We all have at least one name, most of us several and those names may have changed over the years. My surname changed when I was young and a step-father adopted me, it changed again when I married, and that name by marriage may change again (becoming hyphenated) if I ever have a commitment ceremony with the one whom I will likely be paired with until me death.
Our parents bless or saddle us with the first version of our moniker. Why do they (we) choose what we did?
Krys from my last post presented his son with a middle name the same as his father’s middle name. Was that to create a greater connection to the child he likely won’t closely bond to being divided by continents? To show his father that a family name will live on even though the child was given the mother’s surname?
My own child was given names to create familial connection. His middle name was my maternal grandfather – a man who passed away while I was gestating, a man who I wanted to honor for being present very clearly in spirit during my pregnancy. His first name was selected by my ex – a bastardization of the paternal grandfather’s middle name which although I love the name, never would have selected on my own as a former boyfriend had the name. (It can be rather creepy to hear that a former lover named his child after you – that I know from experience). In contrast to my family who celebrated Grandfather and Grandson sharing a name and a birthday, my former in-laws did not accept the name as being an honor or a connection.
Why do we choose to change our surnames?
Most of by tradition: marriage a woman taking her husband’s last name to signify leaving her family and becoming the domain of the man. Divorce reclaiming our original identity.
My best male friend and number one love retains his birth name, but as an adult opted to change the pronunciation of his surname, from Americanized to the traditional German pronunciation. Though the name also derives from ancient Jewish culture it is most closely attributed to German, which in his parents’ and grandparents’ time was often not a good thing for an American to be associated with. Regardless of the pronunciation, he is still the same boy I fell in love with when I was a skinny fourth-grader.
An acquaintance and her spouse opted to select a surname of their own design when they married. Sweet. But water cooler talk said it was more of a break for the spouse to try to get away from the stigma of his birth name and the criminal record he carried since most folks won’t dig deeper to research when doing a criminal check based on a man’s name.
I still don’t understand name selection for a child that is likely to incite ridicule and bullying. As far as I’m concerned that is a form of child abuse. When my son decided he did not like his middle name, I told him he was free to change it when he reached 18 (he has not).
But awful names aside, who I am inside as an adult is not dependent upon my legal name. Ultimately, I choose the person I am.