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As it becomes increasingly popular for women to keep their last name after getting married, the question of one’s children’s last names is also popping up with greater frequency, and it’s no longer a given that Dad wins out. But just as the decision to have a baby is complex, so too are the factors involved in choosing a surname. Will it complicate school pick-ups or travel? Does one name just sound nicer than the other? How important is family lineage to you in general? We checked in with six real parents who decided to go the maternal route…and how it all shook out.

RELATED: 5 Real Women on Why They Didn't Take Their Husband's Name

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The Mom Who Considered an Original Hybrid Name

“My husband comes from a very big family (his dad is one of eight and he has five children), so his last name isn’t exactly at risk of dying out anytime soon. Meanwhile, on my side, not many of us have the family name, and we’re all women! My husband and I actually considered combining our names—Dawn Porter and Chris O’Dowd did this and became the O’Porters. But alas, our names sound too similar and it just ended up not working. I can’t really remember whose idea it was, but we discussed it before the baby arrived and were both on board. In the end we both decided that a shared last name isn’t what makes you a family.” 

The Mom Who Went With One Name for Her Daughters and Another for Her Sons

“I didn’t change my name when we got married, then when we started to reproduce, I remember feeling like I was doing quite a bit of work with the whole gestation and then birth of a new human being. My husband provided excellent assistance, but frankly, I like to get credit for my work. In the spirit of compromise, we agreed that our girls would get my last name and boys would get his last name. Of course we are open to reorganizing this arrangement if the kids feel strongly about it when they are older, but I love making up new rules for how to organize our lives that don’t rely on taking what’s handed down by the patriarchy without question. This is what worked for our family.”

The Mom Who Used Both Names

“We chose to give our daughters both last names because of our Hispanic-Latino heritage. We represent first the father’s and then the mother’s last name. So really it’s a culture thing.”

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images by Tang Ming Tung / Getty Images

The Mom Who Wasn’t Staying With the Father

“I was moving to New York City right after the birth and wasn’t planning to remain with my child’s father, so I decided it would be easier if we both had the same last name.”

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Flavia Morlachetti/Getty Images

The Dad Who Just Liked the Sound of It

“As far as I remember it, there was never really much of a conversation between Katie and me.  It was just a logical conclusion helped by the fact that ‘Margo Robbins’ sounded better to us than ‘Margo Swift’—two syllables and two syllables versus two and one, know what I mean? It’s always bugged me that I am Phil-ip Swift, and I always loved the ring of Ka-tie Rob-bins. This did, however, have a huge lingering impact for my grandmother on my dad’s side, who already was appalled that Katie didn’t take the Swift name. After we got married, Grandma Ruth Anne told me that my dad, who died before I was born, would be ‘greatly disappointed’ that Katie didn’t take the Swift name. My immediate response to my rude grandmother’s whispered statement was something to the effect of ‘I don’t believe that, and he’s not here to have an opinion, so I am sorry if you are disappointed.’ The same grandma still addresses cards to ‘Margo Swift,’ though, which is a common enough mistake in these situations, though thankfully she sends cash and not checks made out to someone who doesn’t exist.”

The Mom Who Was in a Post-Birth Stupor

“My son’s last name should be Navarro. Everyone in my family is Navarro—my other kids and myself. But after I delivered my son at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami [insert crazy Florida story here] and was still pretty loopy, a nurse or doctor (I can’t really recall) asked what his name was and I said Michael. Then a few minutes later the same person asked what my last name was and I gave my maiden name. As it turns out, they were actually asking how I wanted the birth certificate to be filled out. I didn’t realize what was happening, and as it turns out, it takes a lot of money and effort to have your name changed. We decided to just deal with it later, but later never happened, and now my son loves using the story as a great icebreaker. The ’80s were a wild time in Miami, I’ll tell ya.”

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