Saturday, December 2, 2006

What's in a name?

In American life, selecting family names has shifted from a non-negotiable expectation - a wife takes the husband's last name, to one in which families can make choices that suit them.   

Bethany and I had established professional identities before getting married, so we decided to retain our separate last names.  Now with Haven, there is a new choice point - what should her last name be?  Teachman?  Nosek?  Nosek-Teachman?  Teachman-Nosek?  Noachman?  Teachsek?  

We like the idea of having a single family name, and we are not particularly attracted to hyphenation - it seems like it is just putting off the problem for the next generation.  What name we decide for Haven will carry through for all children (whether 'all' > 1 is unknown).  

After considering arguments for variations, we decided that none of the reasons to go one way or another was compelling.  Family names are important symbols of the relationships formed between families through marriage or parenthood.  But they are imperfect descriptions because it is difficult to represent both family lineages.  To make a decision, we decided to capitalize on chance.  One of our last names will be Haven's middle name, the other will be Haven's last name.  The order of names will be determined by coin flip soon after the birth.  We are still negotiating about who will call the toss.

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