Post # 1
I belong to a moms and moms-to-be group on Facebook. It’s a large group consisting of people living in the city and the surrounding suburbs. So a lot of people and a lot of opinions! I don’t actually post or comment on anything, at least not yet, but it is helpful to read about what other mothers in the area are experiencing and recommending, etc.
Anyway, earlier this week one woman (I’ll call her Janet) posted about how she is pregnant with her and her boyfriend’s first child. Janet apparently just had a discussion with the bf and told him that the baby would be getting her last name, not his. The boyfriend, in turn, was very upset about this and felt that the child should have his last name (only his last name, no hyphen or anything either) because he’s the father and that’s the way it works.
The interesting part of this whole thing was all the comments Janet got on her post. I guess I just figured there would be more people on her side. The woman is the one going through the pregnancy and labor, etc. She doesn’t have a choice about whether or not to be on the child’s birth certificate. Shouldn’t the decision ultimately be hers? There were several women that chimed in talking about how they gave their babies their father’s last name and regretted it because he ended up leaving them or being a horrible father or whatever. And many did comment to say that if Janet and her bf ever did get married (it was obvious from Janet’s post that she was a bit resentful that they weren’t married or engaged already) she could always change the kid’s name to his.
But there were a lot (and I mean A LOT!) of comments saying that the father was right. That it was tradition, and it was rude and selfish of her to not give the baby the father’s name. Seriously, Janet got called selfish soooo many times in the comments! It then turned into a sort of flame war about women who decided to not take their husband’s names after marriage. One commenter even said “what is the point of marriage if you don’t take your husband’s last name?” I was baffled! It was just such old-fashioned thinking…I guess I didn’t expect it from a group of relatively young women (I would guess the age range is about 20-45ish). If you want to take your husband’s name that’s perfectly fine, but to say that women who choose differently than you are setting up their marriage for failure?!
So I figured the Bee would be a good place to post this and talk about it. What do you all think? Obviously each situation is different and I can’t say exactly what is right for Janet. But in general do you think an unmarried, pregnant woman should automatically be giving the baby the father’s last name? I would think (hope?) that if the two parents have a good, healthy relationship that they’d be able to talk this out and come up with a solution together. But obviously it doesn’t always work out like that.
Very interested to hear your thoughts!
Post # 2
I will say that I know several unmarried women with children and the children all have the father’s last name. Ok, I have one exception and that is a married couple that was separated and she got pregnant by another guy who she was dating for a while, but was back together with the husband before the baby was born, the baby has the husband’s (and her) last name, not the father’s last name.
I don’t necessarily think that either parent has any more “right” to have the kids have their last name. I think this needs to be worked out by the parents or a compromise needs to be reached in some way. If that is absolutely impossible, then I suppose that the mother should be the ultimate decider. Now, in Janet’s case, is she just giving the kid her last name to spite the boyfriend or pressure him into proposing? I only say that because you mentioned that her post made it clear that she was unhappy that she wasn’t married. I don’t think that is a healthy way to go about giving your kid a last name, if that is the case.
Post # 3
If their relationship is a good one and they foresee co-parenting and perhaps marriage in the future, I would lean toward having the child take the father’s name. That’s not necessarily because I’m traditional, but because it makes sense and will make life easier. I’m not intending to take my husband’s last name when I marry, because I have a professional career that I’m already established in, but any children would take his name. Hyphenating the last name is very confusing, because it often tends to cause computerized programs to glitch out.
In a case where this was an accidental pregnancy early in the relationship, the mother should do as she pleases as to the child’s name. Let’s face it… you never know if the father might go absentee. It happens far too often.
Post # 4
Lol, what I take from this situation is that it’s way easier to judge the shit out of people when you’re on an online forum than IRL. I am guilty of this myself on the bee all the time.
I bet if the women accusing the OP of being selfish knew her IRL and talked to her IRL about this, they’d be a lot more tempered in expressing their views.
As to the actual dilemma …..tough one. I think if I were in that situation – pregnant, unmarried, and worried that my bf wasn’t ever actually gonna propose, I’d want the kid to have my name. I might agree to hyphenating but I would definitely want my name in there. I say this as someone who took my husband’s name in marriage, albeit somewhat ambivalently.
