Carolyn Hax: Husband upset daughter dropped his last name


Dear Caroline: When my husband and I got married I kept my last name and when we had children we just gave them both of our last names, my middle last name and his last name.

My son, who is older, basically dropped the middle name and just uses his father’s last name, which I’m fine with, but my daughter, who is in high school, has now decided to use her father’s last name cross out and use mine. She says she likes it better.

For context, she has a strong feminist streak, and while I didn’t encourage it, I don’t have a problem with it either. I feel like it’s her choice.

However, her father feels like a rejection from him and his family. She thinks she likes the sound of my last name better, and that’s one way of tying it to the patriarchy. And while I’m secretly proud and honored by her bravery, I also try to keep the peace between her and her father.

I think in the end her father will have to learn to swallow and deal with it, but is there a way to make some peace here? He’s really upset and she dismisses it as toxic masculinity. For what it’s worth, he’s pretty progressive when it comes to women’s rights, but he also comes from a deeply paternalistic culture, so I’m sure it’s an adjustment for him.

What’s in a name?: Please point out that you are living in a paternalistic culture because of your own experience Not do not need to make any adjustments to be deleted. Because you’re so damn used to it.

As gratifying as it is to turn this into a political issue, it has already been unnecessarily politicized. What your two kids are doing is normal kid stuff. They find themselves out and make decisions that are beyond the reach of their parents’ preferences, ideologies, corrective actions, and long-held visions. You shrug your husband hurts yes but you are both trees falling in a forest discussing how loud you were.

Your husband will have to let it go in the end because that’s the end of all those child-grows-and-makes-its-choices stories. Good, bad, neutral. And your daughter is sending him that message through her “strong feminist streak” because, like almost every child, she’s a proven genius at knowing how best to get that message across to each parent at maximum speed.

Not that their views are just for show; they can be real and valid and yet be used strategically and developmentally to differentiate themselves from their parents.

So if he’s receptive to words that are more useful than reassuring, feel free to tell your husband that by cherishing his name so much as a symbol of himself and his family, he may have given his daughter the means by which she was able to declare her independence – and if he wants to keep her as close to him as possible, his smartest move is to drop the subject entirely and trust that his love and authority exist independently of her trappings.

If he’s not, then stick to sympathetic tones – “This is hard for you, I know” – or remind him that it’s an achievement, yours and his, a child with their own beliefs and the power to to take responsibility for raising you. Or urge him to demonstrate maturity and leadership by being patient with her. Hm. Power struggles and peacemaking rarely bring power or peace. Carolyn Hax: Husband upset daughter dropped his last name

Chris Estrada

Chris Estrada is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Chris Estrada joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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