Maternal Surname Proposal

Name Change Confusion

Alternatives are being considered to the name changing procedure followed by women after marriage. Various new methods are being used including keeping the same name, using the maiden name between the first and last name (e.g., Hillary Rodham Clinton), and using a hyphenated last name (e.g., Jackie Joyner-Kersee). In other instances the woman chooses to use her maiden name in a professional environment even though she may have officially changed her last name to that of her husband, and uses her husband's name in normal non-business activities. In any case the mother's name disappears in successive generations because the children use the father's (Paternal) surname.

Maternal Surname Proposed

I propose we improve this situation by changing the procedure for handing down family names to our children in such a way that both the husband and wife contribute family names to their children. I propose using a "Maternal surname" as well as the current Paternal surname for all children. Women would give their Maternal surname to all their children. The Maternal surname would then be passed down to successive generations of female children much like the Paternal surname is currently passed down by male children. The Maternal surname could be a maiden Paternal surname from previous generations or could be a completely new name that the family agrees upon.

Method of Implementation

This proposal could be implemented in various ways. One method would be to add the new Maternal surname before the Paternal surname. I will use my family as an example. Let's say our family decided on a Maternal surname that was the maiden name of my grandmother on my mother's side -- Bedford. My name would change from David Arthur Nation to David Arthur Bedford Nation and my sister's name would change from Cathlene Ann Nation to Cathlene Ann Bedford Nation. I would pass on the Paternal surname Nation to my children and my sister would pass on the Maternal surname Bedford to her children. Each child would have two family surnames -- one from the mother and one from the father. Male children like myself would not pass on the Bedford Maternal surname. Only successive female children like Cathlene and her daughter Laura would pass down a particular Maternal surname.

My sister would have the choice after marriage as she now has of changing her Paternal surname or leaving it the same. In either case her Maternal surname would remain the same and she would pass it on to all of her children. Even if she had children from different marriages with different Paternal surnames they would all have the same Maternal surname.

Another implementation would be to replace the middle name with the Maternal surname producing David Bedford Nation. Whichever method is chosen the important principle is to maintain continuity in passing down the new family Maternal surname to succeeding generations.

Benefits of Maternal Surname

The use of the Maternal surname is a more balanced naming convention that implicitly recognizes the equality and importance of the role of both parents in a family. This proposal would make it less important to have a male child simply in order to pass on the family name. If this proposal is used both female and male children will pass on separate family names and associated traditions to their children and to successive generations.

2000 David Nation

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