggest the baby took my name! I clearly explained that I know why they label the baby with the mothers surname.

    • Marjory/Merry
      September 8, 2017

      This was the same as me. We did get married – just before our wee girls first birthday. What really bothered me is that because we were not married at the time then the Father of my baby would have no rights whatsoever over the baby until baby was registered. Now rationally I knew it would be fine and obviously our families etc would do the right thing but it still bothered me, I do like us having the same name but I wouldn’t say it was vital and I know lots of people both unmarried or married who have different surnames in family. It was just a decision that felt right for us and for me. It helps that my new surname starts with the same letter and isn’t massively different so it hasn’t been that much of an adjustment.

      The admin side of things has been ok. My passport had just expired anyway. Driving licence I haven’t done yet but it is just a case of sending off form and marriage cert. IT at work was a bit problematic but got fixed within a week. I’m slowly changing my name with shop accounts etc. Bank was straightforward. went in and within 15 min and 1 form it was done.

      The different names when we had them caused no issues with GP, dentist, nursery etc.

      On another note it has massively annoyed me for years that with our electricity&gas both our names are on the account and I pay it all off of my own personal account yet every single letter was addressed to my then partner and not me. Drove me bonkers. I paid they should have had me on statements but nooo they are stuck in some sort of dark age when it is the man job to pay the bills. Grrr

  • Vanessa Diviny
    September 6, 2017

    Amber, do what feels right for you. I could never see myself married with children, but here I am at 46, married for 14 years and have two children. I never really liked the surname I grew up with, mainly because it was so common, so I didn’t care about keeping that identity. At the same time, I was only going to change my name if my husband had a name that I liked, turns out he did and it is also rather uncommon. I remember after my parents divorced and my mum remarried, I didn’t like the fact that I had a different surname to her, now of course, it certainly doesn’t matter.

    I changed my name six months after we got married and one of the main reasons was that I wanted an identity change. I was looking for a job at the time without success and I wanted to invent the new me. I don’t necessarily think that it had anything to do with it, but I got the next job I applied for after the name change. My email address still contains my maiden name, mainly because it’s easier to spell.

  • Becky
    September 6, 2017

    It’s really difficult. I changed my last name when I got married but very, very reluctantly, for all the reasons you expressed – I didn’t associate myself with my husband’s last name at all. I’ll be honest, I still don’t completely feel like I have grown into my new last name, but, having worn it in for the last 8 years, I feel like I’ve sanded the roughest edges off it and it will get easier. It takes time though. I work at a University and it is very, very common here for women to maintain their maiden name professionally and use their married name for personal situations only, mainly as most of them have papers published in their maiden name and need to maintain consistency. They have always said that they have found this to be a very easy (and actually quite welcome) distinction – almost like the best of both worlds as their professional name is their ‘public facing’ name whilst their married name is much more private and family orientated.

    And yes, the admin is a pain in the backside. I’ve done it twice now in 8 years – once when I got married and once when I moved house and that is about enough for one lifetime thank you very much!

    • Amber
      September 6, 2017

      Yeah, I think that if I do change, I will probably never associate the new name with me, which feels odd to me! Then again, given that I’d only really be using it for official paperwork etc, it presumably wouldn’t come up all that often ? And yes, moving house paperwork was a nightmare, AND my passport was just renewed a couple of years ago – aaargh!

      • Miss Kitty
        September 7, 2017

        I don’t know if all countries do it, but in NZ if you get married and change your name, you don’t have to change your passport, just take your marriage certificate with you when you fly. Of course that’s one more thing to remember when you travel! But if it happened to me, no way would I be getting a new passport if it was still valid for a few years.

  • Becky
    September 6, 2017

    Oh final thought – when we were announced into our wedding breakfast I refused point blank to be announced as ‘Mrs and Mrs (his first name, his surname – i.e. Mr and Mrs John Smith) as though I had been complely erased just because I had gotten married that day! I made damn sure that the announcer introduced us both by our first names! Your name IS your identity and I think that sometimes men struggle with understanding just how hard it is for women to give that up if there is an ‘expectation’ that you will change your name to your married name.

