“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” This famous quote by William Shakespeare conveys that the naming of things is irrelevant. However, when it comes to baby names, we know how confusing it can be. And now that there are options for selecting surnames for your little one, it does make things a little more complicated.
Gone are the days when a kid automatically took their father’s surname. Many countries now grant every child the right to use their mother’s surname, and no father can dispute that. Nowadays, many fathers are also open to their kids taking up the mother’s surname or taking up both parents’ surnames. This progressive view of society has changed how we look at things while deciding on a surname. So, here are a few options that today’s parents are looking at while deciding on a surname for their kids. Let’s look at these options while also seeing the pros and cons associated with them.
Since ours is a predominantly patriarchal society, most people still prefer retaining the father’s surname for their kids.
Pros: Many women change their surname post-marriage by taking up their husband’s surname. It helps if the child takes the father’s surname because if the kid has the father’s surname, it makes certain financial, banking, and legal work easier, which often requires proof of birth.
Cons: It has been too long that kids take only their father’s surname, not as a choice but as a must-have. Even when the father does not play a vital role in the child’s upbringing or finances, it is not fair that the child is forced to take their father’s surname. Also, moms do feel left out. From giving birth to being primary caretakers, they are very involved with their children. However, when it comes to surnames, the father’s surname is selected by default, which is not something that every mom is happy with.
Although this is a rare option, it is still a legal and viable option, especially where the mother wants the child to take her surname. Also, there are certain cultural groups around the world that are matriarchal, like the Khasi and Garo tribes in Northeast India, the Minangkabau people in Sumatra, and the Ainu of Japan, who like to retain their maternal surnames.
Pros: If the mother feels that her surname will give her child certain advantages in life ahead, or she is the sole legal guardian, or the father has little to no role in upbringing, then it is fair enough that she gives the child her surname.
Cons: Since our society is still not fully progressive, it may create questions, doubts, or hurdles in school admissions. Furthermore, it might create difficulties for the child in claiming property inherited from the father.
Both The Parent’s Surnames
It is recently seen that the newest trend that is taking over when deciding on surnames is keeping the surnames of both the parents. To establish equality, many kids have a hyphenated surname of both their parents’ surnames.
Pros: None of the parents feel left out here since the child’s name contains both of their surnames. So for parents who would like to have both their surnames in their kid’s surname.
Cons: The first con is that it makes the child’s full name too long, especially if the surname is long. So be it filling up forms or learning to write one’s name, it does make it a little tricky for the kid. Secondly, if one child has two surnames and goes on to marry and have kids and wishes their kid also to have both the parents’ surnames, it becomes pretty impractical with the surnames increasing in number.
None Of The Parent’s Surname
This is an option where the kid is given a common surname unrelated to both the parents or no surname.
Pros: The advantage is that none of the parents feel bad that their child does not have their surname since they have a general surname. This practice is common in India, where some kids are given common surnames like ‘Kumar’ or ‘Kumari’ or do not even have a surname.
Cons: There might be a requirement for extra documentation or explanation to prove why your child does not have any of the parent’s surnames.
Siblings Having Different Surnames
This is the case when the parents have two kids, and while one kid gets the mother’s surname, the other gets the father’s surname.
Pros: This is a very fair system, in which the parents can give their surnames to their kids without increasing the child’s surname or feeling bad that their surnames have not been used.
Cons: The siblings may not like having different surnames and would prefer having the same surname, which makes them identify with each other.
Selecting a surname is not an easy task despite having various options available. No matter which surname you and your partner decide to give your child, just make sure you both are on the same page to avoid resentment between you both.