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I am happily married and my husband and I are discussing the idea of having children. As a feminist, I kept my last name when we married and have never regretted that decision, but as we thinking about kids, we have run across problems.

I accept (but don’t like) that our children will have my husband’s last name but as half of the child’s parentage (and the half that carries the baby for nine months and then goes through the pain of childbirth), I feel that my name should be represented as well. I have suggested that our children have two middle names, with my last name being the second of those names. My husband refuses to do this and says that he will compromise by giving our children my last name as their only middle name. I disagree because I would like to be able to use other names (my mother’s and his mother’s family names) as middle names. Plus, I don’t want each of my kids to have the same middle name.

This angers me to such an extent that I am rethinking the idea of having kids at all. I feel that I have offered a generous compromise, as I realize that my last name (as the child’s second middle name) will probably drop off and not be used. For me, it’s the fact that it’s there at all. My husband thinks that it will be too difficult for a kid to have four names and seems to believe that it is selfish of me to force them to have to go through the difficulty of having so many names just so that I can include my name. I am starting to wonder if I want to have children at all with someone who takes for granted that his name will be passed along but disregards that idea that mine would even be included. I love my husband very much, though, and, deep down, I would like to have kids. I don’t know what to do.

The one thing I’ve noticed is that kids are pretty adaptable and can pretty much adjust to whatever is determined for them. I have one friend who feared given her kids two last names because both names were such a mouthful (Buttenweiser Blackman)—but the kids are very clear that that is their name and say it with confidence and pride. So I wouldn't worry about what they kids will do—they will do what is modeled for them, even if it means four names—but, of course, that requires you to be insistent about what their full name is.

I personally gave my kids' their father's name—but that's because we aren't married and I wanted people to honor the connection between all of us. Plus, I never liked hyphenating because together our names sound like a law firm.

I think you have to figure out what you want and then make your case to your husband. To me, the most frustrating thing would be that his mind seems to be made up without thinking about your needs. So perhaps you need to back up the conversation. Why does he feel so insistent about his name? Maybe he does have good reason for being so stubborn about it—but without articulating that, it leaves you two to just disagree. I don't think tradition or convention is enough of a reason, but at least you should know what his reasons are.




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