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Monday, May 2, 2011

Three Questions

Vanessa writes:
LOVE your blog. A.
B. I have questions/suggestions/whatever and I would like to first apologize for rambling!


1. I wonder if you might be willing to put up some kind of open forum every now and then for people to post cool names they've heard, or interesting sibling pairs, or whatever (without last names, obviously). I think it would be really fun to discuss. For example, when I was in ES there were--I sweartogod--sibs named Christina, Christian, and Christiana.

2. What's up with month and color and flower names? Or I guess all noun names? How come--and I don't mean this snarkily--some are considered names and some aren't? See: June/May vs November, Lily/Daisy vs Peony, Violet vs Yellow...

3. What are your thoughts on giving kids in the same family different last names? I love my name--it's Vanessa S____ V____ Steck which is possibly the greatest name ever. I am definitely not changing it if I get married, but I'd also like to give my kids my last name--at least some of my kids--and I don't think I want to hyphenate anything. What do you think? Would it be horrid to have, say, Annie Steck and Cora SomeoneElse'sSurname?

1. Oh, good idea! We sometimes have things like that (what names have you had to give up because of surname compatibility and what is our favorite Z name and cool names from our family trees)---but I think they would be fun to do more often, and I don't always think of it. Or, now that we have the new non-due-date order, people can submit a question of that sort! Ooooo, that would be fun! Yes, if anyone has a general name-related discussion question, they should submit it. Come to think of it, I have a couple on the spreadsheet from wayyyyyy back---perhaps I'll do one after this!

2. I know, isn't that weird? Violet, Rose, Lily---YES! Tulip, Carnation, Daffodil---no. April, May, June---YES! February, July, October---no. One thing I find particularly interesting is the BORDERLINE word-names. That is, a FEW people use December, and Magnolia, and Emerald---but VERY FEW. I think those make a nice choice when someone wants something a LITTLE out-there but not TOO out-there: the use of other word-names from the same category make the names easier to accept, just as unusual rhyming names are easier to accept ("It's like Natalie, but without the N" or "It's like Jenna, but with a K instead of a J").

3. My mother's friend Donna was telling us that she knew a family where all the boys had the dad's surname, and all the girls had the mother's surname. Wait, no, I think it was a whole CULTURE where they did that. Seems like a good idea to me. The downside is that until it becomes a cultural norm, it gives the wrong signals: a family where the children had two different surnames would, I think, be assumed to be a blended family. It's none of their business + who cares + people who know you will know the real story + nothing wrong with blended families---but it's the sort of thing that can feel like too much of a hassle to take on.

But if I were you, I'd want to keep that name TOO. One possibility is to keep your own name and give the children their father's surname (which is done often enough to be familiar), but then give the children two middle names: either a new middle name plus your surname, or your second middle name plus your surname, or something of that sort. We did something like that in my own household, when I was loathe to give up my own name.


StephLove said...

In re #3, my sister and her boyfriend were considering doing that but they split up. Now she's adopting as a single mom so her kid(s) will have her surname.

Someone posted here recently about merging two surnames into one (one word, no hyphen). I knew a couple who did that, too. The original surnames were Krauter and Roof and it became Krauteroof. The whole family used it. Cool idea if you have surnames that mesh well.

traci said...

re: #3 - My husband is from a latin american tradition where the wife's name goes second of two last names.
our child, to be born in a few weeks will have the last hame HISNAME-HERNAME (with a hyphen.) It works for us... I've been advised to keep the hyphen to keep it together, but you could just as easily use your spouse's surname as a middle name. Counter cultural, but why not? Whatever works for your family.

beyond said...

re # 3, i kept my last name and we are not fans of hyphenated names, so our kids will be cora grace hername hisname, hername (my surname) becoming a sort of second middle name.
i just met a woman whose daughter has hername (but her husband got to name her), and whose (possible) son will have hisname (and she will name him).
also, there are cultures were surnames are given names, and where no member of the family has the same surname, i kind of like that idea...
whatever works for your family! i personally don't think "Annie Steck and Cora SomeoneElse'sSurname" would be very strange, but wonder if consistency would matter to the kids themselves?

Anonymous said...

