"Should I give my baby my last name or the father's last name?" asks Circle of Moms member Nicole H. Pregnant and single, she wonders if it is okay to give her child her own name "because the father isn't involved now," and may never be.
Nicole's situation is not unique. One of the significant and often touchy issues that faces single moms almost the moment after their baby's birth is whose last name to pen in on the birth certificate. This is a frequent topic of conversation among Circle of Moms members who are pregnant but not yet married to the father, and there's often easy consensus on the core issue: moms believe that unmarried moms hold the naming rights. As Peggy H. explains, "It is totally your decision, don't let anyone try to make it for you. If you are not married to the father, you can always change the last name if you marry. Give the baby your name now so you both have the same name. You know that you will always be there for your baby — will the father?"
Is the Dad Going to Be An Involved Parent?
That's exactly the sentiment that drives many Circle of Moms members to say they feel strongly that the naming rights belong to the parent who is actively involved in the baby's care. "Am I wrong for wanting my child to have my last name?" says Elizabeth D. "I recently decided to give my child my last name instead of the father's. Some say I shouldn't do that, while others think I have every right." Heather T. says she too believes it depends on if whether dad is actively involved or not in the baby's life. "I think that it depends on your situation," she says. "If the father is a part of the child's life, then maybe you should leave the name alone unless he agrees to have it changed as well. But if the father is not going to have anything to do with the child, then by all means give the kid your name. Ultimately though it is up to you and what you think is best for your kid."
At the same time, Circle of Moms members agree that if the father is engaged in the child's life, an unmarried mom should at least consider giving the child his last name. "I think that if you're in a loving relationship with the father and figure you're going to stay with him and possibly marry him, then you should give the baby his last name," says Shannon." If you do marry him, then you'll all have the same name (assuming you take his name). But if you're not sure about him, and you think in a few years you won't be with him and you think things would be easier for you to have the baby have the same name as you, go for it."
There are good reasons for single moms to give babies their names, many Circle of Moms suggest. April M. advises: "It's a lot easier as well when they grow up to have the same name as you, because if not they ask why they are different."
Other Circle of Moms members recommend pairing together or hyphenating both last names, again with the caveat that the father is actively involved in the baby's upbringing. Blackwood K. says moms need to ask themselves: "Will the father be a positive aspect in your child's life for the long term? If yes, then you could use both names, if not then maybe you have the right [to use just your name]. But whatever your decision, it should be for your child's sake, not to...get back at the man."
Nothing's Permanent...or Is It?
Some Circle of Moms members assure single moms that the decision does not have to be permanent. "If you are not married you aren't entitled to give your child the father's last name," says Brandy W. "Examine yourself and your motives and make the decision that feels best to you in your heart. If you and your child's father marry later you can always change your baby's last name. It costs a little over $100 to do, but you can always do it later so that takes off some of the pressure."
Still other Circle of Moms members caution that deciding the last name of the baby can be very delicate and should not be done lightly or with the wrong intentions. A baby's last name can turn into a bargaining chip, says Brenda. "I ended up using both surnames for my two kids. My (then) partner was absolutely against having both surnames so I gave him some advice: do something about making mine the same [as yours], or our babies' surname will stay combined. If I had been on my own I would definitely given my kids my own surname. They are a part of you, well that's how I felt anyway. We are now married, so as promised I have changed our kid's surnames to my husband's." Leanne H. agrees. "My son has my last name," says Leanne H. "I made it clear that there was no other choice in the matter. If my boyfriend and I were married it might be different. However, we are not."
There are some Circle of Moms members who believe that ultimately the child should make the decision on his last name, when he's old enough. "A friend of mine gave her son her last name, then when he was old enough (I think he's six now), she gave him the option of having it changed to his father's last name," says Laura C.
If you weren't married when you had your baby, whose last name did you use?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.