    • Amber
      September 6, 2017

      We didn’t have that announcement either, although I don’t remember telling the venue not to do it or anything – maybe I did, though ?? I do absolutely LOATHE being addresses as ‘Mrs Terry Miaoulis’ though – I mean, it’s one thing to have his second name, but that really does feel like having your identity erased!

      • Emerald
        September 6, 2017

        Definitely a whole different ballgame to be addressed as Mrs + husband’s full name. Takes you right back to a time when we were property of a father then a husband.

  • Fiona Wade
    September 6, 2017

    I have a different name from my partner and children and it’s never been an issue. My elder child is 14 and it’s caused zero problems. I get called Mrs Children’s Second name very often at school but it doesn’t bother me, I’ll answer to anything! I think society has moved on from the traditional family name and anything goes. Ultimately, it’s whatever you are happy with. xx

    • Amber
      September 6, 2017

      I have to admit that it does bother me a bit when people call me by the wrong name, especially when it’s people who know me well! So I suspect it would probably rankle a bit, but who knows!

  • Hollie
    September 6, 2017

    When I got married I didn’t want to change my name but for my husband it was a deal breaker. ‘If I you don’t change your name what is the point?’ was his reasoning, so I ended up going along with it. I’m glad I did because now we have a child we all have the same name, and his surname is much shorter than yet maiden name.

    My passport was nowhere near expiry so that is still in my maiden name and I just make sure to book flights in my maiden name. Everything else I just changed as and when it came about. 5 years later and there are still things in my maiden name. If you do it that way it isn’t nearly as much of a faff.

    I still think of myself as a Williamson, just as you will likely still think of yourself as a McNaught.

  • Vickie
    September 6, 2017

    If I have a baby, it will have my name. We’re not married (together 11 years) and have no plans to unless we need to for tax reasons, but even if we were married I wouldn’t change my name. Why on earth would I – it’s my name, I’ve had it almost 36 years now and am very fond of it! Plus it’s quite unusual – our family is the only one with our spelling of the name in the country, and we have an interesting history. My partner equally likes his name – it’s alliterative and relatively unusual (though less so than mine) – so he would never change it.

    So… no name changing. Definitely no double-barrelling for the baby, as that would result in a four year old trying to write out a 19-letter surname at nursery. The baby gets my name. I honestly don’t understand why it isn’t at least 50/50 by now – plenty of women keep their own names on marriage, but I read recently that only 5% of British babies are named their mother’s surname. As a scary feminist 😀 I feel I’ll be sticking one to society and changing the world a teeny tiny bit.

    I completely understand you wanting to use Terry’s name, as it’s unusual – same argument as me. However, if you use Terry’s name officially you might well end up using it professionally too, as all your tax/government/official stuff will come in Terry’s name and people will assume that’s your name – it happened to my best mate, who started off double-barrelled and has now given up and gone with her husband’s name. Of course, ultimately it’s your decision (insert usual non-offending disclaimer) and all that really matters is that you’re happy as a family.

    • Amber
      September 6, 2017

      Official paper work would be in my married name, but I can’t think of a reason I couldn’t continue to write as ‘Amber McNaught’? There isn’t any link between my ‘government’ name and what I choose to call myself on books/blogs/other writing I do, and there are lots of writers who use pseudonyms etc (it’s actually really common in the industry, as there’s no legal requirement that your published name be the same as your official one) so I don’t think it would be a problem!

      • Vickie
        September 6, 2017

        Oh, writing yes of course… I just meant you’ll start to get people (PRs, agents etc) calling you Amber Miaoulis because they’re paying Amber Miaoulis. But you can write under whatever name you want, of course!

        • Amber
          September 6, 2017

          Payments etc actually go to our business name, so people I deal with wouldn’t know my name had changed unless I told them, I don’t think!

        • Vickie
          September 6, 2017

          In that case nothing will change. That makes life much easier!

