Double Disaster? Please help!

[name]Hi[/name] All,

I had my first child earlier this year. My husband and I thought long and hard about my son’s name. Now I think we might have made a huge mistake with our son’s surname.

My husband wanted to go with his culture’s tradition of using both parents surnames as the child’s surname. I figured by using a double surname (hyphenated), everyone would know I am the mother even though I kept my maiden name…so I agreed to this plan.Made sense to me at the time but…

Now I am having strong second thoughts. Each of us has a 3 syllable last name that is difficult to spell. Now our son has this monster of a last name (6 syllables!) and I am worried it is going to cause him trouble in life. My husband keeps insisting that for all practical purposes the baby can just go by the paternal surname (the name before the hyphen)…but legally our baby’s last name is a hyphenated mess.

What do you all think? Did we make a big mistake? And how much paperwork/money would it take should we choose to change the name? We have a social security card and birth certificate already for the baby.

[name]Do[/name] you think I should have used my name surname as a second middle name instead? I just do now know what to do or think!

I appreciate your help, Nameberries!

I’d legally change it to your husband’s surname. I’ve worked in a few offices that dealt with records and hyphenated surnames are always a nightmare. Sometimes paperwork would be under one name, sometimes another, sometimes the person would go by the first surname but be listed under the second. In general, it just lead to a lot more cases of misfiled or missing paperwork. I would change it just to make things easier for your kid, especially since both surnames are long.

At the school where I teach, we have a number of Latin American students who tackle this problem. Most of them opt to use the father’s name as their “official” surname, and it is the only one that appears on school roll, testing documents, etc. They add their mother’s name on the end when writing their names, on their diplomas, in the yearbook. We still list them by the official last name in those cases; e.g., [name]Kim[/name] [name]Cortez[/name] [name]Delgado[/name] is in the C’s.

With hyphenated last names, I think the tendency in the U.S. is to drop the first hyphenated name, ergo [name]Emily[/name] Brasher-[name]Hill[/name] would be erroneously called “[name]Emily[/name] [name]Hill[/name]” far more often than “[name]Emily[/name] Brasher.” So you’re going to find more people using your name (if it appears last) than your husband’s name.

Oh no! Sounds like we did make a big mistake :frowning:

If we change the surname to paternal only, will there be confusion that I am the mother (with my maiden last name)?

I guess whether or not people will be wondering whether you’re the mother will depend on what people tend to do wherever you’re located. Hyphenated last names or women keeping their maiden names seems to be getting more common. Also, a lot of women who are divorced go back to their maiden name even though the children keep the paternal surname. As far as I can tell though, anything goes.

If it were my child, I would have gone the double middle route instead of the hyphen but only because I dislike the way the hyphen looks.

I don’t think there would be too much confusion, I know many children who have different surnames than their parents. [name]Even[/name] some who have surnames that aren’t either of their parents! So in this day and age I think most people would just assume that’s the father’s surname and let it be.

As an adult with a compound last name, I can honestly say I’ve had very few problems. I tend to go by one of the last names more often just for ease of use, but I always list both names on legal or official forms. My last name is five syllables and fifteen characters (including the hyphen) long. It almost always fits on standardized forms, and every school (3 colleges/universities = 4 degrees) I’ve attended has been set up to handle double names. My marriage license is fine, my drivers license is fine, my credit cards are fine, and my passport is fine. The dry cleaner has a problem using two names, but I can handle that. Maybe it’s because we’re in a big city, but I honestly think it’s no big deal.

I think you had good reason to use two last names and that your son should keep both. You can always just use one (either one) in day to day life if it becomes a hassle. [name]Don[/name]'t feel pressured to give up your last name connection with your child. If a person/place has trouble working with a hyphenated name, that’s a problem with their system and not with your family.

As you obviously have discovered, this is one of those problems with no ideal solution. Hyphenated surname makes parentage clear, but can be unwieldy for the child. Everyone has same surname, but Mom compromises identity (or may feel so). One parent has different name from child and other parent, people wonder if she or he is a step-parent. It’s not that you’ve made a mistake – it’s a matter of choosing your poison. You can of course just call your child by your husband’s surname (or yours), but the full hyphenated name will need to be on records like drivers’ licenses and tax forms forever more or confusion will ensue. And if you’re only going to call him by one surname, then it would make sense at this point to change it officially and save lots of headache down the road.

