As Tulip Siddiq MP was recently asked to prove that her own daughter was in fact her daughter at border control, this is an issue I’ve seen being debated a lot.
And it’s something Rob and I have thought about and discussed at length since we found out we were having a baby together. We’re not married and we don’t have the same surname so we’ve been talking about what we’d like our child’s surname to be.
If we get married in the future, I’m not sure if I would take Rob’s surname or not. There’s certainly nothing wrong with his name, but my name is who I am. It’s who I’ve always been. It’s my identity. And I feel like I might lose some of that if I changed my name.
It’s a reasonable decision to make to want to keep my surname. And likewise, it’s just as reasonable to expect that someone may want to change their surname if they get married, or for any other reason they like. Everyone should be able to do what is best for them and no one should have to justify their decision to anyone else.
The same goes with the surname of your child. Or at least, it should.
But one big factor when considering the name of our baby was the experiences of my friends and family. Women who have different surnames to their children and who have been quizzed at the airport about why they’re trying to take a child out of the country that of course can’t be theirs if they don’t have the same name – and even being unable to collect a parcel addressed to their child from the post office because they have a different name.
The questions that could arise from other people shouldn’t even have to be a part of the decision, but unfortunately they are.
I don’t want the hassle of having to explain myself every time we go on a family holiday abroad. Or when I’m picking up a parcel addressed to my child and justifying how I can still be their mother even though I have a different surname.
I understand there’s a security issue about it and ultimately, especially with an airport situation, it’s to ensure a child is safe. But there’s got to be another way.
It’s old fashioned and it feels like it’s yet another way to criticise and belittle women.
And I don’t want my own children to have to go through the same thing.
So we’re planning on giving our child a double-barrelled surname: one that encompasses both of our own surnames. It seems the fairest (is that even the right word?) and easiest approach to it and hopefully shouldn’t cause anyone – even if unjustifiably – any confusion or questioning down the line.
I also hope it saves my children from having to face any of this in the future. Perhaps it will have been recognised so ridiculous an issue by then that it’s not even an issue anymore? Here’s hoping.