Post # 5
Oddly, Darling Husband and I had a conversation about this the other night.
We have a friend… let’s call her Misty. Misty got pregnant at 16 and gave her child the father’s last name. Her and the dad split ways. About 8 years later, she got pregnant again and gave that child the father’s last name. That father and her also split ways. She is now engaged with no intention on changinger her last name. So that means there will be 4 people living together in the same house with 4 different last names! Maybe this worked for her, but I would find it all to be such a headache. I tend to be on the side that if I were to get pregnant out of wedlock, that I would have the child have MY last name, not the father’s. But… to each their own!
(For the record though, I did not take my husband’s last name and that’s confusing for some people/us as well and that’s only two of us!)
Post # 6
What the hell? No. She should give her child her own last name if that’s what she wants to do. PM me the Facebook thread, I’m happy to go leave a post or message her to lend my support.
It’s traditional for the kids to take the father’s name? Well it’s also traditional for the parents to get married and then have the child. There’s nothing wrong with going “against the tradition” if the couple doesn’t want to get married, and by the same token there’s also nothing wrong with going “against the tradition” for the kids to not take the father’s name.
This kind of hypocrisy drives me absolutely insane. “It’s tradition!!” if the tradition happens to work in your favor and “But but muh freedom!!” if you don’t like the tradition.
Post # 7
I don’t have any judgement about what is right or wrong, that is for the couple to decide, but I know three unmarried couples with children and all have the father’s last name.
Post # 8
If I wasn’t married I would give my kid my name. The only reason my daughter has my husband’s name is because I took it too!
Post # 9
I am happily married but think about this all the time. I love my last name and the idea of being pregnant, going though the pain of labor, and missing months of work just to put someone else’s name on the kid give me this awful feeling of being robbed or at least ripped off. Kids are far off for us but it will be interesting to see how it all goes down when it’s time to think seriously about this.
Post # 10
SithLady : “Now, in Janet’s case, is she just giving the kid her last name to spite the boyfriend or pressure him into proposing?”
I have no idea. Her post definitely hinted at some resentment but there were so many comments to sort through that the post kind of went out of control. I don’t know if she ever even came back to comment herself! That’s why I decided to ask about the idea in general. You would think if two people were having a child together, regardless of marriage, they’d be able to talk to one another and figure this out. That’s what my husband and I did (I did not change my name after marriage and our child will carry on BOTH of our last names). But, as we’ve seen here on the Bee, sometimes people won’t compromise at all and that makes things difficult. Janet did make it clear that the bf expected ONLY HIS NAME to be included.
Post # 11
ChasingZenith : “I would lean toward having the child take the father’s name. That’s not necessarily because I’m traditional, but because it makes sense and will make life easier.”
I guess my question is HOW? No snark, genuinely curious about what you meant. How does this make life easier? Because then the baby and mother would still have different names so what is easier about that? Or do you mean it makes it easier to appease the father and avoid a conflict?
Post # 12
FYI I also have several unmarried friends with kids and all those kids have their father’s last names. I’ve never asked the mothers about this though, so I don’t know why they decided to do that. It could just be that “it’s tradition” and they just didn’t think anything of it. Who knows.
Post # 13
I am the product of such a situation, and I have my mother’s last name. My father’s last name is my middle name. My parents were actually not together by the time I was born, so it was definitely the right call by my mom.
Two of my very close friends have had kids without being married and they both gave their kids the dad’s name. They are both now split from said dads and both really wish the kids had their last names. I’m married and didn’t take my husband’s last name, but our son has his last name because that’s what we decided together. Every situation is different and I think there should be discussion, but I think in these situations it’s ultimately the mom’s call.
Post # 14
I don’t think the woman has any more right than the man to determine the child’s last name, especially if parenting duties will be split down the middle.
That being said, I think the father is being bull headed by insisting that they can’t hyphenate because “tradition!!”.
I don’t know what I would do in this case but I would definitely be reconsidering the relationship if there Boyfriend or Best Friend can’t compromise with a hyphen.
Post # 15
If I was not married/engaged I would give the child my last name. I’ve heard of horror stories where the father exits the child’s life but refuses to sign the papers changing the kid’s last name back to the mother’s.