Sorry, there is no real baby in question here. But I have a dilemma in future baby naming that I think might interest you, regarding family surnames as middle names.
Typically, I am all for this tradition. In fact, my middle name is my mother’s maiden name – although her maiden name also happens to be a fairly common unisex first name. I love it and will definitely be passing it on to a future child – boy or girl – as a middle name.
But what about my own maiden name? When I married, I changed my last name to my husband’s name and actually dropped my maiden name completely, rather than moving it to the middle name slot as seems to be traditional in the American South. I did this for two reasons: first, my maiden name is extremely unusual and hard to spell and pronounce and I was tired 20+ years of dealing with it, and second, as I said above, my middle name is my mother’s maiden name. She has only sisters so the family name stopped in their generation, whereas I have a brother to carry on my father’s name.
That being said, I still love my maiden name and identify with it. Because it is so unusual, and my first name is common, I was always known as Firstnamelastname growing up, even by friends. My brother went by a nickname of our last name. My friends had contests to see who could learn how to spell it correctly. Having such a complicated name was a big part of my childhood and young adult identity, and I’d love to honor my family history by passing on this name as well.
Given that I didn’t even want to inflict my maiden name as a middle name on MYSELF, is this cruel to do to a child? I don’t want to share the actual name due to its uniqueness, but it is Slavic and along the lines of Tsyplakov in that it contains a letter combination that don’t occur in English. Additionally, my family pronounces the name with emphasis on the first syllable, which is traditional in the name’s country of origin but not how most Americans pronounce the name based on English phonetics.
My married name is a common, easy to pronounce German-derived surname… think Wagner.
My husband and I like extremely traditional, fairly common first names. To give you an idea our lists look like:
boys – Alan, David, Charles, Nathan, Walter, Henry, Joseph, Adam, George, William, John/Jack, Robert
girls – June, Anne, Claire, Margaret, Caroline, Julia, Ruth
We plan on using several family surnames as middle names for either gender – my middle name/mother’s maiden name, which is a unisex first name like Avery; my mother in law’s maiden name which is an animal name like Fox; my grandmother’s maiden name which is a familiar surname but not really first-namey… think Thompson. But I feel strange leaving out my own maiden name! These sound so dignified –
Anne Thompson Wagner
David Fox Wagner
June Avery Wagner
But then what about
John Tsyplakov Wagner
??? Can I do this? Do people do this? People in the South are all about surnames-as-first-names in the vein of Hudson, Hunter, Taylor, or even Smith or Anderson. And I know tons of people with western-European surnames as middle names (like Pace, Whitmore, Watson, Newman, and many of our past presidents). But what about when the maiden name is a hard-to-spell, hard-to-pronounce, clunky sounding Eastern European (or otherwise) name?
I would love to hear from you and readers. Apologies for my verbosity.
Okay! I think I am following this! Your parents gave you your father’s surname, and used your mother’s maiden name as your middle name. You would like to do the same for your child, because you still love your maiden name and have strong feelings about it. This sounds great to me! I say do it!
Your concern is that you dropped that surname when you got married, because it was too much trouble, so you wonder if maybe it’s cruel to give it to a child. But that was as a surname that it gave you so much trouble; as a middle name, it will hardly ever come up. And you dropped it in the extremely normal and typical way many women do when they get married. You kept your own mother’s maiden name as your middle name, rather than bumping it for your father’s surname as if your mom’s family name is less important, and I for one am glad you did. But I don’t think this AT ALL means that you can’t now pass down your maiden name.
My own maiden name is a hard-to-spell, hard-to-pronounce name including a letter combination not used in American English. I gave it to all the kids as their second middle name. That would be another option here:
Anne Thompson Tsyplakov Wagner
David Fox Tsyplakov Wagner
June Avery Tsyplakov Wagner
John Avery Tsyplakov Wagner
I know those seem like a lot of name written out—but my daughter has a name that is 30 letters long, which is longer than any of those names I just typed, and in her daily life she’s just Elizabeth Thistle and it doesn’t seem like too much name at all. The middle names all but vanish, brought out for special occasions such as new-patient paperwork.
I’ll add this: when my eldest graduated high school this past summer, and the man calling out names called out my son’s name, and one of those names was my maiden name (AND HE PRONOUNCED IT CORRECTLY), I felt so happy we’d used it, and I immediately started looking forward to that happening at all the other kids’ graduation ceremonies. If anything, I wished we’d given the kids a double surname instead of letting my family name drift into second-middle-name position.
I seem to have lost track of answering the question here. In short, I don’t see the situation AT ALL as you not wanting to take the name upon yourself and now inflicting it on a child. You just kept your own middle name, that’s all, which was your mom’s maiden name. Now you want to do the same naming pattern your parents used for you: your maiden name as the child’s middle name, your husband’s surname as the child’s surname. Your maiden name was difficult as a surname, but wouldn’t be in daily use as a middle name. There is no problem here. Do it. In fact, maybe do MORE of it. MAIDEN-NAME MIDDLE NAMES FOR EVERYONE!