I know someone whose parents did the exact thing you are discussing in question 3. There are one boy and one girl in his family, and since the mother's maiden name would otherwise die out with her, the boy received his mother's name, and the girl received her father's. As far as I know neither of the kids had a problem with it!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are actually wrestling with the question 3 situation. My sister and I are the last in our family with our name, so if we don't pass it on, it will die with our generation. My husband is fine with doing it either way---he thinks a name is just a name, and his extended family already has a couple of boys in the next generation with his last name, so it's not going anywhere anytime soon. My concern is that, particularly with two parents who already have different surnames, two children with different names (or with only the mother's name) will be assumed to be a blended family by people who don't know them. I'm not so sure I'm down with that (though husband says "who cares what other people think?" and points out that there's nothing inherently wrong with a blended family, which of course is true). My sell to get him to take my name when we married flopped, and we don't have names that lend themselves to hyphenating or combining in any way. We still have a few months to figure it out, but it's definitely wearing on me and I'd love to hear more people's thoughts on this!

Sonia said...

My children have my last name as a second middle name, and they share my husband's last name. I wish I had pushed harder for them to have my last name, but he was a little upset that I didn't change my name, and I did pick out the boys' first names. Giving them his last name seemed like a fair compromise.

Anyway, I think if your husband is fine with the children having your last name, go for it! It's fabulous, and I wish more families did it that way. You could give them his last name as a second middle name, or as their only middle name, so they carry both family names.

Anonymous said...

This is just my opinion, Sonia, but I think that if I were faced with the same situation, I would concern myself more with keeping the name alive than what some strangers think. It would be inconvenient and a little sucky for people to assume that you're a blended family without knowing you, but those people won't matter anyway!

Carla said...

I have a friend who kept her last name and whose kids have letters instead of a middle names. They decided to go with whatever last name sounded better. At first it seemed rather strange to me and I've even asked her about it but she is so nonchalant and matter of fact about it that it was easy to accept it.

C C Donna said...

I'm Swistle's mom's friend, Donna. We hosted a student from Bulgaria and he told us that daughters inherit the mother's surname and sons get the father's. He led me to believe that this is a country wide tradition. I read a newspaper column about 25 years ago where the very famous syndicated columnist whose first name begins with A, wrote an article concerning last names. Her opinion was that the sons should inherit the father's last name and the daughters should have the mother's. This way both lines have an opportunity to pass down the surnames. It seems like a perfect solution. As far as the thought that the families will be perceived as blended families, that might be so for a number of years but if this were to become the trend, that would dissolve. My married daughters have kept their maiden names. The one with children did feel slightly off after her son was born because she had a different surname. She felt stongly, however, about keeping her name as that is who she is. (it also irritated the hell out of her mother-in-law so that little fact solidified the whole thing) When her daughter came along, I mentioned that little Maddy should have my daughter's last name and my daughter's reply was, "DH would NEVER go for that!" My question is, "why not?!" We, as woman have just as much value as a man AND our surnames should have value. It's who we are.

Jenny Grace said...

I know quite a few people who do boys w/dad's surname and girls w/mom's. In fact, I have thought of doing it myself.

vanessa said...

This is so exciting, Swistle--first you comment on my blog, then you post my letter on yours--so exciting! :)
thanks to everyone for your as always thoughtful comments. I sort of feel like I should give my SONS my surname (provided I marry a man, the jury is still out on that one) in case THEY marry women who take the husbands name...if that made any sense!

Anonymous said...

I knew a family where their firstborn had the paternal surname, and their second (turned out to be a second son) had the maternal surname. For me, falls into the 'eh, whatever you want' category of life :)


Anonymous said...

Re Question 2:

January & March are named after Roman gods, February is named after a Roman festival.

April is possibly named after the Greek Goddess Aphrodite
May is possibly named after the Greek Goddess Maia
June is possibly named after the Roman Goddess Juno

July is named after Julius Caesar
August is named after Augustus Caesar

September, October, November and December are all counting names.

So if you were going to name a little girl after a month, I suppose one that comes from a Goddess would be a good one to choose.

But having said that, I don't know why we don't see little boys named Janus or Mars.

Anonymous said...

Actually I suppose you do get boys named Martin.

K said...

Love the comments re: surnames. I'm trying to figure this issue out for when my husband and I have kids. I'm anti-hyphen in our situation - if it sounded too horrible for me to take on, I won't make my future children deal with that mouthful for the rest of their lives (or until they are old enough to change it). I know women whose parents gave them hyphenated names, and they couldn't wait to get married and change their name, rendering the whole exercise in selecting the last name counter-productive.