Question: What are the options re: children’s family names?

Tchy asks…

My partner and I have been musing about one day having children. We’re having trouble figuring out what to do about family names, though. We’re both very genderqueer, and we plan to keep our own last names when we get married. We don’t like the idea of hyphenating, and when we tried to combine our names into a new last name the results we came up with sounded awful and absurd.

Are there any other options open to us? What would you recommend we do, or what would you do in our place?

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on April 11th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 18 comments »

18 Responses to “Question: What are the options re: children’s family names?”

  1. Shvaugn

    My parents kept both their last names and decided that if they had boys they would have their dad’s last name and if they were girls they would have their mum’s last name. The other last name that wasn’t used would become a middle name.

    I’m biologically female with a younger sister so we both share our mom’s last name and have our dad’s last name as one of our middle names. It worked quite well for us but maybe it would have been more confusing if I had a brother.

    Repeating it now it sounds a bit gender binary but I like it. Maybe one could just choose a last name for each child regardless of their sex and alternate between your two last names.


  2. Kate

    I have a teacher whose partner & he are both Aquarians, so when they had children, instead of hyphenating or combining last names, they gave all the children the surname Aquarius. I think it’s so inventive & beautiful to make up a new name that’s meaningful to you, instead of combining pre-existing names.


  3. Mel



  4. Jessica

    Hard to render an opinion without knowing the names. It seems strange to me, in these times of almost universal divorce, how people seldom change the names of their children, however acrimonious the divorce. Never liked my birth name. Lots of people feel the same. Know lots of people who go by their middle names because they hate their first names.


  5. Lyn Aven

    I’d just try coming up with something new.


  6. Jonathan

    Well, my parents kept their last names when they married, so my brother has my dad’s last name, and I have my mother’s last name. Granted, this was to continue my mother’s family name, but it’s an idea.


  7. Kay

    This is a bit off topic, but I wanted to thank the poster (and everyone who’s answered so far) for this question and these answers. Recently, I’ve been questioning my chosen name, as I’m choosing to take my mother’s maiden name instead of my father’s family name. I felt a bit like I was breaking up the family portrait (so to speak), but now I realize last names don’t make or break a family. I can explain this now to my family I think, so thanks.

    Also, I think I agree with Kate. Choosing a third last name–something that means something to both you and your partner–might be a good way to go.


  8. Tchy

    Thanks, guys. These are some great suggestions. Unfortunately for my partner and I giving the boys one name and the girls another isn’t really easy or clear-cut, since we’re both biologically female. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure something out, though. C:


  9. Jak

    Invent a completely new last name that you both like. That’s what I’d probably do


  10. Jack

    Hmm – I know a couple who had the same problem. They ended up choosing one name as a surname, I think, then used the other parent’s name as the middle or the first name. It depends on the name, I guess, but I know their son, whose middle name is one of the parent’s surnames, uses his full name without it sounding awkward and hyphenated, and their daughter took the mother’s gender-neutral last name as a first name. Works for them pretty well. Otherwise, I’d say invent a new name – that’s a really cool idea.


  11. Adisson

    My first thought was, if one of you was going to be biologically related to the child, give the child the other parent’s last name. -shrug-


  12. honey

    Me and my girlfriend picked a new last name. I love sharing a last name with my s.o., it makes me feel like we’re even more “in this together”.


  13. Anonymous

    In the end, I’d say the name picked in this situation has more of an effect on the child(ren) than on the parents, so if you’re open to name-changing or -inventing I’d just say to make things as simple as possible while ending up with something you both like. If your last name is “Smith”, it makes things a good deal easier than something like “Rubinisky.”


  14. Anonymous

    The future child or children could have both of your lastnames. It sounds like a good idea for me.


  15. Jay

    No personal experience with this sort of thing (other than a mangling of my mother’s maiden name into an authorial pseudonym, xP), but I had to think about this for a story recently, and I basically concluded that once the kids were old enough, they could choose a surname (although I suppose that could come with its own issues, *amused eyeroll*). But for before that… I must say I like the idea of using the opposite partner’s name if one of you has a child biologically. If that isn’t the case… I have no idea. ^.^


  16. Allison

    If you come from similar backgrounds, and if there are people in your families into genealogy, you could search both of your family trees for names you have in common. I know those are two big IF’s though. :)


  17. Shar kitty

    You don’t have to give the child either last name. You can totally give the child a whole new special last name.


  18. s.a.g.

    I absolutely love my last names however it gets pretty complicated. I have a hyphenated last name my mother’s and my father’s. First of all, if you live in the U.S. the Social Security Administration doesn’t use hyphenations so I believe my passport is hyphenated but my social security card is not and various other documents aren’t either but I think my birth certificate is. I would attempt to keep it simple and either choose one of your names that you both will take, or create a new name entirely from scratch.
    Best of luck to you though.


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