Deciding Child's Last Name If Parents Are Unmarried

Bridget Mulroy

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An identity crisis!(Michael Burrell/iStock)

It’s not as simple as it was in decades prior. Today, so many kids are born to parents who choose not to marry. So when it comes to the surname children take when their parents aren’t married, there is no rule followed.

According to a survey by Baby Center, “18% of today’s moms have a last name that’s different from their partners and children.” Believe it or not, this situation has also come up amongst married people having children.

Here are the options:

  • The child takes the respective father’s last name.
  • The child takes the mother’s last name.
  • The child takes both surnames.
  • The child takes a new name.
  • Different kids with different names.

Easy choice, right? No way!

Removing genderism from the situation, traditional fathers feel it should be their last name passed to the child if it is a boy.

Contrary to that, some mothers have reasons to give their children their own last name – regardless of gender. Other mothers look at the last name as a means of inclusion within a family. Some mothers don’t even think about it.

Parents will heavily consider restrictions that may occur during travel and other potential administrative setbacks (birth certificates, emergency room visits, school pick-up, etc.)

Of course, there are also cultural and environmental factors influencing parents. The need to explain name variations will weigh heavier on some families than others.

Children taking a new name or having a differing name from their siblings may present confusion but serves to be an option in blended families.

Again, there is no right way to go about the situation. Any family fortunate enough to have an opportunity to name a child will hopefully take the appropriate consideration.

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Working formerly as a ghostwriter for a well-known New York magazine, Bridget Mulroy won two prestigious writing awards. As a writer, she takes a keen interest in topics that impact people's lives and will leave no stone unturned to share a story. Each of Bridget Mulroy's publications on the NewsBreak platform explores change and encourages readers to think beyond the limitations of the world they thought they knew.

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