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Health & Spirit

Bestowing mom's surname on baby causes problems

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My brother and his wife are expecting a third child.

My sister-in-law is pushing to have the baby use her last name because her side of the family doesn't have any males to carry on the name.

This has caused a huge rift in our family. My older parents are heartbroken.

I would like to know, is it an accepted social practice to have different last names within the same family? Would not having the same last name as siblings cause any negative emotional impact to this third child?

What would be a compromise in this situation? I am thinking of suggesting a hyphenated name (her last name, his last name). What do you think?

Thank you for your wise advice.

-- Concerned Sister

Dear Sister: My first piece of advice is for all of you to remember that this baby has two parents who are making decisions regarding their children. This is their issue (not yours), and the best thing you could do is to urge your brother and his wife to deal with your parents.

You could influence your parents by encouraging them to accept this family's choice with equanimity.

Many families sport various last names within the family unit. (In my family of five daughters, there are four different surnames.) Rarely, families choose to divide the spouses' surnames between children; and this can cause paperwork hassles and some issues when traveling as a family, but you should assume that your brother and his wife are anticipating this.

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