Advice on choosing a surname for your baby with ideas on all of your options from the traditional approach to surnames to changing your family name.
Finding the perfect name for your baby isn't easy to say the least, but for couples who don't share the same surname, deciding what baby's last name should be is a whole nother debate in itself.
Tradition dictates that a baby automatically receives his father's surname as his own. However, while this practice has been common place in the UK and much of the Western world for centuries, to many this now seems as antiquated as the assumption that all couples who have children are husband and wife.
The traditional approach
If you and your partner already share the same surname (regardless of whether you are 'officially' married or not) then there is unlikely to be any question as to what you'll choose for your child. Having a consistent family name that you all share can be a good option as it unifies you as a family, is more convenient for the purpose of filling out forms and such like and is also likely to cause less confusion as to who baby's parents are.
If you and your partner do not share the same surname there are a range of options available to you. One of the more popular choices is combining your surnames to create a hyphenated last name for your baby. This can be a convenient option as it incorporates both of your names, identifying you both individually and together as your baby's parents. It also enables both of you to keep your family naming lineages going which can appease grandparents-to-be.
If you are thinking of this approach, points to consider are whose name will go first, whether a hyphenated name will be too much of a mouthful (especially if you both have long names) and how you will go about teaching your little one what their name is (as both names together may be too much of a mouthful to start off with). You may also want to consider the implication of what will happen if your child marries someone else with a double barreled surname - be prepared that your grand children may have surnames of unparalleled proportions!!!
One or the other
You can choose to give your baby either your own or your partner's last name. This has the advantage of continuing the naming lineage of one of your families and you could always incorporate a naming tradition from the other family as a middle name too. The only problem with this approach is that there could be some confusion as to whether the individual whose surname isn't the same as their baby's is actually the real parent. In this instance the mother usually has the final say as to whose name is officially registered on the birth certificate.
Create a new one
If you and your partner can't come to a compromise as to whose name should be used, you can create a new one. Whether you decide to combine both of your surname into a completely joint but unique name or simply think creatively and choose a whole new one, you and your partner can officially change your name and use this for the whole family.
This can be fantastic if neither of you are particularly keen on your surnames and really enables you to forge yourself officially as a unique family unit. Beware though - families, parents especially, may not be too keen on this approach as they may see it as you disassociating yourself from them, however, with a little reassurance and an explanation of your reasons, they will more than likely accept your decision (especially once they meet their new grandchild)!
Its up to you
Whatever surname you decide for your baby remember that it is you and your partner's choice alone and you should avoid being influenced too much by what family members expect of you. Having said that, do remember that the name you bestow upon your child will have to see them through life so try and avoid being too weird and wonderful.
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