  • May
    September 6, 2017

    I live in a country where women have always kept their surname after they marry, so there isn’t such a thing as “maiden name” and “married name” (must be a language thing, I don’t think any Spanish speaking country does that). Because of that, to be honest, I’ve always found surname changing quite weird, really. You don’t suddenly lose your identity just because now you have a new ring, do you? Every family where I live has different surnames and they don’t feel less of a family because of that. I have my father’s surname but I still feel much more connected to my mum than my dad.
    At the end of the day, choice is yours and no one gets to shame you for whatever yo decide to do. I just thought it’d be interesting to hear from someone from a culture with a very different point of view of things

  • Myra
    September 6, 2017

    My son and daughter-in-law had the same decision to make. She kept her maiden name when they married because she is also a feminist and because of professional reasons. But when she became pregnant they discussed all these options, including the double barrelled options. Their decision: she kept her own name and their children all have their father’s name and they seem very happy with that.

  • Vanessa Diviny
    September 6, 2017

    I will also say that I definitely do not like being referred to as Mrs. anything. I am Ms, never Mrs.

    • Amber
      September 6, 2017

      I always use Ms too – I’ve always thought it was really weird that my marital status should be reflected in my title!

  • Decca
    September 6, 2017

    I always told my now husband that if we had a baby before we married, the baby would have my family name, and if he felt strongly about the baby having his name, we needed to be married so we all had the same family name together.

    I’m not hugely fond of my maiden name, it’s one of the most common names in the UK, so I didn’t feel like I was losing anything distinctive by dropping it when I married, but I was adamant that any child I have will share the same family name as me. I’m not going through pregnancy and childbirth only to give my baby away to another family, which is what it would have felt like if I remained a Myname and the baby had DHname.

    You need to do what feels right for you and your family.

  • Crickey! Names are a funny subject for me. I was brought up by my maternal grandparents and therefore choose to use my Granddad’s surname instead of my actual father’s. That said, my professional artist name here comes from my paternal grandmother!

    I always thought that I’d want to pass my surname onto a potential son since my mum is one of two sisters only and they changed their names when they married. I’ve been married once and didn’t use his name, much to the disapproval of the man in the post office (!).

    I used to be adamant that I’d never change my name if I married, but if my partner and I do then I just might. And not because it’s expected, just because like you I think it might be a nice thing to do. We won’t have children, but if we did I would want us to have the same name.

    I’d still want my professional name to go unaltered, but seeing as it’s not my real name anyway it wouldn’t matter.

  • Gemma
    September 6, 2017

    Really interested to see what you finally end up doing. It’s something I’ve wondered about too – I didn’t change my name for similar reasons to you, and a double-barrelled name would be a total mouthful. The one thing that makes me pause is travel, and unnecessary complications that may arise when not travelling as a family – I do know mothers who’ve been quizzed quite rudely about whether they have the father’s permission to travel with their own child because their surnames are not the same.

    That said, a big part of me feels like our generation is the one to change this, so if I have kids I should stick to my guns. The more of us that have different surnames to our partners or children, the more it won’t be unusual or problematic at all in future, as our children’s generation will be even more used to there being so many different types of ‘family’.

    Funnily enough, my husband gets called Mr Cartwright more than I get called by his surname, because I inevitably book everything – hotels, dinners etc. I kind of love that. Maybe I’ll suggest that if we have kids, they take MY name?!

  • Fi
    September 6, 2017

    Obviously I’m not married and don’t have children but here’s my two cents worth anyway. 🙂

    I have a friend who was dead set against marriage until she and her long-term partner had children, then it suddenly occurred to her that she would have a different name to the baby’s and so they got married and she changed her name.

    Another friend is married with children but calls herself Mrs HerMaidenName (so like you being Mrs McNaught), though to me that would be like taking my mother’s name so a bit weird…

    A third friend is Mrs MarriedName MaidenName, but only because she got married in Cuba and that’s how they write it on Spanish marriage certificate (though she was planning to double barrel anyway) and having a marriage certificate written in Spanish was enough of a problem in itself with all the admin, without trying to change to a name that wasn’t even on the certificate!

    Could you be Miaoulis McNaught and Terry stay as he is and call the baby just Miaoulis? Then neither of you have to give up your own name and you still get to incorporate the Miaoulis bit to match the rest of the family.

    And yes, no reason why you can’t still write as Amber McNaught – I think it would be confusing if you didn’t (remember when Gail Porter changed her name to Gail Hipgrave and everyone was like, who?!). Many doctors keep their maiden name as their professional name and no one bats an eyelid.

