But we should talk about it.
My take on family names comes down to this:
- You are never under any obligation to continue a naming custom.
- There can be some real advantages to using family names.
- If you plan to use family names, you both have to agree and there has to be some serious conversation about parity. (Or, as Swistle says, WORK that deal!)
- Should you realize that choosing family names will eventually cause problems – i.e., you’re happy to name a son for your father-in-law, mother-in-law, and mother, but you’re estranged from your father and it’s just painful and awkward, then you may want to avoid all family names and start fresh.
- Because there are drawbacks to family names, too! And the potential for hurt feelings is real.
- Reinventing family names and traditions is every bit as powerful, and there are lots of ways to build meaning into your children’s names.
That all sounds very logical, right?
And yet, I’m often approached by parents bedeviled by a specific tradition.
Or, I suppose, a situation where one parent prefers to carry on a custom. And the other is far more ambivalent.
Because here’s the thing: it’s much less challenging when one parent is opposed. Then the obvious answer, no matter how painful, is that the tradition ends with you.
But we have children, 99.9% of the time, with people we love. That means that we care about them and their families and kind of get why they want to name this baby Ernestine after their amazing grandma.
And. That. Is. Hard.
So tell us: did you ever consider family names? If so, how did you decide whether to use them or not? How did you balance all sides of the family?
And if you’re struggling to think through a family naming conundrum, my calendar is open for Quick Calls to talk through your decisions!
If I met a kid called Ivo or Fergus or Balthazar, I’d half expect his mother to be The Hon. Cecily Gwendolen Something-Hyphenated. Which is precisely why Emma’s list of the Poshest Names in Britain is fascinating!
I am here for a revival of Gertrude. Or maybe even just Trudy. Either way, I’m thrilled to see this deep dive at The Well-Informed Namer. And wait, is Gertrude now a Christmas name? Something to ponder …
The Pink Ladies are getting their very own origin series at Paramount+! Check out this character list: Dot, Jane, Peg, Nancy, Susan, Rosemary, along with Floyd, Gil, Buddy, Wally, Richie, and Orson for the boys. The original Grease called their Pink Ladies Martie, Frenchy, Jan, and Rizzo. Grease 2 gave us Sharon, Paulette, Rhonda, and Dolores. A quick glance at the 1955 popularity charts suggests that every set is at home in the 1950s, but somehow the style of the new series still feels a little fresher than the 1978/1982 movies.
How’s this for a sibset? Brothers Rocky and Bear; sisters Poppy and Birdie. Not sure how I stumbled on this reel, but OH how sweet.
This set of twins with a very unusual birthdate(s) proves that names can share the same style, but vary wildly in terms of popularity. Welcome to the world, Annie Jo and Effie Rose!
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