(I can attest to this, as even though I use [name]Redmond[/name] Satran as my writing name, I call myself only [name]Pam[/name] Satran, except I never changed it legally so officially I’m [name]Pamela[/name] [name]Redmond[/name]. Lots of related problems and at this late stage I need to pick one name and stick to it…but gets harder and harder.)

My youngest son has [name]Redmond[/name] as a middle name and it really does add to his identity and makes him feel closer to my side of the family, more like “a [name]Redmond[/name].” So that piece of it will stay intact whether your name is a middle or hyphenated.

First off, I’d like to say that I do not have a hyphenated last name - I have only my father’s last name. My middle name is not my mother’s maiden name, either. There has been no question of who my mother is. People erroneously call her Mrs. FATHER’S LAST NAME all the time, and occasionally I’m erroneously called [name]Lauren[/name] MOTHER’S LAST NAME, but overall, it’s not a problem, people still know she’s my mom (even if they’re strangers - “wow, you really look like your mom, you know?” - we don’t look that alike, either). I grew up with many people whose mom’s had kept their maiden names and nobody ever wondered who their mother was. It just isn’t a big deal - I promise! I did know one person who had her mother’s maiden name as her only middle name and her father’s last name as her own surname. That works, too, but you might want another first middle name for creativity’s sake, I suppose…

Basically, I’m saying don’t be concerned with people not recognizing you as your son’s mother just because your last names don’t match. You most certainly aren’t the only woman to reproduce and keep her maiden name, and your son won’t be harmed for your decision.

Good luck!

[name]Lemon[/name] :slight_smile:

PS I vote if your son’s name is [name]Lucas[/name] [name]Arthur[/name] Krzaczynski-Ebersole, for example, I’d remove the hyphen and go with that, assuming Ebersole is dad’s last name. With these long, long surnames, it’s probably easier. I’ve known hyphenated surnames that sound like [name]Ally[/name]-Rift and [name]Locke[/name]-[name]Paul[/name], but those are very much shorter than yours.

Last year, I also had a hispanic child in my class who had both parents last names. She went by her father’s last name for most purposes but on scantron tests, she had to fill out her complete name. It wasn’t a huge hassle for anyone but it can be inconvenient, especially since both names are long. If I were you, I would change his name to your husband’s last name alone. I think it’s around $400 to change someone’s name. I do like a mother’s maiden name for a middle name but hyphenated last names can be a mess.

There could be, but that depends on the situation. I agree with previous posters that in general it most likely will never be a problem but: I live in [name]Canada[/name], pretty near the Canadian/American boarder and I have a co-worker who crosses the boarder very often (her children’s father is American and all of his family live on the other side). She obviously often crosses with her children and they have their father’s last name. She told me that she thanks her lucky stars that she gave both of her children her last name as a second middle because she has been asked by the boarder guards far too many times “[name]How[/name] do I know these are your children?” when she has surrendered their passports for inspection. I do wonder if this is because she is Caucasian with blond hair and blue eyes, while her children are half African American. I remember my mouth dropping open when she told me, it seems cruel for them to assume her children are not her own, but the point is, once she shows the boarder guards that their second middle name is her surname (which are clearly listed on their passports) she is let through no problem.

Personally I wouldn’t risk it. If you are worried about confusion, I would change his surname to just your husband’s but I would keep your surname as a second middle, especially if you think you will ever be doing any travel with him.

[name]Hi[/name] everyone,

Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it and wish that I had asked you prior to naming my son!

I just looked into changing the name and it looks difficult, especially since we changed states since the birth. We will need a court order and to publish the change in the newspaper and everything. I wish we had just done this right from the beginning.

At this point I would almost be willing to leave it if we had not used that stupid hyphen (we have paternal-maternal). Oh my! What a mess! I wish this was easier to change!