    I always used to hate my surname and assumed I would change it if I got married, but as I’ve got older I am like you and feel that it’s my name so if I were to marry, I would probably just use both names.

    • Amber
      September 6, 2017

      I think it would be a bit of a mouthful to be Amber Louise McNaught Miaoulis, to be honest, so would probably just use his name officially and mine professionally!

  • Zoe
    September 6, 2017

    I changed my name when I got married, however I am still working through the paperwork over 3 years later! I definitely consider myself to be a feminist, but it was important to me to share a name to feel like a family unit – we always knew we wanted kids. My maiden name was a common one (there was someone at work with exactly the same name) and my married one is a bit more unusual. The only downside is that I like more unusual names, so when we named our daughter we had to be careful to call her something with a common spelling (kind of like Alice over Alys, even though I prefer the unusual spelling) that people could easily write without it having to be spelled out (which we always have to do with our surname).
    Most of my friends have changed their name on getting married. My sister has a personal/professional name though and it works well for her.

  • Mana
    September 6, 2017

    I kept my maiden name until our son started school. It was much easier then to have the same last name as him, and I got a lot less “are you his step mother” questions (it also didn’t help that I’d had him at age 20). But I did it because due to a hospital mix up I had my mothers maiden name and my name was different than my whole family. So I wanted for once cohesiveness and no one to be accused of being a step parent.

  • Humaira
    September 6, 2017

    I changed my name soon after we got legally married even though Islamically women are not obliged to, but I felt it was easier as all the women in my husband’s family had done so.

    And we knew we wanted children quickly so I wanted to have the same last name as them but still waiting on the kids haha.

    It is a lot of admin but if you get a couple of copies of your marriage certificate it’s easy enough to do.

  • Amina
    September 6, 2017

    I changed mine after I had my second daughter as my passport renewal and driving license renewal came up and i wanted it to be the same as theirs. So it was like now or never. I wasnt bothered when i got married i was happy to stay with my aurname. But im so glad i changed it eventually as for some reason it just makes me feel the same as them. I also kept my surname and moved it to a middle name. The girls also have it as their middle name ❤️ Hope this helps x

    Amina xx | http://www.AliandHer.com

  • Amina
    September 6, 2017

    I changed mine after I had my second daughter as my passport renewal and driving license renewal came up and i wanted it to be the same as theirs. So it was like now or never. I wasnt bothered when i got married i was happy to stay with my surname. But im so glad i changed it eventually as for some reason it just makes me feel the same as them. I also kept my surname and moved it to a middle name. The girls also have it as their middle name ❤️ Hope this helps x

    Amina xx | http://www.AliandHer.com

  • Hana Mond
    September 6, 2017

    I’d want to have the same name as my children … even if I’d have to sacrifice my last name. Some friends of mine threw a coin to decide which last name to take (pretty fair, I think), a friend of mine and his wife didn’t change their last names and now as she is pregnant, I am curious which name their children will get.
    I personally like very much to have the same name as all my (close) family, and it would be a little bit bitter if my boyfriend and I decide to take his name … a strange thought, to have a different last name than my twin sister. But I want a family name for my (then) new family, too.

  • Rebecca
    September 6, 2017

    I changed my name when we married as grew up having my mum have a different surname…. and to be honest I hated it. Me and my brother both felt it was us versus the world as we had the surname. I wanted that for my kids, us versus the world, Team Lismer. And also…as a 12 year old it gets OLD having to explain to your teachers on parents evening who Mrs Philips is when you are a Paul. Weak, I know….but for me, it’s like all the same side wearing the same colour sports kit. These are your people, these are your tribe.

  • Chiarina
    September 6, 2017

    I am actually curious about the name changing when you get married, because in Italy (traditional, “family-oriented” Italy!) married women cannot officially change their names. They just keep their original name, and are “married to” on documents. The documents of underage children have the names of both parents on them, though. Would I change my surname even if I could? Probably not. But I totally understand the appeal of the whole family having the same name… I look like the odd one out on our family documents…

  • Moni
    September 6, 2017

    Funny, that’s a topi